If you want to be reminded that God doesn’t always work as we expect, this book should do it.
In Gay Girl, Good God (B&H Publishing 2018), hip-hop artist and former lesbian Jackie Hill Perry tells her story—a story of abuse and abandon, of embracing the gay lifestyle and a masculine identity, of God encountering her in the quiet of her bedroom, and of the journey of repentance and faith.
This is a book that will trouble many people—both those who don’t want to believe homosexual struggles remain after coming to Christ and those who don’t think being gay is a problem or changeable. But as a personal story told by the woman who lived it, it’s hard to argue with.
Perry writes with honesty and depth. It’s clear that since Christ found her, she has deeply processed her story. Significant theology is intermixed with narrative, which jumps around by theme (for example, pain, Christ, identity, womanhood, temptation and marriage). While it might occasionally leave you flipping back to figure out the chronology, her primary purpose is not to share her life story but to tell of the God who has transformed her and captured her affections.
When God met Perry in her bedroom following a night with her girlfriend, it was with a simple statement: She will be the death of you. As Perry wrestled with God, she realized that homosexuality was not the only or even the primary sin keeping her from God.
She reminds us that though our stories are different, the call to follow Christ is one of self-denial and endurance, and that the goal is Christ, who is better by far.
For her, nights with her girlfriend were like the fruit on the tree that first tempted Eve. She writes, “The tree was indeed good for food and pleasant to the sight; God had made it that way (Genesis 2:9). The deception was in believing that the tree was more satisfying to the body and more pleasurable to the sight than God” (p. 18). Her primary sin, like ours, is unbelief, which leads to a disordering of our loves and a belief that “what has been withheld from [God] can be satisfied without Him” (p. 74).
From that morning on, Perry began to experience a clear transformation, powered by the Spirit, but sanctification was, of course, a longer process. She shares how small steps (like putting on women’s underwear instead of the boxers she’d been wearing for years) were daily rituals of repentance. Choosing a new wardrobe was a kind of baptism, a putting off of the old and declaring that she was made new. She journals about her continuing deep struggles, the surprise of being attracted to a man (who would become her husband) and the unexpected tribulations that came along with it. But it’s obvious she sees Christ as incomparably worth it.
After telling her story, Perry includes a couple chapters specifically for those wrestling with same-sex attraction (on identity and endurance) and a chapter for the larger church about the tendency to preach a “heterosexual gospel” (as if when we come to Christ our disordered desires will disappear, or as if marriage is the ultimate goal rather than Christ).
Ultimately, she reminds us that though our stories are different, the call to follow Christ is one of self-denial and endurance, and that the goal is Christ, who is better by far.
Lead photo: Jackie Hill Perry. Photo courtesy of B&H Publishing.