Reading your book you come across as a lovely person who has had a horrible time. Something for which I can only feel empathy and sorrow. But that is not enough to make me overturn what the Bible says. I’m not sure why my heart – or indeed yours- should overrule the word of our loving God?
(Vicky Beeching is a relatively well-known Christian singer songwriter who is now better known for being gay and an advocate of the LGBT agenda within the church. When she came out as gay she knew that her career on the American Christian music scene was over, but she now has a new career as a darling of the regressive establishment, as they continue their ‘redefinition’ of the Christian faith. Her new career has resulted in numerous media appearances, an award from the Archbishop of Canterbury and a new book. ‘Undivided’ has just been published to a mixed reception. This is my review in the form of an open letter. )
Thank you for your book. You will understand that I, as someone who holds to the view that LGBTI teachings go against the teachings of the Bible, approached reading this with a degree of trepidation. But as you urged people like me at the beginning “thank you for giving this book a chance. I hope you’ll keep the door of your heart open as you travel through its pages.”
I’m not quite sure what you mean by the door of my heart, but I hope it is always open to reflect the glory of the God who is love. I also want to keep open the door of my mind and be open to reason, evidence and persuasion. Reading your book you come across as a lovely person who has had a horrible time. Something for which I can only feel empathy and sorrow. But that is not enough to make me overturn what the Bible says. I’m not sure why my heart – or indeed yours- should overrule the word of our loving God? After all my heart is, as that word says, ‘deceitful and desperately wicked’ (Jeremiah 17:9). So I am sure you will forgive and not judge me, for looking at what you actually say – not what I am supposed to feel!
Firstly let me say that this is a well-written and moving book. I found it really easy to read and indeed to empathise with your plight in many ways. There was also a great deal of truth in some of your observations. However overall I found Undivided overwhelmingly depressing – here’s why.
This is a horrible story for so many reasons. It tells of a life lived under enormous pressure which you describe as “My heart stood like an abandoned building. Empty and echoey.”
Some of the abuse and mistreatment you have received is dreadful. “Others said I was a danger to the church, leading people into sin, and that I’d be better off dead. Some even went as far as to hurl death threats at me. “ By definition someone who hurls death threats at you is not a follower of the One who told us to love even our enemies. I hope that you are not using the classic ad hom tactic of taking a few stupid and evil threats and then implying that anyone who disagrees with you is somehow responsible for, or endorsing them.
I can empathise a little with you because each week I receive hate mail and abuse through social media. Don’t you think this is the nature of the beast? I’m not so sure that it is wise to blame the whole evangelical movement or evangelical theology for abuse received ‘in the name of Christ’. Any Christians who have abused you should be thoroughly ashamed. If I, or people like me, have in any sense contributed to that then please accept my apologies.
The Church – Some of the things you describe are horrendous. I too have seen the hypocrisy you describe. Your description of being sexually abused by a priest in Wycliffe hall is something that made me really angry. What a horrendous experience that must have been. You also write: “Within the college, lots of unmarried seminary students were having sex, and a handful of married students were having affairs with other students. The shiny façade of evangelical morality seemed to be crumbling in front of my eyes. This was not what I’d expected to see at an evangelical college. “ Nor I. You have done us a great service by pointing out the hypocrisy. Although I should point out that all this is dependent on your memories being correct (married students having affairs, lots of unmarried students having sex) and also subject to the caveat that you cannot condemn the whole institution for a handful of rotten apples – after all it would hardly be fair of me to condemn all gay people just because I have known some who have committed rape or abuse!)
The Music Scene – Your description of the American Christian music scene is also profoundly depressing. It comes across as just a pale imitation of the world’s music scene – with very little Christian about it at all. You kind of confirmed my fears about ‘Christian’ music. (By the way I’m not sure what Christian music is anymore than I am sure what a Christian building or a Christian meal is!). The pursuit of money, fame and celebrity are the antithesis of the Gospel of Christ. I am sorry that your life was lost in that idolatrous and largely fake world. But this is the world that you wanted so much that you were prepared to suppress your ‘identity’ in order to be part of it. In passing I note that you seem to want what I despise in the evangelical world and despise what I love!
Society – I suspect you didn’t mean this but your book also shows up the hypocrisy of our society. They were not remotely interested in you when you were just a Christian singer – but the minute you come out as an LGBTQI+ spokesperson, they are all over you. They didn’t want to hear about your Christianity before, now they want to hear about your views – not because your views are Christian, but because they reflect theirs and they can now use your views to attack and demonise further Christians who hold to the Bible’s teaching. You are exhibit number 1 of how evangelical Christianity ‘oppresses and suppresses’. They love you for providing them with that ammunition.
