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Unconditional: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays Vs Christians Debate [Paperback]

Justin Lee
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Jan 2013


The word seemed to hold the weight of eternity within its single syllable.

As strange as it may seem, in all the years I had struggled with my sexuality, the idea that I could be 'gay' had simply never crossed my mind. I was a Christian! That was my whole life! And Christians weren't gay.'

This could be the most important book you read this year.

It's a memoir.

An exploration of what is, and what could be.

Most of all, it's a clarion call to the church - to rediscover the love that Jesus called us to. Unconditionally.

'So many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people give up on Christianity because they cannot reconcile who they are with what they were brought up to believe that the Bible teaches about sexuality. Here is a wonderfully told story of a brave young homosexual man who has struggled to hold onto his faith while still affirming himself as gay. This is a must-read.' Tony Campolo

Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (17 Jan 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1444745417
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444745412
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 595,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


What makes this book different is that it is not essentially about arguing a case but about bridging the gaps of understanding and sympathy that have distorted or muffled the overwhelming miracle of God's gift in Christ and in Scripture. I welcome it very warmly. (Rowan Williams)

I believe that what is going on here is crucial for the destiny of the Church. Especially since [the Gay Christian Network] recognises [both sides in the gay/Christian debate], and that there is an ability to love and accept across those lines. (Tony Campolo)

Justin Lee is a courageous, kind, thoughtful and emotionally sophisticated gay man who obviously loves Jesus and is fearless in his pursuit of God's reality. Here's hoping (and praying) that more of us straight followers of Jesus learn from his example and find a way to follow in Justin's footsteps. (Jim Henderson)

Many who face a similar struggle will find much here to make them laugh and cry. For those who want to know what such struggles can be like, I can recommend no better place to begin than this book (Symon Hill Third Way Magazine)

Justin Lee has written a brave book. Unconditional isn't just from the heart, but from the head too. It's a well-considered, thoroughly-researched and persuasive call for understanding and dialogue between both sides on what has come to be seen as the 'gays vs Christians debate' in the culture wars. (Greg Jameson Entertainment Focus)

I loved this book - it's personal, it's Justin's life story. He shares his heartaches, joys, and faith. (Gay Christian Online)

Pick of the new releases - UNCONDITIONAL is a sensitive exploration of sexuality from an evangelical perspective that draws on personal experience (The Church of England)

Committed to biblical integrity in his thinking, he nonetheless poses provocative and uncomfortable questions that will cause the reader to think... his book offers the prospect of better understanding for all. (RS Christianity 2013-06-09)

Justin Lee has written a book that has so much to commend it. Unconditional...movingly relates his own personal experience of same-sex attraction whilst growing up in evangelical circles and coping with negative responses.

His persistent desire to educate those who misunderstand same-sex attraction is impressive and his balanced treatment of its origins is one of the most helpful I have read.

(Ed Shaw Living Out 2013-12-08)

Book Description

Finally, the book that gay Christians, their friends, families and the Church have been waiting for.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for Christians 9 Jan 2013
This book is wonderful. Well-written, moving, and challenging, Justin Lee's story is about growing up as a Southern Baptist Christian and realising he is gay. At times it brought me to tears as he describes how he begged God to take away his feelings, and his experience of ex-gay ministries, before slowly coming to the realisation that he would never be straight. Growing up in Bible Belt America, he is constantly told that you cannot be gay and a Christian, so he feels torn and (unsurprisingly) depressed and even suicidal. (The American name for this book is "Torn", which I think better describes the subject this book tackles.)

Interspersed with his story, he explores what causes people to be gay, the difference between orientation and behaviour, and some Biblical exegesis. It's a huge, difficult, controversial subject, but Lee is not trying to win an argument. This book is about building understanding and overcoming polarisation, and all through the book you get a real sense of Lee's courage, honesty, vulnerability, grace, and above all, his desire to serve God, whatever the cost.

Although Lee's experiences are in Bible Belt America, which is certainly more extreme than the UK (I've not been to a single church that teaches that gay people choose to be gay, or that fails to see the distinction between orientation and behaviour), this is still an issue that is "tearing apart" the church in the UK and giving Christians a bad reputation.

For me personally this book was a breath of fresh air. I have always struggled to reconcile the Bible's seemingly anti-gay stance with the equal rights I so passionately believe in. The gay-vs-Christians debate has long been a stumbling block for me, but as Lee gently demonstrates, it's a false dichotomy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep of enquiring mind and read this book. 31 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a straight Christian and I would recommend this book very highly to other Christians. It sheds a lot of light on bible passages that have confused and concerned me to date and it adds personal experience that most of us will never experience any other way. I really hope this book is a catalyst for change.

