Monday, May 29, 2017

Unclobber by Colby Martin- Book Review

In 2009, the ELCA Lutherans ended a huge debate that had been going on since the 70s- do we allow non-celibate LGBTQ+ clergy onto our pastoral roster? It was a huge debate and caused a minor split in the church. Other churches such as the Episcopal, the UCC, and a few other denominations have also had the same debate. It has ended positively for many denominations as they became open and affirming, while some are still having the debate or came down a hard no.

I write this because recently, it seems, the Evangelical church has been entering into this debate. There have been several evangelical writers who are pushing for a more open and affirming church when it comes to the LGBTQ community. Of course the difficulty is the hard conservative (politically and theologically) stance that the Evangelical church has. So, some individual pastors have come out as being allies with their cost being their ministries. Individuals like Rob Bell, who is probably the more famous of the ministers.

All of this is preamble to Unclobber by Colby Martin. Originally published in 2016 and now out in paperback, Martin tells his story about when he came out as a ally to the LGBTQ community, after Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed, and the response from his church. He intermixes his story with exegesis on the "clobber" passages of the Bible- passages that are used by evangelicals and other conservative Christians as a hard stance against homosexuality.

While I found his story interesting, I thought his exegesis chapters were much better, but I will also state I have read better books on the subject such as What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, which takes a more scholarly approach. I also found he focused a lot on himself rather than the many people his former church hurt with their hard stance.

I have recommended this book to individuals who are from an Evangelical church who were questioning the church's stance on homosexuality, so I do find it useful. The book speaks evangelical, so to speak. I would recommend another book if you are from a different tradition though, as many mainline churches have either already gone through the debate or are looking for a deeper theological approach. This book is pretty basic, but very approachable.

I will state for the record that I am a liberal (theologically) minded pastor who takes history into account. So, when the debate came up, I knew that the Bible doesn't actually speak to homosexuality at all, since- there are no Hebrew or Greek words for it, it wasn't a word until the 1800s, and the Biblical thought was that all were born heterosexual, so homosexuality was considered a perversion and we know differently now as we know people who are homosexual are born that way. So, my mind was made up a long time ago even before going into the "debate."

I wound up giving this one a sliding scale 3.5. By that I mean, if you are knee deep into research, you won't get much out of this one. If you are on the beginning of questioning, this book will help a lot. I was knee deep and wasn't struggling with the question, so I didn't get much additional information, but it was a good refresher.

Here is your Amazon link- Unclobber by Colby Martin

I want to thank NetGalley for allowing me to read Unclobber for free. I received it in exchange for an honest review.

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