Thursday, November 14, 2013, 8:43 AM
Via Helen Rittelmeyer on Twitter, here is a lovely post by Brooke Conti on what we miss when we miss friendships from our younger days:
When I was in my twenties, I was enmeshed in my friends’ lives in ways that went beyond our constant phone calls. We actually lived with each other, even after college, and even after most of us had gotten our own apartments. If we lived in different cities, we’d visit each other for long weekends—and if we lived in the same city, we’d crash at each others’ places when it got too late to go home for the night. We’d sleep in the same room, use the same bathroom, make breakfast together. Or we’d hang out at each others’ places for hours as afternoon turned into evening, watching bad t.v., reading magazines, drinking a bottle of wine and doing our makeup as we tried to decide what to do with the night.
Now we’re busier, with work and other things. Almost all of us are partnered and half of us have kids, and spending large blocks of time together is a trickier proposition. Even when Cosimo and I stay overnight with friends, it’s usually just one night (if we’re traveling), or there’s some event we’re all going to (reunion, sporting event), so the rhythms aren’t those of real life.
But over the past year, I’ve stayed for two or three nights, just by myself, with four or five different friends (and their partners and kids, if they have ’em), some of whom I’d never before seen in pyjamas, or whose kitchens I’ve never experienced flooded with early-morning sunlight.
Monday, October 28, 2013, 10:11 AM
Andrew Sullivan points to an unenthusiastic review by Stuart Kelly of A. C. Grayling’s new book on friendship, which just arrived in my mailbox and which I’m looking forward to perusing. In particular, Sullivan highlights Kelly’s criticism that Grayling doesn’t give enough credence to the way Christianity changed the shape of the classical virtue of friendship:
Grayling being a notable anti-theist, it is no surprise that he treats Christian views of friendship as an opportunity to take a few pot-shots at some large fish in a particularly small barrel. By doing so, he misses the chance to comment on a radical difference. In Cicero, for example, there is a vexed discussion of whether or not it is possible to be a true friend to someone who holds different political or ethical beliefs. The idea of treating people as if they were friends already seems to me to be a more profound shift in the concept than Grayling admits. He may have some fun with the idea that the infinite, self-sufficient deity should require being chums with sinners, but it is at the expense of realising that in religious ethics there is the very openness that he wishes for in terms of contemporary secular friendship. He praises the notion that “children in kindergarten will be unconsciously friends with anyone at all, of any persuasion, background, colour, faith or political family”. That one might consciously choose to befriend despite difference seems to me to be a religious rather than a philosophical proposition. The “as if” (treating people as if they were friends) is a leap of faith, not a cold piece of ratiocination.
Friday, October 11, 2013, 8:56 AM
In a comment on my last post, Karen K wrote,
I wonder if your book will be exploring the practical aspects too? What I see is difficulty in people knowing how to form these kinds of deep friendships. So many lonely people walking around and we can’t seem to break through the barriers to deeply connect.
How do we begin, for example, to have deeper levels of affection when our culture is so touch phobic? Do we have conversations about it with a particular friend? Begin to take more risks in expressing affection to others in hopes that it is returned? Etc etc. Do we make different life decisions to stay rooted somewhere instead of chasing the job because there is community and deep connections in a particular place? (I think that needs to be considered more than it is) Etc etc.
How do we get beyond the theoretical to the experiential?
Thursday, October 10, 2013, 11:42 AM
As I continue to work on my book on friendship, a project primarily for other celibate gay/lesbian/same-sex attracted Christians, I’m increasingly aware of the need to speak honestly about all the ways friendship can involve significant disappointment and struggle. Finding the appropriate way to articulate this will, I suspect, be the defining factor in whether or not this book can offer realistic hope to people.
I believe in the thesis I’m arguing for—in many ways, it’s simply my effort to expand on this post by Ron Belgau from the early days of the Spiritual Friendship blog. Gay and lesbian Christians, in and through their celibacy, are “called to love,” as Eve Tushnet’s forthcoming book puts it. We are called to something positive and hopeful, not simply to a negative renunciation. We are summoned and enabled by God to give and receive love.
