Religion Dispatches interviews the Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge on her book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians.
What inspired you to write Bulletproof Faith? What sparked your interest?
I was inspired to write Bulletproof Faith by the readers of Whosoever, the online magazine for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians that I founded in 1996. As soon as I put Whosoever on the Web, the hate mail began to pour in. People were offended that there was a magazine out there telling LGBT people not just that God loved them, but that God loved them just as they are—as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people because God had created them that way.
I heard from so many LGBT readers that they didn’t know how to respond to people who told them they couldn’t be both LGBT and Christian. I wanted to find a way to help them respond without becoming angry or becoming depressed by all the opposition around them. The idea for the book came in 1998 when I took a class in the martial art of Aikido. There are no offensive moves in Aikido—no kicks or punches. There are only defensive moves—using the momentum of your attacker to disable them. I thought it served as an excellent metaphor for “spiritual self-defense” for LGBT Christians. I also came across the Bible verse that became central to the book, 1 Peter 3:15-16: “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” Not returning hatred for hatred is the key to being bulletproof. I developed a workshop around these ideas and it morphed, some ten years later, into a full-fledged book.
Read the interview here.