The title of the book wasn’t mine—I think my agent came up with it, and then I couldn’t convince my publisher to get rid of it. But it’s a fair question, and one that I asked myself plenty of times during my adolescence and into my twenties: “Does Jesus really love me? Could God possibly care? Am I damned to hell because I’m gay?”
So, a few years ago, I finally tried to gather some answers, exploring, in particular, why it is that Christianity is allegedly one religion and yet its adherents differ so dramatically on sexuality. I spent most of the year on the road, visiting individuals, families, and congregations across the denominational spectrum. I went to Westboro Baptist Church, even going out picketing with them and their “God Hates Fags” signs, and I interviewed Episcopal bishop Mary Glasspool, a lesbian who exists and teaches from a far-different part of the theological spectrum.
People ask me all the time: So what did you conclude? The best answer I can offer is, “It depends on whom you ask.” Even though the almanac tells us that Christianity is one faith, I’m not sure it actually is. Spend time at people’s kitchen tables and in their pews as I did, and slowly, you begin to see that we have very different conceptions of Jesus and very different images of God.
“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.” (starred review)
“The stories [Chu] relates are intriguing. . . . Revealing.”
“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.” (starred review)
Rob Bell, author of Love Wins:
“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.”
Stephen Prothero, author of The American Bible:
“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.”
Benoit Denizet-Lewis, author of America Anonymous and American Voyeur:
“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.”
Bernadette Barton, author of Pray the Gay Away:
“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?.
David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University:
“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, 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 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.”
Mark D. Jordan, author of Recruiting Young Love:
“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.”
Donna Freitas, author of The End of Sex and Sex and the Soul:
“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.”