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2017 Foreword INDIES Award FinalistIn an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles tells his own story. Let's make a deal, you and me. Let's make promises to each other. I promise to tell you my story. The whole story. I'll tell you about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attra 2017 Foreword INDIES Award FinalistIn an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles tells his own story. Let's make a deal, you and me. Let's make promises to each other. I promise to tell you my story. The whole story. I'll tell you about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attractions were persistently and exclusively for other guys. I'll tell you how I lay on my bed in the middle of the night and whispered to myself the words I've whispered a thousand times since: "I'm gay." I'll show you the world through my eyes. I'll tell you what it's like to belong nowhere. To know that much of my Christian family will forever consider me unnatural, dangerous, because of something that feels as involuntary as my eye color. And to know that much of the LGBTQ community that shares my experience as a sexual minority will disagree with the way I've chosen to interpret the call of Jesus, believing I've bought into a tragic, archaic ritual of self-hatred. But I promise my story won't all be sadness and loneliness and struggle. I'll tell you good things too, hopeful things, funny things, like the time I accidentally came out to my best friend during his bachelor party. I'll tell you what it felt like the first time someone looked me in the eyes and said, "You are not a mistake." I'll tell you that joy and sorrow are not opposites, that my life has never been more beautiful than when it was most brokenhearted. If you'll listen, I promise I'll tell you everything, and you can decide for yourself what you want to believe about me.


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2017 Foreword INDIES Award FinalistIn an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles tells his own story. Let's make a deal, you and me. Let's make promises to each other. I promise to tell you my story. The whole story. I'll tell you about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attra 2017 Foreword INDIES Award FinalistIn an age where neither society nor the church knows what to do with gay Christians, Greg Coles tells his own story. Let's make a deal, you and me. Let's make promises to each other. I promise to tell you my story. The whole story. I'll tell you about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attractions were persistently and exclusively for other guys. I'll tell you how I lay on my bed in the middle of the night and whispered to myself the words I've whispered a thousand times since: "I'm gay." I'll show you the world through my eyes. I'll tell you what it's like to belong nowhere. To know that much of my Christian family will forever consider me unnatural, dangerous, because of something that feels as involuntary as my eye color. And to know that much of the LGBTQ community that shares my experience as a sexual minority will disagree with the way I've chosen to interpret the call of Jesus, believing I've bought into a tragic, archaic ritual of self-hatred. But I promise my story won't all be sadness and loneliness and struggle. I'll tell you good things too, hopeful things, funny things, like the time I accidentally came out to my best friend during his bachelor party. I'll tell you what it felt like the first time someone looked me in the eyes and said, "You are not a mistake." I'll tell you that joy and sorrow are not opposites, that my life has never been more beautiful than when it was most brokenhearted. If you'll listen, I promise I'll tell you everything, and you can decide for yourself what you want to believe about me.

30 review for Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter Jones

    This type of book is becoming more common: a professing Christian struggles with gay/homosexual desires, etc. He comes to realize after some study that gay sex is wrong (for them), but gay desires are not. They chose to remain celibate, but admit that others might disagree and pursue homosexual/lesbian relationships and even marriage in some cases. Several things stuck out as I read. First, gay, celibate Christians regularly discount the homosexual agenda in the world as not worth worrying about This type of book is becoming more common: a professing Christian struggles with gay/homosexual desires, etc. He comes to realize after some study that gay sex is wrong (for them), but gay desires are not. They chose to remain celibate, but admit that others might disagree and pursue homosexual/lesbian relationships and even marriage in some cases. Several things stuck out as I read. First, gay, celibate Christians regularly discount the homosexual agenda in the world as not worth worrying about and even downplay same-sex relations in general. Reading them it is difficult to believe they take I Corinthians 6:9-11, the threat homosexuality presents to Biblical sexuality, or the threat it presents to society seriously. Preston Sprinkle tries in his book, but qualifies it to death so that it is hard to imagine he would ever say a gay (not-celibate) Christian is outside the Kingdom. Second, they often create two ways when there are more than two. For example this author gives the illustration of two lesbians who love Jesus and get married and a straight Christian girl who struggles with fornication, as if these are the only two options. He says while his theology might line up with latter he believes the lesbians are actually loving Jesus better. He also brings up hetero porn as proof that heterosexual desires are twisted. But this is like saying drunkenness makes the desire for wine twisted. The idea that "we are all sinners" and therefore we needn't be too hard on gay folks is an underlying assumption Third, I know this is not intentional, but these guys come off condescending. Sprinkle's book gave me the same vibe. For example the author basically says that gay Christians have to struggle while hetero Christians can get married, "join a country club," go to a church that welcomes them, and live a comfortable middle-class life. Really? All of us hetero Christians are just out here living the dream? There is a subtle sense you get reading these guys that they have unique insight into following Christ that us "normal" Christians don't and that their path is more difficult than the path others have to take. Fourth, they live in the land of "unanswered questions," "we can't really know," and "there are no easy answers." It is all so vague. For some reason Christians for 2,000 years knew exactly what the Bible taught, but now we don't anymore. It hard to see this as anything other than a capitulation to post-modern thinking. Fifth, another assumption in these books is that gay desires are not sinful. This is at the center of the whole debate and I don't have time to go into it now. But the idea that gay desires are neutral while gay lust and gay sex is sinful must be challenged. Finally, the story is really what matters. There is little discussion of what the Bible, natural law, or the Church teaches. Instead the focus is on his journey, how he felt, who helped him, who didn't, and what God said to him when he prayed. In other words, it is highly subjective. He says at one point, "If you really love someone you would find a way of expressing that love that they would recognize as love." In other words, "I must feel loved in order for it to be love." An action is not either loving or unloving. It loving or unloving based on how I feel about it. Autobiography of course is not inherently bad. But when it is used to shape truth and emotional stories are used to tip you one direction or the other without reference to Truth then it becomes deadly. Of course, it is hard to fault Coles for this. Christians have been doing this for quite some time. I am sure this review makes me sound mean and cruel. However, I have sympathy for his struggle. It is the struggle we all have against indwelling sin and God not answering all our prayers. But that is not unique to those who struggle with gay desires. It is what all faithful Christians should be doing. I got this book free from Netgalley for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: An autobiographical narrative of a young Christian who becomes aware of his attraction to other men, his struggles against this within a Christian context, his experiences of "coming out," and how he has decided to follow Christ through all of this. This book had me at the first page. Ordinarily, I wouldn't quote so extensively, but I know nothing better to give you a sense of Gregory Cole's story, and of his exquisite writing: "Let's make a deal, you and me. Let's make promises to each o Summary: An autobiographical narrative of a young Christian who becomes aware of his attraction to other men, his struggles against this within a Christian context, his experiences of "coming out," and how he has decided to follow Christ through all of this. This book had me at the first page. Ordinarily, I wouldn't quote so extensively, but I know nothing better to give you a sense of Gregory Cole's story, and of his exquisite writing: "Let's make a deal, you and me. Let's make promises to each other. I promise to tell you my story. The whole story. I'll tell you about a boy in love with Jesus who, at the fateful onset of puberty, realized his sexual attractions were persistently and exclusively for other guys. I'll tell you how I lay on my bed in the middle of the night and whispered to myself the words I've whispered a thousand times since: "I'm gay." I'll show you the world through my eyes. I'll tell you what it's like to belong nowhere. To know that much of my Christian family will forever consider me unnatural, dangerous, because of something that feels as involuntary as my eye color. And to know that much of the LGBTQ community that shares my experience as a sexual minority will disagree with the way I've chosen to interpret the call of Jesus, believing I've bought into a tragic, archaic ritual of self-hatred. But I promise my story won't all be sadness and loneliness and struggle. I'll tell you good things too, hopeful things, funny things, like the time I accidentally came out to my best friend during his bachelor party. I'll tell you what it felt like the first time someone looked me in the eyes and said, "You are not a mistake." I'll tell you that joy and sorrow are not opposites, that my life has never been more beautiful than when it was most brokenhearted. If you'll listen, I promise I'll tell you everything, and you can decide for yourself what you want to believe about me." In succeeding chapters, Coles unfolds, often in a self-deprecating yet not self-hating fashion, his growing awareness that he was gay, his silence and attempts to cover this up by dating girls and even of trying to awaken heterosexual desires through them. He describes the scary and wonderful moment he comes out to his pastor, who listens, and loves, and keeps on loving. We trace with him his journey to reconcile his faith, his orientation, his understanding of biblical teaching, weighing but rejecting "affirming" interpretations, which precludes for him acting on his gay attractions by pursuing intimacy with another man, and what it means for him to believe that God has nevertheless made him good. He helps us hear what is often said in churches that affirm a "traditional" view from the perspective of a gay person. I cringed here as I read things I've said. He also leads us into a broader conversation about sexuality and how the fall has affected it for all of us, gay or straight. He speaks about his choice to live single, both the heartache, and the joy. He raises the question of views of discipleship that never involve suffering or self-denial. He casts a vision for a life that is full, and has a unique capacity for relationships because of who he is as a gay man. Where the church often sees LGBTQ persons as a threat, Greg helps us see persons like himself as a tremendous gift. Coles speaks with a voice of conviction without dogmatism. He speaks for himself and his own journey, allowing that others might conclude differently. As he writes in his introduction, he tells us the truth about himself, and lets us decide.  He doesn't see himself as any kind of role model but simply as a "half-written story." I deeply resonated with his comments about encountering the "are you side A or side B?" question. He writes, "I didn't want to be reduced to a simple yes or no. I wanted a new side." I find myself deeply in sympathy with him. And perhaps this book might take us a step closer to that new side. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will Turner

