Monday, November 1, 2010

The Gospel Abridged: A review of Andrew Marin's 'Love is an Orientation'

I apologize for not keeping up with this blog as often as I have in the past. Perhaps my preoccupation with our current pResident in chief and his Marxist cronies and terrible bills and policies have been keeping me too busy.

However, whenever I get an email or message from a fellow Christian believer on the subject of the acceptance of LGBT orientation and/or the "same-sex" marriage controversy in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I feel motivated to pass such information along to my readers.

Here is the email review (and links) written by Andy Comiskey at Desert Stream Ministries about a book called 'Love is an Orientation':

The Gospel Abridged:
A review of Andrew Marin's 'Love is an Orientation'
by Andy Comiskey
(Part 3 of 4...click here for Part 1 & 2)


This is the third article I have written in a four-part effort to present a whole gospel to gays, and to point out a couple of trends that distort that gospel. One such lop-sided approach is described in ‘Love is an Orientation’ by Andrew Marin.

The book interested me for several reasons. First, it is published by IVP, a solidly evangelical press that happens to be my publisher. Second, ‘Love is an Orientation’ has been very popular among progressive evangelical pastors. Some asked my opinion on it; I write this review to respond to their request.

The book’s theme corresponds with what I observe to be the lopsided approach of many churches to gays: embrace them with a broad message of ‘love’ but provide no clear track for their restoration once inside the church.

The deficit? Evangelism with no discipleship—new life without the cost, a personal resurrection requiring no crucifixion. On such uneven ground, some evangelical churches I know have begun to shift the boundary lines of truth concerning (homo)sexuality. Unwittingly, Marin’s book may encourage that shift, especially with Christians seeking to resolve the tension they feel between gay loved ones and their ‘old ideas’ of sexual morality.

Andrew Marin is a young evangelical who has sought to build a bridge between Christians and the GLBT (gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender) community. His love for that community is more apparent than his love of truth, which skews the good news he offers them. Embrace his heart for the lost while walking carefully: the bridge he builds to unite the church with the gay community is missing some significant planks.

Too bad. His heart at times shines through the pages. He is an evangelist with a background in sociology. His expressed purpose is to ‘elevate the conversation’ with the gay community by ‘humbly learning and listening’ to them.

All good. No evangelical I relate to would deny that a heavy-handed approach to a community that exists in reaction to (its perception of) the church won’t work. Marin wisely suggests that sensitive and patient relating is key to making Him known.

The question is: how do we become the new body that Jesus employs to replace the gay identity and community? Making that transition is tough for all concerned, especially for a gay person baptized and confirmed as a member of a queer nation. How do we lovingly help him or her shed the gay self for the truth?

That has been our challenge from day one at Desert Stream--providing a bridge for the men and women of West Hollywood to the Vineyard Westside. Though the church was just a few miles away, for many it seemed like a bridge too far.

Andrew falters at helping the church become the new community. Instead he focuses on how to keep the conversation going with gay neighbors, yet remains cryptic about crucial points in that dialogue.

I became aware of Andrew a few years back when we were both slated to share on ministry to gays at a conference for urban youth. I wanted to find out where he was coming from, as his course description was vague. He wouldn’t tell me.

That lack of clarity pervades his book, which could be subtitled: ‘If gays ask, don’t tell.’ Marin advises Christians to stay away from pointed conversation with gays about sexuality and ethics as many will use such dialogue to write Christians off.

So Marin remains mysterious in his sexual morality; his book is confusing as to how he understands the transformation Jesus and His body bring to gays.

Gays seeking Jesus face some pretty big decisions about identity, community, etc. Marin advises that instead of sharing our views we simply ‘let it all be in the Lord’s hands and plans as He sees it to be good.’(p.113) Not helpful for the 18-year-old Bible college student about to jump ship and move in with a more ‘realized’ gay man, or the young woman bonding sexually with a fellow athlete, herself a proud member of the GLBT community. (We as a ministry have had to address both cases.)

In light of 30-years of beholding the increase of gay options for at-risk youth (never mind the intervention I have had to do with my own kids for related issues!), I asked myself: Can we do better than a Zen-like surrender of our loved ones to the apparently unknown God?

I say unknown, not because Marin does not manifest the deeply personal love Jesus imparts to His followers; he simply refuses to comment on whether or not Jesus cares about sexual immorality and/or the indignities it engenders on all involved.

