Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Books I'd recommend (Part 1)

Last night a friend dropped by to borrow some of my books for an assignment. So I thought I'd blog about some of the books written by gay Christians, and those by straight ones, on the topic of homosexuality.

The list below is in reverse chronological order, starting from the book I read most recently. The corresponding reviews are based on my (sometimes faulty) memory and I'd advise you to read up more about them on their corresponding Amazon pages I've linked to just to be doubly sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

So here goes!

1. Gay and Catholic: Accepting my Sexuality, Finding Community, Living my Faith by Eve Tushnet

This is a brilliant book that I finished very quickly because of the conversational style of writing employed by the author. It is part memoir, part advice-giving and is generally great resource for gay Christians who might be grappling with their same-sex attractions for the first time.

Eve was a convert to the Catholic faith in her university days and had been out since the age of 13 to liberal, accepting parents. The book outlines her journey to faith and celibacy and also includes a substantial portion of her struggle with alcoholism. I liked this book because it presents a different viewpoint from the many gay Christian authors I've read previously and Tushnet is a really good writer to boot. Recommended for all.

2. Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships by James Brownson

I bought this book because I'd heard so many people reference it when they talk about how the Bible states that same-sex relationship are okay. It may sound incredible to you, but these people really do believe so. And so I had to read it.

The author is a New Testament professor who decided to study the clobber passages (Biblical verses that deal with homosexuality) in greater depth after his son came out to him as gay. And so he does. Expect a blow by blow, verse by verse, word by word analysis and exegesis as you read this book. Not for the faint-hearted, he also goes into the Greek and Hebrew meanings and word definitions of the various verses involved.

I must say that even though I don't agree with the conclusions the author makes, he really has gone to great lengths to study and interpret Scripture, albeit with a most biased slant. So I'd recommend this to scholarly types who are interested in why some Christians are Side A (The side that is for same-sex marriage and relationships).

For an easier alternative...

3. God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines

I've previously done a very brief review of this book in one of my previous posts which didn't really do the book justice.

If I remember correctly, this book draws from James Brownson's Bible, Gender, Sexuality among other sources and breaks down the 6 clobber passages into simple terms for the layman. It is a fast and easy read but some have uncovered loopholes that the author overlooked. These loopholes sound fairly legit and I'd recommend you to read Matthew Vines' book before reading the criticism.

The book was caused quite an uproar in the State when it was launched and is hailed as a ground-breaking work. I'd recommend one to read this if you'd like to find out why some say the Bible is for same-sex relationship but is unable to find time to digest the very dense book by James Brownson. This is an easier to read alternative.

4. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

This begins as a memoir of how a boy raised in a loving Christian home discovered himself to be gay. It touches briefly on his experiences in the ex-gay movement and how he found that their theories were incongruent with his life (one of the theories being that it generally takes an absent father and overprotective mother to create a gay person).

He then reveals how he founded the Gay Christian Network, popularly known as GCN, that is "a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to building bridges and offering support for those caught in the crossfire of one of today's most divisive culture wars". Very interesting book, highly recommended to gay and straight Christians alike.

5. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

Isn't it interesting that all these 5 books I've listed all have a title within a title? Perhaps it's the latest trend in publishing. Well, this book is one of the BEST I've read on the topic so far. If you are going to get only one book, get this.

Wesley Hill is an assistant professor in New Testament and is a celibate gay Christian. He talks about the alienating experience growing up as a closeted gay boy and tells us about the gut-wrenching experience of coming out for the first time that every gay person can relate to. I just re-read a small section of it yesterday and remember it quite clearly.I have to finish re-reading the entire thing to be able to properly remember what the rest of the book is about, but all I remember was that it was very good. It was so good, in fact, that I bought a copy for my cell leader to read to help understand my struggle better.

Anyway, that's all for today. A very long post unlike the past couple of posts. I'd like to do individual reviews but am afraid I'll not have the time for it so I'll post a couple at a time. I think this makes more sense. In any case, these are probably the most popular books on the topic I can think of, so do check them out if you're able to. :)

In other news, I might be visiting the only LGBT library in Singapore this Saturday to just check it out, having never been there before. I wonder what I'll find there...

Where I belong

At my first church, I felt like I was part of a family. Until it wasn't. A guest pastor had come from New York and made a homophobic...