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God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equalityby Jay Michaelson
Synopses & Reviews
The myth that the Bible forbids homosexuality—the myth of “God versus Gay”—is behind some of the most divisive and painful conflicts of our day. In this provocative, passionately argued, and game-changing book, scholar and activist Jay Michaelson shows that not only does the Bible not prohibit same-sex intimacy, but the vast majority of its teachings support the full equality and dignity of gay and lesbian people, from the first flaw it finds in creation (“It is not good for a person to be alone”) to the way religious communities grow through reflection and conscience. In short, Michaelson observes, religious people should support equality for gays and lesbians—not despite their religion, but because of it.
With close readings of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, the latest data on the science of sexual orientation, and a sympathetic, accessible, and ecumenical approach to religious faith, Michaelson makes the case that sexual diversity is part of the beauty of nature and that the recognition of same-sex families will strengthen, not threaten, the values religious people hold dear. This is an important book for anyone who has wrestled with questions of religion and homosexuality: parents and pastors, believers and skeptics, advocates of “gay rights” and opponents of them. Whatever your views on religion and sexual diversity, God vs. Gay is a plea for a more compassionate, informed conversation—and a first step toward creating one.
"Michaelson, biblical scholar and founder of the Jewish GLBT organization Nehirim, makes the case that God-versus-gay is a lie. Not only is there no conflict between being gay and being religious, but also the core values of Judaism and Christianity demand that GLBT individuals be respected and welcomed. In the first and last thirds of the work, Michaelson explores those core values and anticipates the benefits of making religion less hostile to homosexuality. While well-reasoned, added depth and length would make his claims more persuasive. The central third of his book shows why the biblical verses commonly used to attack homosexuality should not be understood that way. Although this material has been more convincingly presented elsewhere, having it alongside the other two parts of the work underscores why gay-friendly scripture readings should be more compelling. The audience for the book remains unclear; sometimes Michaelson addresses GLBT individuals, sometimes allies, and sometimes opponents of legal equality. This scattering keeps the book from providing much concrete advice. As a salvo in the case for equality, however, it shows how to reframe the debate and stop seeing a chasm between God and gay." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Does the Bible prohibit homosexuality? No, says Bible scholar and activist Jay Michaelson. But not only that: Michaelson also shows that the vast majority of our shared religious traditions support the full equality and dignity of LGBT people. In this accessible, passionate, and provocative book, Michaelson argues for equality, not despite religion but because of it.
Argues that the "God vs. gay" divide is a pernicious myth and that religious people should favor gay rights because of religion, not despite it.
As both a gay rights activist and religion scholar, Michaelson is uniquely positioned to tackle the contentious "God vs. Gay" divide. The author underscores that the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament both emphasize the importance of love, compassion, and equality. From this starting point, Michaelson offers a progressive take on gay rights--arguing that the moral principles in these texts favor acceptance of gays and lesbians, outweighing the handful of ambiguous verses so often cited by conservatives. In arguing that politically and spiritually the God/gay split must end, this book will stimulate a long-overdue dialogue on an urgent issue.
About the Author
Jay Michaelson is the author of three books and two hundred articles about the intersections of religion, sexuality, and law. A leading activist on behalf of LGBT people in faith communities, Michaelson's work has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR and CNN. He holds a JD from Yale and an MA in religious studies from Hebrew University, where he studied Judaism and Early Christianity. The founding director of Nehirim, the leading national provider of community programming for LGBT Jews and their allies, Michaelson has taught on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign and Empire State Pride Agenda, and has held teaching positions at Boston University Law School, City College of New York, and Yale University. Outside the academy, Michaelson has taught at a wide range of religious and cultural institutions, including Riverside Church, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Arlington Street Church, the Kripalu Institute, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and dozens of synagogues across the country. In 2009, Michaelson was included on the "Forward 50" list of the fifty most influential Jewish leaders in America.
Table of Contents
A Note from the Series Editor
Part One Why our fundamental values support, rather than oppose, equality for sexual minorities
Chapter 1 “It is not good for a person to be alone”
Intimate relationship heals the primary flaw in creation
Chapter 2 “I am asleep but my heart is awake: the voice of my beloved knocks”
A loving God could never want the “closet”
Chapter 3 “Love your neighbor as yourself”
Love demands authentic compassion for others
Chapter 4 “By the word of God were the heavens made”
Sexual diversity is natural and part of God’s creation
Chapter 5 “Thou shalt not bear false witness”
Honesty and integrity are sacred; “coming out” is a religious act
Chapter 6 “Justice—justice shall you pursue”
Inequality is an affront to religious values
Part Two What the “bad verses” really say about homosexuality
Chapter 7 Leviticus
One form of male intimacy is related to worship of foreign gods
Chapter 8 Sodom
Cruelty and inhospitality are the “sins of Sodom”
Chapter 9 The Gospels
What Jesus didn’t say about homosexuality
Chapter 10 Romans
Men not being dominant is a consequence of turning from God
Chapter 11 Corinthians and Timothy
Christians should not mingle with a pagan, idolatrous, lascivious society
Chapter 12 David and Jonathan
Love between men in the Bible
Chapter 13 Sexual diversity in Christian theology
How did we get here from there?
Part Three Why inclusion of sexual minorities is good, not bad, for religious values
Chapter 14 “You shall be holy, for I am holy”
Equality for LGBT people is good for families, marriage, and sexual ethics
Chapter 15 “When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me”
The growth of religious values is good for individuals and religious communities
Chapter 16 “Everyone whose spirit moved him brought an offering to God”
Sexual diversity, like other forms of diversity, enriches religious lives and communities
Chapter 17 “And I have filled him with the spirit of God . . . to devise subtle works in gold, silver, and brass”
What is homosexuality for?
Chapter 18 “For nothing in creation can separate you from the love of God”
Table of Scriptural Authorities
For Further Reading
LGBT Religious Organizations
What Our Readers Are Saying
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