Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: Love Is an Orientation by Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin has written one of the most illuminating and challenging books of the year, pressing his finger in on a sore spot in the side of Christianity with Love Is an Orientation. The church's relationship with the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community (or lack thereof) has been a black eye for us and a favorite straw man for anyone wanting to bash the church.

I found myself agreeing more often than not with Marin's approach and reasoning, attempting to "elevate the conversation" rather than cut it short. One insightful point was that both the GLBT and fundamentalist communities will often ask closed-ended questions in order to force you to simply "pick a side" in the fight. (Questions like: Do you think homosexuality is a sin? Do you think that someone can be gay and Christian? Are GLBT people going to hell? Hint: there are better answers than a simple "yes" or "no".)

While I agreed and resonated with his approach to love, accept, and build relationships with the GLBT community, there was one full chapter with which I could not agree. When it came time to finally address the passages in the Bible about homosexuality (or the Big 5 as he called them), he considered the particulars, interpreted them into an overarching principle, and then ignored the particulars. In this way, he never addressed the individual verses themselves, bypassing them in a sort of contextual paraphrase with the surrounding verses.

I do feel that Andrew Marin soft-pedalled more than necessary around the homosexuality as sin issue. Since I work in the travel industry, I spend a lot of time around hotel and airline employees where the GLBT percentage is higher than average. Yet I am baffled by the need to treat them any different than any of my other co-workers. I work with one guy who is living with his girlfriend. I work with another who is rumored to be having an affair. Yet I do not feel compelled to go all "fire and brimstone" on them about their sexual deviance. While I am not softening in my mind the fact that they are sinners and in practicing sin, that sin is peripheral when it comes to my relationship with and evangelism towards them. I love my co-workers, I care for them, I want them all to see the superiority and beauty of Jesus. I want them all to believe on Him for salvation.

While Marin (in my opinion) at times erred too far on the side of diplomacy, perhaps he is a product of fundamentalism erring too far in the opposite direction for far too long. This is an important work for the Christian church, not always for the answers he gives, but for the questions he raises and the dialogue he starts.

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