Jackie Hill Perry knows what it’s like to struggle with same-sex attraction. The author says she remembers being attracted to girls from the time she was four or five. And while that attraction hasn’t necessarily gone away, it no longer defines her life. Perry says when the church reaches out to the gay community, they shouldn’t promise them the gospel will make them straight.
“You’re not coming to God to be straight, but you’re coming to God for Jesus,” Perry says. When the church promises that the gospel will make gay people straight, we run the risk of disenfranchising people who Christ is trying to reach and sanctify.
Christianity and Homosexuality
“[Jesus] has to be the reason people come. If he is the reason people come, they will stay with him the whole time because they weren’t promised something that the Scripture never promised in the first place,” Perry says.
Gay People Need Jesus Just as Much as Straight People Need Jesus
Jesus has a unique ability to empathize with us because he, too, understands the human condition. Jesus didn’t just die, Perry explains. He lived and therefore is able to offer us empathy.
Just like everyone else, gay people need to rely on Jesus to help them overcome feelings that might lead them astray. But Perry makes sure to explain that God is the one who made our feelings. And while the purpose of those feelings is to glorify God, sin distorts our feelings.
The thing about Eve, Perry explains, is that she “desired” the forbidden fruit. Therefore it was a feeling that governed the way she saw the word of God. “I can’t trust my feelings,” Perry says because ultimately they don’t have authority. “The word of God is the ultimate authority in everything.”
Perry says she still feels a “gnawing of my flesh to want what I used to love.” However, because of the Holy Spirit working in her, “I’m able to look at the tree and see that the tree isn’t good for food.” This is a supernatural thing that God does for us when we choose to live by his word.
Marriage Is Not Evidence of Salvation—The Fruit of the Spirit Is
“There are many believers who love Jesus, are filled with the Spirit, are obeying the fruits of the Spirit, and are committed to a life of celibacy because they—as far as they know—will never find themselves attracted to the opposite sex,” Perry says. Perry doesn’t use the term gay Christian here, probably because of an insight she shared with us in our interview on the ChurchLeaders podcast. In the New Testament, Perry explains, when God converts people, “they are never named or identified as their former sins. They are identified as beloved. They are identified as the children of God, as saints, as the church.”
These celibate believers who experience same-sex attraction are “just as glorifying to the Father as I might be, being someone who God happened to allow to walk in a heterosexual marriage and have children,” Perry says.
A heterosexual marriage is not the end goal, Perry emphasizes. “Marriage is not evidence of salvation…the fruit of the Spirit is evidence of salvation. I was bearing the fruits of the Spirit far before I ever met my husband.”
This doesn’t mean that denying the flesh and picking up one’s cross (daily) are going to be easy. Again on the ChurchLeaders podcast, Perry says she sees many people start out on the road to sanctification only to give up. “People come to faith and may not know how hard it’s going to be to die to sin…Every single day there is a picking up of this heavy cross and dying to something.”
For some people, that dying will be a daily dying to same-sex attraction. For others, it will be dying to something else. The point Perry is emphasizing is that God is calling those who are same-sex attracted not be straight but to be holy.
“Even if same-sex attractions still exist, God gives you the power to flee them because he’s that strong,” Perry concludes.