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Jackie Hill Perry and the cruciform life

Encouragement and transparency in "Gay Girl, Good God"

Jackie Hill Perry is one of those voices you can’t ignore. 

I knew before reading this book that Perry had experience with same-sex attraction (SSA). I also knew of her giftedness in communication. My big question in coming to this book was: How would Perry use her experience and giftedness? There are many winsome communicators out there who use their persuasive powers to lure their listeners into error. They wield their giftedness to confuse, deceive, and lead others away from the truth. How would Perry wield hers in her book, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been? 

In short, she wielded it with tact, humility, and tremendous reverence for God and his Word. Christian communicators with “messy” pasts can sometimes go into morbid detail about their former sins, all in the name of “being real and transparent.” Perry did not do this. She did a spectacular job of sharing her experiences in a way that was not unnecessarily provocative or shocking. Sure, some things were hard to read—because of the prodigal story she tells of being in the far country. She was consistently thoughtful not only in what she communicated, but in how she communicated. 

Perry also writes about the Church’s failures without painting the Church as an insensitive, loveless villain. Sadly, many who bear Christ’s name have not treated those within the gay community with Christlike love. But the Church, with all her faults and warts, is beloved by Christ. Refreshingly, Perry demonstrates her love for the Church in how she writes about Christ’s bride. 

Her book shows every reader, Christian or not, same-sex attracted or not, that the path of Christ is not one of ease, but it is one of unfathomable reward and all-satisfying joy.

I was most pleasantly surprised at how clearly Perry allowed the reader to see the weaknesses in her flesh—especially the ones that were so pronounced during the beginning of her relationship with her now husband, Preston. When I think of Perry, I think of a strong, resilient, outspoken woman. This book showed me that underneath the strength that so many of us see in Perry is a person who, like the rest of us, is sometimes desperately clinging by faith to Jesus amidst a sea of frustrating, painful, and conflicting feelings. This transparency shows the reader where her strength is really coming from: God himself. 

Most of the book is a narrative telling the story of her life before, during, and after coming to faith in Jesus Christ. The book provides a helpful feature for readers’ use in discipleship and in the local church. The last section of the book is written and structured as a teaching resource to equip Christians to better understand God’s revelation of his design for human sexuality. 

The predominant theme throughout Gay Girl, Good God is that the Christian life is a cruciform life. She explains: 

“I’ve had countless conversations with many same-sex attracted men and women who are either trying to adhere to a biblical sexual ethic or have tried. Weary-eyes and burdened, they come to me, head almost bowed, to welcome me into their frustration. Eventually, they confess the reason for their cloudiness. ‘It’s just so hard,’ they say . . . I’ve always wondered if when they became a disciple, or thought themselves to be one, if they knew that following Jesus not only meant eternal life but also a crucified one. . . The crucified life is the life set on enduring until the end when once and for all, the cross is replaced with a crown.” (167-169). 

Her book shows every reader, Christian or not, same-sex attracted or not, that the path of Christ is not one of ease, but it is one of unfathomable reward and all-satisfying joy. 

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