#CBR8 Review #58

Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community by Andrew Marin

Disclaimer: I wrote this review last month. I had no idea that the world would turn on itself on June 11, 2016. I still have no words. But after reading about the massacre of 49 individuals–most of whom were LGBT people of color–it’s so clear to me that there is still a lot of hate that bred the kind of culture that would allow this massacre to happen. I hope and pray that the sneaky and overt homophobia that has characterized the Christian Church for years will have been stripped away by this tragedy and replaced with pure, unconditional godly love.

While some people are inherently tuned to social justice issues when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community, there are those of us—including me—who began to see these issues in a new, real, personal light when friends came out to us. My first friend came out to me personally in 2007. I had suspected for a few years that she was a lesbian, but I knew that we were at a university that did not openly affirm LGBT+ individuals, and that coming out involved a huge risk, which could include her getting expelled, or worse: persecuted. Once she came out to me, I realized how uninformed and ignorant I was, and I’ve spent the last nine years of my life working to be better educated as a person, a world citizen, and a Christian.

This last spring, I had a student write a woefully uninformed paper against same-sex marriage and advocating actively for LGBT celibacy (a position I do not support at all, because we don’t demand lifelong celibacy without any promise of marriage from our heterosexual singles, for Pete’s sake). I’ve decided to do some reading to give my Christian students a fuller picture of LGBT issues with the Bible in mind. These next few book reviews will keep this focus in mind.

I started with Andrew Marin’s Love Is an Orientation, partly because The Chancellor had sent me a recommendation on Goodreads (he wanted me to vet it), and partly because it’s written from a Conservative Christian perspective in 2009. Marin’s perspective is this: his three best friends came out to him, and he was devastated. Then, he decided to immerse himself in LGBT culture in order to understand. Now, he wants to elevate the conversation between Christians and the LGBT community, since bridges have been burned.

I started off really liking this book and ended being really uncomfortable with this book. I think Marin genuinely means well, but there is a lot of subtle hinting that perhaps with enough prayer and Bible study, gay people can “change,” and the implied change is one of decision to pursue celibacy deliberately. I don’t find this a productive argument at all. If we advocate marriage as a mirror of our relationship with God, does not enforced lifelong celibacy as a condition of Christianity obscure the potential for growth in our relationship with God? Just my two cents.

In short, this book is for people who think that gay people are evil. Marin does well to try to bridge a gap, but Lord have mercy, we have moved a LONG way since 2009. I sincerely hope that Marin has, as well. I’ll be interested to see what his upcoming book holds, as far as his views on sexuality and Christianity go.

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