From Lesbianism to Complementarianism


He wanted to watch wrestling; I wanted to watch the Food Network.

As we both raced to grab the remote, in hopes of having first dibs on our entertainment for the evening, I lost the battle. So I grabbed his arm, pulling and tugging as hard as I could, trying to pry the remote out of his hand—a hand much larger and an arm much stronger than my own. I continued to fight for the remote until I realized that, no matter how hard I tried, I was not stronger than him.

He was a man, and I was a woman. We were both human, yet very different in how we were built—and I HATED IT.

The “War of the Remote” is a trivial story, but it was for me a very new experience that sparked my journey to complementarianism.


Seven months prior to my short-lived relationship with the guy who won the battle over the remote, I was a lesbian. My long black hair neatly tied into a ponytail. My jeans sagging just enough to show off the boxer briefs I wore faithfully. My white t-shirt covering the breasts that I worked diligently to keep flat, lest I look too much like the woman God made me. And beneath it all lay a soul that God died to save.

Born with an inherent disposition to sin mixed with fatherlessness, molestation, and limited-to-no examples of trustworthy men led me into a lifestyle of homosexuality. It was a way of life I willingly embraced. My style of dress and behavior was somewhat indicative of my personality. A girly-girl could never be used to describe Jackie. An aggressive tom-boy was more like it. Therefore, the girls I attracted were typically everything that allowed me to become what I thought I wanted to secretly be: a man.

I always saw men as being something to envy. They seemed strong, powerful, in control. Femininity, or the skewed view of it that I held, seemed weak. Part of my embracing masculinity and rejecting femininity was my own way of protecting myself from pain—pain that I believed men were capable of subjecting me to. After all, that’s what my father did to me. That’s what I saw men do to my mother. That’s what I witnessed my guy friends do to the women they claimed to love. All I knew of men was that they used their manliness as a means to inflict pain. And us women—us “weak beings”—were target practice.


In comes Jesus. A man, yet fully God. One who is completely faithful to his bride.

He died for her sins. He loves her not just in words but in deed. He secured not just her eternity, but protects her on earth. He provides for her needs. He leads her into all truth by his Spirit. He daily lavishes her with himself, the one thing that will make her truly happy.

I met this man in October 2008.


Though my soul was saved, and my clothing and affections had begun to change, my mind sill needed to be renewed. And my relationship with the “stronger armed-wrestling lover” was the beginning of my walk to complementarianism. I had started embracing God’s will for my life in regards to my sexuality, which in turn forced me to wrestle with the nuances of manhood and womanhood.

The moment I was unable to grab the remote from his hand, I realized that I needed to reckon with the fact that I would no longer be able to be in a relationship with those I was stronger than—i.e., women. No, I’m not encouraging men to use their strength to grab whatever they want from women. But I knew I had to deal with the truth that God had not only made me a woman, but he had called me to be a biblical woman and to potentially love something completely different than what I was used to, and that those differences were for his glory. Those differences that made this guy a man and me a woman were not bad things to be feared. They were beautiful things to be delighted in.


But first—my identity needed new soil to place its roots. For too long, I had seen womanhood through the lens of fear and manhood through the lens of pain. And I rejected womanhood because of pride mixed with ignorance over what God intended for gender roles. I had been raised observing dysfunctional relationships between men and women. But I could no longer let those determine how I would define femininity and manliness. Rather, the Scriptures had to become my guide.

And I realized, it was not that men were strong and women were weak; it was that both genders were sinful and needed a Savior. God has given women a sort of softness that has the ability to complement men in very fruitful ways, mainly as their helpers. He has given men a “hardness” or strong backbone and called them to be the protectors and leaders. Neither is better than the other; both are actually servants of each other for the glory of God. And that is a good thing.


But it took much humbling for me to see this as a good thing. Even with a clear understanding of biblical gender roles, my pride had to die and my faith had to soar for me to live those truths. My entire life had consisted of being terrified of being perceived as weak, to the point that I tried to live and act like a man. The idea of being “the weaker vessel” or being a “helper” didn’t seem flattering—until I took my eyes off myself and remembered Christ.

I had to remember that God the Son himself, the Creator of the universe, the one whom angels worship and demons fear, did not count equality with God the Father as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant. God became a servant.

With this in mind, ultimately my embrace of complementarianism became possible when I was willing to see my womanhood as a means to look and live like Jesus.


I haven’t been on this journey for too long, and it has definitely been a difficult one. But God is faithful. He has sent me a husband who is not a lover of wrestling but a basketball fanatic who doesn’t fight with me over the remote but humbly offers to watch Food Network with me. He leads me in humility in the small and large things of life. God has given me a gift in my daughter Eden Grace, who is slowly bringing out the gentle parts of me that I tried for so long to hide.

I am a Christian, a wife, a mother, and a woman who is being made strong in her weaknesses, and I love it.

Jackie Hill-Perry

Jackie Hill Perry is a poet, speaker, and artist on Humble Beast Records. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband Preston Perry and daughter Eden Grace, where they attends Legacy Christian Fellowship. You can find her on Twitter at @JackieHillPerry.

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