    As much as I appreciate Gregory's story there is a deep-seated danger with this book. The root question which we need to ask is this: is homosexuality a sin? And we need to answer that from Scripture. Coles believes that homosexuality (at least practiced) is sinful, but at the same time ultimately argues that it is innate, unchangeable and therefore acceptable. This is what makes the book so dangerous. Ultimately it allows for a shallow view of sin which in turn leads to a cheap view of grace. I As much as I appreciate Gregory's story there is a deep-seated danger with this book. The root question which we need to ask is this: is homosexuality a sin? And we need to answer that from Scripture. Coles believes that homosexuality (at least practiced) is sinful, but at the same time ultimately argues that it is innate, unchangeable and therefore acceptable. This is what makes the book so dangerous. Ultimately it allows for a shallow view of sin which in turn leads to a cheap view of grace. It belittles the Gospel. It says subtly that God is not powerful enough, that the gospel is not great enough, and that the Spirit is not transformational enough to take his sinful desires and make then new. Nowhere is there a mention of being recreated as Paul describes becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). No where is there a mention of being dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:8-11). No where is there a mention of the ramifications of being dead to sin: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passion” (Rom. 6:12). If we are dead to sin we are not to live in it anymore. We must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11). To be a single gay Christian is to take a step into dangerous waters. Homosexuality is sexual immorality. Scripture says that no sexual immoral nor those who practice homosexuality will enter into heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Scripture does say that some who were once committing sexuality immorality, who once were practicing homosexuals that they will now enter because “they once were.” But they no longer are sexually immoral. They no longer practice homosexuality. They have been transformed. Coles seems to reject any idea of this transformation. Many of us could label ourselves as Single Lustful Christians or Married Hateful Christian. Everyone would (hopefully) see the problem with that. But Coles is - whether intentionally or not - subtly allowing and arguing for Single Gay Christian. And what happens is that by arguing in such a way - through sharing his story - he is softening the idea of homosexuality being sinful. He even goes so far in some places to suggest that he is this way because God wants him to be that way. As if I could just say I am a lustful Christian because God made me that way. Therefore I don’t need to change. After all that is who I am. This is how God made me. But this flies in the face of Paul’s argument in Romans 6-7. The issue at stake is this: what does the Bible say about homosexuality (desires and actions). I believe it is clear: Scripture condemns both as sinful, as it does lust, adultery, murder, and all other sins that stand against God’s holiness. Coles book waters this view of sin down. And once sin is watered down the gospel ends up losing its meaning, the cross loses its power, and the Spirit loses its strength. The end result is a Christianity without sin, a Christianity with the gospel, and ultimately a Christianity without Christ. And this is no Christianity at all. Love Jesus all you want, but loving him requires that you love his Word and follow his ways. Even when it stands against the very fabric of who you believe you are. Towards the end Coles writes: “There are only a few things I know for sure about showing love to gay people, and one of them is this: If you really want to love us, you have to respect us enough to let us make our own decisions. Even if you think we might get it wrong. Even if you’re sure we have gotten it wrong. You can’t just tell us what to believe and expect us to believe it. That’s not how belief works—at least that’s not how it worked for me.” This is heartbreaking. That's not love. He longs to be accepted. But he doesn’t seem to want to change. He wants people to affirm who he is, but not challenge him to grow in his sanctification. He wants the affirmation without the hard work of sanctification - it seems. Would we affirm a lustful person for who they are, love them, but never exhort them and challenge them to change their ways? This is what Coles seems to want. And in the end it denies the sanctifying power of the Gospel. He writes again: “I’m convinced,” I said, “that in the end, God is more concerned with the depth and the recklessness of our love for him than he is with our right answers.” This is damning. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. God is concerned with our right understanding of his word because only once we know it truly may we properly live it and obey it. I sincerely hope that this isn’t the last time we hear from Gregory Coles. He’s young. There remains, Lord willing, countless years for God to work in his life, to transform his view of Christ’s power. I commend his commitment to remaining celibate, but I also encouraging him to pursue Scripture more deeply than he has. To see the power of the Word of God that is able to divide up his very soul. To transform his thoughts, the intentions of his heart. To purge all sinful desires and feelings. If he is God’s the Word promises us that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). I pray that one day Gregory Coles will pen a follow up book where he describes the beauty, the power, and the hope of God’s transforming power. A story of how he once was. A story of the power that sees us united to Christ in his death and united to him in the power of his resurrection. A story of his redeeming and transforming grace.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Danette

