In today’s NYT, Frank Bruni writes about Jeff Chu and his new upcoming book called “Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America”. Bruni writes:
Jeff Chu was married last September, on the lawn of a house on Cape Cod, against the backdrop of an ivy-covered fence. About 80 people came.
His mother and father weren’t among them.
His mother sent an e-mail just beforehand, to let him know that she was thinking of him. But to be a part of the ceremony? To celebrate the day? That much she couldn’t do, because Jeff was pledging his devotion to another man. And his parents, strict Southern Baptists, have always deemed such a love sinful, and against God’s wishes.
Against God’s wishes. That notion — that argument — is probably the most stubborn barrier to the full acceptance of gay and lesbian Americans, a last bastion and engine of bigotry. It’s what many preachers still thunder. It’s what some politicians still maintain.
It’s what Jeff himself once feared.
“How many nights have I spent sweaty and panicked and drained of tears, because I thought I would go to hell — for being gay, for being me?” he asks.
And how often, he adds, did he pray “that God would take these feelings from me?”
Those words come from a book that he wrote, its title yet another question: “Does Jesus Really Love Me?” It will be published this month, and is largely a travelogue.
For the span of a year, Jeff, who has written for Time magazine and many other publications, roamed the country, visiting Christian churches and groups of diverse theological stripes to explore their attitudes toward homosexuality. He also talked with devout Christians who’d dealt with homosexual feelings in different ways: by repressing them, by embracing them, by trying to divert them.
You can read the rest of Bruni’s column here.
I am excited to read the book, which includes chapters on the Westboro Baptist Church, Ted Haggard, Justin Lee and other liberal Christians, conservative Christians, etc — all with the commonality of navigating through the issue of faith and homosexuality. Chu is a great writer and interviewer and I think it will be a great read and an important book — no matter your theological position.
The book also includes a chapter about me and my story and journey. Kind of weird to have your story told in a book. One of the things I decided 3 and half years ago was to embrace the discipline of transparency. As such, I was incredibly candid with Jeff in his interviews with me — about my own journey, about the events that led to me leaving my position of lead pastor, and how I have dealt with my own sexual orientation in the context of my faith.
Despite the chapter about me (haha), I think this book is a must read for thoughtful Christians on the right and left. I hope it encourages discussion, dialogue and story-telling. I hope it gets read in church small groups and book clubs and community groups. Because the stories are so varied — and come from diverse theological perspectives — I think everyone will find this book challenging… in a good way.
It comes out March 26th… and you can pre-order it from Amazon.com here.