By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com July 27 2012 11:15 AM ET
Jonathan Merritt, the son of famous evangelist James Merritt, has become a prominent evangelical blogger, writing for, among others, USA Today and The Atlantic (where he most recently wrote about his support of Chick-fil-A). Turns out he's, as Queerty puts it, also "a deeply conflicted gay man" who just got busted for canoodling with gay blogger Azariah Southworth.
James Merrit, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is currently the pastor at an Atlanta mega-church, had promised that his son would join the church this weekend for a special announcement, but no word on whether this was what they had planned. Southworth outed Merritt in his blog this week, so Merritt responded by admitting his "inappropriate" actions to evangelist blogger Ed Stetzer.
Joe.My.God’s Joe Jervis posted a rundown of the relationship between Merritt and Southworth that occurred in 2009. Merritt says he and Southworth began emailing and sexting each other after Merritt wrote an article saying "that Christians must love people who experience sexual brokenness." The sexting led to a meet up and "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."
Merritt says he saw a Christian counselor to sort through his 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.”
Southworth himself said, "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. We must have radical honesty in the character, intentions and identities of our leaders.”