Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Homosexuality Was Not the Only Problem

Episode Resources

Learn more about Jackie Hill Perry.

Leslie Basham: After coming to faith in Christ and leaving her homosexual lifestyle, Jackie Hill Perry met another believer who began to disciple her in gospel truth.

Jackie Hill Perry: She let me know, “Jackie, homosexuality is not your only problem. Pride is a problem, fear is a problem, lust is a problem, stewardship is a problem. You need to learn how to make God Lord in everything, not just in your sexuality.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

If you have younger children with you, know that today’s program has some mature themes. Jackie Hill Perry’s early life includes a lot of dark chapters. She grew up without the influence of a strong father. She was molested as a child, and as a teenager began a lesbian lifestyle. But her story shows the beauty of a transformed life! To hear part one of Nancy’s interview with Jackie Hill Perry, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Let’s pick up with day two.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: So here you are, Jackie, at age nineteen now, and the “Hound of Heaven” has been, as one poet put it, pursuing you, but you don’t yet know who He is or how to relate to Him. You’re living in this life of acting out in a lot of areas.

Your conscience is telling you, “This is not right!” but you have no power to know how to change. Describe for us when you first encountered Christ. You’ve referred to your conversion a number of times, and I’d love to just unpack that story, starting with the first time you knew that Jesus was really calling you.

Jackie: I was in my bedroom. I was literally just chillin’—I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t reading the Bible. I wasn’t listening to worship music. I didn’t do any of that. I felt God speak to my heart. I felt this strong thought that the lifestyle I was living would be the death of me.

It shook me! I sat up in my bed, and I was just like, “Is this God, or is this the devil? Huh? I don’t think the devil would convict me of sin. I don’t think I would tell myself this." I just started to believe that it was God, so I started to think about everything that I did and its consequences.

I thought about lesbianism, and I saw the consequence would be hell. I thought about masturbation, and I thought about pornography. Everything I engaged in was against God, and I knew it was against God. I was convinced that He would be just in allowing me to be judged because of it.

I knew I could not make it seem as if God would be alright with it. I could not shake [the guilt]. It was like, “No, God would be fully right in sending me to hell because of these things.” I also felt this urgency, as if, “He could do it tonight!” That’s how I felt.

I felt like, “Okay, God could send me to hell, and He could do it quickly. He could do it while I go to sleep; He could do it tomorrow; I don’t know.” So I started to think about that, but then I told God, “I don’t want to be straight, though. I don’t like men; I don’t want to be with men.”

I think, anytime you have conversations with people in that community, they believe that Christianity is synonymous with heterosexuality . . . when I think God was simply just calling me to Himself. He was going to flesh out all the other stuff, or work all that out, as I grew in love with Him.

Nancy: So you have this conviction that what you’re doing is . . .

Jackie: . . . utterly wrong!

Nancy: . . . utterly wrong, against God, and that God is holy. 

Jackie: Yeah and that’s He’s going to judge me because of it.

Nancy: So when you say, “This could be or will be the death of me,”—did you think that this literally was going to kill you, or were you thinking more about judgment after this life?

Jackie: Both. I felt like God could take my life, if He [decided to]. It felt like an awareness of His power—I think that’s how I would word it. It was like, “This is not a human being that you’ve sinned against. This is God!”

I knew that I was not breathing because I’m breathing. I knew that I was alive because of Him. It was like, “If He is offering me Himself (which I believed He was. Even at that time I knew: 'You are calling me to You!'), then I have to be afraid of what the alternative to or the consequence of rejection [of God] would be, which was: 'I’m rejecting You!'” I was scared of that.

I don’t even think I turned from my sin because of the fear of hell. It wasn’t that either. It was, while I started to think about it . . . I knew a little bit about the gospel, which was that Jesus died for sinners, and that He would forgive them.

I didn’t have words for it. I didn’t know “repentance” or “belief.” I didn’t know “propitiation” or “regeneration.” I didn’t know none of that. But I knew that the Bible said that God hates sin and will judge sinners. I knew that.

But, I equally knew that the Bible said that Jesus died for people like me. So I knew that I just had to simply believe that—both. I told God, “I cannot do this on my own, because I’ve tried. I’ve said the sinner’s prayer. I’ve tried to do a whole bunch of good works and tried to be holy.” I felt incompetent. I felt like I was not capable of being a Christian without Him.

Nancy: Which is exactly true!

Jackie: Exactly. I knew that I could not do it by myself, so I told God, “I can’t do this by myself, but I know enough about You to know that You’ll help me.” And that was it. I called one of my friends, who was kind of in church. I knew that I needed to break up with my girlfriend, and I needed help.

