God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality, by Jay Michaelson. Beacon Press, 2011.
A Book Recommendation from Tricia Dykers Koenig
“The devil made me do it” was Flip Wilson’s memorable excuse, in character as Geraldine Jones. Alas, our society’s marginalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is often blamed not on the devil, but on God. Few religious folk set out to be deliberately cruel, but the “traditional” interpretations of biblical texts lead many to believe that God condemns all same-gender intimacy, and therefore to adopt attitudes, take actions, and promote policies that undermine the well-being of LGBT persons.
Writing from the perspective of an observant Jew who is also a gay man, Jay Michaelson shares some of his own story to illustrate the effects of these judgmental assumptions on the lives of LGBT persons, and indeed all of us. While Michaelson does not plow new ground – the case has been made by other theologians and biblical scholars – he is eloquent in describing both the human costs of anti-gay interpretations, and the biblical principles that have long been the basis of the ministry of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and other groups working for LGBT equality.
The book is divided into three parts:
- “Why our fundamental values support, rather than oppose, equality for sexual minorities”
- “What the ‘bad verses’ really say about homosexuality”
- “Why inclusion of sexual minorities is good, not bad, for religious values”
Michaelson echoes the message that we have also tried to convey: that we take our position not in spite of the Scripture and the demands of our faith, but because of our faith commitments. People of faith who are seeking to love their neighbors as themselves but have experienced a disconnect between that exhortation and the way the Bible has been read in the past – and those who are convinced but need help articulating their convictions – will benefit from God vs. Gay.