Friday, April 23, 2010

Love is An Orientation

Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation With the Gay CommunityAndrew Marin's book, Love is an Orientation sets out to offer an alterative, a third way, in evangelical outreach to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community [GLBT]. After over a decade of being immersed in the community in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood, Marin seeks in his book to challenge and then assist evangelicals to raise the conversation with the gay community. Marin, a self-professed conservative, evangelical heterosexual, whose nickname among the gays is “Straighty Straigtherson” has provided a blueprint for evangelism and witness not only among the GLBT community, but also more broadly, in the 21st century North American culture.

The book sets out to consider a number of pertinent topics such as: (1) the psychology of sexual identity, (2) the social challenge of being gay in a straight culture, (3) the history of evangelical-GLBT dialogue and the current state of affairs, (4) the question of how homosexuality has shaped different people’s interpretation of Scripture, and (5) distinctive commitments to help evangelicals and the GLBT community work together toward more constructive dialogue about the love of God.

Combining two lines from different parts of the book allows me to express what I think is one of the book’s major contributions. First, Marin suggests a “new definition” of love, although one might quibble with the adjective “new” in view of John 13, as this: “tangible and measurable expressions of one’s unconditional behaviors toward another” (108). He expounds on this a bit more by saying “This type of love says that no matter who you are, no matter what you do or no matter what you say I have your back, and I refuse to give up—whether or not there’s ‘change’—because my Father will never give up on me” (109). The outcome of this kind of love for Marin in practice is seen in the second quote. Marin says the way forward for Evangelical Christians is: “From my experience that other way is to present themselves as an unforced open-ended option through sustainable relationships, and then accept whatever happens with their new understanding of what it means to love” (154).

There are several other topics in the book that Marin deals with that are worthy of consideration and thought. Perhaps Brian McClaren’s foreword sums it up best: “When you turn the last page some of you will be disappointed that Andrew didn’t go far further. And others of you will be concerned that Andrew went too far” (14). From my point of view, Marin succeeded in sticking his finger in both the eyes of the Evangelical Christian and the GLBT communities. And by doing so has made an important contribution to the very difficult and yet ever so crucial issue for the Evangelical church.

1 comment:

Chris Donato said...

At the very least, this strikes me as the trajectory in which folks who take the authority of the Scriptures seriously need to go.

In my experience, Harvest USA has done a pretty good job in this regard.