    I'm not sure what to think of this book. Gregory is a gifted writer and candid about his life experiences thus far. I'm interested in being more understanding and in being faithful to God's Word. I am encouraging my husband to read it so we can discuss it together. 2018 A book I didn't think I'd like. I'm not sure what to think of this book. Gregory is a gifted writer and candid about his life experiences thus far. I'm interested in being more understanding and in being faithful to God's Word. I am encouraging my husband to read it so we can discuss it together. 2018 A book I didn't think I'd like.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Makes me long for and want to follow Jesus, which is the highest praise I could ever give.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Justin Kendrick

    The was a great book. I would recommend it to any believer looking for greater perspective on sexual identity. It allows for a foundation of grace and love towards those who experience non-normative sexuality.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bekah

    "I’m the guy you thought you could never be: a guy who’s gay and loves Jesus and isn’t ashamed to admit either of those things." This bold statement, in a line from a letter addressed to himself that concludes Greg's book, is at the heart of the story he shares with us in it. And all throughout "Single, Gay, Christian," Greg consistently seeks to occupy that sometimes-awkward, always admirable, thoroughly beautiful "third space" between the two default camps when it comes to the question of a gay "I’m the guy you thought you could never be: a guy who’s gay and loves Jesus and isn’t ashamed to admit either of those things." This bold statement, in a line from a letter addressed to himself that concludes Greg's book, is at the heart of the story he shares with us in it. And all throughout "Single, Gay, Christian," Greg consistently seeks to occupy that sometimes-awkward, always admirable, thoroughly beautiful "third space" between the two default camps when it comes to the question of a gay man in the Church. In this book, we witness Greg struggling to affirm the inherent goodness of his own sexuality, and to own the truth that who he is NOT a mistake, while also not shying away from the question of the costliness of following Christ, and what that might look like to him personally—for as the book's subtitle asserts, this is indeed (above all) a very personal journey into which Greg is inviting us to share as we read his telling of it. Along the way, Greg offers larger insights into topics beyond his own personal sexual identity—topics such as faith, family, relationships, re-examining how the Church views singleness & recovering the lost calling of celibacy, and more. There's something in it, I think, for everyone. Whether you're a more progressive person wondering about the particular pains (and perhaps opportunities?) of being gay in the Evangelical Church, or a hetero, Evangelical-insider who doesn't know either. Whether you find yourself agreeing with Greg's "theologically conservative" (as he puts it) conclusion or not, re: the question of celibacy & marriage as a gay Christian. Whether you yourself need the letter that is the postlude to Greg's book to help you on your own journey, or know someone you love who does. I truly loved this book. I devoured most of it in a single night. Disclaimer: I am biased in its favor, since I know Greg personally. Before I even received my copy, I was predisposed to like it; and I'm sure my friendship with Greg enhanced my overall opinion of it. Taking that into account, I do genuinely think it to be an excellent read for others who haven't yet met Greg (you're about to in these pages), and would definitely recommend this book to a friend (already have)! I would especially recommend "Single, Gay, Christian" to Evangelical Christians, and perhaps most especially to those who find themselves wanting to engage in more conversation about what it means to be a gay Christian, but aren't exactly sure how or where to begin. This book is as good a place I know of to start.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Michel

    “If we truly love Scripture, we have to love it enough to let it prove us wrong. And at the same time, we have to love it enough to let it tell us what we don’t want to hear.” It seems like these days most of the discussions about LGBT people in the church comes from the “Open and Affirming” stance, or the testimony of the “Ex-Gay,” i.e. someone who was once attracted to the same sex but has successfully overcome said attractions. What we don’t hear about is a third experience - one where an indi “If we truly love Scripture, we have to love it enough to let it prove us wrong. And at the same time, we have to love it enough to let it tell us what we don’t want to hear.” It seems like these days most of the discussions about LGBT people in the church comes from the “Open and Affirming” stance, or the testimony of the “Ex-Gay,” i.e. someone who was once attracted to the same sex but has successfully overcome said attractions. What we don’t hear about is a third experience - one where an individual is attracted to the same sex, but chooses not to act on those desires. The latter is the story told here by Gregory Coles. In this honest, refreshing, and almost conversational memoir, Greg recounts his struggles as an adolescent discovering he was gay, as a college student desperately wanting to be straight, and as a man who, after extensively studying the bible, decided that the right thing to do is to remain celibate. Greg’s story is candid without being too casual, and intellectual without being condescending. He dives into scripture objectively, but reminds the reader that we must not forget the LGBT people that the church has rejected, instead of focusing only on statistics or the “left-wing gay agenda.” The conversation he starts is one that is long overdue. If you are a Christian and haven’t figured out what you think about LGBT issues, or maybe you haven’t gotten to have a conversation with a gay person, start with Greg. You won’t regret it. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in advance and was asked in exchange to leave an honest review of the work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Marks

