Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

by Jeff Chu


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Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America by Jeff Chu

Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America is part memoir and part investigative analysis that explores the explosive and confusing intersection of faith, politics, and sexuality in Christian America.

The quest to find an answer is at the heart of Does Jesus Really Love Me?—a personal journey of belief, an investigation, and a portrait of a faith and a nation at odds by award-winning reporter Jeff Chu.

From Brooklyn to Nashville to California, from Westboro Baptist Church and their “God Hates Fags” protest signs, to the pioneering Episcopalian 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.

Funny and heartbreaking, perplexing and wise, Does Jesus Really Love Me? is an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual pilgrimage that reveals a nation in crisis.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062049742
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/15/2014
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 375,108
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)

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, Condé 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.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Does Jesus Love Me? 1


I Beginnings: In the Capital of Christian America: Nashville, Tennessee 13

II The Agnostics: New York; Bangor, Maine 32

Josh Cook: "My Christianity became a vague spiritual notion." 50

III Yes, Jesus Hates You: Westboro Baptist Church: Topeka, Kansas 56

IV The Power and the Story: The Scandal of the Harding University Queer Press: Searcy, Arkansas 74


V Exit Strategy, Part I: Exodus International's Reorientation Ministry: Orlando, Florida; Irvine, California 99

VI Exit Strategy, Part II: A Visit to an Exodus Group: Kirkland, Washington 111

John Smid: "Things I've taught have been wounding." 127

VII Freedom to Marry: Jake and Elizabeth Buechner: A city in the northern United States 132

VIII Choosing Celibacy: Kevin Olson: St. Paul, Minnesota 148

Ted Haggard: "I am being resurrected." 162

IX The Ministry Is the Closet: Ben Dubow: Hartford, Connecticut 167

X Agreeing to Disagree: The Evangelical Covenant Church: Chicago 179

Benjamin L. Reynolds: "Brothers, I think the church needs a season of prayer." 198

XI What Price, Unity? First United Lutheran Church: San Francisco 206


XII New Community: The Gay Christian Network: Raleigh, North Carolina 227

David Johnson: "My answer is always the same: God loves you no matter what." 244

XIII Keeping It Together: The Schert Family: Valdosta, Georgia 250

XIV Return of the Exiles: Lianna Carrera and Jennifer Knapp: Hollywood, California; Nashville, Tennessee 262

Mary Glasspool: "God said to me: I am bigger than the church." 277

XV A House of Prayer for All People: The Metropolitan Community Church: San Francisco; Las Vegas 283

XVI Feels Like Home: Highlands Church: Denver 298


XVII I Think God Understands: Gideon Eads Kingman, Arizona 329

Conclusion 339

Acknowledgments 351

What People are Saying About This

Bernadette Barton

“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 reading Does Jesus Really Love Me.

Stephen Prothero

“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.”

Mark D. Jordan

“Jeff Chu is a smart and experienced guide through evangelical battles over homosexuality. . . . [He] leads us beyond the battlefields to unexpected scenes of hope. This is a sobering book, but above all a book of compassionate consolation.”

David P. Gushee

“A beautiful, courageous, heartbreaking exploration. . . . 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.”

Lauren Sandler

“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.”

Rob Bell

“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.”

Benoit Denizet-Lewis

“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.”

Donna Freitas

“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. . . . Essential reading for everybody.”

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Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and thought provoking, excellent read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm only half way through this book and grateful for it. I'm growing in understanding and compassion. There are struggles on both sides: how to live a Christian life and be homosexual . . . To genuinely love Jesus and the Bodies of Christ. How does that feel and look? To be Christian, how does it look to genuinely love Gay people (not as a project) and yet not compromise your beliefs? This book is a great help. Thank you Jeff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very thought provoking. One of the more engaging books I've read in a while. Chu does a great job of providing each story without interjecting a lot of personal opinion. The only exception, interestingly enough, was the coverage given to MCC. Even if you're not gay or Christian, you'll find this an interesting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MichaelTravisJasper More than 1 year ago
This book is full of a lot of interesting and controversial ideas. While I was fascinated to learn about other people’s journeys as gay Christians, I found this book over-all to be very sad. I accepted myself as a gay Christian long ago. I came to terms with my sexual orientation as a teenager. I never doubted my Christian faith or my relationship with God, so for me there was no conflict. I found it to be tragic that most of the people (clergy included) that were interviewed or featured in this book seemed to remain so full of doubt and conflict. They seem to still be struggling to find away to believe that God still loves them, even as actively gay people. Also, sad was the devastating need for approval these people seemed to have. In many cases they seemed to be desperate for their minister or anyone with some assumed religious authority to accept them and give them permission to be the gay person God made them without sacrificing their position as children of God. I don’t think I ever had that need for approval from fellow humans. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted, but it is another thing to so need validation from others that you can’t be happy and self-loving without it. I hope all those people find peace eventually, and somehow find the truth. God made them, and He doesn’t make mistakes. He loves them completely exactly as they are. And if God is with you, who can stand against you? As a final note, I don’t think those asking this question will find comfort in this book, unless they just want the validation of knowing that many other people share their fears. My answer to them would be to consider this: Since Jesus never said a word against homosexuality, why would they ever doubt that He would not love them because of it. It seems very probably that if He had a problem with it, He would have said so. He seemed to prefer those people that most of society shunned. He’s kind of amazing that way. Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Westboro Baptist, get your @$$ over here and read this $h!t.