“I’m gay. God loves me just the way I am.”
I read the words and my heart lurched. After sending a quick text — “Did you read Vicky’s interview?!” — I proceeded to finish the article. After several months of suspicion, here it was. Vicky Beeching had dropped the bomb.
I have long admired Vicky for her vulnerable songwriting. I remember singing along to her songs on the radio as a teenager. She seemed like a genuine, likeable person. Those feelings have only been confirmed since she decided to be honest with the world. Vicky is the real deal and she is opening up the deepest parts of herself for everyone to see.
As expected, she’s being faced with a considerable amount of pushback. Pastors telling her that she has given herself over to a lie. Worship leaders dropping any and every song with her name on it. A general questioning of her salvation and commitment to Christ.
My Facebook wall is just one instance of the larger conversation around Vicky and her adoption of a “gay identity.” I see some friends of mine saying that people who claim to be Christians and self-describe as “gay” are willingly letting sin rule in their lives. Other friends are asking, “Isn’t our identity supposed to be in Jesus?” These friends, like many Christians, are okay with people saying “I struggle with homosexuality” or “I’m same sex attracted,” but the moment someone claims to be gay, defenses go up.
People who call themselves gay are apparently choosing their sexuality over Jesus.
This is ridiculous.
We, as human beings, hold on to so many identities at one time. We are artists, spouses, friends, enemies. We choose words that describe our identities in almost every conversation. We are children of God. We are depressed, we are alcoholics, we are porn addicts. We are people with mental illnesses, cancer, diseases. We are beloved.
Christians tend to understand how labels work in all those conditions. So why is it that when one of the beloved says “I’m gay,” we accuse that person of making an idol out of sexuality? Why do we think that we have the right to say to these people, who are stepping forward with trembling hands, You are not following Jesus right. You are deceived. If you were to actually read your Bible . . . If you actually placed Christ first in your life . . . If you weren’t so focused on yourself . . .
When I see my faith being pitted against my sexuality, it brings me back to nights alone in my room as a 12 year old, pleading with God: “You have to fix this!” I bargained for seven years: if he would change this one thing about me, then I could truly follow him. Yet as I grew up, the attractions only grew stronger.
As a freshman at a small Christian college in Northwest Arkansas, I started seeing a counselor. On the first day, my counselor looked at me and asked, “What if this never goes away?” The question caught me off guard. I had never considered the possibility. He explained to me that, even in Christian communities, people’s sexual orientations rarely ever change. My focus shouldn’t be on changing my sexuality but instead walking forward as a Jesus follower.
A weight came off my shoulders that day. I realized that accepting my sexuality as a part of who I am is not choosing myself over Jesus. My acknowledgement actually helped me move into the fullness of following Christ. Naming my sexuality for what it is does not mean idolizing it — rather, it meant the end of the idol’s hold on me. Sexuality becomes idolized when we focus all of our efforts on making it “right” at the expense of everything else in our lives. I did that for seven years.
When I was growing up, my mom would often tell me to “live in light instead of darkness” — let light into hidden places by speaking secrets instead of holding them all inside. Acknowledging difficult parts of ourselves is what allows us to move on.
As the debate rages about the morality of same-sex relationships, I think that we should recognize that Vicky’s step to speak about her sexual orientation is one that should be lauded. A sister of ours is choosing to step out of years of hiding; she is letting light shine into her pain. She has done it in a public way in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. As more and more Christians begin to speak about sexual orientation, Christian cultures will be able to move forward in perceptions and conversations.
I am a follower of Jesus and I am gay. While my sexual orientation is a part of my identity, I am also more than that. I am a brother, a son, a graduate student, a person. And ultimately, I am a child of the Creator. I am loved deeply, and Vicky is, too.
Image courtesy of thoughtquotient.com.