Jeff Chu describes himself as gay, partnered, relatively politically conservative, and a member of a relatively liberal New York City congregation in a relatively conservative denomination (Reformed Church in America). He is far from his Southern Baptist upbringing but, once in a while, finds himself wondering "whether my homosexuality is my ticket to hell, whether Jesus would love me but for that, and how good a Christian could I be if I struggle to believe that God loves me at all." For Chu, and for many Christians of all sexual orientations, homosexuality is a "spiritual wedge issue," one of those topics or teachings that "gnaw at us and what faith we may have left."
Chu is also a journalist, and the author of Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America (Harper Collins). The book chronicles a year-long pilgrimage devoted to exploring homosexuality in U.S. churches. On a more personal level, Chu is confronting "the ghosts who still haunt my heart." The book is a unique mix of journalism, memoir, and religious commentary, a style that is sometimes persuasive, but other times confusing, when journalist turns commentator, or spiritual seeker turns interviewer. He visited dozens of churches in various denominations, but all described are Protestant. He misses Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and most (but not all) Protestant mainline groups, favoring a wide variety of evangelical and/or conservative groups and people. He interviewed dozens of people, some of them everyday folk, others more in the public eye, including Ted Haggard, Jennifer Knapp, Mary Glasspool, and even Fred Phelps.
The book is organized in four parts: doubting, struggling, ...1