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Gene Robinson
God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage
Knopf / Random House
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-307-95788-7
Publication Date: 09-18-2012
200 Pages; $27
Date Reviewed: 10-12-2012
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2012

Index:  Non-Fiction

"I believe in marriage," Bishop Gene Robinson tells us, to open his book 'God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage.' For 200 pages, he manages to demonstrate his simple belief, address the questions implicit in his title, entertain readers of any belief, and, by virtue of having written a book, he manages to make us think. These are enjoyable thoughts to have, no matter how difficult you might believe the subject to be. Robinson's straightforward, smartly written book gets to the heart of a currently controversial subject without hyperbole or inflammatory statements. 'God Believes in Love' is the next evolutionary step following on Martin Luther's 'Ninety-Five Theses,' a quietly written FAQ for revolution in the 21st century.

After his statement of belief, Robinson begins his book with a brief biography; a rural childhood, feeling different, seminary school, therapy, marriage to a woman with two children, a realization that he could no longer live a lie — then divorce, mutually agreed and lovingly enacted, followed by another relationship, this time with a man, that has lasted twenty-five years. In a few brief pages, Robinson both introduces himself, demonstrates his own example of a Holy and loving life, and leads readers up to the ten questions he answers to discuss gay marriage and bring the practice into a new light.

'God Believes in Love' is not a book meant to preach to the converted. If you pretty much agree with Robinson, you'll get a great set of tools in the book for discussing the issue in a very sensible manner from the ultimately authoritative backup. You will certainly find a great deal of clarity, though. The FAQ format is crisp, well-organized and very easy to read. Moreover, it is bracing in the breadth of its compassion. Robinson's answers will, to those who are already won over, provide a prayer-like feeling of support and understanding.

But 'God Believes in Love' is not really meant for those who already believe. The book is clearly put together for the many who find themselves at a cross roads by virtue of knowing someone who is gay, and basically, wondering what all the fuss is about. Each chapter after the introduction is titled in the form of a question; "Why Gay Marriage Now?" or "Doesn't Gay Marriage Change the Definition of Marriage That's Been in Place for Thousands of Years?" Each chapter answers the question in a quietly conversational manner that is engaging and easy to read — even if you ultimately decide that you disagree.

But that's unlikely, even if you are ardently opposed to the notion. That's because Robinson has had this conversation literally thousands of times. Quietly, intelligently, he makes his case again and again, but does so while employing the compassion that he suggests is one of the reasons we should embrace gay marriage. Robinson's understanding — based on his upbringing and his education in the Church — of those who oppose gay marriage is what makes him pretty persuasive. In his writing, Robinson never tries to elicit sympathy or understanding. Instead, he offers a clear vision of fellow human beings. It works because it is simple, honest and engaging.

'God Believes in Love' is not going to convince everyone. But it's an important marker in the literary world, a concise summation of where we have been, where we are and where it appears we are going. How long it takes — and how hard it is — to get to the point where gay marriage is no longer an issue cannot be determined. But 'God Believes in Love' is the perfect guidebook for a journey that we are all taking.

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