Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Love is an Orientation

Andrew Marin is a bold young man. Raised in a conservative evangelical church, he was shocked to have three of his best friends come out to him in college as gay, all in a matter of months. He was stunned.

His first reaction was to run. He was offended. He was confused. So he prayed and the answer he heard was to move toward his friends, not away.  He moved, literally, into Boystown in Chicago, a neighborhood predominantly made of people in the GLBT (Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender) community to listen and learn. He spent countless hours sitting in bars, restaurants, and churches talking to GLBT members about their view of God, church, sex, and more.

He now runs the Marin foundation that seeks to serve both churches and the GLBT community by explaining each to the other. Not an easy job.

Andrew's book, Love is an Orientation, is his effort to help evangelical Christians better understand the GLBT community and, overall, I think he does a good job of it. His goal isn't to make a statement: for or against homosexuality. His goal, as he states it, is to "elevate the conversation." I think a lot of the conversation in the life of the church needs to be "elevated", so I appreciate his heart and intention.

My only hesitancy in fully endorsing his book is that I didn't like his chapters explaining the five biblical texts that mention homosexuality. He tries to represent how some people read these scriptures in a way that allows for homosexuality. But I think he misses the mark. He seems to sidestep and underplay each text. Throughout most of the book he  does a good job of walking the center line, representing both conservative and liberal views. But in this chapter I feel that he doesn't fairly represent the conservative side. Maybe he doesn't think it's necessary, that the reader is familiar with the conservative view.  But for people new to the Bible I don't think he offers a full discussion. It can be misleading.

A fair treatment of scripture will not only look at the five texts that address homosexuality but the many texts that focus on how the Bible frames heterosexuality.   If you read the book, walk gently through this section. It might help know how others think but it's not a full discussion of the issue.

But other than this concern, the book has much to offer.  The church...on MANY issues, not just homosexuality, needs to listen more. Learn more. Love more. Love Is An Orientation will help you to do that.

I know some Christians think the gay issue is black and white. In one sense I agree. From my perspective (as well as the Covenant denomination that Cedarbrook is a part of)  sex is designed as a covenant celebration between a man and a woman. I'm settled on that. But the problem comes in what people FEEL. What do you do if you are only attracted to people of the same sex, no matter how much you try to not feel that way? People answer that question in many ways. And I think, out of respect and love for people, we need to listen to what everyone says. We don't have to agree. We can respectfully agree to disagree without reacting in fear, defensiveness, or judgment. Dialogue is a good thing. It keeps the lines of communication open.

My purpose here isn't to discuss the whole gay controversy but to review Love is an Orientation. I think it will push some Christians out of their comfort zone, but I've always found that to be a great place to learn. I recommend you read it. Just don't jump to conclusions based on what you read. Let it help you think more, pray more, and love more. - Remy

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