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Christian’s year of living 'gay' leads to dramatic change, sparks controversy
December 2nd, 2012
06:45 AM ET

Christian’s year of living 'gay' leads to dramatic change, sparks controversy

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Timothy Kurek’s motivation to spend a year pretending to be gay can be boiled down to a simple conviction: it takes drastic change to alter deeply held religious beliefs.

The experiment began after a lesbian friend opened up to Kurek about being excommunicated by her family. All Kurek, an avowed evangelical Christian, could think about, he says, “was trying to convert her.”

He was quickly disgusted by his own feelings, more pious than humane.

In fact, Kurek was so disgusted by his response to his friend that he decided to do something drastic. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, he would pretend to be gay for a year. The experiment began on the first day of 2009; Kurek came out to his family, got a job as a barista at a gay café and enlisted the help of a friend to act as his boyfriend in public.

The experience – which stopped short of Kurek getting physically intimate with other men - is documented in Kurek’s recent book “The Cross in the Closet,” which has received international attention, landed him on ABC’s "The View" and elicited some biting criticism.

The book is the latest entry on a growing list of experiential tomes revolving around religion. They include Rachel Held Evans’ recent “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” in which the author follows the Bible’s instructions on women’s behavior and Ed Dobson’s “The Year of Living Like Jesus,” which had the author “eat as Jesus ate. Pray as Jesus prayed. Observe the Sabbath as Jesus observed.”

For Kurek, his year as a gay man radically changed his view of faith and religion, while also teaching him “what it meant to be a second class citizen in this country.”

A yearlong lie

For years, Kurek says, the only life he had was “his church life.” Being an evangelical Christian was his identity.

He was home-schooled until seventh grade, almost all of his friends were from church and his social life was a nightly string of faith-based events, from church sports to a Christian Cub Scout troop. “It was the only thing I was used to doing,” said Kurek, who attended Liberty University, the largest evangelical university in the world, before dropping out after freshman year.

Kurek grew up in an “independent Baptist church.” “We were evangelical,” he said, “but we were more conservative than evangelical, too.”

His churchy lifestyle led to some deeply held views about homosexuality. Most evangelical churches condemn homosexuality as sinful. Many rail against certain gay rights, like gay marriage.

“I had been taught to be wary of gays,” Kurek writes of his beliefs pre-experiment. “They were all HIV positive, perverts and liberal pedophiles.”

Those views began to be challenged in 2004, when he first encountered Soulforce, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, on Liberty’s campus. The group made the school an important stop on its cross-country tour targeting colleges that they alleged treated LGBT people unfairly.

Kurek was struck by what he had in common with the protesters at Liberty. “It really impressed me that people who were coming to push their agenda were able to do it and be so nice about it,” he said.

His doubt about Christianity’s condemnation of homosexuality, Kurek writes, was “perfected” in 2008, when a close friend recounted the story of coming out to her family and being disowned.

“I betrayed her, then,” writes Kurek. “It was a subtle betrayal, but a cruel one: I was silent.”

His recognition of that betrayal, he writes, led him to believe that “I needed to come out of the closet as a gay man.”

“I believe in total immersion,” Kurek says in an interview. “If you are going to walk in other people’s shoes, then you are going to need to walk in your shoes.”

To ensure the purity of his project, Kurek says, he had to lie to his deeply religious family about being gay, something that troubled him throughout the year.

“I felt like they loved me but they didn’t know how to deal with me,” he says. “They didn’t understand how to handle having a gay brother or sibling.”

In the book, Kurek recounts learning that his mother wrote in her journal that she would rather have been diagnosed with cancer than have a gay son. That experience and others left Kurek feeling outcast by people he loved, confused about his new life and conflicted about past religious beliefs.

Kurek was living a lie. And even though he was conflicted by his family’s reaction to his new lifestyle, he was longing to be honest with them.

The response

It’s no surprise that the “The Cross in the Closet,” has spurred strong reaction, especially from the LGBT community.

“I feel for the gay community of Nashville, and for every person who trusted Kurek enough to flirt with him, hang out with him, and confide in him about their lives,” wrote Amy Lieberman on the blog Feministing. “If I were in that community, I would feel so betrayed right now.”

In a Huffington Post blog post titled “Pretending To Be Gay Isn’t The Answer,” Emily Timbol, a religion blogger, expressed a similar opinion: “What's sad is that every interaction Timothy had during his year pretending was fake.”

“He was welcomed under false pretenses, acting like someone who understood the struggle that his LGBT friends faced,” she wrote. “He did not.”

But Kurek says that that was not his aim. “This isn't a book about being gay, I could not write that book, I am not qualified,” he writes. “What this is about is the label of gay and how that label affected me personally.”

Throughout the book, Kurek emphasizes that distinction. While much of “The Cross in the Closet” is about the struggle to understand the gay community, which he tries to address by enlisting a friend to act as his boyfriend, much of it addresses how his former church’s community – and family – reacted to his new lifestyle.

