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.