Vicky Beeching and the “sin” of being gay

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Dear John,

First of all, I need to thank you. I am a closeted gay Christian; I’ve chosen to hide my orientation until I am not financially dependent on my parents any more, which should be relatively soon. Your blog has saved me from slipping deeper and deeper into depression and I have never in my life felt as much peace as I felt the moment I first said to myself “I am gay.” I used to be a suicidal workaholic (which had its perks). Now I am at rest for the first time. That is partly your work. God has used you to do good in my life.

So far I have become somewhat comfortable with the Christian narrative on homosexuality that says, “Let’s agree to disagree: Jesus is bigger than all of this anyway; there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” However, the whole Vicky Beeching controversy has brought forth a blog post that leaves me baffled. Apparently we are back at the “Gay people will all go to hell” narrative. What’s your take on this: [link deleted: see below]?

I had to Google Vicky Beeching because … what do I know about British stars of the American Christian rock scene?

Turns out there’s one named Vicky Beeching. Last week, via this article in Britain’s The Independent, Ms. Beeching came out of the closet.

I deleted the link at the end of the letter to me above, because it lead to a blog post about Ms. Beeching written by right-wing Christian and Al Mohler wanna-be Denny Burk, and I’m as interested in driving traffic to Denny Burk’s blog as I am in … well, eating at Denny’s. Except eating at Denny’s doesn’t make me nauseous.

Burk’s article is about how Christians who don’t believe that being gay is a sin are going to hell because God blah blah Jesus blah blah the Bible blah blah deception.

Dear chap who wrote me the above letter:

It doesn’t matter what any Christian,  be they in a pulpit, screaming on a street corner, or bloviating on their blog, says about being gay. It was true yesterday; it’s true today; it’ll be true tomorrow: It is no sin to be gay. See my Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality. See my book UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question. See The Not All Like That Christians Project.

See the Holy Spirit of God inside your own heart.

You know it’s no sin to be gay; I know it’s no sin to be gay; everyone over at Unfundamentalist Christians knows it’s no sin to be gay; every day thousands of Christians are realizing that the whole idea of homosexuality being a sin has nothing to do with the true spirit of the Bible and everything to do with how much people love to hate.

Right-wing fundie Christian leaders of the sort Denny Burk aspires to be—the Al Mohlers, Franklin Grahams, and Mark Driscolls of the world—need homosexuality to be a sin, so that they can continue capitalizing on the childish idea that it is. Preaching that homosexuality is a sin garners them attention and gets them on television and brings them the speaking gigs they must have in order to sell the books they write about how they know what God wants and gay people are trying to take over America and steal everyone’s children and blah blah blah enemy genitals.

Just ignore people who tell you that being gay is a sin. Don’t read crap that people like Denny Burk write. Life is too short for that kind of self-pollution. There will always be Christians telling you that being gay is a sin—just like there will always be Christians telling you that women are inferior to men, and that all non-Christians go to hell, and that blah blah blah fear.

Know what you know, hold to what you know, be with others who share your views and will support you for who you are, and … well, that’s about all there is to it.

Oh. And floss. You really can’t overestimate the importance of good oral hygiene.

Love to you, friend. Thanks for your kind words about my work.


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Happy2BGay

    “blah blah blah enemy genitals”. Funniest. Line. Ever.

    “Don’t read crap…..Life is too short for that kind of self-pollution.” Best. Advise. Ever.

    Thanks again, John, for your great insights. Now, I must wipe the cereal off of my computer screen…..I should know by now not to eat or drink while I read your blog!

    • Gus Hinrich

      “Oh. And floss. You really can’t overestimate the importance of good oral hygiene.”
      THAT’S the best advice!!

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    I’ve grown so weary of Al Mohler and his decidedly un-Christian, un-biblical, spiritually & emotionally abusive attacks on flesh-and-blood people who are gay.

    To the letter writer…Know this: Al Mohler is attempting to exclude people like you and me from the communion table. Fortunately for us, that’s not his invitation to revoke.

    You are absolutely correct; Jesus is bigger than any and all of our disagreements.

    Peace & blessings.

    • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

      To be clear, it was Denny Burk, not Mohler, who wrote the divisive blog post in question, though your point still applies.

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        Thanks Dan -
        I didn’t actually read Burk’s post; but he is under the Mohler hierarchy, and Mohler is drum major for that anti-gay band (e.g., his response to World Vision, Danny Cortez, and a pre-fab e-book in response to Matthew Vines).

