Monday, November 14, 2016

Hiding from Myself, by Bryan Christopher

A rift is growing in the American church, even among otherwise like-minded conservative evangelicals.  The question: can someone be a homosexual and a Christian?  OK, the easy answer to that is yes; no Christian is perfect, so a Christian can be a liar, thief or philander.  So put more precisely: is homosexual behavior a sin?  And related, should churches recognize and bless marriages between people of the same sex?

Bryan Christopher has dealt with this question all his life.  In Hiding from Myself: A Memoir, he writes about the denial, his years of trying not to be homosexual, and his ultimate acceptance of himself.  Contrary to the stereotype, Bryan was not abused or raped, and he had loving, supportive parents.  No trauma made him homosexual.  He recognized from adolescence that he simply was not attracted to women.

Most of Hiding from Myself deals with Bryan's efforts to escape homosexuality first through heterosexual debauchery, then through Christian discipleship and therapy.  Of the latter, he is no fan.  Bryan is a huge critic of ex-gay therapy.  He believes it's dangerous and abusive.  Obviously, it can be, but despite his own experiences, I am not willing to discount the power of God to change lives.

He writes of his frustrations: "The world is full of miraculous accounts: if a cancer patient given six months can baffle doctors by mysteriously becoming cancer free, or a paralyzed patient inexplicably walks again, why can't a patient suffering from same-sex attractions one day wake up craving the succulent center of the playboy centerfold?"  I wonder the same thing.  After all the prayer, he "can't help but wonder if God is even listening." 

I will give away the ending and tell you that, as of the book's publication, he had been in a committed relationship with another man.  That conclusion is not satisfying for Christians who believe that God's plan for us is heterosexual relationships.  But even the most conservative Christians should listen to Bryan's story.  If there is not someone in your life who is homosexual, I'd be surprised.  In my case, I have several people close to me who are Christians and homosexual, most of whom believe the two are not mutually exclusive.  Even though I may disagree with them (and with Bryan), reading Bryan's story helps me to empathize with their plight, and even to share in their joys.

I appreciate Bryan's willingness to expose himself in his memoir.  Even though it made me uncomfortable at times (By the way, some of his descriptions and language are very frank.  The book is not for children.), I am glad to have read his story.  If someone close to you is homosexual, I encourage you to read it as well.

Thanks to the author for the complimentary review copy!

2016 Reading Challenge: A book about homosexuality

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