The call to follow Jesus is a call to true love, and it’s good news to those who identify as LGBT, says a former lesbian. Speaking at the annual Wilberforce Weekend sponsored by the Colson Centre, Jackie Hill-Perry, author of Gay Girl, Good God, told of her own journey out of same-sex desires and into the knowledge of God. Given the profound shift in opinion among younger generations of Americans on the issue, she underscored the need to explain the case for why the Christian faith is life-giving for those who experience same-sex attraction. The LGBT understanding is that Christianity isn’t only not good, but rather, its harmful to sexual minorities, she said.
“I understand what it feels like to be a minority, because I am black and also I used to be a lesbian.” Her same-sex desires began around age 5, before she knew how to spell her first name. She had no language with which to communicate and express her feelings, particularly because during the early 1990s, homosexuality was considerably less visible in popular culture. She also had no space to process her desires, but soon became aware of the apparent special condemnation in the Church that was reserved for homosexuals. Hill-Perry grew up in Church felling safe, mostly. “As long as I hid the parts of me that offended them then I could preserve peace.
Naturally, the older I got and my behaviour changed the less I wanted to go to church,” she said. As she changed her clothing style and started acting in gender-nonconforming ways, her interaction with Christians became more awkward. They seemed only able to talk to me about the passages in Scripture about sexual ethics related to homosexuality. “This was confusing, because it felt that if I just looked heterosexual I don’t think there would have been such weirdness and distance between me and them. It was as if my being lesbian automatically made Christians act less Christian. They knew how to love everyone else, except me.”
“It seemed contrary to the way of Jesus to only love people with whom you share a sexual disposition. The failure of Christians to love sexual minorities, whose primary identity is as people made in God’s image, is evidence that Christians have harmed them, she said, adding that doesn’t mean Christians are harmful. “To compare the two would be to make an inaccurate generalization of the Church” she said. At 19, the Holy Spirit convicted her and she realised that everything she loved, enjoyed, and identified with did not compare with knowing Jesus, and she had to change. “My repentance was not going from gay to straight. My repentance was turning from unbelief to faith.”
“By God’s grace, I was empowered to obey all that He commanded me to. But in my repentance, there was grief and pain,” she added. And the call to repentance for those who identify as LGBT feels like giving up everything that they are familiar with in order to follow Christ. The call to repentance seems offensive and foolish to those who are perishing. “Christianity is thought of as harmful simply because it interferes with their understanding of rights,” she said. To those who identify as LGBT, they see it as a right to love as they see fit and whoever would seek to undermine this, is seen as bigoted. But it is God who gets to say who and how you love, she said.
The Gospel call is not to be confused with a call to heterosexuality. “God isn’t calling gay men and women to be straight. He is calling them to be reconciled back to Himself. Even if their same-sex desires persist, which statistically it most likely will, they will love God more than what they are tempted by. “But until people can understand the crucial point of seeing God as the loveliest One, the Christian faith that exalts Him over and above everything, will always look unloving. “Because Jesus loves people of every orientation or gender identity, His call to follow Him is actually the pathway to joy, it’s simply an invitation for true love,” she said.
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