But there is another hypocrisy that comes across in the book. Your own. You knew you were attracted to people of the same sex. You knew you were gay. You also knew that you wanted a career in a world (the American Christian music scene) where coming out as gay would prevent that. You made the choice to stay ‘in the closet’. This was not a choice that was forced upon you. You were the person who decided that your career was more important than your ‘identity’. But in this book you turn the tables and claim that you were the one being victimised by hypocrites.
One moment I was seen as an insider in my evangelical Christian world; the next, I was treated as an outsider. People I’d known my entire life suddenly saw me as different, because my orientation did not match theirs.
I think you are wrong in this comment – which incidentally is very judgemental – presuming to know others motives and making judgements based upon that. I, like many others, do not see you as different because of your sexual orientation (I know many fine Christians who are gay and who live fine Christian lives), but I disagree with your theology and to be honest your practice. You admit that you pretended to be one thing and then came out as another – but why blame the church for your hypocrisy! I’m sorry for using such a strong word, but I want to be as honest as you are in your (correct) accusations of the hypocrisy of some within the church. It’s as though you are seeking to justify your hypocrisy by saying ‘they made me do it’! It’s like a small child when confronted with a particular wrongdoing saying ‘the devil made me do it’ – only in this case the devil is the evangelical church – which in the eyes of your new friends, (gay activists and liberal Christians) is pretty well the same thing!
You speak about the church as being responsible for doctrines you imply you no longer agree with – apparently it was the ‘church’ (the evangelical one which you are now rejecting) not the bible which taught that sex before marriage was wrong, that pornography was wrong, that married pastors who had affairs should be fired. Do you now accept these things as legitimate? How far down the socially progressive rabbit hole have you gone? You seem to have bought into the complete ‘regressive’ package (the church is always behind the times and needs to become more like society, the bible is not the infallible word of God etc. – you even add a footnote to the book apologising for using male pronouns for God!).
Vicky we don’t disagree with you because of your sexual orientation, but rather because of your theological orientation.
None more so than in your new way of reading the bible –
As I read about Peter’s vision, I felt as though I were there myself, looking at the sheet falling from the sky. For me, the “unclean things” on that sheet represented my gay orientation. And, like Peter, I was arguing with God, saying, “Lord, I’ve never so much as touched a person of the same sex romantically. I’ve kept your law and commandments. I would never disobey your word.” And what God had said to Peter, I felt he said to me too: “Do not call unclean what I have made clean.”
From my newfound point of view, believing that a person could be gay and Christian, these chapters in Acts seemed to have multiple layers of meaning. I couldn’t help thinking it had overlap with the place of LGBTQ+ people in the church today.
Now you read the Bible entirely through the lens of what you want and what you feel. I realise that that is a common danger for us all – but you have gone full post modern on it. Do you really think that Luke (the author of Acts) or Peter thought that when this was recorded they were really writing about sexual orientation? Where did God declare that what he had previously described as sinful (sex outside marriage – including homosexual sex) was now fine? You ‘felt’ God said to you. But he didn’t. It was your feelings projected on to God. You will now read everything from your ‘newfound point of view’. But what if it’s wrong? Why should your feelings determine the Word of God? St Augustine is wise. “If you believe in the Gospel what you like, and leave out what you don’t like, its not the Gospel you believe, but yourself”
And of course this new found point of view becomes the lens through which you read everything – including history.
I understood their desire to honor God, and knew many of them had good intentions, but with the help of my new perspective, I could see that the mantras “we’ve always done it this way” and “the Bible clearly says” were both reminiscent of the arguments about slavery and women’s rights, and I recalled how painfully wrong the church had been before.
As a historian I am very familiar with this narrow and simplistic way of looking at history. It is as depressing as it is dumbed down. What happens is that people who want to justify a particular point of view in the 21stCentury read that point of view back into previous centuries. It’s a form of confirmation bias. You simplify and demonise anyone who doesn’t agree with you as being backward and as using arguments like ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and ‘the Bible clearly says’. But your position on history, whilst it accurately describes some people and views in the past, is not accurate. To equate same sex marriage with slavery is a logical absurdity that only makes sense if we accept your pre-suppositions in the first place. You are engaging in the kind of circular simplistic arguments that we have come to expect from the Progressive fundamentalists.
Your evidence for your views on sex and sexuality include the claim – Howcould I have produced this good fruit if being gay was so sinful? Surely that would make me a “bad tree” and I should’ve been producing bad fruit.
Again here we are back to your theology and your misunderstanding of the Bible. I love your song ‘the wonder of the Cross’ – and will continue to sing it. But you can easily produce ‘fruit’ like that and yet be sinful. I love the Psalms of David, but he committed adultery and murder – do you think he could justify himself by saying ‘but look how many people have been helped by my songs!” Ultimately Jesus is the only judge of our fruit – not us. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”(Matthew 7:21-23). They did many wonderful things in the name of Jesus, but he did not know them.
