In this timely work--part memoir, part investigative analysis--a prize-winning writer explores the explosive and confusing intersection of faith, politics, and sexuality in Christian America.
When Jeff Chu came out to his parents as a gay man, his devout Christian mother cried. And cried. Every time she looked at him. For months. As a journalist and a believer, Chu knew that he had to get to the heart of a question that had been haunting him for years: Does Jesus really love me?
The quest to find an answer propels Chu on a remarkable cross-country journey to discover the God "forbidden to him" because of his sexuality. Surveying the breadth of the political and theological spectrum, from the most conservative viewpoints to the most liberal, he tries to distill what the diverse followers of Christ believe about homosexuality and to understand how these people who purportedly follow the same God and the same Scriptures have come to hold such a wide range of opinions. Why does Pastor A believe that God hates me, especially because of my gayness? Why does Person B believe that God loves me, gayness and all?
From Brooklyn to Nashville to California, from Westboro Baptist Church and their god hates fags protest signs to the pioneering Episcopal bishop Mary Glasspool, who proclaims a message of liberation and divine love, Chu captures spiritual snapshots of Christian America at a remarkable moment, when tensions between both sides in the culture wars have rarely been higher. Both funny and heartbreaking, perplexing and wise, Does Jesus Really Love Me? is an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual pilgrimage that reveals a portrait of a faith and a nation at odds.
About the Author
Jeff Chu grew up in Berkeley, California, and Miami, Florida. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, earned a master s degree from the London School of Economics, and received French-American Foundation and Harvard Divinity School fellowships. He has written for Time, Conde Nast Portfolio, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company, winning Deadline Club and German Marshall Fund awards for his work. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“Jeff’s own story makes me hopeful. It’s one of grace.”
— Frank Bruni, New York Times
“An essential survey description of homosexuality in U.S. churches today that should be read by church members and leaders, and people who care about how U.S. Christians engage with sexual minorities and related issues.”
— Christianity Today
“Poignant, at times painful, and spiced with wry humor, this is a must-read for LGBT people on their own spiritual journeys or anyone interested in reconciling religion with sexuality.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“The stories [Chu] relates are intriguing. . . . Revealing.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Outstandingly personable and appealing.”
“Compassionate, engaging. . . . Resisting easy answers, Chu deftly portrays the lived experiences of Christians-mostly gay, though not all. . . . Overall, the book brings complexity and humanity to a discourse often lacking in both.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In telling these stories--chief among them his own--Jeff has done an extraordinary thing, showing us all to the God who is big enough and loving enough and true enough to meet all of us exactly where we’re at. This book is moving, inspiring, and much needed.”
— Rob Bell, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Love Wins
“Finally an examination of Christianity and homosexuality that refuses to demonize either side. A smart and deeply personal exploration of one of the great public questions of our time.”
— Stephen Prothero, author of The American Bible
“Jeff Chu has written a masterpiece about sexuality and spirituality in America. In this unforgettable blend of reportage and memoir, he doesn’t demonize, ridicule, or pander to an ideology. Instead, he explores--and inspires. This is the smartest, and most humane, book about Christianity and homosexuality that I’ve ever read.”
— Benoit Denizet-Lewis, author of America Anonymous and American Voyeur
“Earnest and devout, Jeff Chu crisscrosses the United States investigating the sticky, uncomfortable conservative Christian opposition to homosexuality by interviewing hundreds of people to consider the question, ‘does Jesus really love me,’ as an openly gay man. People struggling to reconcile homosexuality and Christianity will find much that validates their experiences in Chu’s thoughtful book. Those confused why anyone would attempt to reconcile conservative Christian and gay identities will better understand the dilemmas gay Christians face after readingDoes Jesus Really Love Me.
— Bernadette Barton, author of Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays
“Jeff Chu is a gay Christian who moves my straight atheist heart. His exhaustive quest for stones cast--leaving none unturned--lays bare a vast national offense: valuing identity over experience, judgment over love. This is a book for anyone who believes the church is unbroken, who feels they have no place in a world that disdains them, or who is looking for fellowship amongst courageous travelers striking their own path.”
— Lauren Sandler, author of Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement and One and Only: Why Having an Only Child, and Being One, is Better than You Think
“This is a beautiful, courageous, heartbreaking exploration of what it is like to try to be a gay Christian, especially in evangelical America. The author reveals himself to be an honest, vulnerable seeker of truth and of love, of humanity and of God. His pilgrimage into a bewilderingly fragmented Christian America offers deeply disturbing evidence of Christian theological and ethical confusion, division, and abuse, though glimpses of light and hope break through as well. Does Jesus Really Love Me? is both a moving personal memoir and a pivotal piece of reporting on what the deadlocked Christian fight over homosexuality is costing human beings, the churches, and our culture.”
— David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University
“Jeff Chu is a smart and experienced guide through evangelical battles over homosexuality. The combat can be savage, and he doesn’t shield us from sights of bragging victors or desolate victims. But Jeff is also our fellow pilgrim, and so he leads us beyond the battlefields to unexpected scenes of hope. This is a sobering book, but above all a book of compassionate consolation.”
— Mark D. Jordan, author of Recruiting Young Love
“Jeff Chu’s pilgrimage across America to discover his own place as a gay man in the Christian church as well as attitudes about being gay and Christian across denominations is at once timely, smart, poignant, disturbing, inspiring, and maddening. It’s essential reading for anyone who cares about the rights of the LGBTQ community to be treated as equal citizens at every level, including the religious-which means it should be essential reading for everybody.”
— Donna Freitas, author of The End of Sex and Sex and the Soul