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Love’s Pursuit

with Jackie Hill Perry | March 5, 2019

Jackie Hill Perry, author of "Gay Girl, Good God," remembers the first time her friendship with another girl became sexual and what she enjoyed about her homosexual identity. Despite her gay lifestyle, Perry sensed that God was actively pursuing her. In 2008, Jackie felt God speaking to her heart. For the first time, she saw all her sin rightly and believed that the wages of sin really was death. She knew she couldn't stop sinning on her own, but she knew God could help her. From that point on, Perry tells how her life slowly began to change.

Jackie Hill Perry, author of "Gay Girl, Good God," remembers the first time her friendship with another girl became sexual and what she enjoyed about her homosexual identity. Despite her gay lifestyle, Perry sensed that God was actively pursuing her. In 2008, Jackie felt God speaking to her heart. For the first time, she saw all her sin rightly and believed that the wages of sin really was death. She knew she couldn't stop sinning on her own, but she knew God could help her. From that point on, Perry tells how her life slowly began to change.

Love’s Pursuit

With Jackie Hill Perry
|
March 05, 2019
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: As a young woman, Jackie Hill Perry had what she calls a Damascus Road experience—an encounter with God that caused her to realize she was going to have to follow Him and forsake the same-sex relationships she had been enjoying.

Jackie: So I called my girlfriend, and I told her what happened. I said: “I love you. I want to be with you; but to serve God, I know I can’t be with you.” I grieved that relationship for a good year-and-a-half; because we were fine; we were good—I was happy; I enjoyed her—but I couldn’t have her and God.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 5th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson, and I'm Bob Lepine. Jackie Hill Perry joins us today to share how she came to understand that following Jesus meant “The world behind me and the cross before me.” Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We are diving into some deep water this week; aren’t we?

 

Dave: I don’t know too many books I’ve ever looked over and watched my wife cry because it’s so deep and so moving to her. This book, Gay Girl, Good God, is so real and, yet, so powerful about what God can do that it’s a story I wanted to lean into, as I watched her read it. I’m like, “Okay; we get to talk to Jackie more about that today.”

Ann: I think it’s a topic that is not easily discussed in our culture. Jackie’s honesty and openness opens doors to conversation that I think need to happen, and it’s beautiful.

Bob: Well, we’re going to talk about it today. Jackie Hill Perry joins us, again, on FamilyLife Today. Welcome.

Jackie: Thanks for having me.

Bob: Jackie is the author of the book, Gay Girl, Good God. She and Preston have been married for five years; she’s a mother of two. Her story is a powerful story. You’ve already shared with us this week about growing up in a home, where you were essentially an only child, raised by a single parent. Your dad would be in and out of your story until he died when you were in high school. From your earliest memories, you found yourself attracted to other girls; and in high school, you decided to just see where that took you.

Jackie: Yes; yes.

Bob: And it took you to a place where, at the time, you thought, “This is a great place to be”; didn’t you?

Jackie: Yes; it felt good. But at the same time, it was a constant awareness of God’s displeasure, which is a weird tension to have.

Bob: So there was still something/some convicting voice in your heart, saying, “This is wrong.”

Jackie: Yes; because I had read Romans, and Leviticus, and 1 Corinthians 6. [Laughter] I knew and I had believed that what was in the text was actual—I had never tried to talk myself out of it—it was just, “I know what God is saying, but I’m going to do what I want to do because I enjoy this.”

Ann: But you never got to a point, where you said, “I don’t believe God.”

Jackie: No; I believed He was right. I just didn’t believe He was worthy to be trusted.

Ann: So you decided just to go your own way.

Jackie: Absolutely.

Ann: And it felt good except for the lingering shame and guilt.

Jackie: Yes; yes. That’s a lot on your conscience when you’re aware of the truth but you’re trying your best to try to suppress it by your unrighteousness.

Dave: So you’re living this life—you’ve got this tension going on because you know what God’s Word says—what happened? What was the turning point, where you said, “I have to change”?

Jackie: Yes; well, God had been pursuing me for a while; but it started to intensify around, maybe, early 2008, where it just seemed as if my convictions were increasing. There was this birthday party and my friend, Taylor, was there; Taylor was a Christian. Taylor gets up to, I guess, share some testimony about how God has been good to her; and she starts to weep and cry about God. It was the most confusing thing to me—I was like: “Why is she so emotional about God? I really don’t understand why He elicits this response out of somebody that’s the same age as me.” But my thought was: “Why doesn’t He do that for me? Why am I so indifferent towards the idea of God that I wouldn’t cry about Him?”—you know? I think me asking myself—really, the Holy Spirit prompting those kinds of questions in my mind—just wouldn’t go away.

