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God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality

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God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Michaelson, biblical scholar and founder of the Jewish GLBT organization Nehirim, makes the case that God-versus-gay is a lie. Not only is there no conflict between being gay and being religious, but also the core values of Judaism and Christianity demand that GLBT individuals be respected and welcomed. In the first and last thirds of the work, Michaelson explores those core values and anticipates the benefits of making religion less hostile to homosexuality. While well-reasoned, added depth and length would make his claims more persuasive. The central third of his book shows why the biblical verses commonly used to attack homosexuality should not be understood that way. Although this material has been more convincingly presented elsewhere, having it alongside the other two parts of the work underscores why gay-friendly scripture readings should be more compelling. The audience for the book remains unclear; sometimes Michaelson addresses GLBT individuals, sometimes allies, and sometimes opponents of legal equality. This scattering keeps the book from providing much concrete advice. As a salvo in the case for equality, however, it shows how to reframe the debate and stop seeing a chasm between God and gay. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“The first part’s insistence that Judeo-Christian values require gay equality is so confidently and cogently asserted that it amounts to something new and invigorating in gay religious apologetics.”—Booklist

“God vs. Gay is an excellent resource for those struggling to reconcile their sexual feelings — or those of a loved one — with being a person of devout religious faith. Michaelson never panders, attempts to set aside all biases and simply lets the text speak for itself. What happens when he clears the smoke of punditry and bigotry is a beautiful thing, and the discussion over equality and human diversity is elevated because of Michaelson’s willingness to have faith in the words of the Torah — and in human dignity.”—

“Mixing memoir and academic analysis in this well-researched and concisely written treatise, Michaelson embarks on a mission to reconcile sexuality with Judeo-Christian religious traditions… Inclusive and modern theology that will give both Jewish and Christian readers a reason to celebrate sexual diversity.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This title is very much worth reading and particularly useful for those interested in religion, civil rights, and social progress.”—Library Journal 

God vs. Gay is a game-changer and highly recommended in the debate…Michaelson has packed so much into his slim volume. A pleasurable and intelligent read, this is a book for our times and a book for the ages.”—EDGE

“As a salvo in the case for equality, however, it shows how to reframe the debate and stop seeing a chasm between God and gay.”—Publisher's Weekly

"Michaelson looks at the Hebrew and Christian Bible with keen intellect, wit, and often surprising insights. He roots his arguments not in dry exegesis but in hard-won self-acceptance and passionate concern for others. I highly recommended God vs. Gay? for anyone seeking to understand how being homosexual and religious are not antithetical."—Joe Perez, author of Soulfully Gay

"'The irony of God versus Gay is that actually Gay and God go together.  Opening to one leads to the other.'  So writes Jay Michaelson in the postscript to this beautiful, soulful book.  Michaelson charts a journey from rejection to full acceptance, from religious alienation to spiritual wholeness that will brings the reader closer to the Divine. It did for me and it will for anyone who has felt abandoned by their faith and rejected for who they are. This is a healing book that yearns to be read."—Sharon Groves, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign Foundation

God vs. Gay? is a timely and important book in this religious and political moment. Michaelson’s book prepares us, regardless of religious or sexual identity, to delve deeper into our souls, our traditions, and into the truth that religion is in fact a source of liberation.”—Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the largest gay and lesbian synagogue in the world
“Through careful discussions of Jewish and Christian teachings on homosexuality Michaelson masterfully reveals that both religions allow for the full embrace of LGBT persons. This religious-ethical work is illuminating and a must read for anyone who wants to understand the current debate over religion and homosexuality.”—Rabbi David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

“Michaelson shows that ‘God versus gay’ is a myth and that the overwhelming majority of our shared religious values favor equality for LGBT people.” —Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun

"God vs. Gay? is essential reading for people of all faiths who want to be allies of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. This book articulates what many of us have felt in our hearts for a long time: that our religious conscience compels us to support equality, not oppose it."—Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, co-author of Jewish with Feeling and From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Blessings for Health, Peace of Mind, and Prosperity

Library Journal
Those who oppose equal rights for LGBT people are often Christians who assert that the Bible is God's literal word and that several passages in it condemn homosexual activity. Even Christians who aren't Bible literalists agree that both the Bible and church traditions see homosexual activity as sinful. Here Michaelson (God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice), an LGBT activist who works in the fields of religion, sexuality, and law, claims both that the Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality and that the traditions of the churches generally don't condemn it either. His is not a closely reasoned scholarly presentation but rather a popular approach to the questions, "What does Scripture really say about homosexuality?" and "What do 3000 years of Judeo-Christian history really say?" He argues convincingly that the few Old Testament passages that seem to condemn homosexuality aren't actually referring to it at all, that our translations/interpretations are in error. For example, the Hebrew word toevah, usually translated as "abomination," really means something like "taboo" and intends the sense of violation of true worship, an instance neither of moral nor of social failure but of idolatry. VERDICT This title is very much worth reading and particularly useful for those interested in religion, civil rights, and social progress.—James F. DeRoche, Alexandria, VA
Kirkus Reviews

A progressive look at homosexuality in religion told from a Jewish perspective.

