NEWS CAME TODAY OF THE OBVIOUS. THE SON OF A LONGTIME SOUTHERN BAPTIST LEADER JAMES MERRITT CONFIRMED THAT HE IS GAY.BUT UNTIL NOW WE WERE NEVER SUPPOSED TO NOTICE EVEN AFTER HE WAS OUTED BY A LOVER IN 2011.
Rev. Thomas Littleton
The truth came OUT about Jonathan Merritt today on his Instagram feed. But Baptist and leaders of Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition kept in in the conversations of evangelicals for a decade after he was outed by someone else. Leaders like Albert Mohler and Ed Stetzer continued to act as if Merritt was a leading voice among evangelicals and Baptist especially validated only by the fact his father James is an SBC pastor and former SBC President. We were all called upon to act as brainless as these and other leaders appear to think we are and let their change agent have the platform.
TODAY ON SOCIAL MERRITTS MEDIA
“In 2012, just days before my 30th birthday, I was publicly and painfully outed by a person who had earned my trust only to betray it. It took many months and a boatload of therapy to process the trauma of that experience—and to learn to love the delightful human that God made when God made me.”
“Some of you may not know this part of my story. I have learned to live authentically in my personal life, sharing with friends the fullness of who I am. But the experience of being outed left me bruised and untrusting and dead dog afraid to offer these vulnerable parts of myself for public consumption and critique. So, I haven’t really written about my identity online.”
“Recently, however, this disconnect between my private and public life has felt unnecessary and unsustainable. I don’t want to live fearful of the opinions of strangers or the venom of bigots.”
“Today is my 39th birthday, which means I get one more trip around the sun before entering my next decade. I want to enter the second half of life with more authenticity, alignment, and integrity than I exhibited in the first half.”
“So today, I’m raising a glass to my full and complete self—a gay man, beloved by God, who has endured the worst the world could throw at him and fought his way to health and wholeness. # THIS IS 39”
MERRITT’S OUTING IN 2012
Why I outed a Christian star
I’ve been called a bully for exposing gay evangelical Jonathan Merritt. Even I secretly wonder: Was I right?
PUBLISHED AUGUST 12, 2012
FROM THE UK – A INTERVIEW FOLLOWING THE NEWS ABOVE IN BBC BOLG:
Jonathan Merritt and the ethics of “outing”
William Crawley | 13:29 UK time, Wednesday, 15 August 2012
“On Sunday, we broadcast an interview with the American evangelical writer Jonathan Merritt. I recorded that interview while travelling in the United States this summer. I met Jonathan (pictured) for breakfast in Washington DC during the Q Conference , a meeting of “new evangelicals”, and we talked about his new book which encourages his fellow evangelicals to move beyond a sometimes toxic debate about culture wars.”
“A few weeks after the interview was recorded, Jonathan found himself embroiled in a public controversy about his own personal life, when a gay Christian blogger revealed that he’d had a sexual encounter with him. Azariah Southworth’s decision to “out” Jonathan Merritt appears to have been prompted by Jonathan’s recent public comments on the same-sex marriage debate.”
“Jonathan subsequently gave an interview with Ed Stetzer, a Southern Baptist blogger, in which he confirmed that he and Azariah had had “physical contact that went beyond the bounds of friendship”.
“And Azariah Southworth has been explaining his decision to out Jonathan Merritt in a PODCASTwith Peterson Toscano and Zack Ford.”
“Read more about the background to this story.”
“In this week’s PODCAST I speak to Peterson Toscano about the personal dilemma now facing Jonathan Merritt (spool through to 19mins for both interviews)”
STETZER GAVE MERRITT COVER
Stetzer’s link above is not an “UhOh Sorry we can’t find the page”. But Wayback has it archived.
“Jonathan Merritt is a nationally known writer, blogger and news personality. He has written two books, Green Like God and A Faith of Our Own and has written for USAToday, the Huffington Post, and many others. He’s done lots of news appearances– the last I saw him on television was on “The O-Reilly Factor” a few weeks ago.”
“Recently, after Jonathan, in a piece written for The Atlantic, defended Chick-fil-A against a potential boycott by gay activists, a “gay, former-evangelical” blogger claimed he had evidence Jonathan himself was gay. In the parlance the effort was to “out him.” Merritt’s defense of Chick-fil-A had already exploded in the LGBT blogosphere, but this enflamed the issue as many sought to discredit Jonathan after he dared to defend Chick-fil-A.”
“Jonathan’s views have been clear–he considers homosexual practice as sin and is not in favor of redefining marriage (about half of America agrees, btw). Such views make you a target today, regardless of your personal situation.”
