Jonathan Merritt is an important Southern Baptist leader. The son of a former president of that denomination and current mega-church pastor, Merritt is a leader in a new breed of younger evangelicals. Including the likes of Gabe Lyons, Shane Claiborne, and a few others, these authors and speakers are more socially progressive than their parents’ generation, without budging much on evangelical theological standards.
Thus Merritt, whose written books on how Christians should love the enviroment and how Christians should leave the culture wars behind, wrote a piece for the Atlantic Monthly‘s website defending Chik-fil-A.
In response, Azariah Southworth, a gay, former evangelical TV host, wrote a post that read,
I feel though what has led Jonathan to this thoughtful and effective approach is his hope for a future where people like me and him, gay people, are no longer excluded but included in every aspect of society….
Exposing this truth of Jonathan’s sexual orientation is not an easy decision for me. I take no pleasure in doing this. As I type this my stomach is turning because I know of the backlash he will receive. I have thought about what all of this will mean for him and for me. I base my reasoning in the importance of living an authentic and honest life…
(The nature and history of my relationship with Jonathan will not be disclosed. However, if evidence is required to back my claim it can be provided).
Jonathan responded, over the weekend, on Ed Stetzer‘s blog:
In 2009, I was contacted by the blogger in response to an article I wrote about just that–that Christians must love people who experience sexual brokenness. We corresponded several times by email and text for a couple of weeks, some of them inappropriate. When I was traveling through a city near him, we met for dinner because we’d corresponded so recently. As we were saying goodbye, we had physical contact that went beyond the bounds of friendship. I was overcome with guilt, knowing I had put myself in an unwise situation. We never saw each other again and we ceased contact after a period of time.
I strongly urge you to go read the post on Ed’s blog now. Then come back here for my thoughts.