A Review Of Justin Lee, “Torn: Rescuing The Gospel From Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate” -- By: Samuel Emadi
JBMW 18:2 (Fall 2013) p. 38
A Review Of Justin Lee, “Torn: Rescuing The Gospel From Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate”
New York: Jericho Books, 2012. 259 pp. $21.99.
Ph.D. Candidate in Biblical Studies
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Torn is an autobiographical account of Justin Lee’s journey from being “God boy”—a conservative, Southern Baptist who was convinced the Bible condemned homosexual acts—to now believing that “God would bless gay couples” (206). Lee, the founder of the Gay Christian Network (GCN), recounts his personal and theological pilgrimage from a traditional understanding of marriage to his current convictions. In so doing, he proposes a way out of the current “gays-vs.-Christians” stalemate.
Premise Of The Book
Lee argues that the “Gays-vs.-Christians” debate is ripping the church apart in an already polarized culture. As Lee notes, “each camp has an unflattering image of the other to promote,” often intensifying the conflict and creating more heat than light (6). In addition Lee argues that the gay community and Christian young people are becoming more disenchanted with the American church as churches adopt a message that is more political than biblical. “Today’s young people have gay friends whom they love. If they view the church as an unsafe place for them, a place more focused on politics than on people, we just might be raising the most anti-Christian generation America has ever seen, a generation that believes they have to choose between being loving and being Christian” (10).
The result is that evangelical churches and their members are torn. Christian parents are torn between showing “unconditional love for their children and their deep desire to follow God at all costs” (7). Young men and women in the church who experience same sex attraction (SSA) are torn between their convictions and their feelings. Worse yet are those whose lives have been “torn apart by this culture war, and far too often, the Christian in their lives either left them to fend for themselves or took and active role in making their lives worse” (227). Lee proposes that there is a way forward that is compassionate and fitting for those who follow after Christ.
Lee begins recounting his own journey in high school when—nicknamed “God boy” for his Christian devotion—he was asked by a peer, “What do you think about this big gay controversy?” (14). Lee’s response, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” is now something he regrets (17). While Lee was committed to what he perceived as the Bible’s condemnation on homosexuality he had a “secret” he thought he would tak...
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