Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: UnClobber by Colby Martin

About the Book

Churches in America are experiencing an unprecedented fracturing due to their belief and attitude toward the LGBTQ community. Armed with only six passages in the Bible—often known as the “clobber passages”—the traditional Christian position has been one that stands against the full inclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Unclobber reexamines each of those frequently quoted passages of Scripture, alternating with author Colby Martin’s own story of being fired from an evangelical megachurch when they discovered his stance on sexuality.

UnClobber reexamines what the Bible says (and does not say) about homosexuality in such a way that breathes fresh life into outdated and inaccurate assumptions and interpretations.

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My Thoughts

I don't even know where to start.

I came into this book with trepidation. The author was promoting his book in a Facebook group, and someone in a different Facebook group mentioned it. Considering the theme of the book, I was intrigued. I did some internet snooping and decided to contact the author for a review copy, which he sent me.

The reviews and general information about this book suggested good things, but I was wary. Like almost every LGBTQ person in America, I've been burned by Christians before. I don't want to go through that again. I do everything I can now to protect myself. This book was written by a straight, cisgender, married pastor. How could that end well?

I have no words to fully define this book. But I'm gonna try.

Refreshing. I'd started giving up hope that there could be straight, cisgender people in this country who support me without an LGBTQ person having to wrestle it out of them. Colby proves there really are, even if they live miles away in California.

Surprising. Every Christian I've known or read about who has gone through the "unclobbering" process is either LGBTQ or has a close family member who is. Yet here is a man with minimal LGBTQ exposure who went through the process and came out the other side wiser and stronger and supportive.

Grounded. So many of the books recommended on the "gay Christian" topic share beautiful personal stories with little theological discussion. Torn is the only book I've read that really delved into the Biblical and theological basis and implications of the "homosexuality issue." I almost want to say this book is even better on that count.

Inspiring. Colby Martin lost his job, his livelihood, with a wife and four children to support in order to explore beliefs of which he wasn't even certain. If a straight, cisgender, male pastor without a personal stake in this fight can do that, what is there that I can't risk for a stand on what I believe?

I can't say enough good things about this book. There were a few things I disagreed with or disliked, but they were minuscule. I cried so many times reading this book. I cried over Colby's story, discovering more people who found the truth for themselves. I cried over his theology, so happy to see a solid Biblical argument backing up his beliefs—our beliefs. I even cried looking at his church's website, representing a place so open and beautiful and affirming. I've never cried over a church website before.

I do have to acknowledge that this book has one issue common in the fight for minorities' rights. Written by a straight, cisgender man who is not a part of the minority, it magnifies the voice of the majority rather than sharing the experiences of the people being hurt. However, in this case, I think this book is necessary. There are too many conservative evangelicals unwilling to even consider the story of an LGBTQ Christian. They claim those Christians are throwing out the Bible or bending the rules to fit their desires. A man with absolutely nothing to benefit by reconsidering the traditional narrative—a pastor, at that—may be what we need for those evangelicals to finally, finally listen.

If you're an LGBTQ Christian struggling to reconcile identity with faith; if you have LGBTQ family or friends you want to support with Biblical backing; if you are at all curious about how anyone could be both LGBTQ and Christian, read this book. I would also recommend Torn by Justin Lee. I know there are people out there more hesitant to read a book by a gay man; this is the book for you.

P.S. If you want the bare bones theology without the deeper digging or Colby's personal story, there's a series of UnClobber videos online for free.

The author provided a free e-copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. I was not required or asked to write a positive review.

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