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God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality (Queer Action/Queer Ideas) Hardcover – October 25, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Queer Action/Queer Ideas
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807001597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807001592
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,170,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“The first part’s insistence that Judeo-Christian values require gay equality is so confidently and cogently asserted that it amounts to something new and invigorating in gay religious apologetics.”—Booklist

“God vs. Gay is an excellent resource for those struggling to reconcile their sexual feelings — or those of a loved one — with being a person of devout religious faith. Michaelson never panders, attempts to set aside all biases and simply lets the text speak for itself. What happens when he clears the smoke of punditry and bigotry is a beautiful thing, and the discussion over equality and human diversity is elevated because of Michaelson’s willingness to have faith in the words of the Torah — and in human dignity.”—NewVoices.org

“Mixing memoir and academic analysis in this well-researched and concisely written treatise, Michaelson embarks on a mission to reconcile sexuality with Judeo-Christian religious traditions… Inclusive and modern theology that will give both Jewish and Christian readers a reason to celebrate sexual diversity.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This title is very much worth reading and particularly useful for those interested in religion, civil rights, and social progress.”—Library Journal 

God vs. Gay is a game-changer and highly recommended in the debate…Michaelson has packed so much into his slim volume. A pleasurable and intelligent read, this is a book for our times and a book for the ages.”—EDGE

“As a salvo in the case for equality, however, it shows how to reframe the debate and stop seeing a chasm between God and gay.”—Publisher's Weekly

"Michaelson looks at the Hebrew and Christian Bible with keen intellect, wit, and often surprising insights. He roots his arguments not in dry exegesis but in hard-won self-acceptance and passionate concern for others. I highly recommended God vs. Gay? for anyone seeking to understand how being homosexual and religious are not antithetical."—Joe Perez, author of Soulfully Gay

"'The irony of God versus Gay is that actually Gay and God go together.  Opening to one leads to the other.'  So writes Jay Michaelson in the postscript to this beautiful, soulful book.  Michaelson charts a journey from rejection to full acceptance, from religious alienation to spiritual wholeness that will brings the reader closer to the Divine. It did for me and it will for anyone who has felt abandoned by their faith and rejected for who they are. This is a healing book that yearns to be read."—Sharon Groves, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign Foundation

God vs. Gay? is a timely and important book in this religious and political moment. Michaelson’s book prepares us, regardless of religious or sexual identity, to delve deeper into our souls, our traditions, and into the truth that religion is in fact a source of liberation.”—Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the largest gay and lesbian synagogue in the world
“Through careful discussions of Jewish and Christian teachings on homosexuality Michaelson masterfully reveals that both religions allow for the full embrace of LGBT persons. This religious-ethical work is illuminating and a must read for anyone who wants to understand the current debate over religion and homosexuality.”—Rabbi David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

“Michaelson shows that ‘God versus gay’ is a myth and that the overwhelming majority of our shared religious values favor equality for LGBT people.” —Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun

"God vs. Gay? is essential reading for people of all faiths who want to be allies of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. This book articulates what many of us have felt in our hearts for a long time: that our religious conscience compels us to support equality, not oppose it."—Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, co-author of Jewish with Feeling and From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Blessings for Health, Peace of Mind, and Prosperity

About the Author

Jay Michaelson is the author of three books and numerous articles about the intersections of religion, sexuality, and law. A leading activist on behalf of LGBT people in faith communities, Michaelson and his work have been featured in the New York Times and on NPR and CNN. He is the founder of Nehirim, the leading national provider of community programming for LGBT Jews and their allies, and lives in upstate New York. 

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Customer Reviews

The book includes helpful notes and an excellent bibliography.
Michael E. Gilbertson
"Hate the sin, love the sinner" doesn't work when they are one in the same - homosexuality -- which is both an identity and an activity.
Paul Froehlich
If you are one of those people, just walk away from this book.
Jessica Bennett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Gilbertson on March 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Religion permeates our society. Religion informs much of the discussion in the political arena. As I am writing this, conservatives and liberals are arguing over whether health care plans should be obliged to offer contraceptive coverage; the argument arises because the Roman Catholic hierarchy believes that contraception is morally wrong. As gay people, we have a stake in religious arguments in which values around sex are emphasized, because they affect the political arguments. Jay Michaelson's useful book Gay vs. God can inform the understanding of queers and their allies about why religion should value sexual diversity.
The book is divided into three parts. In the first Michaelson points out that the core message of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are about love, integrity, dignity, justice, and partnership. In the second part Michaelson examines the scriptures used to condemn sexual minorities, and in the third part he argues that inclusion of sexual minorities is good, not bad, for religious values.
Early on, Michaelson points out that "there are those who feel called to celibacy. . . . But to be compelled to such abstinence--or worse (and more likely) a life of furtive encounters, deceptions, tawdry alliances, lies, and endless self-recriminations--is fundamentally incompatible with the concept of a loving God" (p. 18). Further, "if God loves us, he would never want the closet. . . . There is no reconciling a loving God with the closet" (p. 17). For that reason alone, "coming out is the beginning of an authentic spiritual life, not the end of it" (p. 21-22).
No verse exists in a vacuum. As Luther pointed out, we must examine a scripture in the context of The Scripture. Part I of Michaelson's book sets the context for studying the terror texts.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Bennett on January 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Obviously, there are some readers who will approach this book with their minds made up that, no matter what the author says, his premise is wrong. But there are many people--Jewish and Christian--who want to understand the Bible in a way that is more inclusive of sexuality. This isn't a radical idea: our culture has reassessed and reinterpreted the scriptures numerous times in our history to accommodate more enlightened ideas about slavery, racial equality, and gender equity. But, for many in our cultural moment, the ability to do this as regards sexuality is simply a bridge too far. If you are one of those people, just walk away from this book. Don't grind your axe in the review section.