Then, I would be doing things with my girlfriend and be reminded of God’s displeasure. I felt the distance. You know, we’re born “children of wrath”; we are, “by nature, enemies of God”—I didn’t know those texts, but I felt it. I felt that me and God were not near—that we were not intimate, that I did not love Him, and that I was not empowered to do what He wanted me to do.

I called my cousin, Keisha, and I said: “Keisha, I feel like God wants me, but I don’t want Him. I don’t know what to do about it. I just feel like I can’t sin in peace. [Laughter] I’m trying to enjoy my life; and He’s messing with it by telling me how good He is, and how He loves me, and how He wants to be merciful. I don’t want to hear all of that.” She said something like, “I’ve been praying for you, and I know that God is going to do all He has to do to have you,”—something—I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of what she said. I thought, “That sounded really spiritual.” I didn’t understand it—I was just like: “Okay; whatever. I just have to share that with you.”

Then, a couple of months later, I was in my room—it was 2008. I wasn’t at church; I didn’t go to churches, because I didn’t like how Christians looked at me or acted when I was around. I felt as if God had spoken to my heart in such a way, where I saw all of my sin rightly for the first time—and it wasn’t just lesbianism—it was all of it. I saw—oh “For the wages of sin equals death” is reality. That’s just not a verse—that’s right now; that’s today; that’s this moment.

I started to think about all of my sin and its consequences. To me, it seemed as if none of it was worth it. You know, it’s just like: You’re doing all of this for some joy that might last you 50 years?”—like, “That’s dumb,”—I thought about that; but I also told God—I said, “God, I don’t want to be straight,” because Him calling me to Himself felt like that was synonymous with being heterosexual.

I, again, felt as if God was saying: “Just love Me; serve Me; Get to know Me.” I knew, for a fact, that I could not stop sinning on my own—I told God, “I know I can’t do this by myself, but I know enough about You to know that You’ll help me.” I didn’t have words for that—I didn’t know it was repentance. I didn’t know that I was seeing my sin as worthless and being/and willing to turn from it. Nor did I know it was faith—that I was now seeing Jesus in His glory, and seeing that He was the only One worthy of my affections, and the only One able to save me and keep me; but that’s what it was—it was repentance and faith in that moment.

Bob: Wow. You talk about this kind of being in church and being aware of these things. Was there something you heard that caused you to go, “I got to reconsider what I’ve been building my life around”?

Jackie: No; I hadn’t been to church in a long time. The only time I had—the last time I went to a church was my father’s funeral, which was, I mean, two years prior. And then, before that, I probably didn’t go to church unless somebody made me, or somebody died. It really was a random kind of thing. It was a Damascus moment, where its like God just interrupted my life—placed Himself in my world in a way that I could not deny Him any longer.

Ann: And so what happened?

Jackie: I called my friend, who was the—I only knew—there was only two Christians I trusted, and so she was the second one.

Ann: Wait; what made you trust them?

Jackie: They loved me like Jackie. I felt like most Christians that I came in contact with—all they saw was my gayness and not who I was. They treated me like a gay person instead of a person. You know, maybe there was this pressure of not knowing what to do with me—this fear of “Am I supposed to evangelize to her?” Even my cousin, Keisha, like when she would call me and we would talk, she would actually ask me about my day. We didn’t have to go to Leviticus. [Laughter] She didn’t have to remind me, “You know you’re going to hell; right?”—[Laughter]—she didn’t do that. I think that’s why she was one of the first people I called when God did start dealing with me, because I felt like she treated me like a human being.

I think, post conversion, I called my friend; and I told her what happened, because I had to break up with my girlfriend now. I knew that would be a really difficult thing to do—something that I didn’t want to do—but something I knew I had to, so she just encouraged me.

I called my girlfriend, and I told her what happened—I said: “I love you. I want to be with you; but to serve God, I know I can’t be with you.” I grieved that relationship for a good year-and-a-half; because we were fine; we were good—I was happy; I enjoyed her. We probably would have moved in together—all that type of stuff—but I couldn’t have her and God.

Dave: And how did she respond?

Jackie: Crying, tears—she was broken, because it was random—I was just with her the day before. It was nothing that she would have foresaw, but it had to happen.

