Tuesday, June 3, 2014

‘Love Hunger’ (Book Review)

In 1980 in the Garden of Gethsemane, David Kyle Foster, male prostitute and cult member, was drawn back to Jesus Christ. He’d been wondering away for some time, seeking comfort in the arms of clients, drugs, and the glamour of Hollywood. Now, having devoted himself to ministering to others trapped in sexual sin, Foster tells his story in Love Hunger: A Harrowing Journey from Sexual Addiction to True Fulfillment (Chosen Books/Baker Publishing Group, 2014).

In this book, we follow his lonely, suicidal childhood, plagued by paternal neglect, to his experimental youth, as he desperately seeks acceptance from male peers and older men by catering to their desire to be a corrupting influence on this preacher’s son. His escape to Southern California is archetypical. Foster imagines the film industry that is as chaste and upright as the heroes in the films he watched as a kid. Instead he discovers real people that are hiding their less perfect selves behind masks, just as he was seeking to do himself. Foster also imagines a film industry that’s easy to penetrate. Instead he finds himself returning to prostitution to support his shaky acting career.

When Foster gets involved with a popular cult revolving around the personality of Guru Maharaj Ji and chooses to live at an ashram with other devotees, it’s apparent that he’s fervently looking to fill a deep spiritual need in his life. Yet this conversion doesn’t bring the much needed peace. Instead he’s forced to recognize that his new-found religion can’t be reconciled with his old beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible. His encounter with God while traveling in Israel gives him the strength to leave his sinful life, fight his harmful addictions, and reunite with his family. The rest of the book follows his successes and failures to the present, as he seeks an education in theology, a pastoral position, and a greater purpose for his life. He has now found a calling with Mastering Life Ministries, helping those who dealing with harmful sexual addictions.

I was initially thrilled to see Love Hunger come out. Not many Christians are willing to share their past involvement with pornography, homosexuality, and the like. Foster can be admired, not only for his repentance, but also his willingness to use his testimony to bring others to Christ. While the book deserves praise for these reasons, it proves to be lacking in a number of areas (not all of which could be attributed to the fact that I read an early release edition that was in some need of editing).

While he has an inspiring story to tell, Foster couldn’t win me over as a reader. He came across as manipulative, feigning innocence when he thinks it suits his ends. For example, he knowingly uses his controversial views on charismatic gifts to get out of joining the Presbyterian Church of America, but accuses an elder of “double crossing” him during his examination for licensure. This and other instances reveal a “martyr complex.” Foster closes doors open to him because he desires to suffer for his uncompromising positions on biblical authority and other doctrinal issues. He can then insist that everything works out for the best because God had better plans for him later. However, rather than being impressed with how God has worked in Foster’s life, many readers will likely conclude that he’s suffering from a severe case of confirmation bias.

A number of questions rose as I read Love Hunger, two of which I’d like to share. First, while as Christians we can recognize radical changes in someone’s life, there is something to be said for skepticism. Are we really expected to accept someone claiming to have direct messages from God when that person has freely admitted to being previously blinded by demonic forces? Do converts like Foster deserve to be granted the benefit of doubt, or should they be held with suspicion?

Second, are we witnessing the fledgling comeback of bridal mysticism? No, we’re not still in Middle Ages. But Foster’s vision of God proposing marriage to him is reminiscent of those experienced by medieval nuns, albeit with a male homosexual twist. Not only is this a misunderstanding of the marital allegory found in the Bible, but it encourages the sorts of impure sexual thoughts that we’re trying to turn away from. It’s disheartening to think that that’s all a celibate homosexual Christian believes he can hope for: a fantasy union with Christ.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Love Hunger: A Harrowing Journey from Sexual Addiction to True Fulfillment through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. I was not required to write a favorable review.

The David Kyle Foster Story: Hollywood Star, Sexual Bondage, Freedom in Christ from Pure Passion on Vimeo.