No Ordinary Child: A Christian Mother's Acceptance of Her Gay Son. Jacqueline Ley

This book of reflections on a mother's journey from craving 'normality' for her gay son to celebrating him as a blessedly extraordinary creature of God is not only a chronicle of a remarkable change of attitude. It is also an argument for letting go of our preconceptions about other people - often those nearest and dearest to us - and acknowledging that what God plans for their lives may be something greater and more mysterious than we can ever imagine.

This book offers a series of short reflections which the author recalls as being stages in her journey towards acceptance of her middle son's gay sexual orientation. And this was no easy journey, as Jacqueline Ley began to grapple with the fundamentalist faith which she has devoutly lived by for many years.
I have read the book a number of times now, and it still leaves me with an uneasy feeling that the Jacqueline portrayed through the various reflections has found the 'acceptance' which she mentions in the subtitle, but has not found joy in who her son truly is. In fact her reflection on 'The Call to Joy' seems to be the least convincing of all the reflections.

Each reflection has a cluster of short biblical extracts embedded within it, and the author explains how these particular scriptural bullet points revealed new insights on her journey towards acceptance of her son. This creates in me another uneasy feeling that the author is still trying to use her fundamentalist techniques (of just finding the right biblical phrase for the right occasion - preferably in King James language!) to explain what is happening around her. To be fair, some of her biblical quotes are apt and appropriate; in the case of some others, I really don't see how she gets from A to B in her thinking.

Jacqueline Ley does make it clear that this book has been written at the beginning of a journey, not the end of it, and that she still has much to learn about sexual orientations and their relationship to the Christian faith. But I am left with a sense about her journey thus far that it has been a struggle through despair and disappointment which has brought her to a place of neutral acceptance, a place where God has convinced her that she is safe to love her son as he is. I think what I wanted to read about was a journey leading to joyful and passionate delight in her son's unique gifts. Perhaps that's a book yet to be written. (Review by Philip Jones at