He concludes that God is more important than the church, but takes the "spiritual but not religious" argument to an extreme, stating that a renewed belief in "God—my God" is the most important thing he takes away from his journey. "My God isn't simply the God I believe in but the God I want to believe in and need to believe in." Crafting highly personalized views of God may soothe our church-inflicted wounds, but responding to fracture within the church with personalized gods hardly seems the path toward unity. I wish he had found more hope in the examples of Christians learning, engaging in difficult conversation, and building relationships across perceived chasms of theological, sexual, and other differences.
Does Jesus Love Me? is 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. No reader could possibly agree with every Christian or church, because such vast variety is described; every reader will be challenged to listen to those with whom they disagree, and recognize their group as one among many in American Christianity today. The stories would make good conversation starters, as points of comparison and contrast to personal and church-wide spiritual journeys.
Jenell Paris is professor of anthropology at Messiah College, and the author of The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are (InterVarsity Press).