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Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the…
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Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

by Justin Lee

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Loved this book but it was not what I expected. It is a beautifully written memoir from both sides of the war between gays and the church, written by a young man who straddles both sides. He does not push the agenda of either side (that's what I was expecting). Instead, he attempts to become a bridge between the two. He explains where both sides come from, based on his own experience and a lot of research. He also shows amazing grace (ha!) when he recalls unpleasant experiences he endured from both fellow Christians and members of the LBGT community. These negative experiences are tempered with inspiring stories of love and acceptance he received from both groups. It's a book that people on all sides of this issue should read because getting to know how people who are different from us live/think/believe is a great way to bring us all together. ( )
  BethieBear | Aug 20, 2015 |
This was an excellent book about being gay in a Christian community. It went through Justin's story. Then he went through the bible. You really need to have an open mind to read this book. I am a youth leader and the gay question comes up at times. Plus at times we do get kids that are in fact gay. I have very liberal views. I believe God created you that way. I don't believe it's a behavior. This book looks at those things. It is a really great source to help you talk about this topic with other Christians. It can be slow at times but well worth the read.

Favorite quote: 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. ( )
  bwhitner | Apr 20, 2015 |
Whether or not the reader comes to the same theological conclusions as Mr. Lee, this book addresses an issue sorely lacking from the church today. This is done in a poignant and well-thought out way as he brings you along on his journey thus far. ( )
  MeriwetherR | May 19, 2014 |
Uit de kast, uit de kerk en vervolgens flink afgeven op de ervaren liefdeloosheid of de ambivalentie ten opzichte van zonden door (voormalige) geloofsgenoten is een (on)dankbare inspiratie voor veel boeken geweest. Zo las ik in het verleden al Joe Wenke – Papal Bull, Chris Stedman – Faitheist : How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious en de roman Paulette Mahurin – The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. Hoewel innerlijk verscheurd toch christen èn homo willen blijven en je blijven inzetten voor het goed informeren van christenen over homo’s verdient je aandacht. Homo’s, seksuele relaties tussen mensen van hetzelfde geslacht en het homohuwelijk, inclusief de behoefte dit kerkelijk te laten inzegenen is niet eventjes een gespreksonderwerp in kerken en gemeenten, maar een heet hangijzer, dat toch veel scheuringen in gezinnen, gezindten en gemeenten heeft geleid.
Herkenbaar is het juist niet (s)preken over homo’s en homoseksualiteit of het zonder nadenken wegzetten als ‘zonde’ en de zondaar (tijdelijk) buiten de gemeente zetten. In de Verenigde Staten en misschien ook wel hier is jarenlang gedacht dat met therapie homo’s wel van hun ‘ziekte’ of ‘geaardheid’ afgeholpen konden worden. Niet dus, de ‘genezen’ mannen en vrouwen voelden zich nog steeds aangetrokken tot het eigen geslacht, hoe hard ze ook anders probeerden, zelfs trouwden met iemand van het andere geslacht, gezinnen stichtten….en uiteindelijk een hoop ellende voor zichzelf, partners, kinderen en omgeving veroorzakend. Het is één van de boodschappen in Verscheurd, het door Tobya Jong in het Nederlands vertaalde Torn: rescuing the gospel from the gays vs. christians debate (2012).
Justin Lee is grootgebracht in een conservatief baptistengezin, waarin heteroseksualiteit de norm was. Zijn nick name God Boy, een voorbeeld christen jongen. Hoe vroom het ‘heb de zondaar lief, maar haat de zonde’ ook klinkt, Justin Lee maakt er in navolging van Tony Campolo, gehakt van. Hoe neerbuigend kun je zijn? Hoewel niet genoemd in het boek, is de gelijkenis van de balk en splinter hier op z’n plaats. wat doe je als je, zoals Justin, er achter komt dat je helemaal niets voor een meisje voelt voorbij het gezellig vrienden zijn? Aan wie kun je je geheim kwijt? Justins ouders reageren begripvol, hoezeer ze ook ‘genezing’ zoeken en de uitkomst ‘hetero’ verwachten. Veel kinderen zijn minder fortuinlijk. Lee zoekt met een open mind naar oorzaken. Is het een biologische geaardheid, aangeboren, overkomen, een vrijwillige keuze op latere leeftijd, een gevolg van jeugdtrauma’s? Hij bevraagt ‘experts’ en voorgangers, bezoekt ex-homobeweging bijeenkomsten en chat online met andere homo’s. Onbevredigend in alle opzichten. Justin maakt een helder onderscheid tussen geaardheid en gedrag en bewaart de term ‘homo’ dan ook graag voor het eerste, ‘aangetrokken voelen tot mensen van hetzelfde geslacht’. Het vaak voor ‘homo’ ingewisselde begrip ‘homoseksueel’ heeft met gedrag, in de praktijk brengen van op seksueel vlak te maken. Moet Justin celibatair leven, nu ‘genezen’ niet lukt en hij er niet voor heeft gekozen homo te zijn? En van wie moet hij dan celibatair verder?
Waar hij in zijn zoektocht natuurlijk de bekende bijbelgedeelten in bijvoorbeeld Leviticus en 1 Corinthiërs regelmatig – zonder uitleg – om de oren kreeg en zelf herhaaldelijk las, neemt hij zijn lezers mee op een verhelderend tekstonderzoek. Genesis 19 (de basis voor ‘sodomie’) , Rechters 19 (een soortgelijke gebeurtenis in Gibea), Leviticus18:22 (als boeiend vertrekpunt voor een verkenning van morele en culturele regels, en de subjectiviteit of persoonlijk welbevinden dat hierbij een grote rol speelt), Romeinen 1:18-32 en 1 Corinthiërs 6:9. Jezus Christus vatte de hele wet en profeten samen in de geboden God boven alles lief te hebben en je naaste als jezelf, zonder in zijn rondgang op aarde ook maar één keer specifiek homoseksualiteit als ‘speciale zonde’ te benoemen.
