Reconciling Journey: A Devotional Workbook for Lesbian and Gay Christians
Title: Reconciling Journey: A Devotional Workbook for Lesbian and Gay Christians
Author: Sandra Bochonok
Publisher: Pilgrim Press, Cleaveland
Available: Amazon.com and Amazon.Ca
Sandra Bochonok is a psychologist and a pastor. She states that her clinical experience is that people cannot “overcome religiously inspired internalized homophobia with therapy alone.”
The workbook has daily devotions and activities for nine weeks. Some of the devotions help one identify some of the cultural, historical, and familial influences on one’s spiritual perspectives. At times, the activities and reflections might challenge one’s perspective of God, of the Bible, or of certain Bible texts. The general purpose of the workbook is to help gay and lesbian Christians reconcile their spirituality and sexuality, and to live their lives as people reconciled both to God and to their sexual orientation.
There are times when queer Christians attempt to resolve the tension they feel between their sexuality and spirituality only by conducting an intense study of a handful of texts that are used to condemn gays and lesbians. Studying the Bible is not a mistake, but relying only an intense examination of a few passages of the Bible might not be enough to reconcile Christianity and a homosexual or bisexual orientation. This devotional workbook approaches the Bible after readers have taken the time to understand the factors that influenced their image of God, and understand what it means to be reconciled to Christ.
Readers outline the significant personal and world events, relationships, values held, images of God, and authority figures in one’s life. Exercises help readers trace the influences on spiritual development going through a person’s entire life. Important people and events can be very powerful forces in shaping our image of God. In some cases, gay and lesbian Christians build an image of God that has more to do with their families, society, or religion than it does with God. Queer Christians are vulnerable to building Christian imagery on destructive parenting. Reactions to God and to other authority figures can become confused.
By working through the workbook, people understand what being reconciled in Jesus Christ means. Those who are reconciled in Christ, do not take upon themselves the shame and guilt for sins of a homophobic culture. Being reconciled to God requires a change in perspective. People who are reconciled do not see themselves as victims, and understand that nobody other than Jesus can bring a charge against them.
Once readers have a sense of the factors that contributed to their view of God, and understand what it means to be reconciled to God, they are encouraged to see the Bible in a new way. The Bible can be seen as something better than a book of rules to be applied to a person’s life. Gays and lesbians are encouraged to dig deep for fresh meaning to some of the texts that are used to condemn homosexuals.
A refreshing approach to prayer is presented. Reflections and exercises encourage people to understand prayer as including elements of imagery, relaxation, and affirmation. Listening to God includes giving up the restrictions gays and lesbians impose on themselves.
Gay and lesbian members of the body of Christ are encouraged to understand the gifts they bring to the church and to be living witnesses of God. Sandra Bochonok describes the impact of the transformed gay and lesbian Christian life very well. “As our lives deepen in Christ, we become icons, portals to God’s love in the world . . . Our witness speaks to people who might otherwise never know the saving grace of our Redeemer.”
This book is a must read for all gay, bisexual, and lesbian Christians who have struggled with their sexuality.