Justin is to be congratulated for writing so well, in such a balanced and honest way. It makes me sad to read some of his experiences. His lack of bitterness speaks volumes, we see the fruits of the Spirit in people's lives as they grow closer to Jesus.

If we are around for eternity then we need to remain of enquiring mind. People can be wrong for a lifetime. It has made me sad to hear someone talk about their age as an excuse for being unable to change, for not reading this book, and for not being open to new information.

This subject seems to be close to the central part of a person's faith and how much we try to love others above all else. I know atheists whose biggest reason for disliking Christians is their stance towards gay people. This subject is causing tremendous pain and distancing of people from Jesus.

I would like to see Gay people completely accepted by Christians such that celibacy or lack of it can be entirely private between them and God and whoever they wish. We can only strive to know individually whether we are following God's direction in our lives.

We cannot separate ourselves from who we are attracted to, and yet I hear people talk about "hate the sin, love the sinner" which Justin mentions in his book. He concludes we are called to judge our own sin and love other sinners, this seems to me to be key. I personally fail to see how attractions to the same sex can be a sin.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cogent, compassionate & comprehensive 25 Mar 2013
By R&B
The author uses his own poignant story - as a gay man growing up as a committed Christian in a conservative evangelical environment - to address all the things that concern Christians about the gay issue. He deals effectively with specific biblical texts and moves beyond them to offer an approach that results in a genuinely Christ-centred perspective. The author is able to speak from first hand knowledge of the results of 'ex-gay' type approaches and provides many useful examples of the kind of pastoral care needed, but not always offered, to gay people. This book is characterised throughout by a tangible passion to make Christ known, together with a generous Christian graciousness of attitude that has sometimes been in short supply all round in this debate.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
In this book, Justin Lee describes his own journey of self-discovery, coming from a loving Christian home in America, to realising the truth of his own same-sex attractions. He moves from denial ("this was just a phase"), through telling someone on an anonymous chat room that he was bisexual, to eventually admitting that he was exclusively attracted to other men. He then describes his "coming out" to his parents and pastor and the wider college/church community.

Interestingly, Justin Lee looks at the various ideas for the causation of same-sex attractions and challenges the widely-held view amongst Christians that it stems from a poor quality relationship with the same-sex parent. His experience growing up was that "my parents raised me well, they gave me plenty of love, and I was a happy kid."

Justin Lee's stories of how well-meaning Christians in the church and the `ex-gay' world tried to fit him into their theories make for embarrassing reading - let's not be that sort of church in this country! He then goes on to consider his other options: celibacy, the sex-saturated `gay lifestyle', and even leaving Christianity, although none of these options appeal to him. Eventually, in chapters 12 & 13, Justin Lee re-evaluates the Bible, telling how he came to the conclusion that the Bible does not prohibit "modern-day committed gay relationships". His arguments are not new but, by this point in the book, the reader may well have warmed to him as a genuine and truth-seeking young man. So it seems quite harsh to have to brand his conclusions as false teaching. It almost feels like having to step into the clumsy shoes of the judgemental Christians he describes. However, the Bible does say that teachers have a weighty responsibility (Matt 18:6) and we need to be careful to handle God's Word correctly (2 Tim 2:15).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Recommended for anyone interested in the gay Christian debate.
Published 1 month ago by Martin Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars This book looks at this issue from a personal perspective ...
This book looks at this issue from a personal perspective and is a reminder of how divisive it can be and what emotions it arouses. Read more
Published 1 month ago by johnr
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt book
Really thought provoking - even if you don't agree with all of Justin Lee's ideas I encourage you to read this book as it talks of his own experience of how the church reacts to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Katie
5.0 out of 5 stars All Christians should read this book whether gay or straight
Because it is not a very long book I read it through in a short a time . But why did I do that? I came across the author's website after a shift in my own thinking on the whole... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kevin B
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book full of compassion
One of the best books I have read on this topic. I found it to be full of compassion, love, understanding and clear biblical teaching. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dave Moreton
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best non-fiction books I have ever read
I wish I could give this book 6 stars, or even 10! Sometimes when I have read a fiction book I have enjoyed it so much I wished it wouldn't end, and have even started reading it... Read more
Published 14 months ago by K Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I found this book very encouraging. It has brought me back to believing there can be a place for me in the church. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Tractoroke
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest & moving
Honest and moving testimony. We need to hold a mirror up to ourselves and understand what it is to love our neighbour as we love ourselves
Published 15 months ago by Amazon customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Great book , amazing insight and compassion into one of the biggest debates of our time. I believe Justin Lee has written a very upfront and honest book that has certainly helped... Read more
Published 18 months ago by DL Pengilly
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