    Sitting down to review this book, I don’t quite know where to begin. Cut me some slack. I've never done this before. I first met Greg four years ago while studying chemical engineering at Penn State. What immediately struck me was how… happy he seemed. To be honest, it was kind of suspicious. People who smile as much as Greg will invariably try to sell you a Ponzi scheme or a ShamWow. You following me, camera guy!? But amazingly, the better I got to know him, the more un-crackable his carefree per Sitting down to review this book, I don’t quite know where to begin. Cut me some slack. I've never done this before. I first met Greg four years ago while studying chemical engineering at Penn State. What immediately struck me was how… happy he seemed. To be honest, it was kind of suspicious. People who smile as much as Greg will invariably try to sell you a Ponzi scheme or a ShamWow. You following me, camera guy!? But amazingly, the better I got to know him, the more un-crackable his carefree persona remained. Not a trace of duplicity, infomercial or otherwise. Eventually, I was forced to admit the unthinkable: Greg Coles was (and is) the most infectiously joyful human being I had (and have) ever encountered. An anomalous amount of joy. A frightening amount of joy. Why do I tell you this? Greg is my dear friend. So much so, in fact, that I shamelessly exploited our relationship to secure an advanced digital manuscript of his book (it's what Jesus would want). Does this subjectify my review? Of course. Much like how knowing a painter deepens your appreciation of their paintings. Alas for thermodynamics, my one true love… we simply don’t read in closed, isolated systems. I thus make no claims to impartiality in regard to Greg’s work. So. “Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity.” Oh my. We’ll get to the content, but let’s first simply consider the writing. It’s glorious. The sort that carries you along like a good singer carries you through a song. Fluid. Effortless. I could not put this book down. I don’t think a neo-Nazi homophobe could put it down. You’ve been warned. And the narrative. Oh man. This book is brimming with the best kinds of stories. Raw and honest. Real and precious, like uncut gems that are somehow more beautiful for their faults and fractures. They warmed my bitter old heart, at least, which is no small feat. I was searching for a quotable passage that I particularly loved, but I realized something – I love all the passages. And because saying too much can kill a thing, I’ll leave you with the words of one of my favorite authors: “There is […] beauty here, and joy, and a sad, sweet melancholy that moves through my chest like distant thunder.” This book is brimming with Truth. It is the story of someone who passionately and joyfully desires to submit his entire life to Jesus Christ. Someone who refuses to accept trite oversimplifications and be painted with a wide-bristle brush. Someone who has taken up his cross with more intellectual and theological integrity than many professing Christians. In a culture so rife with vitriolic diatribes, in an age so desperately lacking in grace, truth, and love... “Single, Gay, Christian” stands as a refreshing and heartfelt journey of faith. I – Single, Straight, Christian – have never read anything like it. You likely never have either. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Lawson

    "I am Not a Mistake." I happened to spot this little book at our local library. I was pretty sure what the theme would be, but I was completely, 100% in error. This book is not at all what I thought it would be. SINGLE, GAY, CHRISTIAN is the story of a young man struggling to learn how he can be a faithful Christian--a sincere follower of Jesus, who has the "wrong" feelings. The author makes it clearn that =he didn't ask to be gay. In fact, he admits he desperately did NOT want to be gay. The auth "I am Not a Mistake." I happened to spot this little book at our local library. I was pretty sure what the theme would be, but I was completely, 100% in error. This book is not at all what I thought it would be. SINGLE, GAY, CHRISTIAN is the story of a young man struggling to learn how he can be a faithful Christian--a sincere follower of Jesus, who has the "wrong" feelings. The author makes it clearn that =he didn't ask to be gay. In fact, he admits he desperately did NOT want to be gay. The author recounts the many times he prayed to be "Made Straight." Greg desparately wanted to have the "usual" desire for women--but God chose to not answer his prayer. Fortunately, the author found a good soul and a good counselor--a pastor friend, who listened, asked questions, and didn't judge. Most importantly, this wise man told Greg emphatically, "You are not a mistake." The author investigated the Biblical admonitions about sex. He concluded that, in order to be true to the Bible, he would have to lead a celibate life. This puts him at odds with both the Christian community, as well as the LGBTQ community. He doesn't seem to fit in either group. Greg explains that his life as a gay Christian doesn't mean a life without love or intimacy. One shouldn't confuse sex with true love: "Living without sex is difficult. Living without intimacy is a death sentence." So all in all, I found SINGLE, GAY, CHRISTIAN to be an imporant book. The author writes well, and expressly his thoughts clearly and concisely. I encourage leaders in the Evangelical community to read this man's struggle to be a faithful follower of Jesus. I thought this one sentence nicely summed up the book: "A life if longing isn't a life without happiness." On the contrary, it's a life rich with detail, alive with wonder and beauty. It's when I am happiest that I long most. And someday, when I look into the face of my Savior, I will taste the fulfillment of an intimacy a thousand times sweeter than any pale earthly imitation." Well-stated, Brother. You are definitely NOT a mistake.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alyona

    What got me reading this book was not only a provocative title, but also a positive review from Don Carson, a reliable Reformed Evangelical theologian. "This book needs to be thoughtfully read by straight people and by gay people, by unbelievers and by Christians. It is not to be read with a condescending smirk, but with humility", – he said. And I tried to. First of all, let me say it's not a theology book, but a personal testimony of a young Christian man who struggles to worship God in the mid What got me reading this book was not only a provocative title, but also a positive review from Don Carson, a reliable Reformed Evangelical theologian. "This book needs to be thoughtfully read by straight people and by gay people, by unbelievers and by Christians. It is not to be read with a condescending smirk, but with humility", – he said. And I tried to. First of all, let me say it's not a theology book, but a personal testimony of a young Christian man who struggles to worship God in the middle of his mess. It is a very brave, sincere, vulnerable story. Gregory Coles doesn't fit the stereotype of an "average" gay person: neither has he ever had any same-sex relationships, nor was abused as a child, nor had a dysfunctional family, nor considers a same-sex marriage acceptable for himself. I would rather say this book is more about submission to Christ and the cost of Christian living than about being gay and Christian at the same time or trying hard to become a Christian ex-gay. I am so grateful to Gregory for his courage to come out as he is and share his story publicly. It gave me another perspective on what it means to have homosexual desires while being a born again Christian. Now I understand this struggle better. The thought I liked most is: "Maybe the problem isn't that the faith costs some of us too much, but that it costs all of us too little?" While many Christians might be strongly opposed to this book, I would recommend them to read it anyway. Especially if the very word "gay" gives you nightmares. Who knows, maybe you'll learn to love LGBTQ people more? Gay people, who do not believe in the authority of the Bible, may benefit from the book too. At least it will give them another perspective on why staying single is not caused by self-hatred or religious oppression.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a well-written, grace filled book. It's accessible and a quick read chronicling the Greg's story: the story of realizing, wrestling with, and ultimately accepting his life as a single gay Christian. The book is written in a way that explains and humanizes his experiences -- it is descriptive, and not prescriptive. I appreciated Greg's tone candor and the depth of his conviction to remain single and celibate while being empathetic and open to dialogue. This book is a great resource for pe This is a well-written, grace filled book. It's accessible and a quick read chronicling the Greg's story: the story of realizing, wrestling with, and ultimately accepting his life as a single gay Christian. The book is written in a way that explains and humanizes his experiences -- it is descriptive, and not prescriptive. I appreciated Greg's tone candor and the depth of his conviction to remain single and celibate while being empathetic and open to dialogue. This book is a great resource for people who want to learn more about how to support our LGBTQ friends and brothers and sisters in Christ and to learn from one man's experiences.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly McGill

