Inclination by Mia Kerick

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

I don’t think I’ve ever posted a book review as a Sunday posting before today, but Inclination by Mia Kerick deserves a special posting.  I wish I had been able to read this book as a teenager coming to terms with my own Christianity and homosexuality.  Inclination is a guide for young gay Christians in a beautifully written and straightforward young adult novel.  Here is a description of the book:

Sixteen-year-old Anthony Duck-Young Del Vecchio is a nice Catholic boy with a very big problem. It’s not the challenge of fitting in as the lone adopted South Korean in a close-knit family of Italian-Americans. Nor is it being the one introverted son in a family jam-packed with gregarious daughters. Anthony’s problem is far more serious—he is the only gay kid in Our Way, his church’s youth group. As a high school junior, Anthony has finally come to accept his sexual orientation, but he struggles to determine if a gay man can live as a faithful Christian. And as he faces his dilemma, there are complications. After confiding his gayness to his intolerant adult youth group leader, he’s asked to find a new organization with which to worship. He’s beaten up in the church parking lot by a fanatical teen. His former best pal bullies him in the locker room. His Catholic friends even stage an intervention to lead him back to the “right path.” Meanwhile, Anthony develops romantic feelings for David Gandy, an emo, out and proud junior at his high school, who seems to have all the answers about how someone can be gay and Christian, too.

Will Anthony be able to balance his family, friends and new feelings for David with his changing beliefs about his faith so he can live a satisfying life and not risk his soul in the process?

Inclination can really be separated into three parts: coming out, coming to terms, and acceptance.  In the first part, you see Anthony struggle with his sexuality.  Once he comes to terms with the fact that he is gay, it is not a choice, he begins to ask himself how God could create him this way and yet proclaim it to be a sin.  Sin does not come from God, but his Catholic upbringing teaches him that homosexuality is wrong.  The anguish that Anthony goes through is so real, I felt as if I was reliving that time in my life when I was struggling with the same ideas.

Anthony, however, has two things that I did not: a loving supporting family and David Gandy.  David acts as a guide, a friend, and a teacher who helps Anthony wade through the literature about gay Christianity.  David is sure in his faith and in his homosexuality, and he serves as a major asset to Anthony that many young gay Christians do not have, which is precisely why I think this book is so important and deserves a much larger audience.

I really enjoyed this book, not because I agreed with everything in it.  I think that the physical intimacy can be a part of a gay Christian’s life without it being sinful, but this is a young adult book and it should not have carnal relations in it.  Making love is just that, making love and as long as it is meaningful and in a relationship, then it is not wrong.  I believe this must be the case since in some places gay people still are not allowed to be married.  However, what I enjoyed the most about the book is that Kerick brings forth the idea that love and compassion are at the center of Christianity.

This except sums it up very well:

“Now you told me about how Laz acted today in the locker room.  And you know that it was wrong, because he was not showing compassion–you know, not loving you as he loves himself. And even though, on some level, he thinks he was acting in accordance with God’s law as he understands it–cuz homosexuality is wrong in his perspective–we both know that he was not following the spirit of God’s law.  The God I love and believe in would not encourage such behavior–it wouldn’t make sense.”  David reaches across the table across the table and grasps my hand.  The predictable goose bumps cover the skin of my arm.  “God is not arbitrary.  He doesn’t make rules for the simple purpose of making us follow them.  We’re not His trained ponies that need to prove something by turning in circles or jumping over orange cones at His whim.  There are reasons, you know, purposes, behind his rules.”

Kerick does a wonderful job illustrating the struggle many gay Christians go through.  Though Anthony is Catholic, Catholicism does not hold the monopoly on anti-gay rhetoric.  Most denominations spew the same hateful language that is against spirit of God’s laws.  While I would love to see an adult-oriented version of this book, I think it is important that young people have access to this book.  I would recommend it to any library and if you know of a young person struggling with their faith and sexuality, please give them this book to read.  It should spur on further reading and hopefully open up dialogue about what it means to be gay and Christian.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “Inclination by Mia Kerick

  • jacki perrette

    Sounds like a great book. I just checked my library’s holdings and they don’t carry it, so I’ll request it.

    I was raised catholic, but at some point they taught us that being homosexual was not a sin, but homosexual sex was. At that time, I didn’t know it was possible anyway, so I never understood why anyone cared about it. Being raised in a strict and sheltered way, I didn’t learn otherwise until I was married.

    My best friend’s husband R (both catholic) was gay and she didn’t know it. They went through so much. What R did – trying to deny his sexuality and do what he was “supposed to do” – effected so many lives and caused so much anguish, it seems far worse than extramarital sex. I, of course, don’t see homosexuality or even sex outside marriage as wrong. I see deception and infidelity to be unkind and unloving choices that break down relationships and hurt people. I don’t blame R at all for the choices he made, they were the result of his upbringing and our culture. This just highlights the cost of such religious teachings and the misguided belief that homosexuality is a choice. Books like “Inclination” that explore all sides of religion vs the human condition are bound to help individuals make healthier choices. I still think acceptance will be a struggle, but understanding that you are normal and that you are not alone is bound to be comforting and inspire hope.

    I’ve lost my religious faith, but I believe in metta, in lovingkindness, and I believe that anywhere there is love that harms no one, then that is where we humans are at our best. That is where we are most spiritual.

    • closetprofessor

      I agree with you. I think the greatest key to the despair we feel is that we don’t accept ourselves. We are normal and once we realize that then no one can take that away from us. Love and kindness will carry us even further and it really is the only path to acceptance.

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