Which brings me on to my major concern. Knowing Christ and being known by Christ.
Some want to say that you have left the Christian faith. You deny that and just say that you have developed to a more mature understanding. But when I read your book there is another more obvious thought that crosses my mind – I don’t think you have left the Christian faith because I’m not sure you were ever in it – other than at a very superficial level. You may have been in the faith in a broadly cultural sense, but were you ever in Christ? (Paul’s favourite description of a Christian). I don’t mean to be insulting but it’s your own words that lead me to this conclusion. Only the Lord knows your heart but the evidence is clear – at least from this book.
My life seemed a monotonous drone of work with no one to come home to. I kept my friends and family at arm’s length, because my core identity was something they couldn’t know about, and most likely wouldn’t understand.
“Why do I have to choose between such core aspects of my identity?” I often asked myself, sobbing into my pillow at night. “Why can’t I pursue my Christian music career and also be able to date and marry someone of the same sex?”
I’d made my career the sole focus of my life, having shelved all hopes of dating, marriage, and a family of my own. It was scary to sense my job was no longer filling the hole in my heart that it once had.
I don’t deny that at times as a Christian I can feel an emptiness or a loneliness. But it is not because of career or sex shaped hole – it’s because I have wandered away from Christ. A Christian is someone whose ‘core identity’ is in Christ, not in their sexuality, nor in their ‘ministry’ or career. Augustine’s famous quote is apposite here – “our hearts were made for Thee, and they are restless until they find their rest in Thee”. You attempted to fill the hole in your heart through your status as a ‘Christian’ music celebrity, but you found that very lonely. Now you are attempting to fill the hole in your heart through your newfound status as an LGBTI celebrity. That won’t work either.
Your Christianity seems to have been an outer clothing, a cultural badge, but in your own words it was clearly not your heart. You loved the things and the fruit of Christianity but you didn’t love Christ. Or at least there is no evidence of that. The idols of celebrity, family, self and culture were pre-dominant. You may say that that is not fair and that that would preclude many professing Christians. I think it would. And I need to ask myself whether career, identity, culture, family or any thing else is at the centre of my heart rather than Christ. It is a challenge for us all. Do you think Christ is being harsh when he says to those who had done many wonderful things in his name ‘away from me. I never knew you!”?
In one sense your book is hopeless. Despite being subtitled’ Coming out, Living Whole and Living Free From Shame” this is a book that offers no Christian hope at all. Any hope offered is just from the kind of meaningless truisms that our contemporary society is based on.
What is crucial, though, is this: we need to love and accept who we are. It’s about making peace with ourselves. ….. It’s a heart-warming reminder that God longs for us to simply be ourselves.
But it’s a reminder of a lie. The primary thing is to make peace with God – not with ourselves. God does not ‘long for us simply to be ourselves’. He longs for us to be holy – and our ‘selves’ are sinful. In the name of the Gospel you have stated precisely the opposite of the Gospel. Even in secular terms it doesn’t make sense. What if my ‘self’ is racist? Homophobic? Abusive? Does your principle that ‘God longs for us simply to be ourselves’ still apply?
Another example of this false hope and false Gospel you offer is in your closing paragraph.
Wherever I find myself these days, whether at corporate conferences giving keynotes on diversity or in one-to-one conversations with pastors helping them embrace LGBTQ+ equality, my message is the same: We become our most beautiful, powerful, irreplaceable selves when we allow our diversity to shine. This can only happen when we refuse to feel shame about the things that make us unique and different, when we gather together the fragmented pieces of who we are and boldly unite them into a self that is congruent and in harmony. Vulnerability is difficult, but crucial. Radical, raw, heartfelt authenticity is tough, but worth it. Freed from shame and fear, we are finally able to live, and love, from a place of wholeness. We find peace. We become complete. We become people who are, at our deepest core, undivided.
You offer a beauty which is ugly, a diversity which is uniformity, a freedom from shame which is an enslavement to sin, an ‘authenticity’ that is fake, a wholeness which is broken, a peace that is war. “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)
Another example of the twisted theology you espouse in this book is when you suggest that there is hope in not knowing.
When I read the final sentence of that story, an unexpected smile crept across my face. Truly Abbot Joseph alone has found the way, for he replied that he knows not.
Of course it couldn’t—but this was a big departure from the culture of certainty I’d been raised in. The obsession with fixed answers felt increasingly wrong to me: if God can fit into a box, it’s no longer God we are dealing with but someone made in our own image.
“It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.”
