We live in a divisive world, split from one another in just about every way possible, twisted in every imaginable direction and cordoned off in our own darkened silos. When we stop living with one another — mingling with those with whom we disagree — we begin to see those around us as nothing more than issues with heartbeats.
Our fast-paced culture and impatient nature have taught us to reduce one another to the flaws and features that make us different. Even in a sea of people, we’re losing our own humanity.
Jackie Hill Perry, author of the new book, “Gay Girl, Good God,” once identified as lesbian. In fact, she was in a romantic relationship with a woman for many years, though she’s now married to her husband, Preston Perry, and the mother of a young girl, Eden.
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In her book, Hill Perry urges Christians to see those in the LGBT community — a group to which she once belonged — as more than just a collection of same-sex attracted people.
The goal, she explained during an interview with Faithwire, shouldn’t be to lead same-sex attracted people to straightness. The goal, instead, should be to lead them to Jesus, and that comes by getting to know people — not simply knowing about them.
“Should we preach the gospel? Sure. But get to know the person’s likes and dislikes. What’s their favorite color? Go out for coffee,” Hill Perry explained. “Jesus was at parties and weddings and dinners. He was actually doing life with these people and I think he learned something about them while he was doing it.”
Who an individual is attracted to “doesn’t make up the entire person,” she said, though many believers have, perhaps inadvertently, made a person’s sexual orientation the whole of their being — a mistake Hill Perry said often results in a “segmented discipleship.”
My book has been out for almost two months now & this is the first time I’ve seen it in a store. I didn’t have butterflies. Only anxiety. Why? Because Preston kept talking about the book being MY BOOK loud enough for the store to hear it. He’s so supportive but he still irks. pic.twitter.com/mtTH10vlcz
— Jackie Hill Perry (@JackieHillPerry) October 17, 2018
“That leads to a segmented discipleship relationship,” she said, “where it’s just teaching you how to not be sexually immoral instead of teaching you how to be kind and merciful and self-controlled and wise.”
The author, known also for her spoken-word poetry, noted the knee-jerk reaction among many Christians of “pointing people to heterosexuality instead of pointing them to Christ.”
Stepping out of the homosexual lifestyle is certainly part of sanctification, but as is the case with every part of our fallen human nature, salvation doesn’t always nullify our past temptations or erase our present struggles on this side of eternity.
“We have made Christianity mean you won’t experience those same temptations instead of saying, ‘Come to Jesus. You might struggle, you might suffer, you might deal with some things, but you do have a Great High Priest who will be there to help you,’” Hill Perry said. “I think we’ve promised people things that the Scriptures haven’t.”
But those incorrect presuppositions go both ways. Hill Perry also said it’s important for those in the LGBT community to be equally as eager and willing to engage with the church, because they might hold assumptions about Christians that are just as unfair.
And for new believers — or longtime believers — dealing with temptation toward same-sex attraction, Hill Perry said Christian community is of the utmost importance.
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“The advice is applicable to anybody, any human being who has become a Christian,” she said, “and that is to get yourself in a church that loves Jesus and that loves people. I think community is huge, especially when you’re leaving the gay community. You’re leaving an actual community, and so you now need to join another community, where the Holy Spirit dwells, to grow.”
She said it’s also important to invest time in the Bible and prayer.
Hill Perry came out as gay when she was a teenager. After years of living in sexual sin, she converted to Christianity in 2008. Over the course of her spiritual journey, the 28-year-old writer said God has given her an enduring joyfulness.
“He has put joy in my life. I think if Christianity was just this begrudging work, what to do to get to heaven, I would’ve given up a long time ago; I’m too addicted to pleasure for that,” she said. “[H]is faithfulness is just me getting to know him and that actually being a satisfying thing.”
Hill Perry’s latest book, “Gay Girl, Good God,” is available now wherever books are sold.