And yet the danger lurking here is that I’ll present friendship as a kind of panacea for how difficult sexual ascesis can be in our culture. “Having trouble feeling fulfilled in celibacy? Here’s a great solution to your lack of intimacy and closeness with others—it’s called ‘friendship’!” This is the problematic message that Stephen Long over at the Sacred Tension blog has spent so much time exploring, and I think Stephen is right that there are serious problems with this approach.
Thursday, September 26, 2013, 3:10 PM
Over at her always-stimulating blog today, LaVonne Neff writes about some of the ironies of her mother’s practice of hospitality in the late 1950s:
Something you should know about tall women who seem reserved and even distant—they may just be shy or socially awkward, and they may really want to be your friend. I’ve understood this all my life, of course, but I was well into adulthood when my mother told me she understood it too.
My mother was not the kind of woman who could chat easily with strangers or charm other people’s children. She would not have survived as a social worker, therapist, or nurse. If she had belonged to a church that equated righteousness with personally comforting the deranged or the homeless or the dying, she would probably have changed denominations.
I tell you this only to point out that hospitality has many faces.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 7:41 AM
I’ve been talking recently with an Episcopal priest about the ongoing agonies of the Anglican Communion. Although he and I find ourselves in different places on the questions of the hour, he and I were also a bit surprised to see each other struggling to articulate a very similar posture towards the questions. We have both ended up describing, in our different ways, our reluctance to try to relieve the tension and unsettledness and anguish we feel.
Shouldn’t those who are pressing for the “full inclusion” of “practicing” gay and lesbian Christians in the church (to use the jargon) give more indication that they feel the weight of what they’re asking? That’s what my priest friend asks. Shouldn’t there be a little more fear and trembling and reverence for the historic teaching of the church? Of course they may end up disagreeing with Bernard of Clairvaux, Augustine, and Barth about the moral significance of our being created male and female, but shouldn’t they be a little less sanguine about it and a little more deferential, to the point of saying, “We believe the tradition made a grave mistake in its disallowance of gay partnerships, but at the same time we acknowledge our deep indebtedness to that tradition for giving us the theological and ethical vision to even make our argument for inclusion”?
Friday, August 30, 2013, 8:46 AM
I recently talked with Matt Woodley of Preaching Today about how pastors might approach the topic of homosexuality in sermons and other parish teaching opportunities. (The interview is available for free, but you might have to register at the site to access it in its entirety.)
For those who have heard me talk about these matters before, there won’t be much that’s new here. But I thought it would be valuable to try to restate, specifically for an audience of preachers and pastors, some of my gradually-coalescing musings on friendship.
Here’s an excerpt:
I think we need to have an approach to pastoral ministry that allows for a long-term sense of waiting and enduring something that we wish were otherwise. For me, for example, there are many ways in which I just don’t feel that I am made for celibacy. I mean, it often leads to loneliness, to difficulty. The natural impulse of a pastor is to want to say to a person who is suffering, “Let’s make this better. Let’s fix this condition of celibacy so that it’s not so painful anymore.” I think that comes from a good motivation, but the most helpful pastors in my life have recognized there are many situations that people find themselves in that you can’t fix. So the pastoral strategy then becomes not “how do we rescue this person out of this terrible condition?” but “how do we help this person flourish and find love?”
Paul talks a lot in 2 Corinthians about being weak, and you never get the sense from him that God has delivered him from weakness. In fact, God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness”—not by rescuing you out of your weakness. I find it helpful when a pastor can recognize that being gay is not something we’re going to fix. There may be a diminishment of same-sex attraction that some people experience, or there may not. But either way, it’s not something that you can just fix. So the question is, How do we help this person find grace and hope in the midst of a situation that may never be what they would wish for?
Monday, August 26, 2013, 7:29 AM
Is celibacy “good news” for gay Christians? That’s the way the question is often asked, and very poignantly, too (for instance, in the recent posts by Stephen Long at his blog Sacred Tension and also by Rowan Williams: “In what sense does the Church actually proclaim good news to the homosexually inclined person…?”). The point, usually, seems to be this: If we’re going to ask gay Christians to give up gay sex, that self-denial must be demonstrably good for us. We need to be able to point to ways that celibacy enriches us and contributes to our thriving, if we’re going to continue to ask it of gay people.
