Vicky Beeching, 35, one of the biggest names in Christian music in the U.S. and the U.K. revealed Wednesday that she is a lesbian and proclaimed "I feel certain God loves me just the way I am."
"It's taken all my courage, and all these years, for me to finally do this interview," she noted in a post on her Facebook page that includes a link to an interview published in The Independent Wednesday.
"I am gay," Beeching revealed in the interview that has sparked and international discussion online.
"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," the rock star who is also a theologian and media commentator noted.
Beeching who is famous for songs like "Great is Your Glory" and "Deliver," in which she declares that God can break any chain, said she has gone through exorcisms and prayers of absolution to cure her of her same-sex attraction but confessed that she is still attracted to females and it had been that way since she was 12.
"Realizing that I was attracted to them was a horrible feeling," she said "I was so embarrassed and ashamed. It became more and more of a struggle because I couldn't tell anyone."
At 13, she said she went to a priest and confessed her sin but the priest's prayer didn't help.
"When I said that I had feelings for the same sex he prayed the prayer of absolution, for me to be forgiven. And that was it," she said. "I felt there was something really wrong with me, that maybe I was so sinful and awful I couldn't be healed," she added.
After struggling and breaking down over the next few years she said she got radical about her situation at a summer camp at the age of 16. She subjected herself to an exorcism.
"I remember sitting in my seat at this big conference, with about 4,000 people. Someone had preached about how God could set you free from anything, and I was desperate, I thought, 'I have to deal with this, it's breaking me.' They invited us to the front," explained Beeching. And she answered the call.
"The walk felt like 10 years. The music was very loud. At the altar one of the prayer team said, 'What would you like us to pray for you about?' I said, 'It's really hard for me to say this, but I am attracted to people of the same sex and I've been told God hates that. I'm so ashamed and I need Him to take it away because I can't keep living like this. I'm so sad and depressed, I can't carry on,'" she said.
"I remember lots of people placing their hands on my shoulders and back and front, praying in tongues really loudly and then shouting things: 'We command Satan to let you go! Cast these devils out of you! We speak to you demon of homosexuality: let her go!' People around me were wailing and screaming. It was really frightening. I was already feeling so vulnerable, it was horrible to think, 'Am I controlled by demons?'" Beeching recalled.
Her attraction for women, however, never left and as her career as a Christian artist bloomed she faced even more of a dilemma in a culture that doesn't espouse homosexuality.
"I would find myself at these events that were anti-equal-marriage rallies, but I was only booked to sing so there was no way I could say anything. If I had, I would have got kicked out," she said.
She would have also been in breach of her contract with the Christian music branch of EMI, which had a "morality clause" affected by any action deemed immoral, including homosexuality.
She said she came out to her parents at Easter this year: "I was terrified but they reacted really well. They said, 'We're so sorry that you had to go through this alone.'"
They have, however, agreed to disagree on the theology of homosexuality.
"It's a picture of what is possible. Even when you don't agree, love can supersede everything," she said.
"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," she explained.
Nearly 400 comments have been posted on Beeching's initial posting of The Independent interview. And while many have come out in support of her decision and called her brave, some have questioned the wisdom of her decision and the manner in which homosexuality is no longer being painted as a sin but an accepted way of life.
"Years ago Kevin Prosh, a worship leader with Vineyard, was told to leave worship leading after having a straight affair in his marriage. So why is it only 20 years later its OK to be gay and carry on regardless of the Bible? Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever," wrote commenter Dave Kelly.
"You are indeed brave, and loved by God. Your songs are no less inspired and have led me in worship many many times. They have inspired me in my own songwriting. My prayer for you and all who are homosexual is that you'll live the way I see in Colossians 3 — with Christ as your only identity and all else surrendered to Him, pursuing His kingdom, His glory, and His holiness," added Lance Miller.
Corey M. Teague wrote: "As your brother in Christ I must share my love for you. I also ask you to beware of the yeast of our culture. I definitely understand your past and present sense of loneliness. As people of true faith and as Christ followers we sometimes struggle to understand that Jesus is enough. Our lives are not fulfilled by our romantic desires. If it is then we must ask ourselves if we have lost our faith or have we been deceived by the lust of our flesh. I pray that your decision does not become a stumbling block for my brothers and sisters who continue to overcome the lust of the flesh with the holy love of God. I will definitely pray for you, me and the whole body of Christ. God bless you and soften your heart."