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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 ·  3,451 ratings  ·  539 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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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  3,451 ratings  ·  539 reviews

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Nov 21, 2012 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 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 compas
Nov 27, 2012 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 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
Chris Schaeffer
Apr 22, 2013 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. ...more
Aug 02, 2013 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
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
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
Aug 12, 2015 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
"The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies that spew forth from the pulpit of the churches “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your straight children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your straight children—having listened to mom and dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to the family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry himself to slee ...more
Jun 07, 2013 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 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, the-pursuit
Realizing the answers I want to the questions I ask are subpar to the answers I receive to the questions I have yet to think about
Feb 28, 2013 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 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
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 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
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
No matter your stance, this is a worthwhile read.
Jun 30, 2015 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
Justin Xu
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SO good! I was reading Romans with a good friend and lots of themes inevitably started to appear. Justin's story is so illuminating and did a great job of painting how much a Gay man dedicated to Christ can really feel so torn in today's Christian society. Definitely can hit upon some pretty heavy stuff at times, but really Justin's faithfulness shines through in every passage that he writes, and that powerful testimony is really what we need in our lives always. There really are no conclusive a ...more
Kelly Poe
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Perhaps the most compassionate and accessible work on the subject I've ever read. I obviously read it for its take on LGBT issues in Christianity, but I was surprised how much I still related to it as a straight woman.

"People don't marry for the right to have sex; they marry for love and the opportunity to build a life together with another human being. They marry because when everything goes wrong and life is most challenging, it's comforting to have a hand to hold. Because in the darkness of
David Vance
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow... a way forward. This is every bit as gracious as the jacket says. The best book I’ve read on this. Now to start over...
Hufflepuff Book Reviewer
4.5 stars!

Torn resonated with me even more on the reread—as I’ve been currently going through a bit of a deconstruction in my faith and worldview. While I am straight and thus can by no means ever understand Justin’s plight as a gay Christian in its entirety, I identified even more on this reading with some of Justin’s experiences about feeling out of place in the Christian world—seeing that some Christians often don’t agree with some of the theological conclusions that I’ve been coming to; som
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My opinion of this book is, of course, colored by my own experience growing up within a fundamentalist Christian tradition that also excludes queer folk. I found Lee's description of his struggle to be touching and credible--with portions mirroring my own. Lee is clearly a very brave human and his desire to reconcile aspects of his identities that seem unreconcilable are, on the surface, quite beautiful.

The "problem" with the book, and Lee's narrative and perspective, is that it is clear, from h
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I think this is a valuable read (if read as a memoir) to hear Justin's story and to truly understand the hearts behind people who are gay Christians. However, although it does rightly to inspire our compassion, I would not recommend it for any theological content regarding homosexuality.

He is right to say that the church does not do enough to show people who are gay that they are not any lesser of a person and that God does not love them any less than the next heterosexual Christian. I can agre
Jan 31, 2013 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
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
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
Adam Ross
Oct 07, 2013 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 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 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
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Torn by Justin Lee 1 6 Nov 18, 2012 12:33PM  

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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.

News & Interviews

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
43 likes · 16 comments
“...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.” 8 likes
“Today's young people have gay friends whom they love. If they view the church as an unsafe for them, a place more focused on politics than on people, we just might be raising the most anti-Christian generation America has ever seen, a generation that believes they have to choose between loving and being Christian.” 6 likes
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