“I am actually not friends or in contact at all with 99.99% of the people that I grew up with or the churches that I grew up with,” Kurek says.

Kurek says he isn’t opposed to interacting with people from his "former" life. When he has run into members of his old church, he said he generally has quick, cordial conversations and moves on.

But some of the new distance is by choice. When Kurek’s mother told a friend in her church that her son was gay, the person said Kurek’s sexuality could jeopardize his mother's standing in the church.

The evangelical community has remained fairly mum throughout much of the reaction; most responses have come from Christians who are in some way connected to the LGBT community.

The change

Though Kurek goes to church less now, primarily because he has yet to find one that feels like “home,” he says he feels more religious “in the biblical definition of religion.” He still considers himself a Christian, although no longer evangelical, and says he is interested in attending the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the future.

Kurek quotes James 1:27 from the New Testament: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

There’s no mention of organized religion in passages like that, and Kurek says it’s the institutions of religion that worry him most today. He talks about his once robust church life as a distant memory.

Living as a gay man jaded him to religion, he says, though he has not surrendered all of his former beliefs. Yes, Kurek says, he is struggling with certain points of his theology, but he has been looking for the right church. “I am trying to figure out what place in the body of Christ I fit in,” he said.

As for his original goal, to radically change who he was, Kurek says mission accomplished. He says he has conquered his prejudices of the LGBT community and is happy with the person he has become.

“If anybody had told me back then who I would be or what I would believe now,” Kurek said, “I would have thought they were completely insane.”

For example, Kurek now thinks homosexuality is completely acceptable.

His family is happy to know that he is not gay, says Kurek. He has a new set of friends. And he lives in Portland, Oregon, where he moved shortly after finishing his experimental year.

The author plans to donate part of the proceeds from his book to help LGBT homeless youth who have been rejected by their families.

He is now at work on a book proposal for a follow-up to “The Cross in the Closet.” The book will be about the years after his experiment, transitioning back to honest living while continuing to engage the LGBT community.

“I want to tell more stories,” he says “and humanize the people who Christians always want to look at as labels.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Faith • Homosexuality • Sexuality • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,659 Responses)
  1. Anthony

    From a scientific point-of-view, the experiment was well-thought but a little unethical in its execution. Sure he may have duped everybody, and there may be nothing he can declare officially in his findings, but as an observational study I think the lesson we can take from his experience is important. This project of his may very well be the cornerstone of future sociology/psych experiments...that will include "informed consent" the next time around.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  2. FISH FRY

    Right... because you really needed the entire year to find this out. You sure there weren't any other motives? Hmmm?

    December 3, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • seansusu

      Yeah I mean, how could anyone sympathize or experiment with an idea? Remember how in the 40's and 50's, those calling for equal rights were called "N***** Lovers" because how could any White man defend a Black people unless he secretly loved and preferred Black women. Yup, awesome mentality. Just 60-70 years out of place.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  3. John

    As a traditional Christian living in the present American Sodom, I certainly understand what it's like to be a second class citizen. Kurek wants to ingratiate himself with his liberal "betters" at the expense of his faith. Christianity affirms truth, not trendiness.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Observer

      John,

      Sodom was destroyed because the people were greedy and wouldn't share. Were they the Republicans of old?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • LinCA

      @John

      The Tooth Fairy isn't real.

      You are only a second class citizen by choice. You are free to shed your infantile beliefs and join the 20th century (the 21st might be too much of a leap, so ease into it).

      December 3, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • sam stone

      really? what rights are you being denied?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • myweightinwords

      If you are American and Christian, you have no concept of what a "second class" citizen feels like. You live a life of privilege. You are not persecuted. No one is attempting to take your rights away.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • sam stone

      Also, Christianity does not "affirm truth" any more than any other structured belief system does

      December 3, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Nubudy

      Which American Sodom do you live in? LA or NY?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Missy

      John
      Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. Ezekiel 16:49

      December 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • MarkInPDX

      And what exactly makes you a second class citizen?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • HarryJ

      @John

      A "traditional Christian" like the ones who frowned upon single moms, having Jewish friends and even forbade interracial marriages?

      I think most Americans, Christian and otherwise, are glad to see fewer of you "traditional" Christians out there. You probably live in the Mid-West and consider that "Sodom".

      December 3, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • seansusu

      You're not a "second class citizen" because you no longer get to impose your will and religion on others in America. That makes you finally equal.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • JJ

      Hey Christians, I hear ya. We members of the Flat Earth Society get laughed at and ridiculed all the time too by all those smarty pants know it all types. Those "rational" science lovers with their demand of evidence, etc. Just ignore them. They'll find out one day that we're right when they are out for a walk one day and fall off the edge of the Earth. Then we'll see who's laughing.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Sarah

      Indeed, I dream of the day when we can wear marks of our faith in the open, and meet together with our brothers and sisters for worship without fear of retribution from the government. Perhaps someday we will even have a Christian president. Or perhaps 43 consecutively.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • HarryJ

      seansusu
      "Equal" to the people his type consider second class citizens which, according to his thinking, makes him one.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  4. yenn her

    Wow this is ur way to bcome an AUTHOR Kurek? I mean really? siriously...

