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Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate Paperback – May 14, 2013
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"Radiates a genuine concern and belief in progress through slow, personal evolution...Both LGBT individuals and Christians will benefit from the modeling of a kinder, more accommodating navigation of this culture war."―Publishers Weekly,
"Lee's writing is approachable, and he shows compassion for those on all sides of this debate."―Kirkus Reviews
"Disarmingly vulnerable...poignant..."―Christianity Today
"The beauty of this book is that Lee wants to challenge all kinds of Christians...Perhaps it is because of so many fights hard won that Lee is now able to move into more nuanced territory in this gracious and grace-filled memoir."―The Christian Century
"Lee, one of our leading voices on the issues of being gay and Christian, gives us this powerful look at ways that members on both sides of the lines can learn from and grow with each other."―SHE Magazine
"...His book offers helpful suggestions for Christians...[and] helpful suggestions for pastoral counseling..."―World Magazine
"This book is full of three things that are not always much in evidence in our debates on sexuality--fresh air, common sense and manifest love of Christ. What makes it different is that it is not essentially about arguing a case but abut bridging the gaps of understanding and sympathy that (inside and outside the Church) have distorted or muffled the overwhelming miracle of Gods gift in Christ and in Scripture. I welcome it very warmly."―Honorable Reverend Dr. Rowan Williams
"Justin didn't leave the church when he realized he was gay...he has been too determined to show them how much he loves them...This is the story of how one Christian man's faith taught him to accept himself, serve others who are in need, and bridge the gap for those who do not always understand."
―Jennifer Knapp, Singer/Songwriter, Founder of InsideOutFaith.org
"This is the most important book I've read in years, and it will be the first I recommend to anyone interested in bridging the divide between the LGBT community and the church. Justin has given us a precious gift with this story. May we receive it with the same courage and faith with which it was delivered."―Rachel Held Evans, blogger, author of Evolving in Monkey Town and A Year of Biblical Womanhood
"In TORN, Justin Lee blends simplicity, clarity, humility, honesty, and vulnerability in a gracious and eye-opening way. The book brings fresh perspectives to old and polarized debates, and it offers a wise and faithful way forward for pastors and other Christian leaders, parents and other family members, not to mention gay men and women themselves. This is the book that every Evangelical, Charismatic, and Roman Catholic Christian should read on the question of homosexuality."
―Brian D. McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World (brianmclaren.net)
About the Author
Justin Lee is the founder and executive director of The Gay Christian Network (GCN), a nonprofit, interdenominational organization working to increase dialogue between gays and Christians and support people on both sides wrestling with related issues.
A passionate Christian from a conservative evangelical background, Justin thought he knew everything there was to know about the Christian approach to homosexuality-until unexpected events turned his world upside down and forced him to reconsider everything he believed. Today, his organization works with individuals, families, and churches to stop the debate from tearing people apart.
Justin's work has garnered national attention and praise from gays and Christians from across the theological spectrum. He has been featured in numerous print, radio, and television venues including Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper 360, the Associated Press, and a front page article in The New York Times. He is the director of the 2009 documentary Through My Eyes about the debate's impact on young Christians, and the co-host of popular long-running podcast GCN Radio. Justin lives in Raleigh, NC.
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Top Customer Reviews
As a straight Christian who never had to go through a struggle like Justin's, it was pretty easy for me to ignore the plight of gay Christians. In fact, there was a time when I didn't think there was such a thing! I wish someone had placed a book like this in my hands a long time ago.
Justin writes with compassion and love. This is not an angry book, but a gently passionate one. If you are expecting to be preached at, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. Justin is honest about the things he faced that confused or hurt him, the questions he had, and why he came to the conclusions that he did. He also makes it clear that the church is a diverse place where not everyone is going to come to the same conclusions he did. And that's okay.
(If you are familiar with the Gay Christian Network, the organization that Justin is a part of, and their compassionate Side A & Side B approach to the controversy, you will find that same level of empathy on display here. If not, the idea is that some Christians believe that God is fine with homosexual behavior and willing to bless same-sex couples the same way as he would couples of the opposite sex. And some Christians believe that God does not want people to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex under any circumstances, so gay Christians who want to please God have to live celibate lives. The approach of the GCN is that people who hold either point of view should be treated with the same amount of respect, even if you disagree with them. I am personally fond of this approach because it promotes tolerance and empathy without requiring people to leave their values at the door.)
I appreciate Justin's study of scripture in the chapter Back to the Bible, where he describes his own in-depth study of the scriptures that are normally used to show that God opposes homosexuality. I personally come from a similarly conservative regard for Scripture, so it is wonderful to see someone who isn't going to scrub a passage just because it doesn't say what he wants it to. Justin's study is not someone looking for loopholes in the Bible that he can squeeze his sexuality into. He comes across as someone who opens the Bible with a genuine question in his heart: "What does God want from me?"
For Justin, the journey to answer that question ends in the realization that it is possible to be both gay and Christian, and you do not have to compromise your faith in Jesus or His Word just because you are gay. Some readers may not be convinced by his arguments, but I believe that even they will be glad to read the book and see how and why he came to the conclusion he did.
For some, this is going to be the most important book they ever read, other than the Bible itself. In a society divided by a Culture War, those who try to hold on to their faith and their sexuality are being pulled apart by outside forces as well as internal conflict. They need someone to tell them that they are not alone, and that God is not their enemy. I have yet to find a voice that speaks on the subject with so much understanding and love, yet remains as uncompromising in his faith as Justin Lee.
I highly recommend this book to anyone.
Final Grade: A
With the help of TORN I am writing down what I am experiencing. My book will be title, TUG OF WAR. I hope my words will be powered by my faith and prayers and open more eyes to acceptance of all God's children.
You could have easily categorized me as a misinformed, misdirected Christian. I grew up in a relatively conservative Christian environment. I was fed a lot of deception about gay and lesbians. I have been involved in a lot of debates concerning gay lifestyles and whether being gay is a choice or not. I have heard a vast array of arguments from both sides, and just like Justin Lee, none of these arguments are satisfying. Every argument for or against seemed incomplete to me.
Justin Lee grew up in a solid Christian home with great parents, amazing friends, and strong church. However, there is one reality Justin could not shake; he was attracted to men and not women. He struggled constantly. What he believed and what he felt were polar opposites. He tried nearly everything but nothing worked. Unfortunately, most of his Christian friends did not greet him with simple compassion, they met him with Bible verses and condemnation. It is heartbreaking to read.
What I love most about Justin’s story is his heart for Christians. He would probably say he was a Christian before he knew he was gay. He saw Christians as nice people who loved each other. He didn’t see them as a faceless mob protesting gays.
Justin offers some great advice. One, we need compassion and grace. The life of Jesus is filled with grace towards others, especially the ones deemed outcasts by the social elites. Two, we need to educate Christians. Many Christians honestly believe they are doing the right thing by sharing Bibles verses of damnation because they do not want their gay friend to be separate from God’s love. However, if Christians spent more time listening and learning from others they can create a relationship with others and love people the way God loves people.
If you are looking for an argument for or against gay and lesbians, you are not going to find it here. Justin admits that he does not even know what to believe theologically, however he does acknowledge that the entire narrative of the Scripture is to love like God loves. It is difficult to damn someone you love.
“In the Bible, Truth and Love are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other.”