Jackie Hill-Perry: From lesbianism to complementarianism
Jackie Hill Perry, a hip-hop/spoken-word artist signed to Humble Beast Records, spoke in April at the national conference of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), sharing her journey from lesbianism to complementarianism.
“The mission of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is to set forth the teachings of the Bible about the complementary differences between men and women, created equally in the image of God, because these teachings are essential for obedience to Scripture and for the health of the family and the church,” CBMW’s official website reads.
Hill Perry’s voice continues to grow in influence, having been featured in The Washington Times, The 700 Club, Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition, among others.
Video and transcript of her testimony is below.
Well before I explored life as a lesbian, my idea of gender roles was quite convoluted to say the least.
Growing up fatherless caused me to believe a few things about men.
One, I believed that they were inconsistent, that they said things that they did not truly believe. I came to this conclusion by way of experience. Having my father telling me that he loved me one day and yet be absent for years at a time led me to this idea.
I also believed that men had the capacity to break women at will with no foreseen consequence except the pain that they could not feel nor empathize with. They could only be its cause.
These thoughts about men were in constant juxtaposition with my experience with women.
My mother was as consistent as the morning. She loved me not only in speech, but equally indeed. Her along with the many women in my life made me feel safe while men were simply a danger to my being, or so I thought.
Consequently, my perception of maleness completely affected my view of what it meant to be a woman. If men were strong, then women were weak. If men are leaders, then women were obviously only useful as helpers with bodies only adequate for keeping their men warm at night.
I thought such vulnerability was to be despised and rejected.
This logic and correlation with an innate sin nature and same-sex attraction led me into a lifestyle of lesbianism, in which I endlessly pursued masculinity. From my hair to the clothes that I wore, they were all a means of projecting a gender different than the one given to me by God.
I did not see femininity as good, nor womanhood. I believed my biology to be the cause or avenue that made me susceptible to pain, so the only alternative was to be like a man.
In my relationships with women, I was the leader. I was the dominant voice, and I enjoyed it. But now I see that I was seeking liberation by way of slavery, confusing pride with freedom, walking in the same blindness Eve was confronted with when she believed that being outside of God’s will and his design would make her happy.
At the age of 19, during my quest for autonomy, I was not left to discover the destruction that awaited me. Instead, I was met by a gracious God, who broke in and turned my heart towards him in repentance and faith.
The awareness of the absolute and utterly majestic worthiness of Christ could only but make surrender impulsive. How can one meet God and not give him everything, including my mind? After all, that was home to the ideas that motivated much of my bondage, particularly my ideas about gender.
When I came to the faith, I had to relearn what it meant to be a woman again. I had spent so much time mimicking what I thought to be masculinity that it was a process to embody what it meant to be me.
The first few years of my walk with Christ were not met with much tension in regard to relearning femininity until I began dating my now-husband Preston.
Prior to our courtship, he was my friend, a friend that was safe. Once our friendship became a pursuit, he instantaneously became my enemy. His wanting to know me registered in my mind as him gaining access to areas that had felt pain before.
But I don’t think that my initial resistance to embracing Preston’s pursuit was fully based on my fear of pain. I think my resistance was equally rooted in my fear of losing control.
My ego did not like the idea of losing its rights. But to love Preston well, to love him in a way that it would exalt the beauty of God meant that I not only had to die to my fears, but I had to die to my pride.
Our relationship unearthed the lies I had believed about gender roles that were not uprooted at conversion, but instead lay dormant due to lack of friction.
But God, being as gracious as the sky is blue, surrounded me with godly women and men who walk with me and help me and embrace truth with joy. They help me see Christ in my womanhood.
Instead of isolating my gender from God’s character, I had to see that the submission that God was calling me to as a woman was a means to mirror not only the church’s submission to Christ, but also Christ’s submissions to his father.
I had to see that the gentleness and meekness that God was calling me to walk in would look like Christ’s meekness on earth, that femininity was not to be rejected, but enjoyed because my distinctions were intended for the glory of God.
I reckon that if God is truly good and wise, then he knew what he was doing when he created me to be a woman. He also knew what he was doing when he surprised me by allowing my first child to be a girl, despite my constant petitions and supplications for a boy.
The night after the ultrasound revealed that I would be having a daughter, I wept with fear. After all, I was the one who struggled with delighting in being a woman.
And now, God was giving me the responsibility of raising one, of teaching this child that it is okay to be what God made her, that her femininity does not make her less than, but it makes her an image bear with innate dignity and honor, that if God so decides that she would become the wife of someone’s son, that her submission would not in fact be weakness as the culture may presume, but instead, it would be her reasonable service to God, to see her children not as a burden or inconvenience, but as a blessing, and if she is called to singleness, to exhaust herself teaching women how to love God with their whole heart.
Oh how it seemed too hard a task for my wavering faith. But in Christ’s faithfulness, I was reminded that he would help me, that he would help me be the woman he has called me to be, a woman redeemed by a gracious God to love him, to love her family and her community.
And this call, I am wholly convinced is a good thing.