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Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate
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Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  2,147 Ratings  ·  378 Reviews
As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed "God Boy" by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events--his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the "ex-gay" movement, and his in-depth study ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Jericho Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Nov 21, 2012 Shaney rated it it was amazing
No matter what your theological convictions on gay relationships, you need to read this book. If you think "gay Christian" is an oxymoron, you need to read this book. If you know someone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you don't know anyone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you think gays have an "agenda," you need to read this book. If you think the church knows how to show grace to gay individuals, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. If you are aware that the church is failing in thi ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Mathew rated it it was ok
Justin Lee not only choose the most controversial topic of the day but his title didn’t provide much wiggle room--“rescuing the gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christian debate.” I mean if you’re rescuing the gospel from something or someone then everything about the book has got to be perfect, right? Justin starts with the war weary statistics that suggest most people identify the church as anti-gay. I’ve seen this study so many places I stopped counting. My question is always: Is that a result of the ...more
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
Nov 27, 2012 Joy rated it it was amazing
This is an issue I have struggled with. I know that I want to follow the commandment to love my neighbor and I also know that I (with my whole heart) want to support my gay family members. I want them to find the same kind of love that I have found, and I want them to feel welcomed, rather than rejected by the church. At the same time, I struggle with the debate about sin, and how my fellow Christians respond.

Before reading this book, I had decided that loving was my command, and that examining
Sep 05, 2012 Dana rated it it was amazing
This whole book is just kind of ironic to me in some ways. I almost didn't get it, because I thought it was just a religious book and just the usual Christian stuff and as I am not a religious person, I threw it back into the promo bin at work (We get promo books for free and we can get whichever ones we want from the bin). Then I glanced back at the bin later and saw the word "gay" on it and was like, "Wait, what?" and actually read the whole subheading. Even then I was still a bit skeptical bu ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Ka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Justin Lee's Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-the-Christians Debate is a must read for anyone who cares about anyone who is gay, or knows anyone who is gay, or knows anyone who knows anyone who is gay. If you are a Christian, who has any opinion on the matter, you should open your heart and read this book. If you disagree with someone in the Church about any portion of "gay politics," you should read this book. Regardless of your current thoughts and opinions, you should read this boo ...more
Chris Schaeffer
Apr 22, 2013 Chris Schaeffer rated it really liked it
Eye opening. Certainly will never look at the Christian/Gay debate the same again. In fact, I'm not sure I even know where I stand anymore. I don't think I have any right to decide one way or the other. I'm called to love and serve, I'll just stick to that.
Jenni Frencham
Justin Lee's new book Torn chronicles his journey as an evangelical Christian who realized he was gay, and the conflict between his orientation and his beliefs. Lee is calling for the LGBT community and the Christian community to lay down arms and declare a cease-fire.

Much of Lee's early experiences echoed my own: as a committed Christian, Lee was raised to believe that homosexuality is both a choice and a sin, but when he realized that he was gay, he had to revise his beliefs and come to terms
Feb 22, 2013 Readnponder rated it it was amazing
While I may not agree with 100% of Justin Lee's conclusions in this book, it is a much-needed contribution to the issue of gays and the church. Justin tells of growing up in a Southern Baptist church and a loving, intact, non-abusive home, yet realizing in adolescence that he had a same sex attraction. He always intended to go into ministry as an adult, but being gay created a complication. The title comes from how Justin internalized the culture war surrounding him.

I appreciate the honesty and
M Christopher
This is a pretty good book, not great, which has as its primary strength the winsomeness of its author. "Torn" is not very deep in its theology or psychology but gains an immediacy by being in large part the memoir of Justin Lee, telling the story of his sexual awakening, coming out, and personal struggle with the divide between cultural evangelical Christianity and the culture of the late twentieth century LGBT community.

It would be almost impossible, it seems to me, to read this book and not f
Jun 30, 2015 Travis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfict-religion
This should be required reading for every American Christian. Seriously. To quote another reviewer:

"No matter what your theological convictions on gay relationships, you need to read this book. If you think "gay Christian" is an oxymoron, you need to read this book. If you know someone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you don't know anyone who's gay, you need to read this book. If you think gays have an "agenda," you need to read this book. If you think the church knows how to show grac
Jun 07, 2013 Anna rated it it was amazing
THIS. This is where Christians should begin to address gay issues in our society. THIS would help with healing and broken hearts and struggling lives. If we all would confront our own torn emotions and belief systems over this issue and every other modern 'culture war' issue with such love, compassion, and grace like Justin has showed in this book: the world would be a different place.

