It’s hard to have a discussion about the Christian view of sex these days. Christians have always held to a different set of beliefs and practices around sex compared to culture. In the past, many considered Christians to hold the more moral view. Now the Christian view is seen as intolerant and immoral against gay people and other sexual minorities.
Even within the church, any consensus that may have existed around sex has long disappeared. My Facebook feed informs me of ministry colleagues who have shifted their views. Many argue that we should reconsider our positions, or at least see this as a secondary or tertiary issue.
First, it’s a compelling story. You don’t have to agree with the traditional Christian view on human sexuality to appreciate it. I appreciated the honesty of her account: her early attraction to the same sex, her experience of trauma, her experience of God, and some of the baggage that she carried into her new relationships. Her story is gritty and real. We need more of that.
Sadly, churches aren’t always known for their safety. It can be tough to talk about the issues that Jackie addresses in this book. Even if you don’t agree with her, you will probably appreciate her honesty. It’s about time we made it safe to talk about some of these tough issues in this church.
I also appreciate the way that Jackie punches through easy answers and leads us to good theology. She interweaves theology throughout her story, rooting us in her experience as interpreted by Scripture. Her chapter, “Same-Sex Attraction and the Heterosexual Gospel,” deserves a careful reading. What a gift.
I really appreciate her insight on the nature of her sin. She describes her core issue: not gayness, but unbelief. “Unbelief: it was from this sin from which I hung, guilty as charged.”
She blends theology and story really well. It seems sometimes that we have to choose between good theology and genuinely listening to the experiences of people. We should never have to choose. Jackie integrates both, and in doing so she’s done us a tremendous favor.
Hope Without Hype
If you’re expecting a happily-ever-after story, this isn’t it. Jackie is honest about her story and how it continues to affect her. But her story is full of hope.
I love the Christians who cared for her, like the friend who prayed for her, and told her one day, “I’m not worried about you, Jackie. God’s hand is on you and He’s going to do what He has to do to show you how much you need Him.” I love that God called Jackie to himself one night out of the blue. And I love how she began to learn to trust the church: “I didn’t feel like a project to be fixed but a person to be loved… it wasn’t the programs or the preaching that began to lift my distrust of the church. It was the woman who I knew would remember my name if I ever decided to come back.”
No matter your position on LGBTQ issues, you will learn much from Jackie Hill Perry. This book is a gift to all of us, and I’m grateful for it. I pray that we’ll learn lots from her story, and that it will lead us to greater love, understanding, and compassion. “If the truth is what sets us free, then why not walk in it at all times?” she asks. That’s a good question for all of us.
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