Nancy: You knew this, like, immediately?

Jackie: Yes. I knew when was God was calling me, that meant everything is a wrap.

Nancy: So you’re relationship wasn’t on the rocks with this girl?

Jackie: We were great; we were in a great place.

Nancy: So this is totally upsetting your world. 

Jackie: Everything! I knew that God was calling me out of everything that I was in, and it was terrifying, but I felt like I had no choice. It was, “You repent and you believe, or you face the consequences of your rebellion and your rejection [of Me].”

Nancy: As I’m listening to you, there’s really no way to explain your coming to those conclusions, apart from the Spirit of God.

Jackie: Yes, it was something like road-to-the-Damascus type stuff. 

Nancy: Like opening your eyes!

Jackie: Yes. That’s how it felt. It felt like everything that I knew about God, theoretically (because of growing up in church) became reality. God was real at that point. He’s not Somebody you can treat [nonchalantly], “Oh yeah, we’ve sinned, but He’s gonna forgive us.”

No. It was, “We’ve sinned, and He will judge us! But He has made a way out through His Son, Jesus Christ!”

So I called my friend and told her what had just happened. I don’t even remember what she said. I just remember she affirmed me: “Do what you gotta do. God will be with you.” So the next day I called my girlfriend, who I was with at the time, and I told her, “We can’t be together.”

We were both crying on the phone, and I said, “God is calling me to be a Christian, and I know I can’t be a Christian if I’m with you. I love you, but I just can’t. I know God wants me to be the woman He’s called me to be. . . I don’t even know what it means to be a woman anymore. I don’t walk like one, I don’t act like one. When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t even see the girl that I used to be, so I have to change.”

She said, “I knew this was coming.” I don’t know what she meant by that, but probably because I talked about God so much, she knew I would probably leave her for Him.

Nancy: So this was a dramatic turning from your own way to Christ, drawn by the Spirit of God. There's no other explanation for that.

Jackie: Yes, absolutely. The veil was torn from my eyes so that I could see the glory of Christ.

Nancy: Describe what those next few days were like. What was happening inside you? What was changing? Did you move out?

Jackie: I was living with my mother, so I just stayed with my mom. The next day I went to work, and I felt like a new person. I cannot explain it. I felt new. I felt happy. I had joy! I remember my best friend was this guy I used to smoke weed together all the time. He didn’t know what had happened that night. He said, “You look different. You look lighter or something.”

I was like, “Oh, okay.”

Then I remember when I knew that I was different. I used to steal from work all the time—from customers and stuff like that. So I had this opportunity to steal some money and not get caught. I remember, as soon as the opportunity to steal arose, I felt this awareness of God in ways I never had.

It was like, “God is watching. He doesn’t like it. Just close it.” And I was like, “Okay,” so I just closed the register. I questioned, “Do I have reverence?” It was strange to actually consider God before making a decision, so I knew that something was different.

That week I had to wait on my check. I knew I needed to change my clothes. I looked like a boy. My hair was always in a ponytail; I wore really baggy jeans. I wore boxers; I used to sag. I wore sports bras to flatten my chest so my chest would look manly. I would wear a white T-shirt most of the time, and would sit with my legs open. I would just behave like a man. But I knew—without counsel, because I wasn’t in church—I just felt like I needed to change my clothes and be a woman. 

I knew if I continued to dress the way I dressed, I would attract every woman that I wanted to flee from. I knew for a fact I didn’t have the strength to flee women at that time. If woman saw me dressed like that, they would hit on me, because they always hit on me, and I knew I wouldn’t be strong enough to say “no.” I knew I needed to become a woman. I didn’t see how God was alright with this. So I needed to wait until I got my paycheck.

Nancy: So initially was this change something you knew was the right thing, or were your desires starting to change at the same time? Were you starting to feel more like a woman, or were you just starting to act in a way that you knew . . .

Jackie: I think I acted before I felt. It took years for me to really start to embody femininity, because I think it was more a mental thing than a feeling. I had to come into the knowledge of “God created me to be a woman, and that’s good.” I think when I started to embrace that as being good was when my affections and my theology came together.

Nancy: I want you to repeat that last sentence, that concept again, because that is so rich. That’s powerful, and that has bearing for every one of us.

Jackie: When I saw that God created me to be a woman, and that being a woman is a good thing, that’s when I started to embody femininity . . . because my theology preceded my affections. But when [I understood this], my affections and my theology reconciled and became one.

So I bought a bunch of girl clothes and I started wearing them. I found a church. I think I was in a church seven days after my conversion. 