Ann: I hear your story, and I think of so many similarities. I was 18 years old, dating a guy/having sex, but I had the same encounter with Jesus—of having a conversation with Him and saying: “I’m tired of playing this game. I’m going to follow You, and I’m going to give You all of me. I’ll do whatever You want me to do/go wherever You want me to go: break up with my boyfriend—I’m Yours—totally all-in Yours.” It’s that transformation instantly: “If I’m all Yours, I’ll do whatever You want.”

Jackie: Yes.

Ann: I love that God does that—whether we’re in a heterosexual relationship/a homosexual relationship—God wants all of us. He’s a jealous God.

Jackie: Yes; yes. It’s reminiscent of how He does His disciples in the gospels—it’s always, you know, “Leave all that; follow Me.”

Ann: Yes; yes.

Jackie: Everybody’s got to let something go.

Dave: And I tell you what—I want to be the person that somebody, that decides to change their life, calls.

Ann: That’s good.

Dave: When you said you called these people because you trusted them, there’s so many people you couldn’t call—nobody could call—because they look at the sin or they look at the person. I thought, “Man, I want everybody listening right now to say, ‘I want to be the person, who is a follower of Christ, that looks in the eyes of people and loves them—loves them so much that, when they need to make an important decision, I’m the person they call because they feel loved by Jesus through me.’”

Jackie: Yes; and it wasn’t that they were passive on sin either.

Dave: Right.

Jackie: I knew their stances on sin; and I knew they believe that God was holy, and that sin was wrong, and that it should be resisted. Yet, that wasn’t the entirety of our conversation; nor was that what our entire friendship or relationship was built on—was them trying to convert me. You know, it wasn’t, “I’m only present with you to fix you,”—it wasn’t that. It was, “I’m present with you to love you,” and I think that’s the aim that Christians would do well to shift to.

Bob: Jackie, you know there are books, or blogs, or podcasts you could listen to today that would say: “You didn’t need to leave your lesbian relationship. You can love God. This is how God’s made you to be. You just need to accept that/embrace that and you’re going against who you are.”

Jackie: Yes; yes. I would say that’s a misreading of the Scriptures or a non-reading of the Scriptures. I know why people would want both, but I’m grateful that God is so holy that He has a standard. Yet, at the same time, I’m seeing that, you know, in Timothy—where it talks about how people accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their passions—I’m realizing how we read the Scriptures, and when we try to justify particular sins, it really is a heart issue that becomes a hermeneutical issue.

I think I want people to recognize: “Why do you want both? Are you unwilling to believe that God is not better than that?” because that’s really what it is. You believe that a created thing is able to sustain you and satisfy you more than the One that you were created for, and that’s a lie—a lie that’s existed since the Garden [of Eden].

Dave: And how, in the world, did you discover that?—because it’s obvious you knew that, even before you understood the Scripture. You knew—you said earlier—

Jackie: Sort of, not to that depth.

Dave: I mean, you said earlier—it just struck me that you said: “Why would I do this sin that’s going to make me happy for 50 years? That’s stupid.” I thought, “Everybody does that, and they don’t think it’s stupid,” and yet, you had the sense to go, “That’s a wasted life,” so there’s this depth as you read the Scripture

Ann: Yes; you have a depth to your soul.

Jackie: I think that was 2 Corinthians 4 coming to life, where the veil is being lifted and I’m finally seeing the glory of Christ in a way that I’ve never seen Him; because, when you see God for real—for real/for real—how can you ever turn your eyes?—how?! He’s Him! He’s better than everything that ever existed, or He wouldn’t be God. So I think its just the Holy Spirit showed me what was always there.

Dave: So now, you’re not tempted?

Jackie: I’m tempted; of course, I am—I’m in the flesh!

Dave: Oh, you just said you’ve seen—the veil’s been lifted—come on.

Jackie: Right; the difference is—when tempted, I can and want to resist. I think that’s the difference—is that conversion has allowed me to have the power to say, “No,” to my sin because the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead is in me. But He’s also changed my heart and my affections, where now I’m a new creature that, when tempted, I recognize that the things I’m tempted by are not better than what I love or who I love. I might still want it, but I want God more; you know?

Ann: What would you say to that person/what would you have said if—you know

Psalm 139: “God knit me together in my mother’s womb. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made,”—would you ever say that: “God made me like that. He made me with a same-sex attraction”?