Is het mogelijk homo èn christen te zijn? De spanning langs de scheurlijnen van het kennen van de Bijbel, de geboden om lief te hebben en in het eerste instantie moeten sterven aan je eigen zonde kent op veel punten in het boek mogelijkheden om uit te stappen, verbitterd te worden op de kerk als instituut en de mensen die God op aarde vertegenwoordigen. Er is genoeg te veroordelen. Je zou Justin dan geen ongelijk kunnen geven. En toch blijft Justin geloven, veroordeelt hij niet en kiest zelf voor een celibatair leven, hoewel ook de mogelijkheid tot aangaan van homoseksuele relaties wordt onderbouwd. Respect voor het werk dat hij met het Gay Christian Network heeft opgebouwd als bruggenbouwer! Ruim 300 pagina’s voer voor je eigen reflectie op het onderwerp, gesprek en een liefdevolle omgang met andere mensen. ( )
  hjvanderklis | May 9, 2014 |
I began reading Lee on his blog, Crumbs from the Communion Table. I had found that he, a self-identifying gay christian wrote with uncommon grace, charity and ability. He is very able when it comes to describing and promoting his own ministry the Gay-Christian Network, a web-based attempt to build bridges between the evangelical (particularly) Christian community and the LGBT community. Torn is his first published book and describes how he came to terms with his own homosexuality AND his belief in God. Called "God-boy" in high school, he was never shy to witness to his faith, carry a Bible or other Christian identifiers. However, it was during his high school years that he came to realize that he too was gay...attracted to boys, not girls.
Now this may not be a big deal for everyone, but it certainly was for Lee who says that many nights he wept as he cried out to God to change his sexual orientation...but nothing happened. He dated a good Christian girl, a cheerleader, but it was a platonic relationship. He came out to a pastor at his local church who encouraged him, and supported him to tell his parents and supported him in that goal too.
Now Lee was faced with the desire he had to please and obey God, and the various tries he made to fulfill that goal. But none of them seemed to be appropriate for him. "Ex-gay" ministries were not truthful; gay support ministries were not successful and not designed for someone in his particular situation who was still young, unattached and had never had sex, of any kind, with anyone! He also speaks of his dissatisfaction with a variety of ministries for youth in his college days.
And, finally, Lee does give us a brief overview of how he has reconciled his theology with his Same Sex Attraction and with the 2 pertinent options that he feels are viable: either lifelong celibacy or finding a same sex partner with whom he can be intimate with. He has concluded that the second way, or Side A, is where he is most comfortable.
Lee does give illustrations of being out of his place as he came out. He went to a gay bar while in college...but was naive about the protocol of what was and was not appropriate there. And, as an evangelical, it did not "fit" either. So his final decisions do not mean that all of the conflicts and awkwardness are over for him yet. Far from it!
But, he is remarkably at ease with himself, with his decision and with his new found role in life.
If you want to read a solid presentation of one man's experience of his homosexual experience, I would strongly recommend reading Lee's book. He is a worthy craftsman; he writes well and makes his points clearly. It is hard, if not impossible, to identify compassionately with him. But, if you need or want to find a book that will deal with this issue from a more theological point of view, this is not it. I am positive that it was not even Lee's intent to write such a book! For a more nuanced perspective of the theological arguments for and against the acceptance of homosexuality within the Bible believing Christian Church, I would recommend you to go further afield. Robert Gagnon, from Pittsburg Theological Seminary has written a comprehensive tome opposing homosexual practice in the Church and Gagnon and Dan Via have written a book giving opposing views of this issue. Please note that Via cannot be considered a conservative evangelical scholar, but he does make some attempt at reviewing and correlating his pro-homosex view with the Scriptures. As a conservative myself, I fault Via for his inability to seriously engage Scripture due to his proud assertion (said in different ways throughout his part of the book) that "we know better now" and that conservative scholars are basically infantile, having swallowed their theology whole at their mother's knees and failed to engage the thinking process meaningfully.
As of yet, I have not discovered anything approaching a pro-homosex apologetic that fairly deals with the Scriptures as being divinely inspired.
Torn is a valuable book to consider. It provides an insider's view of the issues and does make a beginning for a theological apologetic.
I believe that Lee is fulfilling a valuable and needed role in our current society. There is a culture war going on between christians and homosexuals. Lee is one of the few people who is able to and has begun to open dialogue and help to clear away many of the potential mines that would blow up discussion unawares. ( )
1 vote thedenathome | Apr 24, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Justin Leeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jong, TobyaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Released as Torn in the USA, Unconditional in the UK.
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"A loving and biblically-based response to the controversy that pits the church against the LGBT community and that divides Christians from each other"--Provided by the publisher.

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