NetGalley offered Unclobber with the subtitle “Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality” and the blurb promised author Colby Martin would examine “what the Bible says (and does not say) about homosexuality in such a way that breathes fresh life into outdated and inaccurate assumptions and interpretations.”
Martin was an assistant pastor at a large evangelical church in Arizona who was fired for his beliefs on homosexuality. He gives his story of his several years-long quest to reconcile his beliefs in God with his equally strong belief that homosexuals should be included, not excluded in the church. He also tries to reinterpret certain Biblical verses that condemn homosexual activities.
I was surprised that one of his evangelical denomination’s beliefs was that homosexuals could not become church members. I always thought the church is for sinners – all types of sinners – and it is counterproductive to eliminate one certain type of sinner, to declare certain behaviors render a person ineligible for the grace of God. (We Catholics know everyone in the room is a sinner of one sort or another.)
Author Martin was interesting and believable in the beginning when he recounts his earliest steps towards what he calls an inclusive, affirmin,g progressive Christianity, but as the book progressed I got very tired of the excessive back patting. He sounds smug.
Colby reinterprets the Biblical passages in the Old Testament and in Paul’s letters to show that the Bible does not condemn the person who is attracted to the same sex. He believes that Paul condemns same-sex acts that are in fact prostitution, sexual slavery, rape, and not all homosexual behavior, inferring that Paul was not speaking of long term, committed same-sex relationships.
Colby structured the book to alternate chapters about his search for a church that believes as he does with his interpretation of key Biblical passages (what he calls the Clobber verses) that speak to homosexual behaviors. This structure made it a bit confusing, especially since he didn’t follow a linear timeline in the search chapters.
He is enthusiastic and fervent and passionate to share what he sees as the truth with everyone. I don’t agree that he showed our classical understanding of sinful behavior, built over years of discernment, is built on “outdated and inaccurate assumptions and interpretations”. I agree with him about including people but that does mean that I agree that certain behaviors are OK. It was telling that he ended up starting his own non-denominational church.
Overall 3 Stars.