    U know what ur problema was? That u were a religious person, but u never meet the LORD JESÚSCHRIST..just like everyone else who "call" them selves "CHRISTIANS".......

    December 3, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Perhaps you might have a point to make if you used actual words.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • ChuckB

      Yenn, and, of coure, you know who are the "real" Christians. You may think you know, but only God knows, and He likely has many surprises for us.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  5. Harvey

    While I find the gay lifestyle to be totally revolting, I would never condemn anyone for it. Live and let live. What is strange, the thought of two women going at it does not upset me nearly as much as two men.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Nubudy

      It's the ole fecal matter again isn't it?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Harvey

      Nubudy, never analyzed in that much detail. I just know the thought of two men going for it leaves me physically ill

      December 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • David

      "I just know the thought of two men going for it leaves me physically ill"

      That's how I feel when I look at a woman and think about straights going at it, now you know how gay men feel when people are trying to "convert" us.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Blain

      Isn't saying that you find it "totally revlolting" a condemnation?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • sam stone

      How do you define this as a lifestyle rather than an orientation?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • sam stone

      "I just know the thought of two men going for it leaves me physically ill"

      Why then do you think about it?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • myweightinwords

      May I ask what you consider "the gay lifestyle" to be?

      Or is your meaning that you, as a straight man, dislike the image of two men engaging in intercourse?

      Sex, straight or gay, is not a lifestyle. It's sex.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  6. David T.

    So he's professing to be Godly but (a) lied and (b) pretended to be something that the Bible speaks against?! It's total hypocrisy, laughable, and the worst experiment I have ever heard. What next – trying to get into the head of a kidnapper and sympathize with them by becoming a kidnapper yourself?! Makes no sense whatsoever.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Observer

      The Bible and hypocrisy are inseparable.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Bob

      You are making an analogy between being a criminal (kidnapper) and being gay?!?!?! Wow – ridiculous!

      December 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • seansusu

      Folks, lets not forget that the bible is against race mixing (classic 1950's Christian argument) I mean, instead of hating gays, we should hate gays that mix inter-racially too, because the bible says so. I mean look what the slippery slope we've come:

      LEVITICUS 20:24 "I am the Lord thy God, which have separated you from other people." DEUTERONOMY 7:3 "NEITHER SHALT THOU MAKE MARRIAGES WITH THEM: thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son." EXODUS 33:16 "So shall we he separated, and all of Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth." JOSHUA 23:12-13 "..if ye do in any wise go back and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them and they unto you: know for a certainty that they shall he snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish off from this good land which the Lord your God has given you. "

      December 3, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  7. JB

    We have a gay cafe in Nashville???

    December 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Nubudy

      To us truck drivin' rednecks, anything known as a cafe must be gay!

      December 3, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  8. derp

    How much do you want to bet that this guy eventually comes out of the closet.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Nubudy

      Moved to Portland shortly afterwards...hmmm methinks someone found their true self in the LGBT community,

      December 3, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  9. Moz

    Who else thinks this guy is really gay!

    December 3, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  10. Capt D

    I understand the betrayal the LGBT community feels but I applaud his efforts to free his mind of learned hate. The Evangelical community teaches so much hate that if you start in the church as a baby, you undergo years of brainwashing. I'm glad he was able to break away from the false teachings because Christian Conservatives are not Christians because they go against what Jesus Christ died for. The brainwashing runs deep, that is why the number of home schooled kids keep increasing, they use the Bob Jones curriculum to teach with. If they get their way will we be a country as extreme as the strict ruled Muslim nations.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Chad

      "I contend we are both conservatives, I just believe that one fewer societal behavior is proper than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible societal behaviors as being legitimate , you will understand why I dismiss your pet one(same sex marriage)." – Rephen Stoberts

      December 3, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Saraswati

      I don't think the LGBT community feels anything as a whole...just a few people with ruffled feathers.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Patrick

      Chad that's not a real quote.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Huebert

      Chad

      That's silly. I can defend my position on any social behavior you care to name, without invoking magical thinking. Can you do the same?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Chad, why are you posting bullsh!t quotes?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Chard, this argument fails just as it did the first 25 times you posted it. We aren't arguing apples and oranges-you are attempting to do so. If you can't argue your case against gay marriage at least grow a set of balls and admit it. You are attempting to pretend that gay marriage = in-cest=polygamy. It doesn't, for all the reasons you've had explained. Now grow up and put on your big-boy panties and either present a valid argument or fold.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Because he doesn't have a valid argument. If he did, he would stop posting nonsense no one ever wrote and present his own opinion with supporting evidence. He can't.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Rynomite

      Oh Chad... I feel so sorry for you. It must hurt to have such a limited intellect that you are unable steal words attributed to another author and twist them to make a coherent idea.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Chad

      @Huebert "That's silly. I can defend my position on any social behavior you care to name"
      @Chad "ok, why are you against allowing extending the marriage definition to include incestuous relationships, polygamy and adults with consenting persons under the age of 18?