I think every Christian regardless of your thoughts on the LGBT "argument" should read this book. AMAZING.
Aug 12, 2015 Alsie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I start this review, I want to quickly talk about what brought me to this book.
For ages, I have never understood why a committed, loving relationship between the same gender was wrong. Yes, the Bible seemed to say it was, but I'm the type of person that ABSOLUTELY NEEDS to know the reasons why. I needed to dig deeper. Plus, I was sick of the hate I had seen in churches, both from what I'd read of Christians commenting about the subject and what I had heard myself. I'd read stories of how
Panda Incognito
The real-life nuance and struggle of a Baptist boy discovering and coming to terms with his homosexuality makes for an interesting perspective on the culture wars, and I appreciate the biographical element and how the middle ground perspective can help people on different sides of this issue understand and respect each other more. However, the title is misleading, because this book primarily emphasizes how Christian culture influenced the author's life, saying nothing about how the gospel can tr ...more
Feb 28, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Justin Lee was called "God-boy" by the kids in school. Everyone knew him as a Jesus-fanatic, an outspoken member of the evangelical Christian community. Yet Justin had a secret: he was attracted to men. The problem was that his Southern Baptist background considered being gay a sin, or more precisely a disease to be cured of. In this book Justin tells his story and it is an important story to hear.

As I read, I could not help but recall being an adolescent, traveling through those confusing days
Dec 27, 2012 Jay rated it really liked it
This book is important.

If you searched for this title, I can already say you need to read this. I won't waste too much of your time on a book summary (it seems there are plenty of reviews that can give you that). In one sentence, this is an autobiographical, avant-garde storytelling of a man's struggle growing up as a gay* Christian boy who wrestles with the church through rejection and reconciliation; he provides palpable hope for the Christians and LGBT communities to embrace one another in l
Jan 31, 2013 Christy rated it really liked it
I remember being told when I was 8, that if anyone brought up homosexuality in my sex ed class, I should use the word "dysfunction" to describe it.
I remember saying "love the sinner, hate the sin" and thinking it was a fair compromise and a loving way to view someone who was gay.

This is the way I grew up. As an adult, however, I have encountered actual gay people, ones I love, as well as fellow Christians who aren't offended by their lifestyle. After reading some books that delved into Paul's wo
Adam Ross
Oct 07, 2013 Adam Ross rated it it was amazing
A fantastic introduction toward getting past the culture wars approach to this issue, and a great start toward loving your gay neighbors. Justin emphasizes the distinction between orientation and behavior, and moves past misunderstanding to a place of compassion and conviction. More than anything it is a personal journey, so footnotes are far and few between, but the personal sense of the book allows a small and brief window into the spiritual crisis which fear, mythology, ideology, and misinfor ...more
Ryan Miller
Jun 02, 2013 Ryan Miller rated it it was amazing
Required reading for anyone who has ever openly strived to examine and reconcile faith and sexual orientation. Lee may not come to the same conclusions as you do, but he doesn't ask any readers to come to his conclusions. He simply (and eloquently) tells his agonizing story of being a wholehearted, fully committed, strident Christian who can no longer deny that he is gay.

Lee offers personal stories and broader descriptions that expose the ex-gay movement as based on a framework of deception and
Samantha H
Feb 20, 2013 Samantha H rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I read it because I am so frustrated with the modern church and wanted to educate myself better on how to most effectively rebut the argument that being gay and Christian must be mutuallyexclusive. I am a faithful person but I do not subscribe to many of the teachings of my church, yet I hate the thought of leaving my religion behind because of my disagreements. The message of the book resonated with me because I also firmly believe that the truest interpretation of Christia ...more
Allison Hurst
Sep 24, 2016 Allison Hurst rated it it was amazing

