Amidst the raft of books tackling the topic of the gospel and homosexuality, Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry is one of the best. Autobiographical, but drenched in Scripture, Hill Perry teaches through her story as she addresses thorny and hard issues head-on. She holds out biblical truth, unflinchingly applying it to her own life, and by implication the life of the reader.
Beautiful and Precise
As a spoken-word poet, Hill Perry is a master wordsmith. I love the way she beautifully yet precisely articulates the complexities of being a same-sex attracted woman who is then confronted by Jesus and almost immediately sees that she can no longer live a lesbian lifestyle. She invites readers to accompany her on her journey of conversion, and on into the war between the Spirit and her sinful flesh.
While the book follows her story of repentance and faith, tracking with the battle against her homosexual desires, Hill Perry makes it very clear that her sinfulness is not limited to her sexuality. When Jesus claims her as His own, He demands that she lay down her whole life (as goes for anyone who would follow Him; see Mark 8:34–35). So while a significant battle for Hill Perry was with homosexual desires, she makes it clear that there are numerous other battles in the fight to live a godly life.
More Than One Battle
Hill Perry records a frank exchange she and an older Christian, who was mentoring her, once had. She recalls this conversation with characteristic humility and honesty, highlighting the holistic nature of gospel living. About a year into being a Christian, the battle with same-sex attraction was real and dominant in Hill Perry’s mind.
But this older Christian, who was currently her flat-mate, lovingly pointed out that there were other battles with sin that needed to be fought too. Hill Perry recounts how this highlighted her pride as a neglected battleground. She was profoundly humbled. But she was also hopeful, as it became clear to Hill Perry that her identity was not anchored in her sexuality, but in Christ. And He wanted all of her life, not just her sex life.
Hill Perry does eventually meet and marry a Christian man. She wants to be clear, however, that this won’t necessarily be the case for every same-sex attracted person who comes to Christ. She explains that we mustn’t preach a ‘heterosexual gospel’. In other words, when a same-sex attracted person comes to Christ, the goal is not to be ‘saved into heterosexual attraction’, as if that’s somehow the apex of holiness. Rather, the gospel is about being saved into Christ.
For His people, Christ’s blood purchases the forgiveness of sins, freedom from wrath, and the promise of eternal life. Now, make no mistake, obedience always follows faith. The Bible is clear on that (John 14:15). But what Hill Perry highlights is that there is more to those who fight against same-sex attraction than their sexual orientation.
Our culture wants us to believe that we are our sexuality. It has become the fundamental and defining feature of the modern person’s identity. But as Christians, we know such a reductionistic view is neither helpful nor biblical. Therefore, we need to encourage each other within our church family to fight, on every front, the enticing sins that crouch at our door.
Throughout the book, Hill Perry consistently points us to our good and gracious God. While choosing Jesus is not easy, especially when it comes to battling same-sex attraction, I loved the way she whole-heartedly and honestly commends life with Him. Sin promises much, but delivers very little. Its wages entice, but it ends in death (Rom. 6:23). Knowing Christ, however, brings “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
Hill Perry evidences this joy and delight in knowing the Lord who helps her, and us, to put her sexuality and desires in a right perspective. We come away from this book full of thanks for the miracle of sight to blind eyes, for salvation out of the depths of sin and a troubled past. What a God of rescue and grace, who is floodlit at every turn in this narrative and held out as an invitation to all to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).
The first two sections of the book are primarily autobiographical while the third is more didactic, as Hill Perry seeks to help those fighting against same-sex attraction. She wisely addresses some hard questions that are being asked concerning this subject. She is an articulate teacher, and the final section is a helpful, clear voice amongst the ongoing rhetoric in relation to homosexuality. Sometimes I found her logic a little hard to follow, but I think that may be due to the fact that the autobiographical is interwoven with moments of strong teaching.
Overall, I found Hill Perry to be a refreshing, beautifully written voice that is worth listening to on this crucial subject. I loved that she takes it beyond her sexuality, pointing us to a glorious, good, wise God who wants far more for her than just a change in sexual orientation. He saves her to live whole-heartedly for Christ, and this book witnesses to the Christ-centred life that Hill Perry is seeking to live.