      ======
      @patrick, @OG, I'm astonished you dont recognize the source of the quote and it's author :-)

      December 3, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Patrick

      "I'm astonished you dont recognize the source of the quote and it's author "

      Proved a link to it.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      I do recognize it and that's why I know you are lying.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Douglas

      Patrick it's a great example of how Chad twists things to start an argument and then troll on said argument but none of it's really based on facts. It's why this is such a great example of what this troll does on this blog. His posts and opinions are worthless, just like the quote.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Chad, I get you're point with the modified quote, and do not myself agree with the use of conservative as a general policy, though as I have said elsewhere I'm not crazy about 'atheist' either. However, in general discourse Christians in the US who want a relatively literal biblical translation usually refer to themselves as "Conservatives" and do, in fact, have a fairly characteristic set of beliefs. I think it is fair to use it in summary, as it is to talk about "religious liberals" even though the world "liberal" is equally problematic.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • John

      Saraswati = Chad

      December 3, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Huebert

      Chad

      I'm all for extending marriage rights to polygamous relationships. An adult can already marry anyone over the age of consent, 16 in most states 14 in others, If both the child and the parents agree. On principal I do believe that marriage rights should be extended to incestuous relationships. However, the cultural and biological barriers against incest all but insure that there will never be a societal push to recognize said relationships.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Huebert,

      I'm non religious and utilitarian, and on those grounds would tighten marriage to a minimum age of somewhere around 21 because of the known problems with young marriages. This would have little impact right now, though, as marriage no longer often occurs at those ages. Incestuous relationships cause problems in family dynamics even when there are no children involved (I assume we agree that siblings should not be permitted to have children). The very knowledge that ones father could ask you to marry or have arelationship with him one day creates a dynamic that would, I believe, seriously damage the family dynamic. Additionally, you would have to be very, very sure no children would be produced, and we know how good straight folks are at being careful in that area. Then we have all the pro-lifers screaming when you want to abort this 'accidental' sibling child. We're really talking about a nightmare situation here. I would give that in cases where kids were adopted out at birth and accidentally married a sibling a waver should be granted (with sterilization), but that's an exceptional case.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Chad

      @Huebert "An adult can already marry anyone over the age of consent, 16 in most states 14 in others"

      =>what right do you have to deny a person under the age of 16/14 the right to make their own decisions? Who made you king?

      December 3, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Huebert, with regard to polygamy, I'm wouldn't go so far as to say we can never have it, but would point out that it's a lot more complex than most people who support it imagine. Most cultures that have allowed polygamy have allowed either polyandry or polygyny, usually just polygyny. In our more egalitarian culture we would be talking about allowing both. In theory the the entire world could be married to one another. So are we talking about limiting the number? Then we're in the same spot we were with only allowing monogamy.

      And how do we regulate consent? This has been very difficult to manage in countries with polygamy, and almost always has been in the mans favor (polygyny being more common) as this exists mostly in male dominated cultures where the women essential get scre'wed over by the system.

      So yes, it's theoretically possible, but it would have to be done extremely carefully and with years and years of legal consultation.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Chad

      li·ar /ˈlīər/
      Noun:
      1. The** conservative who posts information that normal clear thinking persons find difficult to refute
      2. Pointing out inconsistencies in normal clear thinking persons positions
      3. The** person who has a different opinion on societal issues than normal clear thinking persons.
      4. The** person who for some bizarre reason does not recognize the finality of the refutations "you are an idiot", and "no it isnt".

      troll /trōl/
      Noun:
      See Liar

      --
      ** There is only one person stupid enough in this world to be a conservative, said person goes by a wide variety of handles, every effort must be made to point this out repeatedly.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Huebert

      Chad

      Silliness again. If you don't understand the need to protect young children, sometimes form themselves, I have nothing further to discuss with you.

      Sara

      I have no interest in discussing the practical minutia of polygamy. If there is a societal movement to allow polygamous marriages I will become interested, but not until then.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Douglas

      "li·ar /ˈlīər/
      Noun:
      1. The** conservative who posts information that normal clear thinking persons find difficult to refute
      2. Pointing out inconsistencies in normal clear thinking persons positions
      3. The** person who has a different opinion on societal issues than normal clear thinking persons.
      4. The** person who for some bizarre reason does not recognize the finality of the refutations "you are an idiot", and "no it isnt".

      troll /trōl/
      Noun:
      See Liar"

      Another great example of how this troll twists and makes crap up. ;-)

      December 3, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Chad

      @Huebert "That's silly. I can defend my position on any social behavior you care to name"
      @Huebert "Silliness again. If you don't understand the need to protect young children, sometimes form themselves, I have nothing further to discuss with you."