“Outing,” in case you do not know, is the practice of revealing that a certain person is gay without his or her consent, is not an unheard of occurrence though it is not always looked on favorably within the LGBT community. My heart grieves to see such low integrity, particularly when done by a person who claims the title “Christian”–and I am deeply disappointed with a few “Christians” in the blogosphere, who, since they disagreed with Jonathan in the past, seized the moment. Sad.”
“Yes, Jonathan Merritt is a public figure who lives in the intersection of church and culture, and is accustomed to cars coming from both directions–which appears to be the case now. In the past I have used my blog as a way for leaders to address blogosphere issues I want to do the same today.”
“So, I asked Jonathan if he would take a few questions and respond to this situation for himself. He has agreed, and I welcome him to the blog today.”
Q: A blogger alleges that you have not been transparent, honest or authentic about who you are because of your religious affiliation. Tell us about the situation.
“A: My story begins at a very young age when an older male who lived in our neighborhood sexually abused me. The experience was followed with a tidal wave of shame and guilt so great that I never told anyone for many years. In the years following this event, I mostly stuffed the experience away and didn’t deal with it. On rare occasion, oppressive thoughts would enter my mind and bring on periods of depression and questioning. I wondered why this had happened to me and what, if anything, it meant.”
“I decided to follow Jesus at 13 and quickly realized that this event and the confusion that followed was not my fault. God had allowed an experience of brokenness into my life even if I didn’t fully understand it. Rather than run from God, I decided to walk with him in this. And, I believe that helped shape my worldview that sin can be overcome. It’s through that lens that I write. And, it’s through that brokenness that I try to live.”
“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.”
Q: What happened after this?
“A: When I returned home, I saw a Christian counselor to address the events in my life and sort through my childhood and what I believed God wanted for me. I also began to acknowledge to myself that I have sin in my past, sin for which I accept responsibility. Inappropriate texting, inappropriate actions are inappropriate no matter who the other party is. These were my decisions and no one else’s.”
“It’s from my brokenness, that I feel I can now be transparent, honest, and authentic about these accusations. Those close to me know I have actually been planning to share the story of my brokenness for some time. Because it is part of my spiritual journey. And because it underscores the power of the Gospel to transform lives.”
“Although I was unable to choose when I would share some of these painful memories, I am thankful for the opportunity to share it now. I’m thankful that I am able to make better decisions about how to handle a difficult situation. And, I’m thankful that because of grace, I can identify with those who have dealt with similar situations.”
Q: How has this experience shaped you?
“A: It’s bred compassion in me towards others who wrestle with the baggage they carry in life. People like me who passionately pursue God–on His terms and not ours–experience incredible times of struggle along the way. I know what it is like to experience periods of depression, frustration, and confusion. And that’s why I live out my calling the way I do, as best as I can, sometimes stumbling along the way.”
“I don’t identify as “gay” because I believe there can be a difference between what one experiences and the life that God offers. I’m a cracked vessel held together only by God’s power. And I’m more sure each day that only Christ can make broken people whole.”
Q: How has your church leadership responded, and what is their response now?
“A: I’m an active member at Cross Pointe, though I’m not on staff there. I met with our church leaders who have been incredibly supportive. They know I’m committed to living the life God demands for those who follow him. And they know that as I follow Jesus, I’m committed to pursuing his best for me, which includes the Bible’s unambiguous standards for sexuality.”
Q: What kind of response have you received since this blog posted?
“A: Mostly emails and texts and calls from Christian friends who are reaffirming their love for me. I’ve been overwhelmed by this, and reminded again how important Christian community and accountability can be. That’s also why I felt that it was important to tell my story. I’m committed to this journey in Christ, and I’m committed to remaining within the Christian community while maintaining valuable friendships with those who are not Christians. Sometimes this means being vulnerable and transparent when it’s tough. But that’s also when we can lean in and know that the truth is never something to be ashamed of and that in our brokenness we can find strength.”
“I am thankful that my struggles are not public discussion, but I appreciate Jonathan sharing what he has–and am praying for him in the days ahead.”
“Feel free to comment below, but the comment rules will be in place as always. Be sure to read them if you have not. If your comments are not posted, I don’t argue nor justify my moderation policy.”
“Please commit to pray for Jonathan as he allows God to heal his brokenness while using him in the midst of it.”
“That’s probably a good prayer for each of us.”
ALBERT MOHLER PROMOTED JONATHAN MERRITT TO PROMOTE GLOBAL WARMING FOR EVANGELICALS CALLING IT CREATION CARE.
