Must-Read: Torn by Justin Lee

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In a Gays-vs.-Christians world, admitting you’re gay makes you the enemy of Christians.

Sadly, with this single sentence, Justin Lee sums up one of the biggest issues in Western Christianity today. Or maybe the biggest. It’s extremely unfortunate (or maybe criminal is a better word), that we’ve allowed two or three misread passages to completely overshadow God’s message of love in the Bible.

Torn is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand better what’s holding back the love and compassion of Christians for the LGBT world. It’s a good read for anyone: Christian, non-Christian, gay, straight. (Caveat: I say this as a straight Christian, but I’m trusting Lee’s experience to overcome that, since this book is about him and his experiences.) I would recommend this to anyone not wanting to keep their head in the sand from such an important discussion.

This is something the whole Christian community needs to be thinking about. If you don’t personally know anyone who’s gay, you’re probably wrong in that assumption. You just don’t realize it. This is something that will impact each and every one of us, probably sooner than we expect. There is a lot of history to overcome – a lot of hate, a lot of misunderstanding. The sooner that we begin to understand, the sooner we can begin reconciliation.

In a Venn diagram, Gays and Christians aren’t mutually exclusive – in fact, there’s much more overlap than most people would imagine. Justin Lee enlightens us to that fact, and helps us understand how we need more compassion, more dialogue. This book is a simple read – it’s accessible to anyone, and I think important for Christians, simply because his statement is so true:

I believe our goal should be truth, not ideology, and that we must have the humility to admit that we still don’t have all the answers.

We would be better Christians in all aspects of our lives if we could admit this.

Justin Lee does a great job in discussing ex-gay movements and explaining how they might be able to help you change behavior (if that’s what you want) but they cannot change the fact that you’re gay. In fact, he cites many of the founders of the movement (and ex-gay poster children) and describes how they’ve returned to previous gay lifestyles. Reparative therapy doesn’t work. Focus on the Family lied to you. His words are better than mine:

Focus [on the Family] then sent me a pack of resources promoting the same ex-gay groups I already knew didn’t work, featuring testimonies from many of the same people I already knew weren’t really straight.

Of course, this book is going to be controversial to conservative Christians because it’s not anti-gay. Lifeway won’t even carry it (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised). On the other side, it may also be controversial to some on the LGBT side, because Justin Lee is tolerant of those gay Christians who believe the Bible teaches that they need to remain celibate (even though he does not subscribe to that). He wants more than anything for everyone to come together with a discussion of love, so that we can all understand each other – and replace the long-standing hate with compassion.

Read this book. If you’re a Christian, read it to overcome your LGBT prejudices. If you’re LGBT, read it to understand that the truth is that Christians shouldn’t be fighting this war they have been fighting, and to understand the love and compassion we should be having.

Side note: I “won” a prize in our local library’s 2012 reading contest. I got to pick one book to be added to to the library. I felt like this was important enough to add. So if you live in the Huntsville area, you can literally “check this out” at the Huntsville library.

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Lessons from the Shining

Apparently, this book had a pretty big impact on me, if I’m still thinking about it. Here are a few of the lessons I learned from it:

  1. Think before you act. You may regret some horrible deed that could have been prevented with a little thought.
  2. Learn patience. Enjoy the life you have. Focus on the blessings right in front of you.
  3. Don’t let your temper get the better of you. Figure out a way to control it before it controls you.
  4. Don’t drink. Just…don’t.
  5. Sometimes it sucks to play the cards you’re dealt, but for better for worse that’s all you got.
  6. Being a parent can be really hard.
  7. Sometimes you just don’t know if you’re making the right decision. Sometimes you’ll never know.
  8. Take time with your kids. Have fun with them. Watch them laugh. Who knows when you might become a raving homicidal maniac and ruin that relationship?
  9. My son is 5 so this is especially important: Never take your 5-year-old son and your wife to an abandoned hotel in the mountains.
  10. Roque is an evil, evil game. Play croquet; it’s safer.

I hope these help someone, someday.