cover image Affirming: A Memoir of Faith, Sexuality, and Staying in the Church

Affirming: A Memoir of Faith, Sexuality, and Staying in the Church

Sally Gary. Eerdmans, $19.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7917-2

Gary follows up her memoir Loves God, Likes Girls with this illuminating testament that argues faith communities should be more accepting of LGBTQ members and invites readers to recognize that, for many LGBTQ people, sexual and romantic relationships are an essential part of life. Growing up in the Church of Christ during the 1960s and ’70s, where sexuality was taboo and “talking about homosexuality was unheard of, unless it involved hateful condemnation or jokes,” Gary was confused by her attraction to girls. After she came out at 35, Gary writes, she wrestled with how to reconcile her faith with her sexuality, and, as covered in her previous memoir, came to the conclusion that, while God accepted her, she was called to be celibate. Here, Gary explains her change of opinion about living in a “faithful covenant” with another woman, and uses her story to consider the Christian practice of radical hospitality (which is about “welcoming strangers, people who don’t fit in with the rest of society”), the role of scripture in understanding sexuality and sin (which evangelicals interpret to instill “the myth that... someone who is gay has rebelled against God”), and the importance of relationships. In the end, she challenges Christians to reckon with the damage done by anti-LGBTQ beliefs and practices. “What if LGBTQ people never had to worry about not being wanted?” she asks. “What if [that energy] was directed toward deepening their relationship with God?” Gary’s surprising, forthright story uncovers the damage of anti-LGBTQ religious beliefs and policies. (Mar.)