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Drum major for an anti-gay band. I wonder if its called The Marching Monomaniacs

          • Jeff Preuss

            And now the Animaniacs theme song is stuck in my head.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            You’re welcome.

          • Jeff Preuss

            OMG. Pinky and the Brain. Pink triangle! IT’S ALL CLEAR NOW. The gay agenda IS trying to take over the world!

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            HAHAHA! Now you know what we are doing tonight.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Same thing we do every night, Pinky!

          • BarbaraR

            Damn! I didn’t get my invitation!

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Curse that Snowball for interfereing with our plans!

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Im tired of the lot of them.

      On a positive note. Our associate pastor, a young woman who I’ve grown to highly respect, gave a sermon yesterday from the text about the Caannanite woman. She used that passage to show what happens when society and religion get too intertwined. I loved how she set it up.
      Jesus takes the disciples to a foreign, non-Jewish held territory….an unclean place.

      The woman approaches and keeps asking for an audience, following the group.

      The disciples offended by. 1. They are in a non-Jewish place, 2. Being approached by a non-jew, 3. a woman, 4. a pagan! and 5. She won’t shut up like she’s supposed to.

      So when they ask Jesus to put a stop to her nonsense, he tells them that he’s come for only for the lost sheep of Israel. Of which, its pretty certain that the disciples are shaking their heads in agreement.

      She persists. “Help!”

      He replies about stealing food from children and giving it to dogs. The disciples are happy. This affront to their sensibilities is being put in her place. Her being compared to a dog is apt in their eyes, this pushy, pagan female!

      She then gives the clincher about even dogs are fed crumbs from the master’s table. To which Jesus blows the disciples minds declaring her faith strong…HER! a pagan, foreign woman.

      (at this point, I was paying attention to every word, which I don’t often do in sermons)

      The pastor then went on to show how Jesus’s willingness to chuck religious/social boundaries, to help her, to consider her needs as vastly more important, so we too should learn to try, as His followers to do likewise. Then she stepped on toes by mentioning a few groups who we should chuck religious/social boundaries for. The homeless, the non-white, the depressed, the mentally ill, the poor, the immigrant, the refugee, the transgendered, the homosexual.

      I know, living in the south and likely one of the last states to accept true equality for all citizens, that some in our congregation will have heard her words and thought, “NO! I can’t, I won’t accept.” Yet, she spoke what needed to be said anyway, knowing she’ll take some heat for it. I was so damned proud of her, and am discovering she has more support than I at first thought.

      My friend, as this pastor is, has a quiet spirit, yet determined spirit who in her unassuming, courageous way is trying to dispell the anger and fear of social/religious bigotry. We need more of her.

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        A-freakin-men.

      • ChuckQueen101

        I preached from that text as well last Sunday. Jesus’ vision and compasssion, I think, was expanded by that encounter. I’m working on a blog based on the text tentatively titled, “What Jesus learned from a desperate woman (and what we can learn too!)

  • Jeff Preuss

    What I saw come out of this whole Vicky Beeching thing was a discussion that one news station (Britain’s Channel 4) hosted with Beeching, and opposing viewpoints brought by Scott Lively.

    Oh, yes. Let’s bring Scott Lively into the discussion. I’m sure everything there will be rational and compassionate, and he won’t call for anyone’s death there at ALL. (Although he now claims he had nothing to do with the more extreme application of the anti-gay fervor he whipped up in Uganda.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GivMLlmeAU

    Anyhoo, Ms. Beeching has apparently written or co-written many popular pieces of praise/worship music, so expect much gnashing of teeth in churches to figure out if they can still even use her music in services. Much like the fallout from that guy in Jars of Clay asking a question, I fear there will be some overreaction to this.

    To wit — since her career is so invested in that music world, it is very brave of Ms. Beeching to come out. She risks an awful lot.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Yes, you can always count on Scott Lively to … make you embarrassed to be human.

    • Lars

      Wow! Never heard of her before this weekend but after watching that interview, I am thoroughly impressed at what a beautiful, articulate, and, against all odds, composed person she is and what an utter ass Scott Lively is (was not familiar with him either and now I can’t undo that, so thanks a lot for that introduction as well! ;-)).

      • ChuckQueen101

        Without reading your response I used the words “beautiful” and “articulate” in my response as well. Though I think the word “composed” really captures it. Wow is right.

    • Jeff Preuss

      Oof. Very brave. By coming out like this, she’s opened herself up to scores of messages on her blog about how she’s “deceived” herself and bought into the lie to make it convenient for her to just have sex as she wants. Because it’s always all about the sex, only the sex.