Nancy: Dressed like a woman. 

Jackie: Yeah, but the first time I went to the church, I didn’t have girl clothes yet, so I wore my friend's clothes. I just didn’t want people to look at me crazy. As soon as I got out of church, I went back into my boy clothes, and I said to Him, “It’s a process. You just gotta help me!”

It was probably a two-week transition, and I think my transition was quicker than most. I’ve had relationships with women who have come out of that lifestyle, and it’s taken them four to six months. I think that's because it’s a mental thing. I think feminine clothing has a way of making you feel vulnerable. You feel susceptible when wearing women’s clothing in ways that you don’t wearing men’s clothing.

A lot of the women I know who dress in that way (not all; I can’t generalize everybody, but the ones I’ve had relationships with) feel insecure as women. So trying to don these clothes that remind them of what they think people don’t like or don’t believe in or don’t approve about them is scary! It’s terrifying. It’s much deeper than clothing—it’s really identity.

Nancy: As that was all changing, I assume your friendships were changing, also. Were most of your friends in the gay lifestyle? What happened to your relationships?

Jackie: They ceased. Most of my friendships were with just men. I was just really cool with a lot of guys. I was surrounded by people who didn’t love Jesus, who didn’t want to serve Him, so I pretty much cut off all those relationships. 

Once again, I just knew that I was very susceptible to falling into this if I surrounded myself with people who weren’t seeking after Christ. But I think God was good in that. The week I converted, I called one of my friends (she was in the lifestyle, too), and I told her, “God is doing this in me. He’s changing my heart, changing my affections.” She got off the phone and repented of her sins, so the same week, we came to Christ together.

And then I had a friend named Tina who was a believer, but she was in isolation because she didn’t have any friends. So I called Tina and was like, “Hey, we’re on the same team now! What church do you go to?” So that week all three of my friends found a church. God was so good to me, because He immediately He put me in a community of believers. They were not the strongest believers, because we were all very new, but they were somebody. I needed somebody, because if I didn’t [find somebody], I think I would have reverted back to what I knew.

Nancy: And do you find that for some people coming out of that lifestyle there is a huge relational loss—a loss of community?

Jackie: Absolutely! The LBGTQ community is such a tight-knit community, because you feel accepted the most by these people. And if you have an idea of Christians that is not right, if you see Christians as people who will shame you or won’t welcome you or will judge you, then it’s terrifying to say, “You want me to come out of this community where I feel safe into a community where I will feel alone or isolated?” I think it is a scary thing.

But I do know the Body of Christ to be a people who have been empowered to love and show Jesus in ways that the world will never be able to do. So I think as long as the church continues to be the church, then we will always be a place that is welcoming. . . not welcoming in the sense that we say sin is not sin, but welcoming in the sense that we say that Christ is able to forgive you and empower you to flee from it.

Nancy: So what was your experience when you got into church?

Jackie: Man, it wasn’t a biblically solid church, but they were loving people, and I needed that! They loved me. I remember the first time I came, one of the ministers of the church looked at me, and she said, “What’s your name?”

And just for her to ask me my name, it was personal. She looked me in my eyes, and I remember, she repeated my name back to me. She said, “Jackie.” It was like, “Okay, she wants to remember my name.” It’s those little things. People want to be known, and I felt known and loved in that church.

Nancy: Have any of those people whom you were involved in that lifestyle with prior to coming to the Lord, have you seen any of them come to Christ?

Jackie: Yes and no. A few of them have reverted back—which is quite frequent. A lot of the people I know that come out typically go back.

Nancy: Did you pretty much break off those relationships?

Jackie: I started to reach back out to certain friends—not girlfriends—after some years. I just didn’t think it would be wise to engage in certain relationships too early. But after a time, after I started to have videos out and stuff like that, some people started to reach out to me.

I consistently got (even friends that were males) people saying, “Man, at first when you became a Christian, I didn’t believe you.”

My one friend said, “We’re going on six years now, and you’re still the same. I really believe God saved you, and it’s good to see!”

It’s been cool to be a forerunner, in some sense, to say, “God really can change your affections. You really can do what you didn’t think was possible. You really can love Him, for real, love Him. It's not do these duties, but it really is a delight. That’s really possible.”

Nancy: What did your mother think about all this? You were living with her at the time?

Jackie: Yes. She didn’t believe me for a long time, which I understand. I had deceived her for such a long time that she didn’t know what to believe. But I remember when I told her. I went into her office and said, “Mom, I’m going to be a Christian, and I’m going to start dressing like a girl again.”