    I recently had the pleasure of reading Greg Cole’s book, Single, Gay, Christian. Having known Greg in real life, I hear his voice throughout his work. I hear his intelligent vocabulary used in a comical yet honest, and deep fashion as he tells me his story. I’ve always been a proponent of gay rights in politics, but when I became a Christian I was confused and tousled with the very ideas Greg speaks about on such a personal level. It’s worth noting that in front of my college church, while discu I recently had the pleasure of reading Greg Cole’s book, Single, Gay, Christian. Having known Greg in real life, I hear his voice throughout his work. I hear his intelligent vocabulary used in a comical yet honest, and deep fashion as he tells me his story. I’ve always been a proponent of gay rights in politics, but when I became a Christian I was confused and tousled with the very ideas Greg speaks about on such a personal level. It’s worth noting that in front of my college church, while discussing singleness as part of a sermon series on sex, and without ever mentioning homosexuality, Greg was influential in helping me understand how it is possible to be both a loving follower of Jesus, and gay, all before I knew Greg was gay. He explained that people are sexual beings, yet when singles are not in the covenant of marriage, followers of Jesus are called to not engage in sexual acts. For the first time, it made sense to me that gay people are called to the same thing, that it is not unbiblical for them to simply be, but it is unbiblical to engage in sexual activity outside of God ordained marriage just as it was for me before I got married. Greg is so relatable when he talks about those famous passages condemning homosexuality, even I have tried to understand to mean something different, therefore allowing Greg and others to “hang onto [their] faith and still have everything [they] wanted,” but upon further truth pursuit, we find a different answer. The part that sticks with me the most is when Greg addresses 2 Cor. 12:9, where Paul writes that the Lord spoke to him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I realized that this is so evident in Greg’s life. Only this past Sunday did I realize that he was leading worship in church to a song he had written, only a few minutes after he was dancing so joyfully for the kids of the church to watch and follow after a week of volunteering in kids ministry despite being treated for shingles. God’s light is so evident in Greg, and I believe that is because Greg knows who he is, knows his weakness or sin patterns, and truly looks to Jesus for absolutely everything. Greg did not take the easy way out here, by choosing to be a Christ follower yet acknowledging his sexuality. This is the cross he has been called to take up. I believe, as Greg so clearly demonstrates, that a relationship with Christ is well worth the sacrifice because ultimately that is what He did for us, and the love He gives is unfailing and irreplaceable. I’d recommend Greg’s book to anyone, Christian or not, who identifies as LGBTQ, knows someone who does, or who would prefer to never meet someone of a minority sexual orientation. Deeper understanding on this issue is a critical piece in all areas of putting together the puzzle of who God is and who He made us to be.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I am deeply grateful for Greg Coles and his new book Single, Gay, Christian. This is not a book about a controversial topic. This is a story—one man’s honest and vulnerable story.   The current climate among people who disagree about important political, social, and religious issues is volatile, and often feels unsafe. We tend to stake out territory and defend positions rather than listen and potentially learn something from “the other side.” Many of us lack the willingness to be exposed to new id I am deeply grateful for Greg Coles and his new book Single, Gay, Christian. This is not a book about a controversial topic. This is a story—one man’s honest and vulnerable story.   The current climate among people who disagree about important political, social, and religious issues is volatile, and often feels unsafe. We tend to stake out territory and defend positions rather than listen and potentially learn something from “the other side.” Many of us lack the willingness to be exposed to new ideas (or the people espousing them), perhaps fearing we’ll be led astray.   Because of this, it takes courage and vision to step out and tell your story when there are people on all sides who will vehemently oppose it. But more than courage, it takes solid footing, grounded assurance, and freedom from agenda to weather the inevitable storm such vulnerability will provoke.   Greg has offered all of these things in this important new book. Because, he knows it is only by listening to others that we have a shot at understanding the world around us and responding with compassion and love. It is important that we risk being changed. Our transformation into generous, compassionate, Christ-like people depends on our ability to listen. And Greg’s story would be worth listening to even if it pushed our buttons and made us uncomfortable—but I’m certain it won’t! Greg’s story is a pure treat not just because he’s an excellent writer, but because of his delightful personality, his clear and humble voice, and his readiness to love even those who don’t yet love him.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jason Killian

    Gregory Coles begins Single, Gay, Christian with a promise: that he will show us the world through his eyes. This sets the tone for this intimate work; it's a book full of personal anecdotes: some funny, some sad, some awkward, and some moving. Coles throws in his philosophical musings, theological lessons, and practical conclusions amongst these tails in a way that makes them feel easy to digest and not all too academic. Via these short portraits of Coles's life and intermingled thoughts, he mak Gregory Coles begins Single, Gay, Christian with a promise: that he will show us the world through his eyes. This sets the tone for this intimate work; it's a book full of personal anecdotes: some funny, some sad, some awkward, and some moving. Coles throws in his philosophical musings, theological lessons, and practical conclusions amongst these tails in a way that makes them feel easy to digest and not all too academic. Via these short portraits of Coles's life and intermingled thoughts, he makes the following case: God has created him as gay and this is a good thing. Yes, there are particular temptations and challenges that come with this, but there are equivalent (though different) temptations and challenges for a heterosexual man. Thus, he is free to embrace his gay sexuality and the opportunities it confers, such as lowered barriers in close friendships with women and warmer relationships with men. However, all of the above is in subject to the authority of Christ. And God, in His all-good ways, has directed that gay sexual relations and marriage be avoided. This is not an easy command, and following it has and will lead Coles to trials and suffering. But the pain is not an ultimate negative, and in fact, it draws Coles closer to Christ. In the end, the personal struggles of celibacy only magnify Christ's sacrifice on the cross, giving Coles a greater delight and joy in the love of Christ and thus in life in general. The first half of these arguments may be disconcerting to conservative Christians, the second half to those with a more liberal perspective on LGBTQ issues. Readers who aren't open to any other viewpoints than their own may be offended. I think this would sadden Coles - not because he expects readers to agree with him, but because he just would like us to hear and understand him. Throughout the book I was struck by how kindly Coles responds to the questions he gets asked and the comments others make to him. Questions that might seem distasteful or offensive are warmly received by Coles in the most gracious way. After reading Coles's book, I wanted to sit down with him for coffee, tell him all the things I agree and disagree with, hear his thoughtful responses and rebuttals, and know that we share a mutual respect and love for each other no matter where we individually fall on each issue. As society struggles with LGTBQ questions, its attempts to address these matters often devolving in to name-calling wars, I'll happily recommend Coles's engaging prose, concise opinions, and gentleness towards others as a better way forward. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in advance and was asked in exchange to leave an honest review of the work.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    "I saw the power of the stories we tell, how one person's machete-hewn journey through the briars can become someone else's highway to hope. I found myself believing that, as long as it continues to be told, no story is ever wasted" (Coles, p.88). Gregory Coles' story is one that needs to be told. It is a story of faith, self-discovery, suffering, and hope. It is a story that must be listened to with compassion by the Evangelical church. It is a story that could probably be told by countless Chri "I saw the power of the stories we tell, how one person's machete-hewn journey through the briars can become someone else's highway to hope. I found myself believing that, as long as it continues to be told, no story is ever wasted" (Coles, p.88). Gregory Coles' story is one that needs to be told. It is a story of faith, self-discovery, suffering, and hope. It is a story that must be listened to with compassion by the Evangelical church. It is a story that could probably be told by countless Christians who have been afraid to be open about their sexual identity. It is a story that, I hope, encourages and emboldens more followers of Jesus who are gay to share their own stories. You will not find all the answers to your questions in this brief look into Gregory's struggle to understand what it means to be a Single, Gay, Christian. I believe, however, you may find an invitation from Jesus to love others like He does. "I'm convinced...that in the end, God is more concerned with the depth and recklessness of our love for him than he is with our right answers" (p.112). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km5hg...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Laing

