“Love is an Orientation” Book Review and #freebookgiveaway

July 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

Each week this summer I am giving away books and offering a choice of two titles – one written by a man and one by a woman. Just to be fair.

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This week’s choices are:

The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? by Jim Henderson The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church’s Backbone? by Jim Henderson

Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home by Jonalyn Grace Fincher Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home by Jonalyn Grace Fincher

The first week of the #freebookgiveaway I offered Love Is an Orientation by Andrew Marin. I have not finished reading it yet, but my friend Peter Benedict recommends the book and sent me his review.

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

Love Is an Orientation Book Review by Peter Benedict

Love Is an Orientation is on of the most important books on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) issues that any follower of Jesus could read. Andrew Marin’s story lends power to his writing. His life and work give him authority to challenge those of us who have looked at gays as somehow “less than” straight people.

My faith community (a Vineyard church, somewhere in the vicinity of the conservative evangelical stream) didn’t discuss homosexuality much. When we did, I was given the chance to preach two “truths:” 1) Homosexual acts violate the Bible’s teaching, and 2) The greatest truth of the Bible for most of us on this issue is that Christians must love gays as much as anyone else.

These were safe truths. No one confronted me about them. I had one friend who was trying, in her words, to use our weekly 12 step recovery meeting to deal with “an unwanted gayness.” She was one of our best servant leaders.

Then that same friend reported that God had, during a sermon in which we were teaching about the various reasons divorce might be acceptable, told her that she was beautiful just as she is, and that she could date women. I told her that I loved her, and that I trusted her to hear God in the coming weeks and months. I also began to consider my stance: Was she necessarily deceived or wrong? Could this have been the voice of God?

I realized, over the coming days, that this needed to be discussed in community, so I got her permission and brought up the situation with my fellow staff members. We realized, in a few short weeks, that we represented very nearly the complete range of views on GLBT issues in the church. We had one staff member who was completely affirming; one who was mostly affirming; one who described himself as “somewhere in the middle;” one who was welcoming but not affirming; and one whose primary concern was that we get the person in question out of leadership as soon as possible.

Once we realized the disparity in our positions, we knew we needed to dive into the issue if we wanted to move forward with anything like unity. There was a lot of pain among us, as we considered whether or not we could stay together. For some of us, this was an issue of a Christian being prevented from service because of prejudice. For others, this was an issue of Biblical integrity.

We decided to read Love Is an Orientation and discuss it together. We couldn’t possibly have made a better choice. The book’s greatest strength is also its most frustrating characteristic: it doesn’t discuss whether or not gay lifestyle is sinful. In retrospect, that helped us more than anything else. We read lots of articles and books, and those on the affirming side promoted the affirming material, while those on the welcoming-but-not-affirming side promoted material that supported their position. Only one of us changed perspectives – God moved me to become affirming, but not as a result of any material proposed among us. That’s a story for another time.

What we needed was a way to move forward in love for one another, while still disagreeing (strongly!) about the theology and practice of GLBT lifestyles.

Marin’s book, which is at turns transparent, sensitive, confrontational, challenging, troubling, moving, and humbling, provided us a framework to get where we are today: still in disagreement, but able to be together, with our gay friend still among us. We didn’t come up with a solution that makes any of us particularly happy (and as a result, sharing it wouldn’t help anyone else… each person, family, church community, etc. needs to do their own work), but we found a way forward that works for us.

Marin’s use of scripture is challenging; I didn’t always think he was playing fairly, but he made a good number of Bible-based arguments that challenged me to consider how I can love others. In the end, though, it was his story, the story of a genuine homophobe learning to love gay people, that disarmed us.

I owe a portion of my love for my community and for my place within it to Andrew Marin. I’ve passed his book to conservative, liberal, and gay friends, with generally glowing and positive reviews.

Please give it a read, and weigh in with what you think.

If you want to contact Peter to hear more of his story, you can connect with him on Facebook. Peter will also be checking the comments here and joining in on the conversation.


Entry filed under: Book Reviews, gender, sexuality.

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