I started to cry. She started to cry, too, but I think there was still some skepticism. When she started to see me consistently walk and also to become a respectful human being . . . I wasn’t respectful. I had an authority issue. When I began to honor her and serve her and respect her and just simply walk by the fruits of the Spirit and not be this Christian who goes to church but at home I’m still this rebellious kid—I think when she saw that, it was like, “This girl is different! She’s not coming home high. She’s washing the dishes. She’s cleaning her room. She’s doing what I tell her.” That doesn’t mean there weren’t issues, there were a lot of issues while I was working out some kinks in my character, but I think for the most part it’s been encouraging to her to see what God was doing through me and in me.

Nancy: Talk about your early discipleship. You got in with a group in California that had some strong influence in your life. What did that look like in your early Christian years?

Jackie: One thing, when I came to the faith, I didn’t know what discipleship was. I didn’t know that was a thing. I was raised in these church environments where people go to church, and they leave.

I didn’t know that people were supposed to walk with people who would help them grow and love Jesus. I moved to L.A. for two years, and I stayed with a woman named Santoria. She introduced me to Revive Our Hearts, and used Seeking Him to convict my pants off and to reveal to me that I needed Jesus.

I think one thing that they taught me that has completely revolutionized the way I deal with myself and people is that the gospel doesn’t end at conversion. The gospel helps me in my temptations, in my trials, in my challenges, in my victories, even!

It was just hard! Because though I came to the faith, I still had affections for women. I still had temptations. I still missed my girlfriend. I had all of these challenges. I did not know what to do, nor did I have anyone around me who had “been there, done that.” I felt like I was by myself in that way.

And she told me, “You know, when Jesus died, He gave you power to flee sin. He did not just die so you could be saved, He died so you can walk with Him.

And I remember I was like, “Really! So you’re saying Jesus can help me?” I didn’t know that.

She was like, “Yes. When you are tempted, remember the gospel, remember what Christ did.”

So I just started to do that: I started to see my temptations through the lens of the gospel and that what was happening does not change my identity. It doesn’t mean that I’m not saved, it doesn’t mean that I’m still an unbeliever. It means that I’m a human being, BUT the gospel communicates that I have power to flee—even if I don’t feel like it, I do have power to flee!

She discipled me wholistically. She let me know, “Jackie, homosexuality is not your only problem. Pride is a problem, fear is a problem, lust is a problem, stewardship is a problem. You need to learn how to make God Lord in everything, not just in your sexuality.” If I wasn’t discipled, I would not be who I am today.

I probably would be in the world if it wasn’t for God’s hand in sending people into my life to walk with me and give me a love for Him and equally a discipline for Him—prayer, fasting,whatever the case may be.

When I talk to people who are in the lifestyle or transitioning out . . . I had a conversation with a young lady the other day. “Don’t think that you can be in this community and sin and then come out of it and think that you can do this by yourself. We’re not even made for isolation. It’s not gonna work, because you’re going to revert back to the people who make you feel at home. You need people to help you love Jesus more! If you don’t have those people, life is going to be hard for you. You need women teaching you how to be a woman.”

Nancy: The women who are part of that group—a number of them came to True Woman ’08, which was just about the time you had come to know the Lord. Just before you got to know that group of women, they showed up at that conference, and they made an impact!

In fact, we’ve interviewed some of them, including the woman who discipled you (she’s been on this broadcast before). They introduced you to Revive Our Hearts and some of our resources. You mentioned Seeking Him. Tell us about the piece that God used there.

Jackie: So the woman who discipled me, she wanted me to read the section on pride. It gave a list of behaviors, where you know that you’re a proud person . . .

Nancy: . . . versus a humble person.

Jackie: I felt like I checked every box! And I was just like, “Wow. I’m a really arrogant being!” Because I thought arrogance was pompousness. I thought it was someone who thought they were better than people. I didn’t see that arrogance was unwillingness to admit fault or a refusal to humble yourself when wronged. I didn’t know that it manifested in such subtle ways. So that book was the first time I knew that I was proud. Thank you [for writing Seeking Him].

Nancy: Humbling yourself is the key to getting God’s grace, right?

Jackie: Yes, yes—for sure.

Nancy: I think maybe the first time we met, over in Chicago, you said to me something about how the Lord had used Revive Our Hearts to help you as a young believer get a better—or a new—understanding of what it meant to be a woman. Can you unpack that at all?

Jackie: In a lot of my circles, womanhood wasn’t talked about a lot. I think Revive Our Hearts and Desiring God were the avenues where I was hearing about this thing called womanhood, and that it was a thing, and that it was a calling, and that it displayed itself in certain behaviors and ideologies.