    Good writer, good detail, thought-provoking, diplomatic, relatable, at times funny. Coles' journey and conclusion is nuanced and complicated. Many instances of good prose including this excerpt from chapter 8 which I feel is somewhat of a summation of the book to a degree (aside from the author's conclusion that remaining celibate was the only way for him to reconcile his same-sex attraction and his Christian faith): "It was strangely democratizing, standing in a roomful of self-professed wretch Good writer, good detail, thought-provoking, diplomatic, relatable, at times funny. Coles' journey and conclusion is nuanced and complicated. Many instances of good prose including this excerpt from chapter 8 which I feel is somewhat of a summation of the book to a degree (aside from the author's conclusion that remaining celibate was the only way for him to reconcile his same-sex attraction and his Christian faith): "It was strangely democratizing, standing in a roomful of self-professed wretches and singing about grace. I forgot for a moment to speculate about everyone else's beliefs, forgot to analyze the orthodoxy of the faith journeys of those around me. I was too caught up in my own faith, my own wretchedness, the amazingness of grace in my own life despite my all-too-frequent and all-too-recent failures. . . . I couldn't have told you with certainty who standing in those austere pews was right or wrong, who loved Jesus or didn't, who was "saved" or "unsaved." I simply knew that each one of us was equally in need of the grace of God and that his offer of freedom was the same for us all" (p. 105-06).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura Icardi

    I cannot recommend it enough. Excellent commentary on being gay in the church. I think no matter where you stand on this issue, the author does a great job of letting you see inside his struggles and understand various “sides” of this sensitive topic. It has so many bits that I want to quote, so I may go back and pull those out. It’s also a very quick read - I finished it in 2 days. Read it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    My teacher bought this book for me as we were discussing topics on sexuality. I’m so glad I read this!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Atwood

    An absolute gem in the category of understanding the perspective of a Christian realizing he is gay. Highly recommend.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen Cartwright

    I can't say I enjoyed this book; enjoyed isn't the word to use when the subject matter is difficult or emotive as is the case with Single, Gay Christian. However, I'm very glad I read it and have already recommended it to several people, and passed on my print copy. (I think my family are probably fed up of me talking about it!) Gregory writes openly about his struggle with his sexuality and although I sometimes found his honesty and vulnerability challenging reading, ultimately I found it to be I can't say I enjoyed this book; enjoyed isn't the word to use when the subject matter is difficult or emotive as is the case with Single, Gay Christian. However, I'm very glad I read it and have already recommended it to several people, and passed on my print copy. (I think my family are probably fed up of me talking about it!) Gregory writes openly about his struggle with his sexuality and although I sometimes found his honesty and vulnerability challenging reading, ultimately I found it to be uplifting and found myself smiling or crying as I read. Greg's personality comes through and I feel I know him a little bit. I would recommend this book to anyone who works with young people, especially in a church setting. I'll probably be re-reading it soon.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lori Neff

    As others have said, I could NOT put this book down. It was a delightful, insightful memoir and I loved it. Highly recommended - no matter where you currently stand on this issue.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Linn

    I found this book an important read. I loved how Greg describes his wrestling with being gay and all that means as a celibate Christian. I think he has an important voice in the current theological discussion. It was encouraging and challenging.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    3.5 stars. I always appreciate the opportunity to hear someone else's story. It did feel, as Greg himself says, like a long journal entry that didn't really plunge into the depths. But compassionate and honest. The greatest challenge to me (and probably to others!) was this quote: "There are a few things I know for sure about showing love to gay people, and one of them is this: If you really want to love us, you have to respect us enough to make our own decisions. Even if you think we might get 3.5 stars. I always appreciate the opportunity to hear someone else's story. It did feel, as Greg himself says, like a long journal entry that didn't really plunge into the depths. But compassionate and honest. The greatest challenge to me (and probably to others!) was this quote: "There are a few things I know for sure about showing love to gay people, and one of them is this: If you really want to love us, you have to respect us enough to make our own decisions. Even if you think we might get it wrong. Even if you're sure we've gotten it wrong. You can't just tell us what to believe and expect us to believe it. That's not how belief works."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Swanson