Jackie: No; God made us in His image—for sure, we are image-bearers. Our bodies are a good thing/our minds—the things that we are able to do for sure—but our sin is something that we’ve inherited from Adam. I wouldn’t ever want to blame God for something like that—you know, [Adam speaking] “The woman You gave me...” I wouldn’t want to blame God for my sin. But I also would say: “Well, that’s why God, in the New Testament—and really, through the Scriptures—is saying: ‘Be born again. Let’s start you over and make you someone who is new.’”

Bob: So how did your mom find out—

Jackie: —that I was a Christian? [Laughter]

Bob: —and how did she take the news?

Jackie: [Laughter] We worked together. I went in her office and I said, “Hey mom, I’m not going to be gay anymore.” I didn’t know how to phrase it; I would never phrase it that way now. [Laughter]

Ann: What would you say now?

Jackie: I would say, “I love Jesus now,”—I would change the phrasing—

Ann: What did she say?

Jackie: —I was 19; I didn’t know what else to say.

She said “Oh, okay.” I was like, “No; seriously, I gave my life to Jesus; and I’m going to like follow Him.” She said, “Well, that’s nice”; because she didn’t believe me. It was just kind of like—

Ann: —“We’ll see.”

Jackie: —“We’ll see.”

I think what started to change her mind was when I started to respect her—like I started to do what she said when she wanted me to do it. I started to go to church. I stopped coming home high; I stopped lying to her. I still had my issues, for sure; I was still a very new Christian, so I didn’t respect her 24/7. I started cleaning up my room. I just think those small character changes were like, “Hmm, somethings different about her.”

Ann: Wow.

Bob: After you were converted, did you go, “Oh, now, I like boys!”?

Jackie: No; they were gross for a long time. [Laughter] I wasn’t focused on that. I was honestly really content with being single, because it seemed like it would be more of a cross to carry to be with a man than it would to be a single woman.

Ann: Did you assume that you would probably be single the rest of your life?

Jackie: I figured I would get married; but I was afraid of what that would actually look like, because it seemed like it would definitely be a challenge, as it was and is.

Dave: So the first thing Jesus started to change in your life wasn’t your sexuality?

Jackie: No.

Dave: It wasn’t immediate?

Jackie: That’s a nice setup; no, it wasn’t—[Laughter]

Dave: It was, “Clean the room,”—that’s pretty good. [Laughter] Parents are going to love this. [Laughter]

Jackie: —respect authority/love men. It was—God was gracious to immediately get me connected to a group of believers, because I didn’t know I needed church; I didn’t know anything. I had a friend, who invited me to this church six days after I repented. I went to the church, and I had this exchange with a woman at the church that was significant to me.

I walked in; and I had my friend’s clothes on, because I had borrowed her clothes because I was like: “You know, I don’t have time for Christians looking at me crazy because I’m sagging. [Laughter] So let me wear your flats.” [Laughter] Those were really uncomfortable to just wear flats all of a sudden. I went in and this woman named Alisa—she came up to me and said “Hey, what’s your name?” I said “Jackie.” She looked me in my eyes, and she nodded: “Jackie. Nice to meet you, Jackie.” I was like, “Wow, she wants to remember my name.” I don’t remember the sermon. I just remember her personalizing me and wanting to take hold of my name so that, when I do come back, she knew what to say.

Bob: Jackie, there are people tuned in today who still love their sin and are still looking at it and going, “I don’t think God’s greater than the joy and pleasure I’m getting from getting high,” or “…from immorality,” or from whatever. It may not be getting high and immorality—it may be success. There are all kinds of things that could be ensnaring and trapping people. What would you say to them?

Jackie: I think you could be honest with God about that. To me, that’s the same as: “God, I don’t believe. Help my unbelief.” At the root of it is unbelief: “I don’t believe that You are who You say You are. I do believe that the tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] is good for food. I do believe that the tree is desired to make one wise. I don’t believe that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I don’t believe that You are the bread of life. I want these other things to satisfy me and feel me up.”

I think, one, being willing to be honest with God and take the risk of faith. Take the risk that He really is all that He says that He is; because, at the end of the day, we know we won’t all live long; we don’t have that much time here. I think I would just push them to think higher—to not think as earthly—and to confess that to God, and trust, and wait and see what He can do with your heart if you give it to Him.

Dave: I remember walking up to a speaker/author, who spoke to a bunch of guys. I did the typical: “I have a friend, who struggles with...”—I literally did that—I said, “I have a friend, who, when he travels, sometimes looks at porn in the hotel rooms he stays in.” I said, “What would you say to that guy?” I’ll never forget—Larry Crabb said—I said, “Why does that guy do that?”

