Book review: God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, by Gene Robinson

god believes in loveRobinson, Gene. God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage. Knopf, 2012. $24.00. 208p. HC. 978-0307957887.

God believes in love, and so does Gene Robinson. His book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage explores his answers to common criticisms and questions he hears about the current gay marriage debate.

Robinson, of course, is no stranger to conflict. He exploded into the national spotlight in 2003 when he was elected the IX Bishop of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church, making him the first openly LGBT individual in a relationship to be consecrated as a bishop, serving from 2004-2013.

The book is structured around the common questions that Robinson receives about gay marriage and its place in modern society and religious life. He says in the introduction that he imagines this book to be a conversation with the reader about these issues, and this structure prevails throughout. The book covers topics from “Why Gay Marriage Now?” to “What’s Wrong with Civil Unions?” and “What If My Religion Doesn’t Believe in Gay Marriage?” These questions are tackled efficiently and effectively, laying out a plausible, succinct argument for same-gender marriage as both biblically and morally right. In fact, this book is structured very similarly to John Corvino’s recent book, What’s Wrong With Homosexuality? although Robinson’s book is more restricted in focus.

More secular readers may be nervous about the applicability of the content from a book written by a religious leader, but in this case the fear is unfounded. Robinson spends a portion of the book dividing out the spiritual and the civil parts of marriage. He explains (quite forcefully) the necessity for these two things to remain separate. In Robinson’s view, marriage is an institution that should be open to everyone in both a religious and civil context, but he believes that the civil issue of marriage (its legality) should be dealt with as a civil rights issue. In such a situation, religion should have no voice to silence it.

Gene Robinson has long been an outspoken leader in the LGBT community, and this book condenses many of the arguments in favor of gay marriage into a simple, easy-to-read book. God Believes in Love attempts to dispel the fear and ignorance that fuels the resistance to gay marriage of many churchgoers through compassion and reason. Even if the reader doesn’t have a religious bone in their body (like this reviewer), this book still has an important message for today’s world. This is recommended for every library.

Reviewer: Mack F.

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