My last two blog posts have been centered on Christopher Yuan’s new book Holy Sexuality and the Gospel. In today’s post, I want to highlight Jackie Hill Perry’s book Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been (Amazon, Christianbook.com).
These books dovetail very beautifully. I believe reading both of them will give people a larger vision of Jesus and also provide vital perspectives related to the entire LGBT discussion. Both books are in harmony, yet each brings distinctives the other doesn’t. Either one is great, but together they are amazingly complete. Anything you wish one book would say, or put in a different tone, is exactly what the other one does.
(By the way, Christopher’s book has been the target of coordinated negative reviews on Amazon, with the same one-star review being posted by many who obviously haven’t read the book. I did read it and thought it was GREAT, but Amazon blocked my five-star review—probably because I endorsed the book. But I encourage you to read and review Holy Sexuality and the Gospel!)
Back to today’s blog: If you want a quick, less than three-minute intro to Jackie Hill Perry, this does it well, and you’ll hear powerful truth in the process.
I started reading Gay Girl, Good God on my Kindle earlier this month, and then also ordered the audiobook. The ebook is great, so honest and compelling, but Jackie’s voice and inflections and personality are so captivating that I continued with the audio. It’s stunningly good.
I first heard Jackie Hill Perry at the Canvas Conference in Portland a few years ago, where we both spoke. Jackie writes like a word artist, which is exactly what she is. She does “spoken word,” as in the video above, where every word counts.
Her book is poetry of sorts, at times with a cadence, and I was almost spellbound listening to it. I couldn’t wait to finish, yet didn’t want to.
Jackie writes, and beautifully speaks in the audio, “What God has done to my soul is worth telling because He is worth knowing. Worth seeing. Worth hearing. Worth loving, and trusting, and exalting…To tell you about what God has done for my soul is to invite you into my worship.”
There is an amazingly powerful foreword to Jackie’s book by Nancy Leigh Demoss Wolgemuth (though it’s not in the audiobook). I was surprised to see Nancy’s name because of the contrasts between her and Jackie. And sure enough, that was the first thing Nancy pointed out in the foreword!
The fact that Jackie and Nancy would connect like this tells you a great deal about both of these women, but especially about Jackie. It is a model of the unity in Jesus that overcomes every cultural and personal and racial and economic barrier. Here’s Jackie’s intro from the book:
I wrote this book out of love—a common word used so out of context on most days. This work is not a miscommunication of my intentions; it is a direct product of it.
Before writing it, I lived out the words. A gay girl once? Yes. Now? I am what God’s goodness will do to a soul once grace gets to it.
In saying that, I know I’ve already offended someone. I don’t assume that every hand that holds this book will agree with every black letter on the pages. There are many who, while reading, won’t understand gayness as something possible of being in the past tense. It is either who you are, or what you have never been. To this, I disagree. The only constant in this world is God. Gayness, on the other hand, can be an immovable identity only when the heart is unwilling to bow. There is more complexity to this than my modest introduction will allow. I will only encourage those hesitant to turn the page because of my particular perspective on truth to keep reading. I’ll admit that I have much more to say about gayness and God that will be a bit countercultural, but I hope will also be intriguing to the point of consideration in the grand scheme of things.
There are others who only know of the hetero love that makes a book such as this one for studying the unknown. These are the Christians (the “I’ve always been straight Christians, that is”) for whom this book was also intended. I have not always loved how they’ve loved the gay community. Between the banner-painted hate and the interpersonal silence, my love for the church moved me to attempt to write something of balance—something that can make the love for which they are called to walk in, the tangible proof of what God is like.
This book, however, is not to be confused with the Scriptures themselves. It, God willing, will be of benefit to the church, but these words are not to be esteemed as being what is most important for the church. That is what the Word of God is for. This is not an appendix to the Scriptures; it is simply the telling of a story impacted by the Scriptures, with practical instruction gained by living out the Scriptures. My love for the LGBT community makes me desperate for them to know God. My love for the church makes me desperate for them to show the world God, as He is, and not as we would prefer for Him to be—this book being my efforts toward such an end. Coming out of the gay lifestyle and into a brand-new world of loving God His way is a wild life—a wildness so sufficient that it will either turn a new saint back or make them into someone better. If I were to call the experience by another adjective, I would call it “hard.” A hardness much like a mountain too beat-up by the sky to climb. But even they can be moved.
For those saints, my love is a gathering up of my life, failures, victories, and everything I’ve figured out about God, edited and made into text for them to read. As they do, a deep “She gets it” might well up. But even better would be a “God is good,” only to be followed by an “All the time!” from within. They are the demonstration of how often God saves. That there are more gay girls and boys that have been made new by a good God. For them, these words landed face-first that they may know that they are not alone.
In writing this book, I did it as myself. Meaning, I am as honest as I know how to be. I have never been one for pretense. When, as a new Christian, I was introduced to the typical nature in which some Christians speak of their lives in the loveliest terms, I refused to give in to the convenient misery of being ambiguous about the truth. If the truth is what sets us free, then why not walk in it at all times? With wisdom and love, of course, but also with the reality that truth is where freedom begins.
Finally, in this book you’re holding, every sentence is the pursuit of showing off God. Leaving this word-filled place with a developed understanding of me and a shallow revelation of God would make all of my efforts worthless. This is a book with a lot of me in it but with a whole lot more of God. He is what the soul needs for rest and what the mind needs for peace. He is the Creator God, the King of Glory, the one who, in love, sent the Christ to pay the penalty for and become the sin that we are all born with. It is the words from and about this resurrected Lamb of God that I hope will lift off the page and into the heart. This book is a lifted hand, a glad praise, a necessary hymn, a hallelujah overheard and not kept quiet. This work is my worship unto God that, with prayer, I hope will leave you saying, “God is so good!” —Jackie Hill Perry
Thank you, Jackie, dear sister, for sharing your story, and for your contagious love for Jesus and God’s Word.
I encourage you to watch this six-minute video in which Jackie talks about her book.
Finally, here’s a great review of the book, written by Kristen Wetherell for The Gospel Coalition:
I saw them as I drove up our street. Both girls had beautiful, long hair and were about 16 years old. Then I noticed they were holding hands and sharing intimate embraces. Just friends? Maybe. But probably not.
This scene is common nowadays. Christians can’t ignore the subject of homosexuality, as it’s so interwoven with our culture. We need to know how to engage with it, following the example of our Lord Jesus who was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And this requires us to pull up a chair and listen well to those who’ve walked its road.
Full of Worship
Jackie Hill Perry is one such woman. Growing up in a broken home, she had an absent father and suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a friend’s older brother. Her first book, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been, recounts these circumstances that shaped her gay identity, but in Perry’s words, “Sexual abuse is not what made me gay. Nor did fatherlessness. They only exaggerated and helped direct the path for what was already there––which is sin” (37).
Having struggled with same-sex attraction (SSA) for as long as she can remember, Perry recounts her story with humility, pointing us ultimately to her good God.