Justin writes that the Christian church has a reputation, not only for opposing gay marriage, but for hostility to gay people. It has become a Gay – vs. - Christian culture war.
The issues are complex, he notes. “Underlying all of them, however, is the essential question of how we Christians, having traditionally condemned homosexuality, should respond to a world that is increasingly accepting of it.” (10)
Justin tells his own story of the last fifteen years. He was a committed Christian, finding at high school age that he was attracted to guys, not girls. He shares his own struggles, investigates theories as to why people are gay, and reports on the failure of ex-gay ministries.
At the insistence of others, he went to a gay bar during his college years. He didn't like it. “I was just a sheltered Southern Baptist boy who wanted to serve God and couldn't help being attracted to other guys.” (164)
He takes the reader through the relevant passages in the Bible. From the gospels, Justin concludes, “Over and over, Jesus provides examples of the spirit of the law superseding the letter of the law.” (202) “The more I studied the Bible,” he writes, “the more I found myself coming to the conclusion that my church had gotten this issue wrong. ...I could no longer justify the condemning a loving, committed, Christ-centered relationship based solely on gender.” (206) He adds, “We Christians are failing to show grace to the gay community the way Jesus would.” (210)
Justin has established a ministry, The Gay Christian Network, aimed at bridge building between gays and Christians and providing a safe place for Christian gays.
In the last chapter he identifies a way forward, listing seven things he believes Christians must focus on.
This is a crucial topic for Christians to be considering at this time. Other books I have read on the future of Christianity indicate this is a watershed issue.
Whether you agree with Justin's conclusions or not, this is an excellent book to read to begin to understand Christian gays. Justin has given a very personal account of his experiences and his thoughts.
This issue is not going to go away. I do recommend this book, not because I think Justin has necessarily gotten it right, but because Christians need to compassionately listen to stories like Justin's.
Justin Lee is the founder and executive director of The Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit, interdenominational organization working to increase dialog between gays and Christians and support people on both sides wrestling with related issues. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Jericho Books, 259 pages.