Because Jesus is Better: An interview with spoken word artist Jackie Hill

March 4, 2014

Jackie Hill is a Christian poet whose spoken words have moved the hearts of listeners around the world. Ex-lesbian, her testimony of redemption and grace has been featured by in a variety of publications.

For those who might not be familiar with you, would you briefly share your testimony? 

I was raised in St. Louis in a single parent household by my mother. I had a pretty regular childhood apart from being fatherless, (which is sadly normal to most African American children), being molested at five, and being introduced to porn around the age of seven. So it’s safe to say that my early influences consisted of some neglect when it came to my father and perversion when it came to what I saw on TV.

Besides that, I had an aunt in my life that took me to church consistently from a toddler to an early teen. This consistent exposure to the gospel affected me greatly even during my rebellion. To make a long story short, around high school I began to act out on the same sex desires that I had been having since as early as I could remember with a particular young lady. This ended up becoming a lifestyle that I was very open about. I entered into several sexual relationships with women, and frequented gay clubs and pride parades. But even in this midst of it all, I lacked peace. The knowledge I had about God as child “haunted” me in a way. I knew without a doubt that my life was not pleasing to him but I didn’t have the strength nor the desire to change.

That is until the age of 19, when God convicted me of my sin. And not just homosexuality but my entire life. All of my “head knowledge” became a reality to me. I saw that I deserved death but I also saw and believed that Jesus could not only give me eternal life, but that he could also give me the power to deny all that I love more than him. I repented of my sins that day in my bedroom, believing that Jesus was simply better. And I’ve been different ever since. 

The “Same Love” performanace by Macklemore at the Grammy Awards made news. Why did you feel compelled to respond?

Though it grieved me, it did not shock me. I do not expect the world, or those that are in it to boast about God in a way that brings a true reverence and respect for him and his word. What happened at the Grammy Awards was simply an outward display of the inner workings of sinful hearts in my opinion. With that said, I was filled with compassion for those who saw it and could be led to believe that God cannot change the affections of someone struggling with same-sex desires. That performance was a well orchestrated lie. God in his word has shown that those who fling themselves onto the mercies of his son will change. It is not possible to know God and remain the same.

So I would encourage believers to boast about the power of Jesus wherever they are. No matter if they are teachers or construction workers. As the opportunity arises, boast on our Lord. Show them why he is better. Jesus prayed to the father in John 17 that we may not be taken out of the world. We are still here to point our fingers to the glorious face of Jesus so that men may see and bow down to the truth. We should count it a privilege to be here at such a time as this, to be used to draw many to himself. 

It seems like the gay community can be tight knit. When you became a Christian, it would seem you are truly counting a cost and giving up not only a lifestyle but also a vocal and supportive community. With this in mind, how might the church be better equipped to serve Christians who once embraced the homosexual lifestyle?

That is very true. When I left my lifestyle, I had to leave the majority of my friends. I had to create new hobbies. It was a huge adjustment to say the least. For the church to serve those who were once in that environment, I would encourage them to simply be the church. Love in deed and in truth. Disciple new converts. Train older ones. Do the same things you would do for any person saved by the grace of God. 

Sexual temptation affects many people. Even though the temptations are different, is there a common way to fight lust for those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who struggle with opposite-sex attraction? How have you learned to fight these desires? 

I do agree. I believe the difference is that, in our society, the culture has done a good job of making this particular affection an entire identity. So when someone comes to Christ and is tempted with same-sex desires, if their identity is not rooted in the truth of God’s word, their reasoning may be that “If I am still tempted with this, then I must still be gay.” This reasoning is dangerous because it can further tempt someone to stop fleeing from sin and to just “accept” it as who they are instead. Understanding that alone helped me fight my desires. It helped me to no longer be discouraged by my temptations. I began to read about what it means to be in Christ (Ephesians 1 is a good reference for this kind of study) and how that applies to my struggles. 

What are you doing now? Are you still a spoken word artist? 

Besides planning for my wedding, I still travel around doing spoken word poetry. Spoken word poetry is simply performing a written poem in an artistic way. I’m sure if David was around in our day and age, he might’ve been doing the same thing.

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! Would you share more? 

Yes indeed! I met Preston Perry at a spoken word event called Lyricist Lounge back in 2009 when I was 20. I was doing my testimony poem called “My life as a stud” for the first time and he was sharing a poem about his testimony as well. We connected and remained friends for about three years. We both finally confessed our feelings about each other about two years ago and began courting with very clear intentions that we would be getting married eventually. He proposed to me through a spoken word poem called “The Covenant” at the same event we met at in August and the rest is, or should I say, will be history.

Trillia Newbell

Trillia Newbell is the author of several books including A Great Cloud of Witnesses, Sacred Endurance, If God Is For Us, Fear and Faith,and the children’s books, Creative God, Colorful Us and  God’s Very Good Idea. When she isn’t writing, she’s encouraging and supporting other writers as an Acquisitions Editor at Moody … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24