Coming out to authenticity

It’s 4:55am on Saturday, one of my only days to sleep in … and I’m awake! So what do I do? Like many, I decide to punish myself and make sure I won’t go back to sleep … I start reading Facebook. But then a few minutes later, I am aware of the presence of God … and I’m crying. Tears of joy, love, happiness, anger and frustration. As I was Facebook surfing, I started to read about Vicky Beeching. For those who don’t know her, she is a wonderful song writer, worship leader and child of God who loves Him with all her heart. If you listen to her music, you will feel the heart of the Lord and her love for Him.

Last week, she came out, and let people know she was gay. As I read the articles and the interviews I became more aware of the presence of God, and for an hour, I read and wept.

I cried because I recognized her love for God, and knew it was God who had brought her to this place. I cried because of the struggle she described – that all though her life she had feelings of same-sex attraction, and how she had wrestled every possible way with it – pushing it down, denying it, repenting of it, being delivered from it, trying to accept it, trying to deny it – a life-long roller coaster of up and down, guilt, joy, fear … everything! I cried for joy as I felt God’s love for her, as He led her to the place of being open, honest and transparent with herself … and with Him who already knows everything about her.

Through her wrestling, she came to the place of acceptance of who she is. She understood that God did not have a clipboard with a doctrinal scorecard on it waiting to see if she passed or failed. I saw that all through her journey, He was and is there for her. He has brought her to the place where she can see, love and accept all that she is. She is in Christ Jesus, and there is no condemnation for her. She has been to places inside her soul that few of us go… let alone embrace or tell others about. She has chosen authenticity over not wanting to know, acceptance over rejection, and love instead of fear. As I read her story and felt her heart … she became a hero – a model of authenticity that inspires me.

I also cried as I read the objections, the haters, those that dismissed her as “gone off the deep end”. I cried because many are so fearful of being wrong, that they will attack others to convince themselves that they are right. I get it that there are unanswered questions. That’s ok – questions and wrestling are good, and I have many questions also. I’m sure that Vicky herself has asked those same questions over the years. The difference is that she has walked it out and has come to a greater understanding of who she is and the immensity of God’s love for her. That is an amazing place to be!

Where you lead, I will follow

Each of us have things in our lives that we struggle with, not necessarily the same issues she has, but other things. At the end of the day, she is walking out her faith with fear and trembling. Are we? Do we dare to look into the places in our heart where things are hidden? Will we cry out to God and say, “Lord, I love you so much. Show me where I need to go … I will follow where you lead?”

These last few months the Lord has been taking me on a journey into my own soul, and I have discovered things I could barely admit to myself, never mind share with others. It started when God began to show me I have a destiny, a purpose for which I was created. He showed me that the only way I could discover that destiny was to ask Him to show it to me, and then follow wherever He leads. I can barely comprehend the places he’s showing me. Many times, I have cried out to the Lord and asked Him to stop me if this is not from Him. Each time, I receive reassurance that I’m ok .. just keep going. People give me words or pictures from the Lord – not knowing what I am dealing with, and each time, it’s “steady as she goes.”

Last year, I discovered Arthur Burk’s teachings on the “redemptive gifts” … and it has changed my life. For the first time I understood that I really am fearfully and wonderfully made … exactly the way He intended me to be. I said to Him, “You mean, I’m supposed to feel this way?” As I dig deeper, I discover things that He has given me that are treasures beyond all the riches the world could ever offer. God’s heart is more wonderful, passionate, loving and all-encompassing that I could ever imagine, and He has given me the gift of a very tiny, infinitesimal piece of His heart … and I am totally wrecked. I am so far from perfect, but that He has chosen to show me the smallest part of how much He loves people is changing my life. There is no stinginess, or lack, or conditionality or tentativeness to His love. It is extravagant, overflowing and when you see it, you are ruined for anything less.

I used to be scared of people that were “not like us”. I used to be comfortable in my safe little Christian nest where all is secure and protected. God is taking me to places and people who I would have avoided in the past – just because I didn’t understand them … nor want to. Now, He is connecting me to LGBT people – people who are wonderful, loving, understanding, passionate and full of life. Unfortunately, the enemy of our souls has deceived us, and we (the church) have become the obstacle to them knowing the Father’s love. We have no idea what they feel or go through because we do not walk in their shoes. It one thing to pontificate on the rightness of a position when you have no affinity with it. It’s quite another to see the pain in someone’s heart who has been rejected by their family, friends, society and the church – the one place where they should be safe to experience God’s unconditional love.

My heart is both full and broken. I weep for joy at His love, and in sorrow for the pain and hurt. As the Lord takes me to those deeper places, all I can do is admire, respect and love those who have the courage to go where they have never gone before.

Once we start that journey, we are compelled to finish it – no matter where it might lead, and no matter what people may think. God is my first love, and in fear and trembling, by His grace, I will follow where He leads. We may not agree with the path someone chooses, but I know that God is overjoyed when someone chooses to follow him, no matter the cost.

To read more about Vicki Beeching, Check out the links page at vickybeeching.com

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8 Responses to Coming out to authenticity

  1. I’m writing this comment to my wonderful close friends who have shown such grace and love to me by wrestling to understand what I had written, even though there were a few things I said that in hindsight, could have been clearer. We have walked with each other for many years and got to know each other’s hearts. If I caused you pain or turmoil because of any careless words I wrote, please forgive me. Let me explain:

    When I wrote the “Coming out to authenticity” post, I had just read the stories about what Vicky had done. I know I felt the love of God for her, and I was greatly distressed by the comments from many (not all) christians that basically said, because you have done this thing, we are throwing you under the bus. I felt the heart of the Lord saying, “I love her and I always will. Why are you trying to put a wall between me and her?” I felt this so intensely, that this became the core of what I was posting about.

    Upon reflection (and as was pointed out to me), there are some implications to what I was saying that were not my intent.

    I do not myself struggle with same-sex attraction, but for whatever reason, God has placed in my path people that do experience this, and for that, I am thankful

    When I said Vicky has come to understand who she is, I meant that she has been honest with herself about the feelings she has – in other words, she sees who she is right now, just as God does, and for now, that’s all she can do. When we can be honest with ourselves, I believe it increases the possibility that we can hear from God about whatever he wants to do in our lives, because we are not in denial about it.

    What I did not mean to say was that her identity is in being gay. Her true identity is the same as for each of us – she is a beloved child of God, her full identity will be found in Him, and she has a marvellous destiny that has been prepared for her from before the foundation of the world. Any other identity we have falls far short of what God has for us.

    I also said that she was a hero to me, and that’s because she has chosen to be authentic to herself. My own past issues were different, but for many years I was not able to be honest with myself.

    When I said I used to be scared of people “not like us” I meant that I used to make a distinction between those who I could not relate to and those who I could. God showed my that there is no distinction … we are all broken, and we all need God. There are no special groups beyond God’s grace.

    Blessings
    Robin

  2. Pingback: Freedom to love | The Shaba Files

  3. Guys, this whole thing about sexual orientation is a fight for the SEED. It is about DNA.

  4. christine says:

    I just ordered the book by Mathew vines: ” God and the gay Christian: the biblical case in support of same sex relationships”. I’ve heard him speak, and he seems to make a case using original Greek and Hebrew and also taking the 6 main anti-gay scriptures in the context they were intended to be in to make a case in favour of homosexuality.
    I’m not sure yet myself, but I hope he’s right and we’re wrong. I recently alienated a childhood friend because of my hard line stance on homosexuality. I have a pastor friend who is a brilliant, spirit-filled, full on,in the river, raging charismatic, and she insists that the bible is not as black and white about homosexuality as most Christians think it is. She says homosexuality is like the slavery issue of our day.

    Christine

  5. God does loves Vicky Beeching but homosexuality is sin – simply. She was honest to come to and say it but it is certainly not who she is. She is a broken person like so many of us in varying degrees. Jesus Christ is enough and the blood is enough. Does she need love and compassion? Yes. So,Vicky, ‘lesbian’ is not who you are.
    Elizabeth

  6. It you want to read a thought provoking book, I recommend “Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church”, by Wendy VandeWal-Gritter.

  7. “If enough people feel strongly about the same thing, you have a movement … a cause. And though one may passionately stand in defence of their cause, truth, reason and accountability to both cannot be put to the side simply because feelings are strong.”

    Recently picked up a book called, “The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart” by Mark Achtemeier. I have had a friend who has been with a man for over 32 years – he was our first house-guest in the new place. 🙂 I love my friend, but if he were to ask me what I felt about homosexuality, I would be honest – ‘speaking the truth in love’. The truth is the Bible still says what it says and there is not a lot of room for arguing that it says the opposite. Though it’s always good that someone is open about their struggles, they have to be careful in that they serve as ‘teachers’ via their (prior/previous) followings via ministry – via musical/worship etc. And if they teach something contrary to the word because it doesn’t line up with their experience, then you have to watch out for the message – plain and simple. There are Christians whose spiritual lives (like your own) are ensconced in unique, spiritual experiences – which is fantastic. Not all of us fall into that category. But the Word is still (or should be) the measure of our experiences and not the other way around, unless you can find evidence of the contrary via the examples set by the early church followers.

    So with that in mind, I will give you probably the best critique of the book I was mentioning above – the thoughts of a man named Josh Skinner who, like ourselves, has homosexual friends and is sensitive and loving to them.

    The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart” by Mark Achtemeier
    “This is a book that is going to ruffle quite a few feathers. “The Bible’s Yes to Same Sex Marriage” touches on some hot-button issues that I believe are much too often hot-button simply out of a cultural, rejection-of-different, response rather than any genuine concern over the Word of God. I am a rather sympathetic ear to most things “liberal” and have close relationships with homosexuals and homosexuals who profess faith in Christ. This was a book I was interested to read and somewhat hesitant to read for the same reason. Achtemeier makes the claim that this work is going to show why the Bible does not simply allow for same sex relationships but even supports them. That proves to be rather ambitious endeavor, one to which it inevitably falls well short.

    First off, this work, while proclaiming itself as focused on God’s word, is firmly rooted in personal experience. For the first few chapters there is barely more than a few cursory interactions with the word of God. Achtemeier sets out to elicit empathy from his reader by presenting multiple heart breaking cases he encountered of Christians suffering due to their sexual orientation. This is in the hopes that the reader be brought to the same point where Achtemeier found himself after interacting with many who suffered through the struggle of same-sex attraction and Scriptural fidelity. When he reaches the apex of all these experiences and emotions and whatnot, Achtemeier declares that, “(t)he combined weight of all this evidence forced me to conclude that the traditional condemnations were wrong.” After determining what was true, based on his own criteria of what the Christian life should be and based on the experience of people he encountered, Achtemeier then went to the Scriptures to work on making them fit his presuppositions. And, not too surprisingly, he found exactly what he was looking for.

    One of those presuppositions that proved most debilitating to any search for truth in this matter was a basic prosperity mentality attached to his worldview. Now, this was not the insidious prosperity preaching that fills Housewives spin-offs and TBN telethons. It is the more subversive prosperity teaching that fills the pulpits of conservative churches and the minds of many, many Christians. It is the mindset that God simply wants good (translation: comfortable, suffering and sacrifice free) for his people. It is the mindset that God would never allow anything difficult to befall his children. It is Christianized-karma based on an over-realized eschatology that sees no place for suffering in the life of believers, and it filled these pages.

    Nowhere was suffering even a genuine option. In fact, if suffering is involved then it is obviously not of God. Nowhere in these pages was there any room for a God would refuse to remove a thorn from the flesh of his child while simultaneously assuring him that “my grace is sufficient.” Nowhere in these pages was there room for a God who would say, “Have you considered my servant Job?” Nowhere in these pages was there room for a God who would listen to the cries of his beloved Son to “let this cup pass” and answer him with silence. For this reason, when we do reach suffering in these pages it must not be of God. When someone is suffering in their struggle against embracing same sex attraction the automatic answer becomes that they must be doing wrong in resisting. Not only that but we, as loving and empathetic imitators of Christ, must then make a way for them to embrace their same-sex attractions and be relieved of their suffer-filled resistance. There is no room in this work for the refining fires of suffering so the dross of sinful lives must instead be counted as gold.

    It is an easy step for Achtemeier to remove the impetus from much of Scripture because throughout this work the he presumptuously sits in judgment over Scripture. This is clear in his first principle of examining Scripture. Achtemeier presents the primary means of determining the meaning (and the cultural relativity) of a passage as whether or not it makes “good, coherent sense.” “My ways are higher” does not fly in the realm of autonomous, ultimate Reason. Achtemeier could have called this the Jefferson Method or the Jesus Seminar Principle where the primary factor in determining the veracity of a passage is what the sovereign Self thinks about it. This relative, self-centered hermeneutic fits well in a world full of relativistic, self-centered people but it ignores the objective, God-centered truth of Scripture. In this same vein, Achtemeier lays an early foundation of a “cultural” defense against anything that the modern mind might find objectionable and follows it through to the end. He aids this by implicitly and then explicitly tying those who reject same sex relationships with the neo-Nazis, those who support slavery, and those who oppress women. I would say “well done”… but it wasn’t. It was cliché and unoriginal. As far as inflammatory rhetoric and poisoning the well goes, it was rather weak.

    Achtemeier does engage Paul’s teaching on singleness but he never, to my recollection, addresses Paul’s contention about eunuchs, specifically those who are eunuchs “by nature”. Based on how he conflates the physical and the spiritual in his argument about “nature”, Achtemeier would have to concede that when Paul says some are “by nature” eunuchs, this would not just be limited to physical disabilities but could also be due to same sex attraction coupled with a biblical and/or cultural rejection of same-sex relationships. So, it is not only possible but probable that Paul could be referencing those with same-sex attraction as those who are “eunuchs by nature.”(i.e. celibate due to same-sex attraction)

    This work severely minimizes the sufficiency of God, in the Scriptures and in himself. The Scriptures are not sufficient to base our life and beliefs. We must submit the Word of God to our experience, our logic, our opinions. This is not a new teaching. Achtemeier follows well in the 19th century Schleiermachian German liberalism through the gates of the Union Seminaries of the world to the mainline Protestantism he now finds himself championing. This is the wide and easy path of elevating experience and feeling over the objective truth of Scripture.

    It also minimizes the sufficiency of Christ himself. It leaves the reader with the understanding that there is no possible way that Christ is enough. If people are not allowed to marry and/or to pursue their attractions then they cannot have joy. They cannot have peace. They will never be happy. This might be true but, if so, it just more clearly portrays Paul’s argument in Romans 1 about the idolatrous nature of sexual sin. Much of this work feels like a mantra of “I love my idol” followed by “I can serve God and my sexual orientation too!”

    Achtemeier fails at proving that the Bible endorses same sex marriage for the same reason I would fail to prove Lebron James plays professional baseball with an issue of Sports Illustrated—it says the exact opposite because the opposite is true. Beyond his failure to make his point, the underlying premise that this work is based on love is shown faulty. This work does not arise out of a love of Scripture because it denies its sufficiency and authority (while giving lip service to both). It does not arise out of a love of God because it says that which God calls evil is good and questions his authority and goodness because he does not act in the manner that Achtemeier would see fit. And it does not arise out of love for those who suffer with same sex attraction, no matter how much Achtemeier might claim otherwise. Simply put, it is not loving to set out to convince people that their sin is ok with God. It is hateful and damning. Homosexuals, just like heterosexuals, need the Gospel, not an affirmation of their sins.

    Instead of lamenting the fact that there is no way for homosexuals to enjoy an earthly marriage relationship, why not present Christ as the all-sufficient one who exceeds every desire we have? Instead of twisting and manipulating Scripture in order to alleviate good, biblical suffering, why not echo our Lord’s wonderful words to his cherished Paul when he said clearly that “my grace is sufficient for you?” Instead of encouraging those with serious, persistent sin to simply embrace it and call it good, why not encourage them to heed the words of our Savior to repent and believe the Gospel.

    “Anecdotal theology is rarely helpful.”—Douglas Bond. This work could stand as a case-study to support that claim.

    I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. ​”
    Josh

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