And there’s something unquestionably right about this. The church is called to promote joy and flourishing. Part of our life together as believers is about trying to find ways of living that enable Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel—“my yoke is easy and my burden is light”—to be felt. If gay Christians are pursuing celibacy in our churches, we are right to want to make that experience one that is nurtured by friendship and various other forms of community and able to be practiced with peace, courage, and hope. We are right to want to eradicate shame and isolation. (And we’re also right to critique the ways the church is captive to certain “family values” which often amount to little more than an idolatry of marriage and the “nuclear family.”)
But I wonder if there isn’t something unhelpful about this line of thought, too. When the New Testament uses the term “gospel”—“good news”—it isn’t talking primarily about celibacy or marriage or any other form of human activity. The gospel is an announcement of what God has done and will do—about God establishing his reign in the world, defeating sin and death, through the work of Jesus Christ (see, e.g., Mark 1:14-15; Romans 1:1-5). It is about the forgiveness of sins and the hope of the resurrection of the body (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).
Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 10:16 AM
A few days ago, The Atlantic ran a piece about the growing support for gay rights among Christians. But the article left me wanting more precision. Consider this claim:
In 2004, just 36 percent of Catholics, the Christian sect most supportive of gay marriage, favored it, along with 34 percent of mainline Protestants; today, it’s 57 percent of Catholics and 55 percent of mainline Protestants. Even among white evangelical Protestants, the most hostile group to gay marriage, support has more than doubled, from 11 percent in 2004 to 24 percent in 2013.
I can’t shed much light on the Catholic and mainline Protestant percentages there, but I can highlight how that figure for evangelical Protestants may be misleading.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 9:57 AM
Matthew Vines has assigned my book, Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, as one of the core texts of his new training program, The Reformation Project. Matthew disagrees with my conclusions in the book, but he assigned it so that the participants in the program could hear from a gay person who’s trying to live within traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality.
These participants have noted, though, how much I talk about the difficulty of living within the bounds of traditional Christian teaching. There’s a lot in the book about my experience of loneliness, drawing on Henri Nouwen’s powerful writings on that theme, and those descriptions have caused Matthew Vines’ readers to wonder if my experience is typical of gay people who choose to pursue celibacy. Or, more precisely, I think, it’s caused them to wonder if I am baptizing a particular experience of shame- and guilt-induced loneliness and calling it “faithfulness.”
Two initial responses come to mind.
Monday, July 1, 2013, 2:44 PM
One of the more interesting points for me in Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George’s book What is Marriage? was their reflection on how the legalization of same-sex marriage may contribute to demoting friendship as a lesser form of love. If marriage is so important that it has to be defined as the place where intimacy is available, then friendship, by contrast, looks paler and less attractive than ever. “We come to see friendships as mere rest stops on the way back to family life,” the authors write.
In her most recent editorial for Christianity Today, “Same-Sex Marriage and the Single Christian,” Katelyn Beaty, a single, heterosexual woman (and a friend of mine) explores this point powerfully and poignantly. Writing about the elevation of marriage in the evangelical Christian world—an elevation that mirrors, in ironic ways, the wider society’s elevation of marriage—Beaty says:
[L]ocal churches have acted as if monogamous sexual unions are the closest icon of heaven in this life. That no matter how much self-giving ministry or cultural creativity we undertake in our lifetimes, they are second-best without a spouse and children in tow.
In more detail than this space allows, other writers and theologians (I think especially of Rodney Clapp and Joseph Hellerman) have deftly tackled American Christians’ overemphasis on marriage. What I might offer to the conversation is the perspective of a single Christian. As I watch many fellow young Christians come out in support of gay marriage, lest they bar friends or family from finding the gift of sexual companionship, they are making it harder for me to make sense of chastity.
Thursday, June 27, 2013, 3:20 PM
In the most recent issue of Christianity Today, Andy Crouch has an excellent editorial on the church’s future and matters LGBTQIA. Please do read the whole thing. He writes,
There is really only one conviction that can hold this coalition of disparate human experiences [i.e., the experiences captured under the label LGBTQIA] together. And it is the irrelevance of bodies—specifically, the irrelevance of biological sexual differentiation in how we use our bodies.
What unites the LGBTQIA coalition is a conviction that human beings are not created male and female in any essential or important way. What matters is not one’s body but one’s heart—the seat of human will and desire, which only its owner can know.
