Vicky Beeching is in trouble. She is a popular Christian singer and, after living in the closet for more than 20 years, she has come out as gay. She is now under attack by many of those who used to adore her, and who still sing her songs every Sunday morning.
She is hurt and scared, but she is living true to herself – and she is not going anywhere.
“It is heartbreaking,” she says, her eyes glimmering again. “The Church’s teaching was the reason that I lived in so much shame and isolation and pain for all those years. But rather than abandon it and say it’s broken, I want to be part of the change.”
This is Rob, Susan’s husband, writing today…
In the middle of her incredible journey and struggle, she talks about how much she still loves the church and the Bible – and how she is staying in the church with the hope of bringing about change, and standing up for gay Christians.
I love the church – it is supposed to be a radically inclusive community of people who love and want to follow Jesus. Welcoming. Loving unconditionally – as we have been loved. It is not supposed to be “us and them.” It is not supposed to be a religion, an institution – that is what Jesus came to stand against. I love the idea of church, but I have rarely experienced it as I just described. I long for that kind of community.
I treasure the Bible. I have such a high view of scripture that I do not read it all literally. That would be intellectually and spiritually dishonest. The inconsistencies and contradictions endear me to the Bible. It makes it relatable, human, authentic – giving me space to grow, vent, fail and be transformed. I try to follow Jesus in being willing to reject certain scripture and theologies and affirm other ones. (He did that a lot.)
I have to tell you that my views have caused many to label me as dangerous, deceived, radical, an apostate – even led by the devil. I am okay with that. I am in good company… they said the same about Jesus.
I am the father of a gay child. I am a passionate ally and advocate for LGBTQ. I love Jesus, I adore the Bible, I love the community of church.
And I am not going anywhere.
“What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love. I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people. When I think of myself at 13, sobbing into that carpet, I just want to help anyone in that situation to not have to go through what I did, to show that instead, you can be yourself – a person of integrity.” – Vicky Beeching
( p.s. Vicky is one of the keynote speakers at the 2015 Gay Christian Network conference. We will be there too — Susan hopes to present one or two workshops, and I hope to do a workshop just for Dads. Click here for more information. )
ROBERT COTTRELL and his wife Susan are founders of FreedHearts. Rob has nearly 30 years experience in the nonprofit and music industries. He is national speaker and teacher, and the proud father of their five amazing children. He has become a vocal ally and advocate of the LGBTQ community.
SUSAN COTTRELL is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: Mom, I’m Gay – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faith, as well as How Not to Lose Your Teen and The Marriage Renovation. Through her nonprofit organization – FreedHearts.org – Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that “loving God and loving others” are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said.
She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”
She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at FreedHearts.org and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHearts and Jesus Blog columns.