    Greg is part of a small, unique, and incredible group of people who find themselves to be gay and the sort of Christian that believes that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman. This is a voice that is often misunderstood and shouted over in what five years ago we might've called the "gay debate," and for those who haven't encountered it, it's an interesting (and strangely beautiful and often hearbreaking) point of view. If you haven't yet met someone with such a viewpoint, especially i Greg is part of a small, unique, and incredible group of people who find themselves to be gay and the sort of Christian that believes that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman. This is a voice that is often misunderstood and shouted over in what five years ago we might've called the "gay debate," and for those who haven't encountered it, it's an interesting (and strangely beautiful and often hearbreaking) point of view. If you haven't yet met someone with such a viewpoint, especially if you're the kind of person who, like Greg, believes in traditional marriage, this is one of the best acquaintances you could make. But the strength of this particular memoir isn't simply in its nuanced view of an often-underdeveloped controversy. It's in the beautiful vignettes that Greg gives us. This is far more (or maybe, at its short length of 117 pages, far *less*) than a typical autobiography. It doesn't get bogged down in dates and names and places; it focuses on giving an impression, a photographed moment in time that we have the privelege to look in on. The characters in his story are honest and balanced; the emotional complexity he communicates is engaging and surprising. It's kind of like jumping into Dumbledore's pensieve, viewing memories as an outside observer (an analogy that Greg, I'm sure, would appreciate). With the skill of a graduate rhetoritician, he weaves together stories that are nearly impossible to put down. I'm a slow reader, but even I, with a busy schedule, spent more time than I'd like to admit poring over it in order to finish it in less than a day. I was hooked. There's the episode, for example, where Greg recounts the seemingly-perfect woman for whom Greg felt no desire. He recalls the plea to God to make him attracted to her: "'You don't understand,' I begged him. 'This is my chance. There's no woman I could possibly want to marry more than her. If you don't say yes now, you probably never will, and I'll be gay and alone for the rest of my life.' 'I know,' he said, and there were tears on his cheeks to match the tears on mine." Or there's the one where Greg accidentally comes out to his best friend at his bachelor party and his embarrassment (and later relief) is palpable: "I was gearing up for a first-class evasive answer when his older brother interjected. “Basically, what he’s asking is, are you coming out to us right now?” We all laughed, me loudest of all. But then, much too soon for safety, I lost the will to laugh, like a garden hose with a kink in the line. I tried to eke out one last guffaw, but it didn’t sound like a laugh at all. They heard me. They stopped laughing. They stared at me. I stared back at them. Say something, I willed myself. Say anything at all. We breathed. “This is kind of a bad time to have this conversation,” I said finally. With an opening line like that, there’s no going back." It should be said that part of my interest had to do with the fact that our stories were so similar. Greg's introverted, literary, musical self matched uncannily with my personality and interests, and his struggle to understand how to integrate his sexuality into his faith mirrored my own. But I don't think it's simply some kind of egotistic vanity that drives me to recommend his story so strongly. It's a story that needs to be heard, in the church especially, and Greg tells it with such surprising, disarming vulnerability (several times I said out loud to myself "You immortalized *that* in print!?") and such eloquent storytelling that it would be hard *not* to recommend it. If I had to find a negative, though, I would say this (which is really less a "negative" and more of a "qualification"): this isn't the book to help you develop your theology of marriage and sexuality. That isn't to say that it isn't thoughtful, and Greg does wrestle with some affirming and non-affirming arguments in a very abbreviated way in one chapter. But if you're looking for an academic treatise, this isn't that; you would be better off looking at other essays and books. (One I would recommend that is fairly balanced, original, and beautifully gracious is the Two Views on Homosexuality book edited by Preston Sprinkle and published recently by Zondervan.) Greg presents no airtight arguments or logical, step-by-step progression of ideas, and the ideas he does give are somewhat piecemeal and maybe peripheral. That being said, there were still interesting thoughts in this book that I hadn't heard before... and being in a place currently where I am very much wrestling with theological questions surrounding gay marriage myself, it was a helpful and at times very difficult chapter to process through. (Even this chapter is very readable and geared toward the common man rather than the academic.) Thankfully, the painfully-difficult honesty with which Greg writes about his struggles concerning celibacy isn't the last word. Greg infuses his book with a healthy dose of hope and joy. One gets the sense that, despite very real difficulties, he is also ebulliently joyful, full of love and grace. Greg discusses the joys of singleness in a way that is believable and relatable. As a single man of 26 in very similar circumstances to Greg, I can vouch for the special sort of joy that happens as a single person being invited into the sacred space of daily life in a friend's home--these moments are honestly some of the best memories of my life. The story Greg ends with, a simple remembering of a recent Christmas spent with a friend and his family, warmed my heart and finished the book with a poignant, joyful reminder that a celibate person can also feel very much at home and deeply loved. I cannot help noting that both Greg and I are still young and have much growth to do. This is perhaps the great lack in non-affirming Christian gay memoirs (how's that for a niche genre?); the stories we have are almost all told by young, white, highly-educated people, and it's naive for those in that demographic to think that this is the end of the story or that they (or we, since I am also in this demographic) have all truth. And yet, Greg ends his book with what I think is an admirable stab at honesty and changeability. "Hearing from God isn't hearing at all if we never take the risk of hearing more than one answer," he writes, and admits that there are a host of issues that sincere, reasonable, orthodox Christians disagree about that seem to him more straightforward than the issue of gay marriage. There may be good reasons to think Greg has figured it out here, but I appreciate the fact that he himself admits that it isn't abundantly clear. It is this honesty, vulnerability, and humility that mark Greg's book, and it is those qualities that lead me to so whole-heartedly recommend it. Greg's story in this book is a moving, nuanced portrait of a man caught at the crossroads of the LGBTQ and Christian communities and his struggle to live as he feels he ought, and the honesty and poignancy with which he writes makes it an altogether worthwhile read, one that is specific enough to make it difficult to weaponize and relatable enough that anyone might find beauty in it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    Greg Coles has written a tender, funny, and thoughtful memoir of his coming out story - his journey towards a grace- and truth-filled acceptance of his sexual identity. In addition to the skill with which he humanizes a subject often beset by heated rhetoric, the book is superbly written - that is, once I got going with the story, I couldn't relax until I'd finished it. My one critique of this book is that he doesn't spend a great deal of time exploring and responding to the counter-narratives of Greg Coles has written a tender, funny, and thoughtful memoir of his coming out story - his journey towards a grace- and truth-filled acceptance of his sexual identity. In addition to the skill with which he humanizes a subject often beset by heated rhetoric, the book is superbly written - that is, once I got going with the story, I couldn't relax until I'd finished it. My one critique of this book is that he doesn't spend a great deal of time exploring and responding to the counter-narratives of LGBTQ persons in Christian circles - those who affirm same-sex monogamous narratives and those who may balk at the fact that he identifies as gay. Greg's memoir does not serve an apologetic purpose in this respect. At the same time, I don't believe this was what he was trying to do with his book - though many may consider him and his story to be an anomaly, he wanted the freedom to be able to tell it. With that goal, he has most definitely succeeded.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Sexual identity is so often viewed as an issue to debate rather than an invitation to hear someone's story. This enlightening book provides just such an opportunity. Sexual identity is so often viewed as an issue to debate rather than an invitation to hear someone's story. This enlightening book provides just such an opportunity.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Meg Hunter-Kilmer

    Brave and beautiful and such an important read for Christians of any denomination, gay or straight, single or married.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mediaman