So I read a lot of books. I listened to a lot of podcasts and talks about womanliness and modesty and meekness and gentleness and respect . . . how you speak and how you carry yourself. It was like, “Man, this makes God happy if I live like the woman that He’s called me to be!”

I think Revive Our Hearts has definitely been a crazy avenue for me in learning that. That’s why I’ve tried to be a bridge for people who may or may not know it. I try to say, “Go to this website. Google this. You don’t know how to submit to your husband—you don’t know what that means? Your husband’s an unbeliever—you don’t know how to still respect him and respond to his leadership? Go to Revive Our Hearts. They’ll point you to Scripture, but they’ll explain it to help you out.” So it’s definitely been a blessing.

It’s encouraged me to be that for people—to be a source of inspiration, to show people, “Hey, this is good!” Especially now being a woman—not like it was any different in the seventies or the eighties. But I feel such a weight now to exalt true biblical godly womanhood and to say, “This is a good thing. Your distinctions are a good thing! The things God has called you to do are a good thing!” Walk in that, and be okay with it, and find joy in it. This is not patriarchy. This not some Christian cultural thing. This is God’s Word, and He exceeds time.

Nancy: You said you saw that it makes God happy, but what I hear from you is that it also makes you happy.

Jackie: It sure does, because you’re walking in how He created you. I think walking contrary to your created nature, your created function—in deception—might feel okay, but it’s not where true joy is found. True joy is found in loving Jesus and walking in His commandments and walking in our identity as He has created us to be.

Eve did not discover joy by believing lies. She didn’t. It’s impossible. She had joy when she was walking in what God made her.

Nancy: I know some of the women in your group there in California had been exposed to Lies Women Believe. It sounds like it’s a part of the process you were going through, where your thinking was being renewed, your mind being renewed. There were lies you had believed that had led you to behave in certain ways. You were replacing the lies with the truth.

Jackie: That reminds me, there was a time when I was missing my girlfriend a whole lot. I was feeling depressed because I just wanted to be with her, but I knew I needed to choose God over her. I remember that my discipler said, “I want you to go and spend some time with God. I want you to write down every lie that you believe—in relationship to her—everything you believe she can offer you. I want you to go to the Scriptures and then see every truth about God that contradicts what you think you can get from her.”

It was like, “I believe that she’ll make me happy,” and then I would go to the Scripture and see that God is the only source of joy that I can have. I would [think], “She gives me identity,” and then it was like, “No, you’re a new creature in Christ!”

That study broke off the stronghold, if you will, that I had with her, because I really was able to identify that I was seeing her as being more capable of satisfying me, more than I saw that God was. 

Leslie: When Jackie Hill Perry came to know Jesus and gave up lesbian relationships, she still needed a lot of growth in her newfound faith. She’s been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about the way older women in the body of Christ discipled her.

In that process, Jackie and her mentor went through at least two books by Nancy. They were Seeking Him, the workbook on personal revival, and also the book Lies Women Believe. Nancy has just released the revised and updated version of that book. She added about 30 percent new content. And you can order a copy by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

We heard how Jackie was a young believer, eagerly learning the truth. And now God has led her to a place of teaching that truth to others. Nancy’s here to explain how you can hear Jackie in person.

Nancy: I’m so excited that Jackie will be joining us at True Woman '18, coming up September 27–29 in Indianapolis. She’ll be joined by others that you have heard on Revive Our Hearts over the years: Dr. Eric Mason (a pastor from the Philadelphia area, Betsy Gómez (a part of our Aviva Nuestros Corazones team, our Spanish-language ministry), Mary Kassian, and Dannah Gresh. Keith and Kristyn Getty will be leading worship. And new for the first time at True Woman, the drama team Acts of Renewal will be joining us. You may have seen their work at the Revive '17 conference. If you did, you'll know why we’re so excited to have them back for True Woman.

During this conference we’ll be exploring the theme: “The Truth That Sets Us Free.” I’m really believing that the Lord is going to meet us there during that weekend, and that He's going to set many of us free from different areas of bondage—areas where we have been believing lies. He wants to set us free by showing us the truth, and how we can be truth speakers and instruments in helping others experience the truth that sets them free. I hope you’ll join us in September for True Woman '18. You can get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959. 

This week, we’ve heard about some of the challenges Jackie Hill Perry faced as a child. How do those affect her current role as a wife?

Jackie: Having trust issues is not an excuse to not obey God. If you have a trust issue, you deal with that, but that’s not an excuse for lovelessness. It’s, “I have to die to myself and love this man, regardless of what my past may have done to me.”

Leslie: She’ll talk about that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries—helping you find freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

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