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Customer Review

on 19 July 2011
Keith Sharpe provides an accessible, engagingly-written and joyfully provocative interpretation of what the bible and Jesus say (and don't say) about same-sex attraction and practice, and also trans people.

The unique selling point of the book is its division in two parts: the defensive testament and the affirmative testament. The defensive testament takes the prevalent "terror texts" used to marginalise LGBT people, and demonstrates (theologically) the erroneous nature of contemporary and "traditional" interpretation. The affirmative testament is an enchanting uncovering and celebration of LGBT-affirming stories in the bible, with chapters on Jesus' sexual orientation and his relationship with his beloved disciple, the touching love of the centurion for the male servant who probably started out as his sexual slave, and so on. Each chapter of the two testaments closes with either a self-defense or self-affirmation summary to help LGBT people remember and respond to criticism and attack.

For me, there are two particularly powerful aspects of this book. The first is the reminder that Jesus wasn't in favour of the monogamous nuclear family: in fact his teaching undermined the hierarchical patriarchal economic units that constitute the family in biblical times and today. The scandal of contemporary "Christianity" is the conservative elements of the Christian church who have managed to pass off the opposite of Christ's reported words, an ideological construction for social control and exclusionary practices, as "Christian family values".

The second particularly compelling element of the book is the chapter on textual abuse in which Sharpe reveals the way in which patriarchal Christian churches engage in deliberate "selective interpretation or misinterpretation of isolated biblical texts to give a decontextualised prejudicial contemporary meaning" (p77).

Sharpe ably shows that there is absolutely no biblical basis for discrimination against and demonisation of LGBT people: on the contrary, our community was affirmed and celebrated in the old and new testaments. This book is not an apologetic plea for nicer treatment of unfortunate deviants: it is a fiery denunciation of the historical and continuing abuse of LGBT people, contrary to Christ's teaching, by people mendaciously claiming to emulate Christ. As such, it is mandatory reading for all LGBT people and Christians everywhere.
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