By Jaime Sherman
When we return to our weekly Bible study next Thursday, Feb. 6, we will be using Jackie Hill Perry’s book Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture as a starting place for our study and discussion of God’s Word. The book is broken into six weeks of homework, covering all 25 verses of this New Testament letter that comes right before Revelation. Scroll to the end of this post and click on the information box to reserve your spot in either the Thursday morning or Thursday evening study time.
The name Jackie Hill Perry is known by many as she quickly became a best-selling author in 2018 with the release of her first book, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I was and Who God Has Always Been. The book immediately caught the eye of the millennial generation as it wrestles with the church’s response to same-sex attracted men and women.
While Jackie doesn’t share her personal story within the pages of the Jude study, we thought you’d appreciate a brief glimpse into her story, one that shapes the depth of her love for God and His Word. In Gay Girl, Good God, Jackie says of her transformation in Christ, “I am what God’s goodness will do to a soul once grace gets to it” and describes her personal narrative as a “pursuit of showing off God.”
The book is appropriate for someone wrestling with — or embracing — same-sex attraction and helps those of us in the church with how we should speak to and love the same-sex attracted people in our own congregations. Jackie provides tools and Scriptures to help others find the courage and steadfastness to leave the homosexual lifestyle. On the back cover of her book, we read: “Read in order to understand. Read in order to hope. Or read in order, like Jackie, to be made new.”
Jackie’s writing style is both poetic and raw with an honesty that puts the reader into the midst of the tug-of-war between doing what feels natural and what God in His love says is best. It’s a memoir heavy on biblical doctrine as she recounts her fatherless childhood, gender confusion, the scars of sexual abuse suffered at the age 5, same-sex attraction, misconceptions about womanhood, temptation, and fighting lust with the gospel.
At age 17, she chose to act on her same-sex attraction, but while she experienced temporary pleasure, she realized she could never have a deep soul satisfaction within that lifestyle. Her early years had included time spent in church, but she saw the messages of Sunday school as a series of do not’s — “a terrible noise to drown out by resistance.” To her, satan’s message to feel good on one’s own terms was better than religion’s restrictions. She writes, “Yes, unbelief doesn’t see God as the ultimate good. So it can’t see sin as the ultimate judge.”
Jackie didn’t come to understand the depth of God’s holiness and love — and the weight of her sin in light of it — until she was 19. She knew she had the choice to follow God or to face death. She writes of the night she was rescued:
I’d been sinning my entire life. But I was not alive — I was only breathing. And God wanted me to believe it before even that passed away. I knew He required me to let go of my girlfriend specifically, but more than her came to mind. “What else was I loving that might be the death of me?” I wondered. There had to be more executioners that I’d made my lover. While thinking, more sins came to mind. How easy it is to recall your sins when you realize you’ve already been sentenced. Like bottled confetti cracked open and spread across the ceiling — pride, lust, pornography, lying, dishonoring authority, and lesbianism fell face-first (all of them being the more obvious sins). They wore loud clothes and shiny shoes. But each of them stemmed from one root — one organic sin that grew up, branched out, and became the seeded fruit of all the other sins. Unbelief: it was from this sin from which I hung, guilty as charged.
Within a day of surrendering her life to Jesus Christ, of choosing to believe in His best for her, she broke up with her girlfriend, and within two weeks, Jackie was surrounded by a church community who loved her as a member of the family and as a child of God — not “a project to be fixed but a person to be loved.”
While sanctification is never easy and never comfortable, God transformed Jackie’s life, and today she speaks about the process of finding wholeness in God. She explains that God wasn’t calling her into heterosexuality where she would suddenly be attracted to a man, though in time she was. Rather, He was calling her to Himself, to dwell within His love. God asked Jackie to love Him more than anything else in her life, to love Him with all her heart, soul, and mind.
First through poetry and hip hop music (The Art of Joy in 2014 and Crescendo in 2018) and now through books, Bible teaching, and podcasts, 30-year-old Jackie points her readers and listeners to the Word of God, to His holiness and response to sin, and to His love for all men and women. She and fellow spoken word poet Preston Perry married in 2014 in a wedding ceremony that showed off the gospel and God’s deep love for His children. The couple now has two little girls, Eden and Autumn.
You can learn more about the Perrys, watch videos of Jackie’s teaching, and hear her testimony at jackiehillperry.com. We encourage you to read Gay Girl, Good God and to join us on Thursdays for Jackie’s Jude study. Click on the box below to reserve your spot!