    This completely misguided and theologically bizarre book is written by one incredibly confused guy that claims to be an evangelical Christian but in his mind thinks it's even more important to identify himself as having a "gay orientation." No matter that there may not really be any such thing, but from age 13 Coles has convinced himself that he is gay. He's never had sex with another man, never done one single physical thing that would outwardly indicate that he is gay, but he thinks it's reall This completely misguided and theologically bizarre book is written by one incredibly confused guy that claims to be an evangelical Christian but in his mind thinks it's even more important to identify himself as having a "gay orientation." No matter that there may not really be any such thing, but from age 13 Coles has convinced himself that he is gay. He's never had sex with another man, never done one single physical thing that would outwardly indicate that he is gay, but he thinks it's really important that he announce to the world that as an evangelical Christian he is attracted to men and demands to be accepted. Period. And he uses this book to try to convince Christians that he is mistreated by the church, instead of seeing that he is imposing his warped views on others. I could go page-by-page and tear apart most of what he writes. But his whole premise is wrong. He doesn't understand what being gay in today's world means, and when he tries to define it in the book he is naive at best, intentionally misleading straight believers at worst. It's obvious he has never been part of the real LGBT community nor committed any sexual acts. Namely, he doesn't know what he's talking about. There is one central Christian thing he gets right--he reviews scripture and concludes that God does not endorse homosexuality, that the homosexual act is sin. So, knowing that's the truth, he has decided to become a "celibate gay Christian." He can still do what he wants without really committing the act God condemns! To publicly say you are a gay Christian is to say you don't agree with what's in the scripture you claim to agree with. The Bible is more clear about homosexuality than it is about abortion or other modern controversial political issues. There is no reason--zero--to "come out" as "gay" if you are not living a gay lifestyle or committing gay acts or endorsing the secular gay community. It's a construct he formed in his simplistic teen years and won't let go. This is all in his mind and it should have stayed there, instead of misusing his ramblings to negatively influence others. This review won't get into all the illogic of what's in this book, but the gay issue is much simpler than this guy makes it. Since he knows gay acts are not endorsed by God, then he can choose to either commit them as he would any other sin, or just not do them and move on (which he doesn't seem to want to do). He has bought into the world's modern view of sexuality where you get to choose your gender or orientation, avoiding objective truth and having your entire life's purpose revolve around a distorted view of how you were born. Simply because he likes to look at a man's body and doesn't get an erection looking at women doesn't mean he has had the orientation from birth. Being gay means more than just a little fantasy same-sex attraction. But what's worst about the book is his lack of candor. He only opens the door part way. He doesn't talk about his fantasies or desires, he doesn't talk about masturbating, he avoids details of any specific encounters with men. In one case he uses a couple paragraphs to reveal he once "fell in love" with a handsome friend but doesn't tell us anything about it beyond that they've become good friends. Weird. He seems incredibly young, out of touch with American reality (he grew up in Indonesia), has no trouble bending his theology to meet his selfishness elsewhere (he admits to drinking, lying, etc.), and certainly is no role model. He has simply latched on to this idea that he is homosexual, won't practice it, and wants to make it his identity. The book's title is clear--he chooses to be celibate single, chooses to be gay, chooses to be evangelical Christian. Yet he fails to put being gay in the same category as the others, thinking God made him that way "and God don't make junk." He repeats over and over again that people tell him "You are not a mistake." Of course he's not a mistake--he is created by God at conception--but that doesn't mean he isn't mistaken nor that God can be used as an excuse for all the bad choices he makes. Some of the suffering the author claims to cling to is actually of his own making. God created people that are free to make choices. Christians are flawed, sinful humans that spend our lives making choices, some good and some bad. Often we make bad choices knowing that they go against what God wants and suffer the consequences. Coles has decided to make one big public choice that he has made his life's focus and suffers from it, then tries to spend his days justifying it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hopson

    This is a hard book to review. On the one hand, Gregory Coles is a brilliant writer. This memoir is a captivating, well-written page-turner. By the time you read the last page you’ll feel as if you really know the author. And that’s a good thing, since this is a man made in the image of God who is bearing his soul in the pages of this book. It’s also a good thing because many evangelicals (including myself) don’t have a lot of experience with fellow Christians who experience same-sex attraction This is a hard book to review. On the one hand, Gregory Coles is a brilliant writer. This memoir is a captivating, well-written page-turner. By the time you read the last page you’ll feel as if you really know the author. And that’s a good thing, since this is a man made in the image of God who is bearing his soul in the pages of this book. It’s also a good thing because many evangelicals (including myself) don’t have a lot of experience with fellow Christians who experience same-sex attraction but desire to follow Jesus in obedience to the Bible’s prohibitions on homosexual behavior. So for all these reasons, Coles book is helpful. But in many ways, this is an unhelpful book. If you couldn’t tell from the title, Coles embraces a gay identity alongside his Christian identity. Yes, he believes the Bible prohibits homosexual behavior but he still identifies as gay. In his mind his “gayness” is central to identity. It is not merely how he is, it is who he is. In addition, Coles wonderings about God, faith, Scripture, and homosexuality are often very reflective of our postmodern age. He treats homosexuality as if it is a second or third level issue on which Jesus-followers can agree to disagree. He talks about truth in language of better/best instead of true/false. He talks about God’s will in mystical language of experiences and feelings rather than in concrete language about revelation and truth. Perhaps most dangerously, he downplays the importance of Christian fidelity and obedience when he records this conversation with a gay friend: “Do you ever wonder if you might be wrong?” asked the voice on the other end of the phone. “Of course,” I said. “I’m human. I could be wrong about everything. And that’s why I hope you won’t take anything I say at face value. Test it for yourself. Weigh it against the Bible. See if it turns out to be made of gold or Silly Putty.” “And what if I decide it’s okay to be in a same-sex relationship? What if I get married to another guy?” “Then I’ll still love you. And I hope you’ll still love me too. And I’ll pray that both of us fall more desperately in love with Jesus, that we keep becoming more willing to give u everything for the sake of the cross.” . . . “How can you risk it?” said my friend. “How can any of us risk being wrong on something this big?” “I’m convinced,” I said, “that in the end, God is more concerned with the depth and the recklessness of our love for him than he is with our right answers (111-12).” Worded this way we might be tempted to agree with Coles. After all, is having all the right answers really all that important? That depends. But in context, Coles is not talking about answers to periphery questions like “how long is the tribulation?” or “who was Cain’s wife?” He’s talking about matters like “what does it mean to follow Jesus?” “What does Christian obedience look like?” “When the Bible says those who practice homosexuality enter into the kingdom of heaven, does it really mean it?” Although I commend Coles for his willingness to say, “yes celibacy is essential for those who experience exclusive same-sex attraction,” I fear he is taking back with his left hand what he gives with his right. He has chosen the right path for himself, but he constantly presents truth on a spectrum, as if there is one path that is right for him but others must choose that which is right for them. And in the end, what matters most is that the individual has a reckless love for God. But what if the recklessness of our love is measured by our obedience? Isn’t that, after all, what Jesus taught His disciples? All in all, I think Coles book would be helpful for the mature Christian to read. It will force you to think, to engage some ideas you may not be used to engaging. But I would also recommend you read it alongside books like “What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality” by Kevin DeYoung, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” by Rosaria Butterfield or anything by Sam Allberry. I believe in what they’ve written you’ll find a compassion that rivals what Coles has written, but alongside that compassion you’ll also see a rootedness to truth that this book deeply lacks. Yes, we must love Jesus with a reckless love. But we simply cannot do that unless that love is rooted in truth.

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