A recent statement from a group of prominent Southern Baptists calling for more progressive dialogue on the question of Christians’ obligations to care for the environment has drawn a lot of attention from the media. On today’s program, Dr. Mohler welcomes Jonathan Merritt–one of the main proponents of the document–to the show for an extended …
March 11, 2008
MOHLER AND MERRITT CONTINUED A PUBLIC DISCOURSE THAT NEVER INCLUDED MOHLER CALLING OUT MERRITTS SIN EVEN THOUGH MERRITT WAS CALLING OUT HIS LEADERSHIP IN AL ALL WHITE SECRET SOCIETY AT SBTS WHILE MOHLER WAS A STUDENT THERE.
MEANWHILE BOTH MOHLER AND MERRITT WERE INVOLVED IN COORDINATED ATTACKS ON PAIGE PATTERSON IN 2018 AND PRESIDENT TRUMP.
MOHLER CALLED THE PAIGE PATTERSON ACCUSATIONS IN 2018-
“The Wrath of God Poured Out—The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention”
“America’s largest evangelical denomination has been in the headlines day after day. The SBC is in the midst of its own horrifying #MeToo moment.”
“At one of our seminaries, controversy has centered on a president (now former president) whose sermon illustration from years ago included advice that a battered wife remain in the home and the marriage in hope of the conversion of her abusive husband. “
MEANWHILE MERRITT LEAD THE CHARGES AGAINST PATTERSON IN THE SECULAR PRESS:
“Discredited Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson requested that his personal correspondence when president of the 15 million member group be sealed until 2050.”
Washington Post Apr 30, 2018 — By Jonathan Merritt … Last week, an audio recording surfaced on which Paige Patterson, a high-profile Southern Baptist leader, says abused ..
IN THE ATLANTIC
“The Scandal Tearing Apart America’s Largest Protestant Denomination.”
“A denominational leader’s claim that abused women should remain in their broken marriages is forcing Southern Baptists to pick sides.”
May 3, 2018 — By Jonathan Merritt. Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson gestures as he makes his opening speech in 1999
MERRITT THE CHANGE AGENT
In 2014 both Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition featured this interview
Discussing the Future of Evangelicalism with Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Jonathan Merritt, and Ed Stetzer
TREVIN WAX | JUNE 30, 2014
In the interview /video Merritt ,under the watchful eye of Stetzer asserted that the church once “viewed homosexuality as a CURSE. Now it is seen as CROSS. Perhaps one day it will be considered a CROWN “…AND be celebrated.
Merritt’s sidekick is fellow activist journalist Sara Pulliam Bailey who is a relative of the former Vice President Dan Quayle and comes from a publishing family dynasty
“Sarah comes at this question with her reporter’s hat on (although her infamous hats are conspicuously absent in this video!). She analyzes it from a journalistic perspective.”
“Jonathan comes at this question by drawing on his own experience and his relationships with evangelical leaders. He sees this issue as far from settled and wonders out loud about how evangelicals will address the issue.”
“I come at this question by putting it in context of global evangelicalism, the authority of Scripture, and the history of church controversy throughout the centuries.”
“As you can see below, it was a lively discussion that, hopefully, furthers an ongoing conversation about the future of evangelicalism.”
At this time Stetzer and his underling Treven Wax both worked at SBC Lifeway Research arm of the Baptist publishing giant and had recently LAUNCHED THE publication of THE Gospel Project curriculum for churches and ages preschool and up. This authors son who was 4 years old at the time was being given the curriculum every Sunday in church. Confronted with HIS Merritt interview and assertions by Merritt on homosexuality and the future of Evangelicalism on Stetzer’s format – Stetzer showed no willingness to call out Merritt’s well known sin .
Albert Mohler and a host of others have continued to allow Merritt a pass. Nohler by 2018 was exposed as having educated and employed at SBTS the gay identified founder of Revoice who studied Feminine Theology and Gender/Queer Theory as part of his academic studies at Mohler’s SBTS. Upon this news today of Merritt confirming that he is Gay identified .
Other Baptist seminary leaders refused to rebuke the activist Merritt even today:
SBTS professor Hershael York
Hershael York@hershaelyork·Replying to @JonathanMerrittHappy birthday, Jonathan! If, in that second half of life, you ever need a friend who certainly sees a lot of things differently than you, but who cares deeply for you, I am here.
SEBTS controversial professor KS Prior who enjoys being controversial and edgy with homosexual issues.
Jonathan Merritt@JonathanMerritt·Thanks, Dr. Prior. Grateful for your kindness and friendship.
Simply put Jonathan Merritt has been an activist in the midst of Southern Baptist life for years. Now he is openly out and proud as “gay identified” although the vast majority of Baptist leaders have known it for years. Is there a rebuke of this deception and sin and repentance from those leaders who promoted him over the last decade forthcoming? Sure be compassionate and witness to Jonathan but do not commend him for deceiving Christians for years or downplay the role they played in failing to show him the true love of the Gospel in calling him to repent.