LETTER OF INTRODUCTION
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
- Matthew 11: 28-30, The New American Bible
Dear Brother, Dear Sister, Dear Friend,
Thank you for having the courage to give this book a try. When I first realized that I might be gay, I was too afraid to talk to anyone about it. I was even too embarrassed and ashamed to check out books about homosexuality from the local library. I was terrified that someone might see what I was reading and make all kinds of assumptions. Over time, I struggled to reconcile different parts of myself. My religion, which I loved, had taught me to internalize negative beliefs about same-sex relationships. It felt like different parts of myself were at war with each other. I was a Christian and a gay man, an intellectual and an artist, a servant and a rebel. It took me a long time to learn that these elements of my identity were not opposing extremes, but rather gifts given to me by God. They were all important parts of who I was made to be, and they fit together as God intended from the beginning.
I learned a lot about life over the years through prayer and loving relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and mentors. And I learned a lot from reading books about religion and sexual orientation. The works I found usually approached these subjects from either an intellectual point of view or as accounts of personal experiences. For example, I found great books that explored Biblical passages about homosexuality through a historical lens, and there were compelling stories written by gay Christians about their own lives.
But for a long time, I felt lost. What I really needed was a book that spoke directly to me in my pain, confusion, loneliness, hopes, and dreams. I had a difficult time finding a community where I felt like I truly belonged. As an avid reader, I always found peace in the realms opened through literature and spiritual texts. Thus as a young gay Christian, I yearned to read something that spoke God’s truth of love and mercy directly to me. I wanted evidence that the Word made flesh loved me despite my gayness, or even because of it. I wanted to believe that God could still live through my life, that I could still be a blessing to others and an advocate for justice in the world.
After years of deep thought and prayer, I decided to write the book I so desperately needed to read. You have before you a collection of pastoral letters written to a young gay Christian. Each chapter is a letter intended for a certain moment in life, a certain point in time. You can read this book cover to cover or flip through it to the message you need today. Even if all my words are worthless, I encourage you to spend time meditating on the Scripture passages that are woven throughout this book. Our Bible holds words of truth inspired by the Holy Spirit. We need to educate ourselves, pray, and talk with loving people to understand what the Scriptures mean, but we can ultimately trust that these sacred books carry messages of hope and love for all people of all times. I hope this book of letters brings you comfort and peace as you grow into the person God wants you to be.
As you will soon find out, I open each letter to my brother, sister, and friend. In doing so, I hope to make a personal connection with you, my fellow person of faith, and also honor the diverse gender identities of my readers. God is Ultimate Being and, as such, is beyond human conceptions of gender. Yet for me, there is something very personal and endearing about pronouns in the English language. I believe that God wants above all to be in loving, intimate relationship with each of us. For these reasons, I alternate between using He/Him and She/Her pronouns while referring to God the Creator. To keep things in balance, I consistently refer to Jesus Christ with he/him pronouns and to the Holy Spirit using she/her pronouns. Of course, there are infinite options for gender pronouns and one can happily use only personal names without pronouns. I encourage everyone to prayerfully consider the pronouns, names, and titles they choose to use or not use for God.
When I address this book to someone “young,” I mean anyone who is on the journey to find out who they are and how they want to live. At the end of the day, we are all young in the light of eternity, and so this book can be for anyone of any age. By gay, I mean anyone whose sexual orientation or gender identity does not fit the culturally-expected heterosexual and cisgender mold. (By cisgender, I mean a person who identifies with the gender they were assumed to be at birth.) Whoever you tend to be romantically and sexually drawn to, this book is for you. Whether you identify with the gender that was assigned to you at birth or a different gender, or whether you feel gender is not relevant to you or that you are a unique or fluid combination of multiple genders, this book is for you. As a gay cisgender man, the insights related in this book weigh heavily on matters related to sexual orientation over gender identity simply because of my personal experiences. If in ignorance I have written something insensitive, inaccurate, or hurtful, I apologize. Furthermore, I hope this book contains some elements of God’s truth, which is universal and for all peoples. While this book has a focused mission to provide support and encouragement for young gay Christians, I hope that everyone, including straight cisgender people of all religions, can find in its pages wisdom, truth, and the warmth of a fellow human being trying to write a little love into the world. At the end of the day, I want all of us to live in peaceful community with the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts.
Ultimately, this book is a fruit of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I love him and he loves me more than I could ever fathom or understand. He offers salvation and mercy to all of us, and he teaches us how to love. Jesus loves us. He suffers with us and saves us. He walks beside us and shows us the way. Whatever you are going through, cling to him and he will see you through.
Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28-30, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” I hope you find some encouragement, healing, wisdom, strength, and inspiration in the pages of this book. I pray that you continue to grow closer and closer to God, and that you find new opportunities every day to sow seeds of faith, hope, and love wherever you go.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Letter of Introduction
Section One: Letters of Encouragement
Section Two: Letters of Healing
Section Three: Letters of Wisdom
Section Four: Letters of Hope and Strength
Section Five: Letters of Inspiration