      =>you lost me..
      I thought you said you could defend your position? Now you're saying that if I dont agree with you, you cant defend it?

      December 3, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Huebert

      Chad

      I didn't say I couldn't defend it, I said I had nothing further to discuss with you. This is because you are being intentionally obtuse in an effort to make an untenable conclusion. In our society children can not give legal consent, therefor they cannot be part of a relationship between CONSENTING ADULTS. We allow exceptions when the parent, a consenting adult, agrees. The only relationships I believe should be recognized are between consenting adults.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • ME II

      Children's brains have not developed to the point where they, in general, are trusted to make sound decisions. This is why they cannot generally sign contracts until they are 18, in most countries. That age is somewhat arbitrary however, since the "age of majority" has been different in the past and in different countries, but the concept is to protect children from making long-term binding decisions before they are mentally/emotionally able to do so. This is the basis, I think, for all "informed consent" laws and applies to other people and species similarly.

      Rules against incest, in my opinion, are two-fold. 1) the genetic problems with inbreeding are to avoided for the sake of the child and 2) undue influence between family members would hide whether or not a choice was freely made or not.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Replace "children's" with "Chad's" and the statement would be equally valid.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Chad

      @Huebert "I didn't say I couldn't defend it, I said I had nothing further to discuss with you. This is because you are being intentionally obtuse in an effort to make an untenable conclusion. In our society children can not give legal consent, therefor they cannot be part of a relationship between CONSENTING ADULTS. We allow exceptions when the parent, a consenting adult, agrees. The only relationships I believe should be recognized are between consenting adults."

      @Chad " Ok, got it, you cant really defend it, you're just appealing to the general consensus, which validates the root post."

      ======
      @ME II Children's brains have not developed to the point where they, in general, are trusted to make sound decisions."
      @Chad "Ah, ok, so you are likewise opposed to allowing mentally handicapped persons to marry?"

      ======
      @ME II "Rules against incest, in my opinion, are two-fold. 1) the genetic problems with inbreeding are to avoided for the sake of the child"
      @Chad "Ah , ok, so you oppose allowing anyone to marry that had a congenital defect, or allowing any two persons with a genetic makeup to marry where history has shown substantial health issues associated with a resultant baby. Also another reason for your opposition to allowing handicapped persons to marry?"

      ======
      @ME II "undue influence between family members would hide whether or not a choice was freely made or not."
      @Chad "ah, so you would definitely support a prohibition on arranged marriages, common place in many cultures in the US.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Douglas

      "Replace "children's" with "Chad's" and the statement would be equally valid."

      Tom, Tom....That made me really laugh out loud. Touche!

      December 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Oh look Chad is being dishonest, what a huge surprise to everyone.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Chad

      @hawaiiguest "Oh look Chad is being dishonest, what a huge surprise to everyone."

      =>as always, I'm indebted to you for pointing out what I have neglected to include..

      li·ar /ˈlīər/
      Noun:
      1. The** conservative who posts information that normal clear thinking persons find difficult to refute
      2. Pointing out inconsistencies in normal clear thinking persons positions
      3. The** person who has a different opinion on societal issues than normal clear thinking persons.
      4. The** person who for some bizarre reason does not recognize the finality of the refutations "you are an idiot", and "no it isnt".

      troll /trōl/
      Noun:
      See Liar

      dis·hon·est /disˈänist/
      Noun:
      See Liar
      --
      ** There is only one person stupid enough in this world to be a conservative, said person goes by a wide variety of handles, every effort must be made to point this out repeatedly.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Thank you for that irrelevant bile Chad. Is this a new way for you to spew your Straw Men?

      December 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Guy

      But Chad you are all those things a liar, fraud, dishonest, lame, because the only conclusion of any thing you state is that the god of Isreal is real and you know it based on faith, by definition something that can't be proved. Bluster all you want and thanks for shiowing those that maybe wavering on the edge of belief in your god how facti*tous and obtuse those beliefs must be. Thanks, guy.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "so you are likewise opposed to allowing mentally handicapped persons to marry?"
      Generally, no, but in some cases yes. It depends on the degree of mental capability. If someone is deemed mentally incapable of making decisions then how can their choice to marry be accepted or acceptable?

      This is not an easy line to draw, since mental capabilities are hard to measure and judge, and for personal freedom's sake I would err on side of permissivness, but I think that, in general, mental capacity can be a reason to deny marriage. Additionally, children's capabilities are expected to change and improve as they grow.

