I was asked to write a review of an upcoming book by Lambda Award winner, Alex Sanchez. The following is my review of this superb book:
THE GOD BOX, by Alex Sanchez.
A Review by Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker
I very strongly urge everyone who is a Christian to buy and read this book! Although this book is largely geared to Gay youth, it is a must-read for all Christians who genuinely seek to live out our faith by both loving and not judging others, as well as “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2Timothy 2:15)
First of all, this book is very well written, and easily understandable to people of all ages. It is an engrossing novel about the psychological, social, and spiritual struggles that are all too common among Gay youth.
Moreover, Sanchez deftly integrates within the narrative the critiques of the “clobber passages” erroneously used to condemn Gay people, showing how the Bible is not only misused by self-styld biblical literalists who condemn what they don’t understand, but he also shows how those verses that homophobes are all too fond of using are extrapolated from the Bible text to merely justify their preconceived prejudices, and that the body of Scripture, particularly that of the New Testament, doesn’t justify their conclusions regarding same-sex love as being in any way sinful.
In his naturally flowing and engrossing narrative, that I couldn’t put down, as I read it in one sitting, he shows young (and older) Gay people that there is absolutely no inconsistency between being Gay and being a Christian! Indeed, he not only puts the lie to assertions that state the contrary, but also affirms Gay people in a way that young people need to hear and take to heart, if they are to live the lives of abundance that Jesus promises us.
He shows how in order to live “the abundant life,” we must be authentic, and embrace the gift of our sexuality, as we are to embrace all of our God-given gifts. He also delineates the stigma, the bullying, and the indifference of many teachers and school administrators to that bullying of Gay kids, and how that bullying causes untold damage to vulnerable kids who haven’t been taught the Gospel message of Jesus’ unconditional love for us.
In addition, he beautifully shows many of the destructive manifestations of both homophobia as well as internalized homophobia, and the inner torment of all too many Gay kids. In that connection, he shows how many clergy fuel and seek to justify this inner torment, the psychological and spiritual ravages, and Gay bashing, by appealing to their own prejudices, rather than by seeing the Bible as a Word of a loving God Who created His Gay children, and whom He loves just as they are.
What helps make this book unique is that Sanchez doesn’t preach at us, but integrates within an exciting narrative, the crucial points that every Gay and non-Gay Christian needs to hear. In that context, he also puts the lie to the “ex-gay” myth and refutes much of their rhetoric by showing the aspects of same-sex love that they willfully refuse to acknowledge, usually projecting their own dysfunctions onto other Gay people, and assuming that those dysfunctions are common to all Gay people, a contention that this book deftly refutes and finally lays to rest.
In sum, I couldn’t put this book down, and neither will any reader who seeks an understanding of the many dynamics of being Gay! Moreover, at an already confusing time of life that adolescence provides, it is crucial that Gay adolescents read this book, and come to realize that they can be Christians and be Gay as well, and be free to fulfill healthy intimacy in their lives; realize that they are not alone; realize that they are to understand the Bible as affirming all of God’s children.
“’I think that unless people are told homosexuality and God are in conflict, there is no conflict.’ As I listened to her, I sliced some celery—carefully, so as not to cut myself. ‘But what about what the Bible says’? ‘Pablito, the Bible was meant to be a bridge, not a wedge…. It’s the greatest love story ever told, about God’s enduring and unconditional love for his creation—love beyond all reason. To understand it, you have to read it with love as the standard. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Always remember that.’” (p. 171)
All of us, especially Gay kids, need to hear this message, and I have found no better vehicle for hearing this message than in Sanchez’ novel!
Please read this book! And please give this book to a Christian, and even a non-Christian Gay adolescent, friend, relative, or neighbor as a gift that will redound to their benefit, and all others privileged to read it, the rest of their lives!