Saturday, June 22, 2013, 8:29 AM
Here are a few preliminary thoughts and questions about the recent announcement that Exodus International, the largest and most influential of the so-called “ex-gay” ministries, will be closing its doors:
1. Like many younger people who are Christian and gay, I have shied away from much of what flies under the banner of Exodus and its affiliates. I was never involved in an Exodus group of any sort, in part because so many of their public statements led me to believe they were addressing themselves to people with rather different histories than mine. When I heard ex-gay accounts of the origins of same-sex attraction—accounts that focused on absentee or distant fathers or failure to bond with same-sex peers in childhood—I realized I was hearing stories that were pretty removed from my experience. I was raised in a very loving two-parent family, and the “father wound” narrative never illumined the possible causes of my homosexuality as it seemed to do for others. And I discerned, however inchoately, however rightly or wrongly, that if I were to join up with an “ex-gay” ministry, I would feel some degree of pressure to conform my narrative to theirs. (The anonymous blogger Disputed Mutability has described that pressure in detail here, and I’d encourage you to read her excellent post along with this one by Melinda Selmys.)
Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 10:33 AM
Justin Taylor has a lovely post here summarizing what we might learn about Christian friendship from the correspondence of Esther Edwards Burr (1732-1758), Jonathan Edwards’ daughter and Aaron Burr’s mother, with her friend Sarah Prince.
Modern readers are sometimes taken aback by the way in which same-sex friendships were described with passionate expression usually reserved for lovers. Our fear of homoerotic overtones has almost entirely muted this sort of language today. But it was common in Puritan New England and continued at least into the late nineteenth century, applying not only to friendships between women but also friendships between men.
For example, Esther describes how excited she would become at the arrival of a new letter from her friend: “I could not help weeping for joy to hear once more from my dear, very dear Fidelia. . . . I broke it open with [as] much eagerness as ever a fond lover imbraced the dearest joy and dlight of his soul” (March 7, 1755).
She felt similarly after having read the letter itself: “Every Letter I have from you raises my esteem of you and increases my love to you—their is the very soul of a friend in all you write—You cant think how those private papers make me long to see you” (Letter No. 21, April 16, 1756).
Esther even wonders at times if her love for Sarah is bordering on idolatry, becoming too attached to things of this earth: “As you say, I believe tis true that I love you too much, that is I am too fond of you, but I cant esteem and value too greatly, that is sertain—Consider my friend how rare a thing tis to meet with such a friend as I have in my Fidelia—Who would not value and prize such a friendship above gold, or honour, or any thing that the World can afford? . . . I am trying to be weaned from you my dear, and all other dear friends, but for the present it seems vain—I seem more attached to ‘em than ever— . . .” (June 4, 1755). She sees friendship as one of life’s greatest earthly goods, though less than God.
Monday, June 10, 2013, 12:43 PM
In the latest issue of The Living Church, I review James Brownson’s new book Bible, Gender, Sexuality. Here’s my summary of the book’s main argument:
Brownson argues that… gender complementarity is nowhere “explicitly portrayed or discussed” in Scripture. Genesis 2:24, the primary text to which traditionalists appeal to establish that complementarity, is, he argues, not speaking primarily of the difference between male and female but rather of their sameness. Adam needs one who is like him, rather than unlike him (Gen. 2:18-20). Therefore God creates a woman to be such a “like” partner (Gen. 2:20).
On the basis of their sameness, male and female are able to form a “kinship bond,” and the “flesh of my flesh” idiom in Genesis 2:23 thus functions the same way it functions elsewhere in the Old Testament: that is, to denote kinship, not a sexual, anatomical “fit” (Gen. 29:14; Judges 9:2; 2 Sam. 5:1 and 19:12-13; 1 Chr. 11:1). The sexually differentiated couple is then blessed to “be fruitful and multiply,” but they are not commanded to do so. Furthermore, their ability to do so is not the basis on which they are said to be in relation to one another.
Friday, June 7, 2013, 10:01 AM
In my last post, I mentioned the frequently heard claim that friendship plays a diminished role in contemporary Western culture because we have elevated romantic love unduly. Here’s Paul O’Callaghan: “We live in a society that exalts erotic love as the supreme fulfillment available to human beings. How can friendship compete with the sizzle of sex in the arena of public attention?”
