Growing Up Evangelical and Gay with Jonathan Merritt

It’s an origin story we’ve heard time and time again; a young person trying to figure out who they are as they grow up—in the context of their families, their religious beliefs, and their sexuality. And when all of those areas conflate, there can be fallout and damage—especially when they discover how and who they choose to love isn’t embraced by their faith or family structures. Award winning journalist and writer Jonathan Merritt navigated this particular firestorm in his own life by pursuing a Masters in Divinity and Theology and becoming a journalist who asked hard hitting questions at the intersections of faith and culture. But it would take years for him to sort out who he himself was in the midst of it. Growing up in the family of an evangelical mega-pastor, Jonathan was taught that in regards to gay people, Christians were called to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Jonathan didn’t see a lot of love with this practice, just a lot of hate. And it kept him from being open to who he himself might be—a gay man. It took an event that shattered his life into pieces and caused his private process to become very public; which ultimately sent him down the road to really pursue his identity and recalibrate his relationship to his family, his faith, and his purpose. For the first time, he talks about this process, and shares a moment where he and Jen’s paths crossed in a significant way that would also blow up a few sacred cows in Jen’s life and introduced her to an early version of cancel culture, circa 2016. Welcome all, to this first, powerful episode in our Faith Shakers series.