Jonathan Merrit Biography
If you take a pen and a notebook and scribble down events happening around the world. You will notice a lot of things are parallel to events in the Bible. While many Christians desire to raise offsprings that will follow in their footsteps, others, despite their dedication to God, end up in the path of Priest Eli as in the first book of Samuel. Senior Pastor James Merrit can tell you this story and several times he will mention his son Jonathan Merrit.
Jonathan Merrit is a popular writer, ghostwriter, columnist, speaker, and trainer. His main area of concern is faith and culture. While faith is major in his affiliation, Jonathan identifies as a gay man. In most of his writings, he attempts to debunk some of Christain’s misconceptions of gay people and what the Bible says about them. His grounding as an evangelical gives him the leverage to speak boldly in matters concerning faith despite being of the LGBTQ community. Here is what we found about him.
Age and Family
Jonathan Merrit was born on 4th August 1980. He is the son of James and Teresa Merrit and a sibling to two brothers. Senior James is a lead pastor at Cross Pointe Church. He also served as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2000 to 2002.
Growing up in a conservative Christian background, Jonathan, like many other Christians followed in his parent’s footsteps. Deep down in his heart, he felt different from what his parents believed. As of 2023, Jonathan lives a single life as a gay man.
Education and Career
Having successful parents put pressure on Jonathan. He went to Liberty College, and pursued a degree in science later he joined Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to pursue a master’s in Divinity and later a master’s of Theology at Emory University.
Like his father who was a passionate writer, Jonathan also got interested in writing. In 2010, he started working as a freelance Ghostwriter. In the 13 years, he has worked as a Ghostwriter, Jonathan has had 40 books that have been listed on the New York Times, and Wall Street Journals. His client lists include religious leaders, presidential candidates, commentators, and CEOs.
His writing skills also earned him writing opportunities at The Week where he was a contributing editor for 5 years. Currently, he is working as a columnist for Region News Service and a contributor at The Atlantic. He has also written for The USA Today, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, and even Christian Today.
In 2018, he joined ICON Media Group as a Senior Media Strategist and later in 2020 as a Senior Director of Communications at Libertas Working Group, where he is in charge of crisis management, communications, and media strategies.
Coming Out as Gay
While his working resume appears to be solid his personal life is contrary. Jonathan grew up a pastor’s son but deep down he felt different. He observed that many Christians did not leave as they professed.
Within himself, he felt a deep attraction to men but he knew his family and friends would never accept him as a gay even though he craved for love and acceptance.
His greatest desire for belonging came surprisingly in 2001. Jonathan wrote an article on USA Today titled An Evangelical Split: Love the Sinner (the sinner being Jonathan). A gay blogger showed appreciation for the article. Their communication switched from workwise to friendship and soon they became close friends.
On a speaking trip to Chicago, the gay blogger invited Jonathan to Indiana where he lived. The two had a good time, drank, and eventually made out but never slept together. The blogger asked Jonathan for a relationship but he refused stating he was still processing what had happened.
Three years later, the blogger came out fiercely against Jonathan and opened up about their experience in Indiana. The blogger argued Jonathan was anti-gay for writing the article In Defense of Eating at Chick-fil-a.
Jonathan’s private life had come out before he had prepared. He had to move from Atlanta near his parent to Manhattan in New York to protect them from the backlash associated with him. He also started a therapeutic journey, which helped him come to terms with his recent experiences.
After accepting who he is. Jonathan had to make a decision. On his 39 birthday, he came out as gay on his Instagram, a decision received differently by critics and supporters.
Jonathan and his father’s relationship
His decision to come out as gay affected his relationship with his father, who is a staunch Christian. In 2021, James had to resign from serving as a visiting professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary after showing support for Jonathan’s sermon on Twitter. The senior pastor posted the following
“I don’t agree with my loved son @JonathanMerritt on everything to be sure,” James Merritt tweeted November 22. “But I encourage you to listen to his message on Mark 13. It is both brilliant and faithful to the gospel and the coming of Jesus!”
Despite having different views, Jonathan still values his father, mother, and sibling relationship. A couple of times he posts photos of them spending time together as a family.
2023 is 2 years after Jonathan came out as a gay man. He is still strong in his beliefs about God and the message of Christianity. He still continues posting about faith, politics, and culture. Behind him is a colossus of supporters who desire to see a society that is progressive and accommodative to all people.