Hip-hop artist and spoken word poet Jackie Hill-Perry recently came under fire for a speech she made at Emerson Hall at the Harvard College campus.
Hill-Perry was invited to speak to the students of Harvard College Faith and Action, a modestly sized and actioned group that is focused on providing a place for people of faith to gather on campus. However, this modest group inflicted a bit of a firestorm because of Hill-Perry’s deemed “controversial” past and present.
The speaker and artist is a former lesbian, and now uses part of her platform to engage in talks about sex, gender, and homosexuality as a sin. This often creates the harsh sounding label of “activist” when mentioning her name.
Harvard LGBT group BGLTQ Student Life caught wind of Hill-Perry’s invitation to speak and started a petition to have her talk canceled. This petition reached roughly 200 signatures. However, this was not enough to stop her arrival, so members of the angered group showed up in protest.
A report from national news website Newsweek was published this morning, and according to Hill-Perry, she would have “appreciated some due diligence in making sure this article was 100% accurate.”
The first error she pointed at incorrectly said she has a “son” named Eden. It’s actually a daughter named Eden.
The second gripe is a misquote of something she said during her talk. Upon further research, the misquote is actually from The Harvard Crimson, the college’s newspaper. Newsweek quoted a misquote that left out a key component of what she said.
“The model for how we are to deny ourselves, whether that applies to our greed, to our lust, self-denial is not optional for the Christian.”
Hill-Perry claims that she said, “JESUS CHRIST is the model for how we are to deny ourselves…”
This context changes the whole quote. The first quote suggests that Hill-Perry is creating this “model.” It makes her an authority on how a Christian should live. However, when you add Jesus Christ into the quote, the power leaves her hands. The authority of the quote now belongs to Jesus. In this quote, she is saying her motives are to serve God in the best way she can.
If indeed, The Harvard Crimson removed “Jesus Christ” from Hill-Perry’s quote, then it would appear to fit a narrative that was created to vilify the artist. If there is free speech and freedom of religion, then Hill-Perry is using a Biblical stance to rectify what she is proclaiming. She is not simply creating her agenda, this is what she believes and is simply sharing it in a public forum.
Both the reports from The Harvard Crimson and Newsweek come across as bias because they fail to really interpret the feelings of a Christian in the article. They report what was said but not why this conviction is so strong.
Aside from speaking to the creators of the event, there are plenty of quotes from those that stand in opposition to her – which like Jackie, it is their right to do so. If they can be heard, so can she.
Many interpret the scriptures to say homosexuality is vehemently against the will of God. There are several instances in the Bible where it is called an “abomination” or “sinful.” There are some who feel these scriptures are out of context, Hill-Perry is not one of those people.
Tensions between Christians and members of the gay community have been bubbling for decades, and in 2018, things are as frayed as ever. The LBGTQ community has celebrated many triumphs for their rights in recent years, and this makes some Christians feel their rights are being spat on.
Hill-Perry is a perfect advocate to speak on these issues because she went from one group to the other. How can you argue with someone who was gay and now says they are not because God saved them “from homosexual sin”? Something in her flipped. She knows what it is like to wear both shoes and is trying to tell people that her current shoe fits better.
Now happily married, Hill-Perry stated, “There is not such a thing as being born gay, but there is such a thing as being born broken, broken by sin.”
This statement did not sit well with the protesters in attendance who also claim Jackie is “pro-conversion therapy,” an accusation that she refutes.
The Harvard Crimson references an interview after the event (does not indicate where and by who) when Hill-Perry is asked about it. She does not endorse conversion therapy, but rather celibacy and inaction of their desires.
“There are some Christians who will always be same-sex attracted but they are also empowered by the spirit of God to live holy lives in light of their same-sex attraction,” she said.
Finally, some words from Jackie Hill-Perry herself in reference to the Newsweek article through a series of Tweets:
“And for all who would read this article and not notice the small twists they made to my story and my stance, know this: I have never and will never say that God is calling SSA men & women to be straight. He is calling them to Himself – He is calling them to be Holy.”
“Heterosexuality does not save nor does it fix our nature. It is God who can wash all SSA men and women clean of ALL sin. It is God who can justify. And it is God who can sanctify. He is in the business of making us new even if our temptations persist.”
(SSA means Same-Sex Attraction)
Read her Tweets below:
Hey @newsweek, I really would’ve appreciated some due diligence in making sure this article was 100% accurate.
A quick look on my Instagram would’ve shown that I don’t have a son named Eden but a daughter. https://t.co/KpelzFnuIA
— Jackie Hill Perry (@JackieHillPerry) February 21, 2018
It appears that most Christians and members of the gay community will never see eye to eye, but people such as Jackie Hill-Perry are trying to bridge the gap by having these tough and uncomfortable conversations. It is important for both parties to listen to each other and get a fair unbiased shake at a dialogue.