There’s been a lot of talk about gay marriage recently, not just in the UK but internationally. So when God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson arrived from Publishers Group UK I couldn’t wait to read it, which is what I did over the festive period.
Now before I start the review I feel compelled to say upfront that I’m pagan; but I was raised as a Catholic as so much as my brothers and I all went to Catholic Schools and we attended Church on special occasions (e.g. Christenings, Weddings, Christmas, etc.). So with my Christian childhood in mind, let me tell you about this book…
Firstly it’s presented really well – hardback with parchment-like paper and a easy to read font. On the back cover there’s a quote which instantly sparked my interest from President Barack Obama which says:
“My friend Bishop Gene Robinson has long been a voice for equality – not with anger or vitriol, but with compassion and faith. He has been guided by the simple precept that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”
– President Barack Obama
(From: God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson, 2012)
Gene writes in a conversational style throughout the book making it feel like you’re sat somewhere warm and cosy listening to him speak, a writing style that I found captivating. He starts with an introduction sharing his story of being in love with and marrying his best friend (a woman); having two daughters but later realising that his attraction to the same gender could not be suppressed or changed.
Gene writes that he and his wife divorced and that he later met and fell in love with Mark his husband. In this introduction he explains what marriage means to him, that he and Mark had a ‘Civil Union,’ before getting married (after it was made legal for them to do so) and the he later became IX Bishop of New Hampshire. It is a heart warming that he chose to share his life experience and I have a huge respect for him doing this as it would make most people feel exposed & vulnerable.
Gene answers ten questions commonly posed by those against gay marriage:
1. Why Gay Marriage Now?
2. Why Should You Care About Gay Marriage If You’re Straight?
3. What’s Wrong with Civil Unions?
4. Doesn’t the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?
5. What Would Jesus Do?
6. Doesn’t Gay Marriage Change the Definition of Marriage That’s Been in Place for Thousands of Years?
7. Doesn’t Gay Marriage Undermine Marriage?
8. What If My Religion Doesn’t Believe in Gay Marriage?
9. Don’t Children Need a Mother and a Father?
10. Is This About Civil Rights or Getting Approval for Questionable Behaviour?
Gene’s answers are intelligent, insightful and obviously well thought out. His knowledge of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans history and civil rights activism was fascinating. I thought I was well educated on gay history, but he conveyed some history of which I was unaware.
Gene recognises that straight people need to advocate for gay people and encourages them throughout the book to “get to know us,” listen to gay people’s stories and believe them as their truth. He asks them to try and imagine walking in a gay persons shoes.
Gene examines the meaning and context of scriptures used to condemn homosexuality which would help any gay, lesbian, bisexual or tras Christians accept their sexuality within their faith.
Gene discusses the concept of marriage and it’s evolution over centuries; this chapter of the book was absolutely engrossing. I’ve never really looked into marriage as a concept or how it’s developed over time.
Gene shares his vision for the future; where the State recognises marriage regardless of the sexuality of the people involved legislatively (giving them the same benefits, rights and protections) and that Church’s role (regardless of religion) is to invite God to bless and be a part of the marriages. Gene states that religious institutions need to look at their own stance on homosexuality and the issue of gay marriage.
Gene concludes with a chapter on God Believes in Love stating that to selflessly love another is how God feels about us his children. He encourages all to love your neighbour as you would want to be loved.
Now you’ll notice throughout this review I’ve referred to the author by his first name, Gene. That’s because by the end of the book I feel as though I’ve made a friend; one whose educational, non-preachy and represents the best of human spirituality.
If you’re undecided about gay marriage whether you’re gay or straight or merely interested in the topic you’ll love God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson which is available to buy on Amazon.