      "congenital defect[s]" and other "substantial health issues"
      This is relatively new territory, genetics and the chances of abnormalities, and is still being worked out in our society. However, unlike congenital defects, close-relation reproduction presents a known danger that is readily apparent, if the marriage 'applicant's' heritage is available. Forcing a couple, or group for that matter, to submit to tests for all possible genetic dangers would be overly invasive and burdensome.

      "ah, so you would definitely support a prohibition on arranged marriages"
      Forced marriages, absolutely.

      Chad, you've raise some some very good questions and while I admit to not having a definitive measure of someone's 'decision making capability', I think children, especially young children, should be allowed the benefit of their own fully (or mostly) developed mental capabilities, whatever those may be, before engaging in significant decision making, such as marriage, or signing contracts in general. Perhaps as we learn more about the brain's development we can determine some definitive measures. Likewise, perhaps as we learn more about possible genetic issues we can adjust our laws to allow more freedom without endangering anyone's health.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Chad

      @Guy "you are all those things a liar, fraud, dishonest, lame, because the only conclusion of any thing you state is that the god of Isreal is real and you know it based on faith, by definition something that can't be proved"

      =>was wondering if someone would come right out and say it.. updated definitions below.

      li·ar /ˈlīər/
      Noun:
      0. Any person that believes the God of Israel is real
      1. The** conservative who posts information that normal clear thinking persons find difficult to refute
      2. Pointing out inconsistencies in normal clear thinking persons positions
      3. The** person who has a different opinion on societal issues than normal clear thinking persons.
      4. The** person who for some bizarre reason does not recognize the finality of the refutations "you are an idiot", and "no it isnt".

      troll /trōl/
      Noun:
      See Liar

      dis·hon·est /disˈänist/
      Noun:
      See Liar
      -
      ** There is only one person stupid enough in this world to be a conservative, said person goes by a wide variety of handles, every effort must be made to point this out repeatedly.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Well if this is the new Chad, I'm out of here. Worthless idiocy like his isn't worth anything more at this point.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Chad

      @ME II, so I trust, based on your response, that you are self aware enough to recognize that you are endorsing certain behaviors and supporting a restriction of rights in certain cases, as you feel is reasonable and rational.

      As such, you recognize that the discussion of extending the definition of marriage to include same se unions is a subjective one which the society makes. Opinions from reasonable people differ and as such you refrain from hurling accusations of bigotry and "denying civil rights" at people who dont share your beliefs. After all, EVERYONE has restrictions on individual liberty that they endorse, and one persons conservative is another persons liberal. It just a matter of degree.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Chad, If someone told you that Christians were going to be denied marriage ( or jobs, or places at university or whatever) you'd be crying bigotry and tramppling of civil rights as loud as anyone.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      Obviously, there are restrictions in our society. Freedom is not absolute. In the US the laws are supposed to be applied equally to its citizens.
      However, there are some exceptions, by legal precedent (and I would argue, rational thinking):
      – Mental faculties (Children and possibly mentally handicapped.)
      – Public health concerns.

      Same se.x couples do not fall under these exceptions. I would argue that polygamy does not fall under these exceptions either.
      You can argue that some close-relative relationships don't fall under these exception, and perhaps you would be correct. But I would argue that any exceptions to the normal public health exception, i.e. close-relatives, would need to handled on a case by case basis to show that the health concerns are not a factor.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chad "Ah , ok, so you oppose allowing anyone to marry that had a congenital defect, or allowing any two persons with a genetic makeup to marry where history has shown substantial health issues associated with a resultant baby. Also another reason for your opposition to allowing handicapped persons to marry?"
      @ME II "However, unlike congenital defects, close-relation reproduction presents a known danger that is readily apparent, if the marriage 'applicant's' heritage is available. Forcing a couple, or group for that matter, to submit to tests for all possible genetic dangers would be overly invasive and burdensome"

      @Chad "on the contrary genetic issues present clear indications of problems in offspring. If your real concern is that, why in the world would you oppose it?

      December 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • ME II

      @ME II "However, unlike congenital defects, close-relation reproduction presents a known danger that is readily apparent, if the marriage 'applicant's' heritage is available. Forcing a couple, or group for that matter, to submit to tests for all possible genetic dangers would be overly invasive and burdensome"

      @Chad "on the contrary genetic issues present clear indications of problems in offspring. If your real concern is that, why in the world would you oppose it?

