A review of Torn: Rescuing the Bible From the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

Justin Lee is a professing Christian LGBTQIA+ activist and the founder of the Gay Christian Network. He has also written a compelling book entitled, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. As a teenager and young man, Justin felt deeply torn. Nicknamed “God Boy” by his peers, he felt called to a life in some type of ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In his book, Lee recalls the events—his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the “ex-gay” movement, and his own in-depth study of the Bible—that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance and the endorsement of same sex marriage.

What makes Lee’s book so different is that, unlike Matthew Vines’ book, God and the Gay Christian, Lee tends to be more honest about the Bible’s negative take on homosexuality.

He is clear that Leviticus and Romans are quite negative about same sex relationships. He is clear that he wants to follow God’s will. He is also clear that he dreads the thought of leading people astray, knowing that he would be accountable to God. But then on page 206 everything changes. Lee says that although the Bible seems to frown strongly on same sex relationships, because Christians are increasingly divided on the issue, he feels freedom—from God—to steer a middle course. He traces this hermeneutical freedom to the love command of Jesus. This is where Lee loses his way.

Somehow, Lee manages to convince himself that Jesus’ love ethic nullifies God’s otherwise clear prohibitions on same sex marriage. That is, since Christians are to accept one another in areas we disagree, we have a green light to take any position on anything we may disagree about. This is biblical interpretation sleight of hand at its best/worst. Lee agonizes that he may be wrong in all this, and for good reason. He is. Jesus’ command to love one another is not a magic wand to be waved over every difficult text that people disagree about. This is American eisegesis 101. Lee is reading Scripture thru an American lens of pluralistic tolerance, not through the lens of Holy Scripture. Although Lee is a compelling writer and writes in a winsome style, it cannot justify how he treats Scripture. He ends up in the wrong place, biblically, for the wrong reasons.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor