As a practicing Christian, I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and I am very lucky that my church has it’s own book club to help me with this. In May, we read and met to discuss the insightful Love Wins by Rob Bell. Next up to read was the memoir, Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole, and Living Free from Shame by the Christian singer-songwriter, Vicky Beeching.
By her early thirties, Vicky was a household name: recording multiple albums; performing at Christian festivals and in America’s largest megachurches; and having her music played weekly in churches and on the radio around the world. However this poster girl for evangelical Christian music lived with a debilitating inner battle: she was gay. Knowing that the vast majority of her thousands of traditional Christian listeners were staunchly opposed to same-sex relationships and saw homosexuality as a grievous sin, Vicky feared acknowledging her sexuality even to herself, let alone telling others, as it would cost her everything.
I have to admit that Vicky’s name wasn’t instantly recognisable to me, but I have since recognised several of her songs that we use at my church. This didn’t really matter though, because this is not a tale of her fame. Instead this is a candid confession and exploration of one woman’s personal struggle with her sexuality. Starting as a young teen, Vicky takes us through years of shame, prayer, denial and even being subjected to an exorcism at a youth camp, as she tried to free herself of what she truly believed to be a sinful fault. Which led her into a lonely adult life, where she denied her feelings, took a forced celibacy, and instead lost herself in a crazy work schedule.
Then, at thirty-five, Vicky was faced with some serious health issues arising from her gruelling work load, stress and loneliness. So she made the brave decision to finally come-out, first to her family and friends, and then to the world. Heartbreakingly, overnight, she lost her music career and livelihood, and faced threats and vitriol from traditionalists. Later she developed further health issues from the immense stress and had to rebuild her life almost from scratch. And yet, despite losing so much she has finally found peace. What’s more, Vicky has since become a champion for LGBT equality in the church, as she urges people to celebrate diversity and live authentically.
Now this is quite a controversial read for the leader of our book club to have chosen. You would probably find people in my church of varying beliefs on homosexuality and there certainly are passages in the Bible that denounce it. Interestingly, Vicky does discuss these passages and explains her own interpretations of them, which I found fascinating: being someone who thinks you shouldn’t blindly believe, but instead should question, test and put scripture into context. However whether you believe homosexuality is right or wrong, I can’t see any justification for the absolutely horrible things people said to Vicky. First and foremost for me, Jesus said love each other!
So, in conclusion, I thought Undivided was a moving, raw, all-bared account of Vicky’s inner-struggle with her faith and sexuality. While not relevant to my own faith journey per say, it has opened my eyes to hard it must be for those going through this, and I can see how truly inspiring this book and Vicky must be for other homosexual Christians. Unfortunately, our group has not been able to meet to discuss this book yet, but hopefully we will be able to meet and choose a new book after summer. Good read.
Have you read this? Or any similar books or memoirs?