    • ChuckQueen101

      She would blow Lively away in a debate. What a beautiful, delightful, gracious, and articulate person. Thanks for sharing this.

      • Jeff Preuss

        Lively: “Don’t you care what God thinks?”

        That’s the really insidious argument used so often, especially after quite clearly repeatedly stating how passionately we DO care about it.

        Yet, despite over and over and over talking about how we’ve read and studied and prayed over the Bible for discernment and understanding and enlightenment, it’s too easy for folks like Lively to fall back on “you need to read your Bible,” “Scripture is CLEAR,” etc. to paint us gay Christians as failing the Lord. We can state how we’re truly at peace with ourselves and God until we’re blue in the face, but some people simply won’t hear it.

        Yet we are somehow the ones deceiving ourselves.

        But, yeah, other than Ms. Beeching not always letting Lively have his say (I probably wouldn’t either), she comported herself well in this debate. He never seemed to get much of a rise out of her, even with his assertion that there are no gay people.

        • BarbaraR

          One thing I know for sure: Scripture is clear about very little.

        • ChuckQueen101

          I think that was the power of it. She refused to allow him to manipulate the conversation and she knew exactly where he was going and she did it with such composure and graciousness.

          • ChuckQueen101

            You could tell Lively was starting to get rattled.

    • MOM

      Scott Lively was indicted by a federal judge today – for crimes against humanity.
      I’m optimistic that maybe other indictments of his fellow “Christian leaders” will follow.

    • Guy Norred

      Finally got around to watching this. Ugh! I wish it wasn’t all so familiar.

  • WilmRoget

    “need homosexuality to be a sin, so that they can continue capitalizing on the childish idea that it is. Preaching that homosexuality is a sin garners them attention and gets them on television and brings them the speaking gigs they must have in order to sell the books they write about how they know what God wants”

    Anti-gay theology is a manifestation of sinful pride on the part of those who preach it. Not just for the material gain, but because at the very heart of it, it exists solely to tell them that they are intrinsically superior to someone else.

    Anti-gay theology is a form of the exalting of one’s self that Jesus addresses in his parable of two men praying in the Temple:

    “9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

    13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I
    tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified
    before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and
    those who humble themselves will be exalted.”” Luke 18

    Mohler, Graham, Driscoll, Phelps, Sheldon, Ssempa, Robertson, and their peers and followers, denigrate hundreds of millions of people not to lead anyone to Jesus Christ, not to alleviate poverty, not to care for widows and orphans, not to comfort the sick or the oppressed –

    but to elevate themselves, in their eyes and those of their peers, over other people.

    The tragic thing for them is that they are building their identity on being superior to an entire class of people, instead of on being in relationship with God. Essentially, they’ve said “God, it is nice and all that you love me, but what really makes me special is that I’m not like those people over there, and if you don’t mind, I’m going to pay attention to that instead of you”.

    • http://batman-news.com Chris Larosa

      Well said! Always astounded by those who have completely missed what God has truly called them to do. “You will know them by their fruit”.

  • Lance

    To the letter writer:
    I can’t add any better advice than John has already given you in his post, but as someone who has been exactly where you are at on the journey I can give you a few pointers that have been a big help to me.

    1. One of the biggest steps you can ever take toward your spiritual wholeness and the fullness of God’s love is to come out of the closet. Coming out isn’t so much about letting others know as it is daring to walk into a deeper level of self-acceptance and a richer experience of the beauty and mystery of God that lies on the other side of fear, hiding and doubt. Pray for the wisdom to know if and when the time is right for you.

    2. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people and embrace them as your “chosen” family. Your experience of their love and acceptance may make your own family’s real or imagined rejection that much harder, but your chosen family will be part of your journey to wholeness.

    3. Find an LGBT affirming church. I realize that many progressive Christians find their fullness of faith outside of the church, but in my experience being welcomed and validated in the church has been one of the most powerful experiences in making sexual orientation a complete non-issue. Expect it to feel weird at first and don’t be surprised if you’re initially your own worst enemy in allowing yourself to be warmly embraced by Christianity.

    4. Disassociate from anything that would be harmful, destructive or cause doubts, especially as you are becoming grounded in your faith. It’s important to avoid internet forums or news sites where homosexuality is debated as a moral issue. I hate to have to say this, but especially stay away from non-affirming Christianity in any way, shape or form.