Ann and I had been married ten years, at this point; and I’m in ministry, and I’ve got this secret. I’m asking him this; and Larry said just about what you said—he said: “That guy believes God is not enough,” and “God’s not immediate, and this is”; so he’s going after a pleasure he can feel. He doesn’t know God well enough to know God is enough.” I remember leaving, going: “I don’t know God well enough. It’s like I have this idea of God and I preach it, but I don’t know the beauty of the face of God that I would go after something else that’s temporary and will not satisfy.” That’s just what you discovered.

Ann: I think, too, as I listen to you—I think the theme today is Jesus and His redemption of our lives. He is the highlight for all of us. In your story, He is the One that’s changed everything.

Bob: Yes; and the story you tell, masterfully, in your book, Gay Girl, Good God—in fact, I have to tell you—somebody I know read this book and said, “It’s not just a great story, but it is beautifully written.”

Jackie: Thank you.

Bob: You took time to craft your story.

Jackie: Yes.

Bob: Folks are going to, not only engage with the story, but it is well-crafted. We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. The title is Gay Girl, Good God; the subtitle: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been. The author is Jackie Hill Perry, our guest today. You can order the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get your copy. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”; and ask for your copy of the book, Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry.

Now, a quick word for those of you who are FamilyLife® Legacy Partners—those of you who help make today’s program possible. In fact, as a monthly donor to this ministry, your partnership with us enables programs like you’ve heard today to be heard by more people, more regularly, all around the world. We’re grateful for your partnership.

Next Monday night, we’ve got a get-together planned for our Legacy Partners, and Dave and Ann Wilson, and me. We’re going to all get together by phone on Monday night. You should have gotten an email about this already; so you might want to open it if you haven’t opened it yet, and plan to join us on Monday night. We’ll actually be calling you; or you can join us by video—we’ll be online with this as well. This is a special get-together for Legacy Partners. We look forward to doing this with you—give you a chance to get to know Dave and Ann a little better and learn more about their background. I’m sure we’ll be talking about the new book, Vertical Marriage, as well.

If you are not a Legacy Partner, we’d love to have you join the team. If you’re a regular listener to FamilyLife Today, why don’t you become a part of the team that makes FamilyLife Today possible in your community and in communities all across the country? You can do that by going to FamilyLifeToday.com; the information’s available there on becoming a Legacy Partner. You make a monthly donation, and you’re on the team.

We’ve got a special thank-you gift for you. When you become a Legacy Partner, we want to send you a gift card so that you and your spouse—or friends you know—can attend a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. That’s our “Thank you,” for helping to make the ministry of FamilyLife Today possible as a monthly Legacy Partner. Again, find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com; and we’ll look forward to getting together with you next Monday night.

Now, as we wrap things up here again today—and reflect back on all we’ve heard from our guest, Jackie Hill Perry—here, again, to join us is the President of FamilyLife, David Robbins. Welcome David.

David: Thanks Bob; good to be here. You know, I love Jackie’s honesty and deep experience of the gospel that so obviously gets lived out every day in her life. I’m listening and resonating, personally, with the same root of sin, alive and well in my own heart. Most of us don’t struggle with same-sex attraction but all of us struggle in finding joy and satisfaction in something other than Jesus.

Bob: Right.

David: I run to, sometimes, just grinding it out at work and trying to find my importance in ministry instead of listening to things that God is inviting me into in my soul. Or sometimes, I just escape with social media or looking at sports blogs just to mindlessly numb out. All of us run to things that don’t really satisfy. Every one of us has something to let go. Jesus—He wants all of our affections—He wants to satisfy us deeply at our core. He’s worth it—He’s worthy of all of our trust; He can satisfy.

I want to trust God in some fresh ways after listening to Jackie today. I want to encourage you to do the same. The place to start is where Jackie started—it’s by being really honest with God. God is not afraid of my honesty, and He’s not afraid of yours. Sometimes, we can’t fix it on our own; in fact, often and most of the time, we can’t. Let’s bring every part of our lives to Him, especially the places we feel the most broken.

Bob: Good word. Thank you.

Well, tomorrow, we’re going to hear from Jackie about how essential it is for us, as children of God, to understand our identity as children of God. She joins us, again, tomorrow. We hope you can join us as well.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.

 

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