Growing up in a conservative evangelical subculture and later attending an evangelical Christian college—where the phrase “ring by spring” was repeated not entirely tongue in cheek—I’m sympathetic to this claim. From my vantage point, it does seem that romantic love, with its promise that each partner will “complete” the other and be the other’s “best friend,” has displaced or minimized other forms of love in a way that’s problematic, not least within historic Christian theology itself. So when I read books with subtitles like “Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church,” I’m inclined to agree.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 7:40 AM
We often hear that friendship is undervalued today because it’s been eclipsed by romantic love. If marriage (or simply sexual partnerships of one sort or another) are the places to experience true love, then friendship gets demoted. But in his book The Feast of Friendship Paul O’Callaghan suggests another reason friendship may be relegated to secondary status: it has no obvious moral appeal. Making his case by contrast, O’Callaghan points to the widespread adulation for someone like Mother Teresa, whose form of love—unconditional, indiscriminate charity—for Calcutta’s poor was acclaimed even by those who didn’t share her religious commitments. And in the same week that Mother Teresa died, the world also mourned Princess Diana, not least for her humanitarian work.
Friday, May 17, 2013, 10:34 AM
Jonathan Rauch’s brief memoir, Denial: My Twenty-Five Years Without a Soul, published recently as a Kindle Single, describes how powerful it can be to find that your previous unnamable self has a place. For much of the story’s first half, Rauch tells about trying to interpret his same-sex attraction as “envy.” He would admire the muscles of his friends and tell himself that that admiration was his longing, as a bookish, skinny kid, to have the same kind of body. But as the story finishes, he realizes that was dissembling: “I had resisted imagining myself as a homosexual or even imagining that it might be possible for me to be a homosexual, because I had supposed that to be a homosexual is to lose any possibility of a normal life.”
Near the end of his narrative, Rauch says this:
And as I write these words, I have been married for going on three years. Married. The very word is a miracle to me. The young boy sitting on the piano bench structured his life, shaped his personality, twisted and then untwisted himself, around the certain knowledge that he could not love in a way which could lead to marriage; and so he grimly determined that he could not love at all. But he was wrong. He underestimated himself and he underestimated his countrymen even more. They and he have found a destination for his love. They and he have found, at last, a name for his soul. It is not monster or eunuch. Nor indeed homosexual. It is: husband.
Friday, May 3, 2013, 11:31 AM
In his warmly pastoral Friends in Christ: Paths to a New Understanding of Church, Brother John of Taizé discusses the rise of monasticism as a response to Scriptural injunctions to brotherly love. Monasticism, in this account, was the place where a uniquely Christian theology of friendship came into its own. But monastic orders were also the places where the unique dangers of friendship became apparent: “Within a community, human friendships, notably among brothers or sisters with little experience of the spiritual life, could easily have a divisive effect on the whole body, leading to the formation of cliques or factions, even if of only two members.” Anyone who has spent time in Christian communities of whatever variety knows what he means.
Monday, April 29, 2013, 1:49 PM
When I was in seminary, one of the hot topics we students debated was where each of us stood on the matter of women’s ordination. In our evangelical world, this issue was talked about in terms of “egalitarianism” (i.e., women are equally gifted alongside men and are called to serve at every level of Christian ministry) versus “complementarianism” (i.e., women are equal in dignity and worth but are called to different forms of ministry in the church than men are, and women are not permitted to be “elders” [presbyteroi]).