      Read again

      December 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Guy

      Chad
      Your first response by using a fraud of a Stephen Roberts quote is what all your comments are about. Thanks again for providing how shallow your beliefs are.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Chad

      You endorse allowing two people to marry when they have genetic predisposition of having children with severe health issues?? Just because it's overly invasive and burdensome to stop them???

      as has been said :-)

      "I contend we are both conservatives, I just believe that one fewer societal behavior is proper than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible societal behaviors as being legitimate , you will understand why I dismiss your pet one(same sex marriage)." – Rephen Stoberts

      December 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • mama k

      Chad really must not like the real quote by Stephen Roberts to have bothered to re-work it into something that shows no support for his argument, but is rather just a repetition of his own bigoted views.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Chad

      "I contend we are both bigots, I just believe that one fewer societal behavior is proper than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible societal behaviors as being legitimate , you will understand why I dismiss your pet one(same sex marriage)." – Rephen Stoberts

      atheists are the most self-unaware group I have ever met in my entire life.. without a shadow of a doubt.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "You endorse allowing two people to marry when they have genetic predisposition of having children with severe health issues?? Just because it's overly invasive and burdensome to stop them???"

      First, it is the mandating of testing that I find overly invasive and burdensome. Please re-read what I said, yet again. You are conveniently skipping over the fact that we often don't know about genetic issues, except close-relatives, without testing.

      Second, a predisposition is not a certainty. If it is a known issue, because of family history, for example, then it is most likely a probability, not a certainty of genetic problems. Whereas, I think, inbreeding will always eventually lead to problems, although I don't have a source for this statement, currently.

      Without some justifiable reason, such as easily apparent close-relatives/inbreeding issues, banning a marriage would be a violation of civil rights, I think.

      In addition, your fict.itious quote makes little sense in that, no one would "dismiss all the other possible societal behaviors as being legitimate", nor is it a matter of "believing" in one vs none out of a multi.tude, as is the case with Atheism.
      No one lacks a belief that social behaviors exist, they just disagree on which ones are better than others.

      December 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  11. Pluto Animus

    Kurek's critics are truly a bunch of complete idiots.
    Talk about not getting the point!

    December 3, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  12. Derek

    That is an amazing story & would be an interesting book to read. It's very unusual for somebody, esp. a conservative, evengalical Christian, to try to understand what life is like for other people who are different from them. It's very hard for people to understand someone else who is very different from what they are used to or believe in. It's not easy to step into the shoes of another person. This person is very brave & I think really understands the message of Jesus which is love & compassion above all else.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  13. frank

    What bold thing to do. Noble. But, at the end of the day, the author could go back to being straight. A real gay person can't do that. (No, it's not a choice.)

    December 3, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Saraswati

      Still a good effort -as much as any anthropologist would do.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Tooty

      True, but think of it this way: a real gay person can come out and then it's done, you find your tribe, your friends, your places of acceptance and these are real. The vast majority don't regret coming out; on the opposite most say it's the beginning of a life made much better. This guy actually went into a very unique closet that required deception to almost everyone and risked alienation from all people (on both sides) when it was over. True he was dishonest, but I think he paid a higher price for his "experiment/project" than many gay people do in coming out.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Tooty, yes, with his family in particular he may have paid a very high price. On the other hand, we don't know how those around him grew or improved in their treatment of others as a result. On the micro level the repercussions will be hard to measure.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  14. Ulvskog

    I'm reminded of the 1950's era book "Black, like me." Same level of hatred for the poor guy who tried this as well. Nobody likes it when you pull one of these experiments.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • ChuckB

      I had the same thought, but I think there was less criticism directed at the author of "Black Like Me." Maybe my memory is just fuzy; it was a while ago.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  15. bdl1978

    religion does nothing but preach hate and intolerance. Your religion is nothing more than tradition within your location in the world, and there is no more credibility with one religion than there is with any other on earth. Jesus was not american, and america was not always a christian country. attempt to understand that and then question your beliefs and why you believe them if you can manage. A brainwashed society acting certain about the most uncertain thing known to mankind is hysterical. Faith does not equal fact. science flies us to the moon. religion flies us into buildings.

    December 3, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      For your continued education: science flew us to the moon. This was because we were in a space race with the Soviet Union. We couldn't afford to let Russia get ahead in the nuclear arms race created by scientists and secular politicians.
      The World Trade Center was brought down because of eighty years of Western secular meddling in the affairs of the Mid-East. About 3000 american citizens were martyred as a result. Islam was the glue that held together Arab, and other countries after centuries of exploitation by Imperialist powers.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Rob-Texas

      You are sorely mistaken. Do not listen to ratical people and media characterizations. "religion does nothing but preach hate and intolerance." It simply does not and you can read the Bible if you think I am wrong. Pleople maybe practice hate and intolerance but that is not religion. That is hate which has existed as long as mankind.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Brent

      "Pleople maybe practice hate and intolerance but that is not religion. That is hate which has existed as long as mankind."

      Religion-based bigotry use religious teachings to justify discrimination against Native Americans, African Americans, minority religious groups, woman and interracial couples.

      Connecting the dots between historical bigotry against other groups and the attitudes of some people today toward homosexuality is one of the most effective ways to educate people about the denial of equal rights to the LGBT community.

