Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Torn About "Torn" 1 - Five Things I Appreciated

A few weeks ago, I promised some interaction with Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee.  I don’t know how many posts this will take, but I want to wade into that interaction today.

As I said before, I am torn over Torn. I wanted to like it because it had come highly recommended to me, but in the end I was disappointed and (even more) disturbed by it.

Today, I’d like to just state things I did appreciate about the book. Maybe next week I can lay out some of my concerns.

1. I appreciated that Justin Lee had the guts to write it.

I know that in our current cultural milieu, it’s getting easier to “come out,” but it still takes courage.  Justin not only comes out as sone with same sex attraction (what he calls “gay”), but he also is trying to fulfill the subtitle of his book: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate.  He feels the tension out there and throws his hat in the ring to try to solve it. That’s gutsy, and I appreciate it.

2.  I appreciated that Justin tells his story.

This book is not dry, dusty, or academicish. And even though he’s arguing for something, he’s using a story to do it. I think that’s great–and much needed. We need to listen to each other’s stories.  It will become clear over the next few weeks that I don’t agree with Justin’s own interpretation of his own story, but I think it’s good that he tells it and shows us where he’s come from and why.  All too often these issues have no faces.  But every person who is same-sex attracted has a name, a face, and a story.

3. I appreciated that Justin tells his unexpected story.

Justin’s story is not the story that I expected.  It’s not the story he expected!  I had been taught that most men with same-sex leanings had distant fathers and domineering mothers or had been molested at some time.  Instead, Justin tells a story of a loving, supportive Christian home with parents who modeled a healthy hetersoexual marriage. Justin expected that same thing for himself. He was as surprised as anyone how his story began to unfold.

This reminds me to not cram people into stereotypes.  I wouldn’t want someone to cram me into one, so why would I do it to others?

4. I appreciated that Justin wrestles with Scripture.

I don’t agree with Justin’s take on Scripture. In fact, I think it’s downright dangerous.  But he’s trying. He’s wrestling. He’s reading the Bible and trying to connect it to his life.  Justin hasn’t given up on his Bible or tossed out his Christianity on its ear.  Many people, confronted with the choices Justin believes he has in front of him, would just bail.  But Justin is trying to work it all out and help others to do it, too.  I appreciate his attempt, even though I think he’s got it fundamentally wrong.  My prayer is that he will continue to wrestle with Scripture, coming more and more under its sway, and come out in what I believe would be a different, better, and more holy place. That would be an exciting turn in the story! In the meantime, I appreciate that he's trying.

5. I appreciated how Justin is trying to get people to genuinely hear each other.

My friends who love this book are very encouraged by Justin’s attempt to get wildly different people to listen to each other (what he calls "Side A and Side B").  I think it’s a noble pursuit and birthed in love.

Some of my friends will strongly disagree with me here, thinking that I’ve compromised just by listening with respect. I can understand their concern–because I think that homosexual lust and behavior is a sinful perversion of God’s good design for holy sexuality. And I believe that I should clearly teach that in the face of a culture that disagrees. So, why would I even listen to someone who taught that homosexual desire and intimate relationships could be God-blessed?  Answer: because that’s how I would want to be treated if it was me in those shoes over there--Jesus’ Golden Rule of Thumb. And also when Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” He didn’t mean just some of them.