By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine
If you are among the millions of Americans who care about your church and also your LGBT friends, then you’re probably already aware of the inclusive work of scholars David Gushee and activists like Andrew Marin. Both of them join me in urging you to read Nathan Albert’s new Embracing Love: My Journey to Hugging a Man in His Underwear.
If Gushee’s and Marin’s names don’t mean much to you, then here’s a good reason make a choice today to become an advocate for inclusion: The future of organized religion in America may depend upon it.
Nathan Albert, the author of this new memoir of his Christian journey toward inclusion, is not gay. In fact, he’s deeply evangelical. He cares about church life in America and sees the millions of young adults falling away from a practice—going to church—that they now associate with hateful divisions. On page 100 of his book in bold-faced type you’ll read:
The Christian community has been fraught with divisions. Sadly, rather than being known for our love, I think we are more often known for our divisions. This should grieve us.
Instead, for committed Christians, Albert argues:
The Bible leads us to Christ, and Christ leads us to people. And, he writes: Instead of passing judgment, we can extend grace.
In just a few sentences, that’s the compelling plea in this memoir that inspired both Gushee and Marin—and a host of other Christians—to urge straight churchgoers to read this 150-page story.
What’s the deal about the sub-title and the odd photo on the cover? It’s all about the emotions generated when Christians finally apologize for the countless ways this religion has shown contempt for LGBT men and women. You can read all about it in the opening section of Albert’s book.
Again, in a nutshell: After realizing that a group of evangelicals protested against the participants in Chicago’s enormous Gay Pride Parade each year, Marin and Albert were among a small group of Christians who made posters, t-shirts and staged a protest declaring, “I’m sorry” on behalf of Christianity.
Overcome by emotion at these signs, a marcher clad only in men’s briefs hugged Albert as the central figure in that pro-inclusion cluster. A photograph was snapped of the moment—and it went viral! We’re talking far more than 100 million people seeing the photo online, celebrities around the world chiming in to spread the iconic image and Buzzfeed even racking up another 16 million views for including the picture in a column headlined: 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.
Who is Nathan Albert?
He began his career as a professional actor, went on to become an evangelical minister and today is a multi-media voice for both Christian faith—and inclusion. Here is more about his life from the release of his new book:
Nathan Albert has worked in youth ministry in Rhode Island, college ministry in Chicago, and as the Director of Pastoral Care with The Marin Foundation. He holds a Master of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary where he focused his thesis on the Evangelical Covenant Church and the biblical scholarship pertaining to homosexuality. Prior to seminary, Nathan earned a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from Rockford College and worked as a professional singer and actor performing for more than a quarter of a million people across the country. An ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church, Nathan, his wife, Kate, and newborn son, Foster, currently reside in Rhode Island.
You can learn more about his work and his recent activities at his website NathanAlbert.com