Resounding, thoughtful, and circumnavigating! Praise for candid and courageous testimony AS WELL AS sound and carefully intentioned study of the tough scriptures and biblical points. This man was preaching, and I hope to hear more graceful dialogue on this in our local and global churches. Thankful.
Jan 25, 2017 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a Christian and you struggle with how to love people who are gay, read this book. If you are not Christian and you want to understand more about the divide in this issue, read this book. Basically, I think this is a super important book for the climate of us vs. them right now. Justin Lee writes about his story of being a gay Christian, but also how to move forward from homosexuality being a debate topic to being about how to love others. Lee has a nice writing style: balanced, comfor ...more
Apr 24, 2013 Don rated it liked it
I began reading Lee on his blog, Crumbs from the Communion Table. I had found that he, a self-identifying gay christian wrote with uncommon grace, charity and ability. He is very able when it comes to describing and promoting his own ministry the Gay-Christian Network, a web-based attempt to build bridges between the evangelical (particularly) Christian community and the LGBT community. Torn is his first published book and describes how he came to terms with his own homosexuality AND his belief ...more
Jeff Elliott
I was completely with Justin Lee up until chapter 12. I accepted his distinction of gay orientation and gay behavior. I appreciate his ability to walk us through his journey as a Christian who discovers that he is gay. I could relate to him as he records his struggle with what he believed the Bible said then and what he believes now. Unfortunately I cannot go to the same conclusions that he does. I appreciate his compassion and understanding of the Christian viewpoint.
In chapter 12, he dissects
Jan 12, 2013 Colleen rated it really liked it
This is an important book and it couldn't have come at a better time. In fact, if you don't have a close gay friend or family member who shares their life experience with you, this is a must read. Justin Lee lays it all out there, what it's like to have a wonderful, nurturing childhood with loving and caring parents, to be part of a church that serves as a second homebase, to be known as God Boy at school and want only to please and serve God...and be gay. In this book, Justin takes the reader t ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Heidi rated it really liked it
This is the story of a young man, raised in a solid Christian home by Bible believing- and -teaching parents who loved him and were good to him, who realizes some time in high school, that he is attracted to guys, not girls.

It isn't a deep theological treatise, nor does it try to explain things indepth psychologically, but it does tell the story in his own words, of someone who did not choose to be gay, who did not rebel against God, and who still is not in rebellion againt God, yet he is unden
Jun 24, 2013 Brenda rated it it was amazing
This book arrived on my doorstep the same day DOMA and Prop 8 were repealed. Talk about timely. From page one, I was riveted. By sharing his own story bravely and honestly, Justin Lee stands as proof that you can be gay AND a Christian. In the context of his personal journey, he examines evangelical "ex-gay" programs, the difference between orientation and behavior, the problem with "love the sinner, hate the sin," the real meat of what the Bible says on these issues, and much more. I have reser ...more
Jun 01, 2013 Tyler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, audible, 2013
Despite the title, this is more of a memoir than a manifesto. It's the story of how one man has experienced the gays-vs-Christians debate in his own life, and what he's doing to try to end it. Naturally, you also get his ideas about what the Church is doing wrong and what it's doing right in its relationship to gay people, but that feels more tangential to the story than the title might imply.

If you know a young evangelical Christian who is beginning to come out, buy this book for them. Now! On
Apryl Anderson
Jul 29, 2013 Apryl Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bless this young man for his courage, honesty and integrity! I know very few people, regardless of sexual orientation, who are willing to explore the depth of their souls, choose to seek God with all their heart, mind & strength, and--in addition to all that private turmoil--stand naked and unashamed (figuratively speaking) before man.

I thoroughly appreciate that he declares the obvious difference between same-sex attraction and behavior. No matter which form your body lusts after, there's n
Gerard Kelly
May 02, 2013 Gerard Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Unconditional” by Justin Lee is as relentlessly upbeat as its author, and one of the most compelling contributions to the ‘Gays vs Christians’ wars currently besetting the church. Lee tells his own story, and does so with a rare skill and with none of the score-settling rancour that so often marrs this debate. He lands in a place that will not please all his readers – but he gets there with such gentleness and authenticity that his account must surely be accorded the respect of careful examinat ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Torn by Justin Lee 1 4 Nov 18, 2012 12:33PM  
  • Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America
  • Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships
  • Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community
  • Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
  • Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians
  • God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships
  • Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions
  • A Letter to My Congregation: An evangelical pastor's path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender in the company of Jesus
  • Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church
  • Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church
  • When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over
  • The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are
  • The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
  • Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical
  • Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity
  • Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality
  • The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins
  • Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World
Justin Lee is the founder and executive director of The Gay Christian Network (GCN), a nonprofit, interdenominational organization working to increase dialogue between gays and Christians and support people on both sides wrestling with related issues.
More about Justin Lee...

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“...the story serves as an important reminder to all of us that sometimes, when people are hurting, they don't need our advice and theological theorizing as much as they need our understanding and comfort.” 6 likes
“... challenge the church to do better, be more of who Christ wants us to be ...” 4 likes
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