Does Jesus Really Love Me? by Jeff Chu

Religious book publishers have brought out scores of titles about homosexuality in recent years, but Jeff Chu’s book is in a class of its own. A gay Christian with a compelling personal story, Chu also happens to be a superb journalist who listens closely to whoever is sitting across from him. “When I first came out, I couldn’t find a book with stories across a theological and experiential spectrum,” he says. So he spent a year traveling the country and talking with dozens of people with a wide range of perspectives. Along the way, his project became a spiritual pilgrimage.

Chu deserves the broadest possible audience, not just because of his subject but because he shows how to charitably engage believers who hold very different views. This is a good strategy, of course, for it models the kind of understanding he wants in return. It also makes for lively reading. We sit on the edge of our seat as he meets with Richard Land, top lobbyist for the Southern Baptist Con­vention, “large, imposing, not a little loud, not a lot subtle, unapologetically political,” who accuses homosexuals of causing the “full-blown paganization” of America. Another firebrand southern pastor tells Chu why homosexuality is “the biggest threat to our civilization!” (Apparently they had no idea he is gay.)

Likewise, Chu finds drama in a range of people coming to terms with their sexuality whose experiences differ from his. He visits with three gay men who have fallen from belief, and another who has left pastoral ministry to become a sous-chef. A middle-aged man in Minnesota tells him why he has chosen to remain celibate. A woman in Seattle claims to have been “healed” of lesbian desires: “Some people will believe this, and some people won’t,” she says. “That’s okay. This is my story.”