You may have seen the news that Christian rock singer-songwriter Vicky Beeching came out the other day.
In her interview with Patrick Strudwick in The Independent you can see the harrowing measures that Vicky went to to pray away the gay, get rid of her attraction to people of the same-sex and even though , as she says, it wasn't something that was directly taught, it was something that somehow as a Christian she felt she had to be ashamed of and hid away. There is even the harrowing tale of the meeting where she feels the need to go forward for prayer and have those feelings prayed away. That is an experience that I can fully empathise with as I went through the same sort of experience one time at the end of a meeting that I was leading worship at.
Today the Evangelical Alliance has responded, as an ex member of the Evangelical Alliance it is the sort of response I was expecting. Instead of listening to the concerns of Vicky and the many others of us who have struggled and been vocal about those struggles, they immediately strike back with someone who claims to only have had positive experiences. Like Vicky many of those that struggle come to the point where we realise that the way to stop our struggles is not to be ashamed of failing to do away with our feelings, but to realise that we are made and loved by God.
I'm not doubting that Pastor Ed Shaw, who the EA are using as their frontman, on this issue has had a lot of positive experience, but I do doubt that universally "rather than looking down on [him]
they've looked up to [him] –wanting to benefit from [his] perspective." Now I know some of my evangelical friends do have that reaction, but that is the people who have known me well, but even that is not 100% inclusive.
There are others some who do not know me at all, some who know me reasonably well, who say just because I speak up for LGBT members of our churches that I have no right to say the things I say. I should just keep schtum. Rather than wanting to learn from my perspective or even listen to it they want to silence me and the others that I know of, and speak for who are not prepared to have their voices heard.
My own church the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said 7 years ago that is would listen to people with "same-sex attraction" (their phrase) and give them a safe place in which to address their issues, amongst other recommendations. But I have yet to seen evidence that this has been done. In the meantime of course when I felt that the anti same-sex marriage campaign had over 2 months of publicity in the vestibule of the church (using some very un-Christian language against Lynne Featherstone) making me feel uncomfortable being there. That instead of understanding, an apology or listening there was censor in the one ministry I was providing, a lecture and failure to address the issues at hand.
The latter is sadly more likely to be the response within Evangelical Church leaderships. It may not be the case among evangelical friends many of whom give me unconditional support, but that was based on years of me being able to fit in under the radar and not being fully open about myself. It ignores that fact that I struggled through my teenage years and 20s with thoughts of suicide or running away from it all. Not knowing who to turn to, bottling everything in. Many I know have been unable to bottle it in long enough to be confident in their own relation with God, and that is the problem.
Vicky like myself has come through many struggles. She even had the added pressure of losing her livelihood potentially as a result so kept it in during those Californian concerts ahead of Proposition 8.
Rather than automatically jump to preach mode I wish that the EA, churches and others actually do listen, and also look at the texts they keep quoting with an open eye, not the way their have been translated and mistranslated down the years.