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Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Reading Log: Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

I just finished Jeff Chu's Does Jesus Really Love Me? last night.

I enjoyed the book, but not without reservation. I found myself getting angry at him for playing devil's advocate with the Phelps family of Westboro (but I also learned a lot about them that I didn't know). I felt he was taking the easy way out with some of his questions, but then I came to his interviews with Ted Haggard and Jennifer Knapp.

Those two sections alone are worth picking up the book.

Ted Haggard (I'm not even going to try to link to him, so many horrible things were said about the man that you might not find a worthy link) speaks so humbly about grace and acceptance and forgiveness. I found myself tearing up. While he may still be in denial about a couple of things regarding his own sexuality, he absolutely has opened the door to community and grace for anyone. I was expecting a hardened, inflexible wooden man, but Chu paints him in a beautiful light.

Jennifer Knapp is open, intelligent, and wants to help the hurting. Her heart for those who have been cast out, or who fear they may be, is burning brightly. She talks of her coming to faith in college and then her desire to be able to live a full and open life as a Christian and a lesbian.

Chu also interviews a lot of people who, after coming out within the church, eventually left not only church but faith all together. I'm not convinced it is related to one's sexual identity but has more to do with the way people are treated in what are supposed to be "safe spaces." Plenty of fervent believers eventually leave Christianity and move on to something else, or to nothing at all.

 The conclusion is of course Jesus loves you. But church is human, and humans fail. I feel Chu's book should make my fellow Christians strive more for love and acceptance, and return repentance to its proper PRIVATE place.

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