    5. Some people are made to fight, and some people are made to flee. If you’re not strong enough to face the environment you’re in, then relocate whether that’s to another town, city, state or country. I’m the product of quite extreme fundamental conservatism in rural Mississippi, and 15 years ago at the age of 25 I loaded up all my earthly possessions into the back of a beat up used car and headed to the Canadian border looking for a better life. This year I turned 40, am married to my same sex partner of 14 years, have a great job and have discovered what being a Christian can really be all about. I still have a long way to go, but I’m loving the journey and can’t imagine wanting any other life.

    • ChuckQueen101

      Excellent. It’s so helpful when folks like yourself share what you have learned on the journey.

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    I went and googled this (actually, Yahoo!ed it, because i hate google, but still), and I wondered if someone should post one relevant actual news story about this. You know, to prevent the bombardment by news stories intermixed with crazy bloggers that googling can sometimes bring (and brought me) as regards this story or ones like it.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      I linked to THE actually relevant news story about this in the second graph after letter (he said, not at all defensively because he’s pretty sure he has a life and all).

  • ChuckQueen101

    John, loved your response to the letter.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Thanks buddy.

  • Guest

    [comment deleted]

    • Jeff Preuss

      Guest? Could you tell me how to properly format my Excel spreadsheet to list all the trolls on here in descending order of inappropriate hubris?

      • BarbaraR

        That guest was bashful and didn’t want to be outed in his admiration for John. His modesty was so overwhelming that he had to go undercover.

        • Jeff Preuss

          :D

  • Luke DeLong

    enemy genitals! Hahaha!
    I’m glad you used a ton of “Blah blah blah’s”. For some reason, that’s exactly what I hear when I listen to a majority of Christians!

  • peterhamm

    Thanks especially for the admonition to floss… I needed it.

    Regardless of whether homosexuality is wrong or not… that is, to me, not the issue. It is not one of the central tenets of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds… It isn’t in there… So… It is not a valid reason to condemn someone.

    If you do, you are adding to the Gospel, adding another requirement that isn’t there… dangerous theological territory imho… perhaps the “H” word is in order here?

  • Luke

    Deleting my comment as i have been blocked from further commenting and therefore find this discussion forum unfair for thoughtful commentary.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Think again, Sparky. If homosexuality were acceptable to the larger Christian community my book wouldn’t be necessary at all. And trust me when I say that I long for the day my book is laughably outdated. Whereas fundamentalist Christians leaders greatly fear the day homosexuality is a non-issue, because what easily identifiable population will they then be able to persecute?

      • Jeff Preuss

        I’m not easily identifiable – I sometimes don’t wear my Big Pink Nametag. I’m stealthy.

        • DrewTwoFish

          Incognito homo.
          Undercover man lover.
          Flying under the gaydar.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Christian groups that make money on the concept of homosexuality being a sin…..Family Research council, every gay reparative therapy ministry, Abiding Truth Ministries, American Family Association, Coral Ridge Ministries, John Hagee’s Cornerstone Ministry, Robert Jeffries ministry, the online magazine The Christian Post, Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church.
      And that’s just the short list.

      This isn’t a few dollars here and there. We are talking millions of dollars annually, money used to influence politicians, build large luxurious homes, and give air time on television media.

      • Linnea912

        Many of the above have earned the dubious distinction of being named hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But they’re all ugly.

    • jcmmanuel

      “Deleting my comment as i have been blocked from further commenting and therefore find this discussion forum unfair ”

      Possible.
      But even more unfair would be like this: never standing up for people who just want to love and be loved, like most of us do.
      Unfair would be: ALWAYS giving room to people who are in the business of humiliating and dehumanizing others for not following some traditional, old and archaic view of what “should” and “should not” be done.

      So even if being blocked may sometimes be unfair – it can be even more unfair to listen to people who believe everyone is unfair unless they fully agree with the self-acclaimed “fair” person in his role of modern Pharisee.

      The world is hurting enough already. Some Christians really seem to believe that just because they can’t manage to love the ‘other’ like they love themselves, then Bible quotes will somehow solve that problem for them.

      But this is not going to happen any time soon.

  • simeonberesford

    There is no person that Jesus did not give a free fish supper to. This all all those that wish to be Christlike needs to know. That act was His greatest sermon.

  • Tille

    One thing I learned in discussing literature is if something is very important the author repeats it over and over. When I look at my thick bible the statements about homosexuality barely make even a page.. The evangelists did not even mention that Jesus preached about it (actually he preaches a lot about what you spent your money on..) but the church makes an elephant out of a mosquito.


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