LGBT activist Michaelson is openly gay and also Jewish, two traits he does not define as mutually exclusive.Religion taught him tolive with integrity but then decried him for doing so; since his sexual orientation was a violation of Jewish law, the author felt obligated to lie to his loved ones and resign himself to meaningless affairs.Mixing memoir and academic analysis in this well-researched and concisely written treatise, Michaelson embarks on a mission to reconcile sexuality with Judeo-Christian religious traditions. He begins, appropriately enough, with Adam and Eve, explaining how loving relationships between straight and gay couples alike are fundamental to a religious lifestyle.From a scientific perspective, sexual diversity is both natural and beneficial to our species, a point Michaelson argues with examples from the animal kingdom as well as our own.Ultimately, the author feels that welcoming lesbians and gays into religious communities will create family values rather than destroy them, which he best encapsulates with a lively attack on"reform" camps that claim to cure homosexuality.But he also dissects the more troubling passages in Leviticus and Romans, deftly unraveling common mistranslations of the text and placing the scripture in historical context.No religious debate on homosexuality can ignore the infamous story of Sodom and Gomorrah. For this, Michaelson draws from both Jewish and Christian history to explain how the passage came to be associated with homosexuality before he offers his alternative view.

Inclusive and modern theology that will give both Jewish and Christian readers a reason to celebrate sexual diversity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807001479
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 267,141
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Table of Contents

A Note from the Series Editor xi

Introduction xiii

Part 1 Why our fundamental values support, rather than oppose, equality for sexual minorities

Chapter 1 "It is not good for a person to be alone" 3

Intimate relationship heals the primary flaw in creation

Chapter 2 "I am asleep but my heart is awake: the voice of my beloved knocks" 15

A loving God could never want the "closet"

Chapter 3 "Love your neighbor as yourself 24

Love demands authentic compassion for others

Chapter 4 "By the word of God were the heavens made" 30

Sexual diversity is natural and part of God's creation

Chapter 5 "Thou shalt not bear false witness" 41

Honesty and integrity are sacred; "coming out" is a religious act

Chapter 6 "Justice-justice shall you pursue" 48

Inequality is an affront to religions values

Part 2 What the "bad verses" really say about homosexuality

Chapter 7 Leviticus 55

One form of male intimacy is related to worship of foreign gods

Chapter 8 Sodom 67

Cruelty and inhospitality are the "sins of Sodom"

Chapter 9 The Gospels 73

What Jesus didn't say about homosexuality

Chapter 10 Romans 78

Men not being dominant is a consequence of turning from God

Chapter 11 Corinthians and Timothy 86

Christians should not mingle with a pagan, idolatrous, lascivious society

Chapter 12 David and Jonathan 94

Love between men in the Bible

Chapter 13 Sexual diversity in Christian theology 103

How did we get here from there?

Part 3 Why inclusion of sexual minorities is good, not bad, for religious values

Chapter 14 "You shall be holy, for I am holy" 115

Equality for LGBT people is good for families, marriage, and sexual ethics

Chapter 15 "When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" 129

The growth of religious values is good for individuals and religious communities

Chapter 16 "Everyone whose spirit moved him brought an offering to God" 146

Sexual diversity, like other forms of diversity, enriches religious lives and communities

Chapter 17 "And I have filled him with the spirit of God … to devise subtle works in gold, silver, and brass" 154

What is homosexuality for?

Chapter 18 "For nothing in creation can separate you from the love of God" 161


Acknowledgments 163

Table of Scriptural Authorities 164

For Further Reading 166

LGBT Religious Organizations 170

Notes 172

Bibliography 191

Index 206

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    Well written; his case is well-documented. Lots of footnotes.

    I'm still reading the book but I have been quite pleased with what I have read. He has a diverse background in Judeo-Christian theology as well as a law degree. He teaches religion at the college level. His work requires anyone to re-evaluate his/her stance regarding our brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attraction.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    If you've found yourself feeling unable to respond to the people

    If you've found yourself feeling unable to respond to the people around you who constantly throw the bible in your face regarding the LGBT issues; this book will offer some strong responses that you can use. Jewish author Jay Michaelson presents an important religious discussion about our sexuality-more than just sex, takes apart the so-called Old Testament Bible verses that are used to demote gays and indicates the New Testament; The Gospels and The Ten Commandments state nothing about homosexuality. Perhaps more importantly this book confirms what I have long believed; God is a loving, accepting God of everyone. Thank you for a great book. I will be recommending this book to those who have nothing better to do than stir up conflict when it comes to gay people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2012

    An excellent and much-needed book!

    This is a timely book by a highly informed writer. He writes from personal experience, telling of the guilt laid on him by religious authorities, the lies he lived, the fears he endured, and then the sense of "being born again" coming out of the closet. He has done his research, a real scholar, without being pedantic. He is fair. He is ecumenical: a Jewish rabbi familiar with and quoting Jesus and the New Testament.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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