      Most people know that, historically, religion has been used to justify discrimination against women, religious minorities and people of color. Putting anti-gay religious beliefs in this historical context can be a powerful tool in connecting discrimination that most Americans today accept as morally wrong and the discrimination faced by LGBT people. By citing historical instances of religion-based bigotry and prejudice, you allow people to be more comfortable with attitudinal change – they realize they are not stepping out alone against a commonly accepted viewpoint but rather following historical progress toward justice and equality.

      When talking about the misuse of religion to justify discrimination in the past, it is important not to say that the LGBT community’s struggle with discrimination is exactly the same as the Civil Rights Movement. Rather, the point is that religion-based bigotry has been a common denominator of injustice toward many groups in American society’s past. When given a chance, many people will see the underlying historical pattern of using religious teachings and beliefs to justify harmful discrimination.

      There is another benefit to citing other times in the past when religious teachings have been used to justify discrimination. Many times, when people of faith are challenged about their anti-gay views, they cite biblical verses or other religious texts as a safe haven when they are unable to articulate why they hold prejudiced attitudes toward LGBT people. Instead of telling people that their interpretation is wrong, you can remind them that other religious texts have been used in the past to justify attitudes and laws that are recognized today as morally wrong and unjust – such as discrimination against women, people of color and religious minorities.

      History provides the moral judgment, and we do not have to be theologians engaged in scriptural debates to point people to the judgment rendered by history.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Paul

      I'm no religious person, but your comment is itself hateful and intolerant, and does nothing but display your ignorance and hypocrisy. It's invalid to say that *anything* as complex and multifaceted as religion "does nothing but [anything]".

      It's a legitimate point that religion has spurred a great deal of hatred and intolerance in the world, but saying that's "all it does" is juvenile and simply incorrect.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  16. Mike of Boston

    Hey Fred. Get serious. What are you 10 years old?

    December 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  17. Mike of Boston

    Christians are one of the most tolerant religions around. Do you think that our Muslim brothers would be so tolerant?

    December 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Bring'em young

      christians are supposed to be, but my experience is that it is not the case.

      December 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • ReigionIsBS

      Dont fool yourself into thinkinhg you're being tolerant. Its our secular government that requires you to tolerate. You may recall the witch hunts and stake burnings that were so common when christianity had a strong hold on the law. Give it up for secularism baby!

      December 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Saraswati

      I think Christianity is currently more tolerant, on average, but less so than Hinduism or Buddhism. It really depends though on the interpretation and/or sect in each case.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Tony

      Muslims and Jews say the same thing about themselves.

      The biggest problem with religion is it is divisive. It gives people one more way to differentiate themselves from others. This isn't a Christian issue, it is a religious issue.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Tony, one issue we can't neglect, however, is that spearating oneself from others does appear to make people happy. That's why we find a relatively high sense of community and contentment in small countries. People do like to be a part of something small enough and distinct enough to feel it's theirs. The trick is in giving people this whithout introducing points of hatred.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • You Christians are such lying slime

      How about those tolerant, modern Christians that slaughtered over 8,000 unarmed men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995

      December 3, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  18. Mike of Boston

    I'm a straight Catholic but have always had tolerant views. I always keep in mind that everyone was created by God. This was a very inspiring article. Nice that the author is donating. Merry Christmas !

    December 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • fred

      No one is 100% straight Mike. And stop looking at me like that.

      December 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Nogiven

      It was a nice article, I as well catholic and don't understand why so much energy is given by Christians (mostly not catholic ones) to spread fear and remove gays. I for one have no problem with the idea of a civil union and most of friends don't either. Maybe the evangelical thing is whats need to be limited, I for one don't trust them as a group.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  19. no nothing

    So he felt bad because he betrayed a friend, but he had no problem betraying the trust of people who he told that he was gay to use them in an "experiment"

    December 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  20. Reality

    At http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/pdf/d61a.pdf , there is a check box for "unmarried partner" under Person #2. There of course is also a check box for "husband/wife". One assumes a gay couple could check this latter box but how does one choose which is which for a gay union?

    December 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Huebert

      The "Which one is the wife" question is completely asinine. Two men in a relationship will refer to each other as husband, two women will refer to each other as wife. Is it really that complicated?

      December 3, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Nubudy

      I always check "other"

      December 3, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Akira

      I've seen this post before; they'll simply change the wording, as they have done in the past.
      Simple.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Reality

      Actually, I have seen situations where a gay man refers to his male partner as his wife so indeed there is some interesting takes on the situation.

      And some added nitty gritty:

      From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.
      Yes, heteros-exuals practice many of the same "moves" but there is never a doubt who is the female and who is the male.

      As noted, there are basic biological differences in gay unions vs. heterose-xual marriage. Government benefits are the same in both but making the distinction is important for census data and for social responses with respect to potential issues with disease, divorce and family interactions.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.