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In/Out: A Scandalous Story of Falling into Love and Out of the Church

In/Out: A Scandalous Story of Falling into Love and Out of the Church
Steph Lentz
HarperCollins, $34.99

Steph Lentz rose to prominence in 2021, after being sacked by her conservative Christian school when she spoke about her lesbianism. Having seen and experienced insidious and covert attacks at some Sydney Anglican schools, her story resonated deeply with me and I strongly felt her desire to model and facilitate a compassionate Christianity for the students in her care.

Lentz records her early experiences with Sydney Anglicanism and its debilitating circumscription of her sexuality and gender, leading her into an early marriage despite her gnawing anxieties around her attraction to some of her female friends.

When she falls in love with one of her church mates, her faith and sense of community founder. The relationship is difficult, as the woman is ultimately indecisive about her future with Steph, and they separate after some years together. However, she is a significant catalyst for Steph’s journey and her reflections on her faith, sexuality, the Church and the conjunctions between these factors are the backbone of her memoir.

She contemplates, in a thoughtful, erudite and considered manner, how Church dogma has become so damaging for so many, referencing many alternative, more conservative perspectives on gender and sexuality, articulating their views clearly and giving them due consideration before ultimately deciding that they do not reflect her experiences or aspirations.

The issues that Lentz discusses are timely and meaningful, in the time of the same-sex marriage debate and the religious discrimination allowed by Church-affiliated schools. While on the path of becoming the true version of herself, Lentz frankly admits the damage that she has done to others and the damage that she has done to herself, seeking acceptance and forgiveness while acknowledging the grief of her many losses. Her memoir is an insight into the damage that conservative Christianity can do and how an open perspective on ourselves and our roles will allow us all to be at peace.

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