On the other hand, if your mind is open to a nuanced, careful, and more expansive reading of the Bible, this is a carefully written and enlightening book. Jay Michaelson is an astute scholar who approaches the Bible with not only the meticulousness of a Torah scholar and a law student, but also with the personal perspective of someone who is deeply religious and who left behind his own self-loathing and found a way to be whole in spirit. If you are seeking a way to embrace Scripture in a more inclusive and loving way, this book is for you.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Rashid Dunlap on November 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic read even for those who aren't biblical scholars. Fantastic book for family or friends who are Christians and hold more traditional or "common" view about homosexuality. Very well written.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rainmaster82 on April 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love Jay Michaelson's approch to the controversial ideological debate of Gay Marriage and God. Love that he breaks down very complex text to be very detailed. You can not get this confused after you have read it. I have spent many nights just reflecting on his words that I read. This is one awesome book!!!
God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality (Queer Action/Queer Ideas)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Froehlich on November 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
In the debate over gay rights, one side invokes Scripture while the other side typically dismisses it. In GOD vs. GAY, Jay Michaelson is unusual because he's a proponent of gay rights who also takes the Bible seriously.

Unlike his counterparts on the Religious Right, however, Michaelson concludes that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures do not condemn same-sex love and intimacy, but actually command an acceptance of them. This is a difficult thesis for most evangelicals to swallow, yet any who read this book will be led to reconsider their premises thanks to the author`s persuasive analysis, his felicitous writing style, and his deep respect for faith.

Unlike Martin Luther King, Jr, the LGBT civil rights movement has not responded with the language of Scripture, even though they face Scriptural arguments. The lesson from Dr. King is to engage with religious values, because political questions are ultimately religious ones as well. In making the religious case for equal rights, this book examines the fundamental values of Christians and Jews and it interprets the handful of verses about same-sex relations in light of those values.

Those fundamental Biblical values that support equality are these:

* "It is not good for a person to be alone." Loneliness is the first problem of creation, and love comes to solve it.

* "Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8) "If God loves us," Michaelson writes, "then God could never want the closet. God could not wish for human beings to lie, to repress their emotional selves, and to distort that aspect of the soul which leads to the highest of human satisfactions into a dark force of evil.
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More About the Author

Dr. Jay Michaelson is a nationally known writer and activist. He is the author of five books, most recently Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment (North Atlantic); God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality (Beacon), a 2012 Lambda Literary Award finalist and Amazon.com bestseller; and Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism (Shambhala). His writing appears regularly in the Daily Beast, the Forward, Tricycle, and the Huffington Post.

In addition to his writing, Jay is a leading LGBT activist. Recently the vice president of the Arcus Foundation, the leading funder of LGBT causes worldwide, Jay's advocacy work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR and CNN and he has been listed as among the "most inspiring LGBT religious leaders" by the Huffington Post and among "our religious allies" by The Advocate.

Michaelson own contemplative journey includes twelve years in the dharma, including several long-term vipassana retreats in the United States and Nepal. He is affiliated with the Practical Dharma movement and the Contemplative Development Mapping Project, and has participated in the Mind and Life Institute, Wisdom 2.0, Buddhist Geeks, and other emerging dharma communities. He has taught at institutions from Kripalu to Burning Man, and at over two dozen university campuses around the country.

Jay is also an accomplished scholar of religion who holds a PhD in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a JD from Yale Law School, an MFA from Sarah Lawrence, and a BA from Columbia. He has held teaching positions at Yale University, City College, Harvard Divinity School, and Boston University Law School, and has been a scholar-in-residence at over 100 institutions around the country. He is presently an advisor to the Varieties of Meditative Experience project at Brown University.