It was only later, after seminary, that it occurred to me that our debate was, among other things, odd. We students interrogated each other, and each of us felt a (mostly self-imposed) obligation to settle “our position” on the matter. But in retrospect, I view that as strange—because whether women can be ordained to diaconal or priestly/pastoral ministry is not a question that can be “settled” by an individual Christian, even one who’s been to seminary and been ordained. Rather, that’s a matter for churches to decide. Even in the Baptist church to which I belonged at that time, it made no real difference what I as a seminarian thought on the matter; nor would it have made much difference if I’d been a pastor or elder there. What mattered is what my denomination had decided and whether I wanted to remain a part of it, working within its confines or else kicking against the goads.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 10:21 AM
In his memoir Hidden: Reflections on Gay Life, AIDS, and Spiritual Desire, Richard Giannone, emeritus professor at Fordham, writes about his mother’s slow decline and his care for her in her final days. Central to the story is Giannone’s long-time partner Frank. After Giannone’s mother’s death, as Giannone begins immediately to care for his aging sister, he becomes more keenly aware of all the ways his life is intertwined with his partner’s. For instance:
When Frank and I returned early evening that Saturday to our apartment in the Village, I was still shaken. By 2003 Frank had been with me for twenty-two years. Our partnership was repeatedly tested in the fire of social defiance and in the emergency room with family members and each other. Characteristically, Frank spoke not a word. He put down the bags with clean laundry, pulled me against him, and held me tight. Frank’s grip was so firm that his Parkinson’s got his arms wedged hugging me. We were caught, locked, immovable. We laughed. The sinews of our attached muscles held the love that bound us through the tight spot with Marie [Giannone’s sister].
I was home. I was in my faithful friend and partner’s shelter.
I chose this excerpt almost at random. Virtually every chapter is filled with similarly tender moments of quiet intimacy.
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 11:51 AM
In his Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships, James Brownson critiques the idea that the “image of God” in humanity includes sexual difference:
Throughout much of Christian history, the notion that gender differentiation is part of the image of God (“male and female as the image of God in stereo”) has occasionally surfaced as a marginal voice, but it has never occupied a significant place in the Christian understanding of the imago Dei. The reason is a simple one. If both male and female must be present together in order to fully constitute the image of God, then those who are single do not fully reflect the image of God. This runs deeply against the grain of many passages in the Bible. But even more important, the New Testament clearly proclaims that Jesus is, par excellence, the image of God (e.g., 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 3:10; 1 Cor. 15:45). Unless we are to postulate an androgynous savior, something the New Testament never even contemplates, we cannot say that the image of God requires the presence of both male and female. It is far better to interpret Genesis 1:27, which insists that both male and female are created in the divine image, to mean that all the dignity, honor, and significance of bearing the divine image belong equally to men and women. We need not delve into the entire debate about what exactly the image of God signifies. For our purposes it is enough to say what is not signified by the divine image: gender complementarity.
One theologian Brownson singles out for criticism is Karl Barth, for whom, Brownson says, “a complementary understanding of gender is essential to the image of God.” Brownson thinks this understanding of the imago Dei would require each person to be married to a member of the opposite sex in order to fully become a divine image-bearer.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 11:22 AM
Last weekend I had the privilege of speaking to the Harvard College Faith and Action student ministry (which, incidentally, makes the Boston Marathon bombings feel so much closer—I sat next to two runners on my flight there). Rarely have I encountered such a vibrant, passionate group of Christians, and I was honored by their sharp, creative responses and questions.
(One of the most moving parts of my visit was hearing a student give a testimony about being gay and Christian and wrestling with what that means for his future—celibacy? marriage? community? Afterward, it was hard to avoid tears as student after student came up and embraced him. I thought of Brandon Ambrosino’s story and how these kind of loving expressions often fly under the radar in our public debates about sex and marriage but are no less sustaining for going unremarked.)
Thursday, April 11, 2013, 11:26 AM
Recently I went on a walk with a friend, both of us sipping takeaway cups of Starbucks and she pushing her youngest child, chicken pox-afflicted, in the stroller. My friend teaches theology and ethics, and we’d agreed to meet up and talk about matters LGBTQ.
It was an especially rich conversation, but for now I just wanted to mention one thing my friend said that struck me as profound and helpful. My friend began by admitting that she really struggles with what’s become a standard gay Christian testimony: “God made me this way and wants me to flourish, so God must want me to be true to myself here.”
Monday, April 1, 2013, 10:02 AM
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I’ve just finished reading Jeff Chu’s new book Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America, and I highly recommend it. Besides being well-written and engaging (I could hardly put it down), it’s also very illuminating. The book is a balanced, fair-minded collection of snapshots of virtually every corner of the (Protestant) Christian discussion of LGBTQ matters. If someone wanted to get a sense for how American Protestants treat their gay and lesbian neighbors, this is the book I would give them first. It covers Westboro Baptist, The Episcopal Church, and everything in between.