There are people who will think this is profound and true…because in some senses it is. How can we possibly ‘know’ an Almighty, omniscient, omnipotent being whose ways and thoughts are far beyond ours? But the trouble is that you claim uncertainty whilst being very certain. You are certain that God would approve of gay relationships, you are certain of your new found liberal theology, you are certain that you are no longer ‘divided’. There is not an ounce of doubt in your book about these things. And you do provide ‘easy answers’ to the key questions you ask. Love is love. Freedom from shame. Freedom to be who you are. These are all easy answers that fit neatly into our world’s narrative. You have replaced the certainty of Christ and his word, with your own new certainties. But your new foundation is very shaky – ‘On Christ, the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand’. You are in the quagmire.
A Different Stage
You love the stage. You love to perform. Now you are just doing the same thing for a different audience. You delight in working for corporations and big companies to help them with their ‘diversity’ programmes (what I would call indoctrination and intimidation programmes). It seems to me that you have replaced the stage of the Corporate Christian music scene for the stage of the Capitalist Corporations seeking to virtue signal and impose their ideologies about society, whilst they get on with exploiting as many people as they can.
Campaigning for LGBTQ+ equality was becoming a big part of my life. I was especially passionate about seeing a ban on conversion therapy—the attempt to turn gay or bisexual people straight. Why would you do that? I don’t agree with conversion therapy but why would I want to ban it? Where is the tolerance in that? What about those people who want help to deal with their thoughts? Why would you deny them that choice? What right do you have to impose your views by law upon everyone else? What kind of tolerance and diversity is this?
Its strange that you talk about diversity and tolerance and yet at the same time see a day when only your view will prevail in the church – We were a generation seeing LGBTQ+ history being made in front of our eyes. I knew someday the church would unanimously support same-sex marriage; it was just a question of time. Note again your absolute certainty – not only about the past and the present but now the future! You just know that one day the church will unanimously support SSM. On what basis do you have that knowledge? Like most of your new knowledge it is based upon your feelings not facts. I feel and fear that the tide against the biblical position is overwhelming and yet I know that the biblical position will remain and the Church of Jesus Christ will continue – not because of my feelings but because Jesus says that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
So in all of this mess – where is the hope?
I found hope, as you did, in the story of your Granddad. He comes across as a lovely and Godly man who loves you and yet remains faithful to God’s word, despite your attempts to manipulate him towards your point of view. When he suggested to you that celibacy was an option you dismissed that because ‘celibacy is a choice not a command”. But celibacy is a command for those who cannot marry within the biblical constraints. And it is a gift of God to be celebrated, not mourned. Your demeaning of those who are single may be unintentional but it is real.
Granddad is a hero to me and always will be. In our relationship I’ve caught a glimpse of something wider too: it’s given me hope for the parts of the church that don’t theologically agree. Yes, that’s a complex situation indeed, but perhaps there is a way for the church to remain united, and to see love triumph over judgment.
But note again what you have done. You have even take your Granddad’s love and turned it into a judgemental comment. Your book is full of judgements – the church will not be united if parts of it adopt your theology (not just about sexuality – but the whole ‘progressive’ package you have swallowed).
I also found some hope in this comment:
Evangelical theology didn’t have much room for anger or grief; it mainly promoted forgiveness and gratitude and being gentle and gracious to everyone. Anger was an unattractive emotion in those circles. I found solace in the Psalms where David shouted at God and railed against injustice.
It may be that the superficial and shallow theology that you experienced on the Christian music circuit did not have much room for anger or grief – but biblical theology does. I love the Psalms – they are part of my spiritual DNA – and I read or sing one every day. My hope as always is to return to the word that brings me the Hope.
Another person who loves the Psalms is Dr Rosaria Butterfield. Like you she is opposed to conversion therapy but as a former Lesbian postmodern professor of Queer studies and gender theory, she has a very different and much more biblical take on this whole issue. Have a look at this short video.
Vicky – I love your song The Wonder of the Cross. And I will continue to sing it. But it seems to me that you have lost that wonder. Doubtless in your new progressive theology you can no longer speak of ‘history being split in two’ – BC and AD are now replaced by BCE and CE. Your view of the atonement will now line up with Steve Chalke (another former evangelical leading parts of the Church down the Regressive route) as being just ‘cosmic child abuse’. The Cross will no longer be the centre of all things – but just one religious way into the great Unknown, along with many others. The only hope for me and for you is to return to the wonder of the Cross. A cross that is a stumbling block to the religious and foolishness to the non-religious. A cross where God does not say ‘I want you to be yourself’ but ‘I want to forgive you and bring you to Myself’. A cross where truth and righteousness kiss. A cross that can reconcile, fill and unite the most bitter, empty and divided heart. Your newfound theology and worldview will not bring you peace – nor will it result in an undivided heart or world. Only Christ and his Cross can do that. Remember the wonder of the Cross,
I wish you all the best,
In and for the Love and Glory of Christ,
(An unknown Scottish minister who doesn’t get to do diversity training for the big Corporations or governments but who does care that you should come to know Christ)
Ps….here is a wee gift for you – this clip is of my church singing your song.