How else can he say: ‘If a GLBT person has indicated that it is OK to be gay, the Christian community has to deeply trust and rely on the knowledge that we can never know the end to God’s best journey for someone else’s life.’ (pp. 110, 111)

That may involve turning from homosexuality; it may involve turning toward it. Marin’s gospel will not disclose. In his kingdom, the only solid line one dare not cross is to act as if one knows the way, sexually-speaking, and can help another to find it.

In line with his ‘who knows?’ approach to sexual decision-making, Marin shortchanges the scriptural references to homosexuality. His chapter on the topic does all a disservice. He misinterprets scripture to support his penchant for the GLBT community. He may win their hearts but seriously distorts the meaning of the texts.

Marin frames the 5 obvious references in Scripture that prohibit homosexual behavior as open doors for dialogue with the gay community. He does this by interpreting them in light of his call to build bridges, while stripping the texts of much if any ethical weight in regards to their clear prohibition of gay behavior.

The main sin he warns us of is our homophobia; clear the way, so that gays can ‘choose for God’, says Marin. He is silent as to whether these verses can or should have any authority in deterring those who have chosen Him from repenting of what Paul considers grounds for dismissal from God’s Kingdom.

Dr. Robert Gagnon said it well: ‘The Christian faith cannot be held hostage in its full proclamation of the Gospel because some interest group finds offensive part of that message.’ (For more on Gagnon’s take on Marin’s scriptural errors, click here)

The GLBT community is being held hostage by lies that only the truthful love of Jesus and His community can break. Marin genuinely cares for them; his book manifests that care.

My problem, however, is that he limits that love by so pandering to the GLBT community (in Marin’s own words: ‘I have never met a more loving community…’ Really!?) that he obscures the bridge between them and the church.

Marin the evangelist must meet Marin the pastor who actually walks out the process of integration with gays who surrender their lives to Christ there. He would have to answer the hard questions of morality and self-definition for former members of the GLBT tribe, as well as the joys of inclusion and the possibility of exclusion.

If Marin ever wants to hear real life horror stories of how difficult it is to integrate a group of politicized gay men and women into the local church, just give me a call. Docile seekers roar when they discover you have no intention to bless their same-sex unions.

Marin glorifies the gay kingdom; he romances the GLBT community by amplifying its ‘we-them’ defense—gay is glorious, compassionate and dimensional, straight is flat and provincial. Unwittingly, he perpetuates the divide between ‘gay and straight’.

That is a shame. Jesus and Paul would insist on both groups finding common ground in one body through the cross. Marin overlooks a real key in reaching the gay community: Christians reaching beneath the surface of their ‘straight’ selves, discovering the damage done then repenting unto the Crucified.

If we lived honestly (and many churches do) in this day of fractured families, multiple heterosexual partnerships, Internet porn, the ravages of abuse, and growing numbers of people with same-sex attraction, we would not throw stones at a particular community. We would make ample room next to us for whoever cries for mercy.

What Marin does is challenge us to make a bridge between the GLBT community and ours. I hear that challenge. His witness of love inspires me to take it.

Yet in a day when the world and the worldly church is only too quick to confirm young teens as gay, ordain gays as bishops, and bless homosexual ‘marriage’ as a triumph of justice, we evangelicals cannot afford to be cryptic like Marin about God’s clear message of grace and truth for same-sex strugglers. His bridge is too weak to under gird the pilgrims he invites into the community of faith. I thus cannot recommend this book.

Despite the deficiencies of Marin’s gospel, the man conveys a passionate, provocative heart for people who will perish without the love of Christ’s body. May God continue to grow him and all of us in truthful love.

‘If our Gospel be hidden, it is hid toward those who are perishing.’ (2Cor 4:3)

Hat Tips:

Desert Stream.org

Rob Gagnon.net

*******

Update:

Also read Rob Gagnon's response to this book:

Truncated Love: A Response to Andrew Marin’s Love Is an Orientation
Part 1
[NOTE: ARTICLE IS IN PDF FORM.]

1 comment:

thekingpin68 said...

'I apologize for not keeping up with this blog as often as I have in the past. Perhaps my preoccupation with our current pResident in chief and his Marxist cronies and terrible bills and policies have been keeping me too busy.'

Well, I check it from time to time.;)

'If we lived honestly (and many churches do) in this day of fractured families, multiple heterosexual partnerships, Internet porn, the ravages of abuse, and growing numbers of people with same-sex attraction, we would not throw stones at a particular community. We would make ample room next to us for whoever cries for mercy.'

Yes, and there is the issue of finding a suitable Christian partner with today's attitudes to deal with.

Merry Christmas, Christine to you and family.