Primarily, it is Beeching’s autobiography. She takes us on a journey from Kent where she grew up, to Oxford where she studied, then Nashville from where she pursued her career in the Christian music industry with great success, before ending in London, where she lives now.
Most importantly, Undivided is Beeching’s coming-out story. In her teens, she realised that she was attracted to girls. Coming from a religiously conservative family, this was a calamitous realisation. Believing homosexuality to be sinful, she tried to have it prayed away; it didn’t work; although not a Catholic, she confessed to a Catholic priest. The attraction remained. For years she tried to bury the truth that didn’t just lay within her but was her. It couldn’t be contained. Ultimately, the truth was like a volcano and eventually it erupted, leading to her decision to come out.
Undivided is not a literary work, but does not suffer for it. That’s because Beeching is not writing for scholars, but rather, saints who think that what they are makes them sinners. She is writing for hearts as well as minds.
There is a touch of the fairy tale about her story: once upon a time, there lived a girl who grew up with a dark secret; it wasa monster who haunted her life and scourged her from within. For many years, she let it slowly destroy her. One day, however, she found her courage, and after a hard-fought and bitter struggle, she finally vanquished it.
Having said that, Undivided is not a fairy tale in the Disney mould, for it contains no happy ending. The struggle to defeat the monster leaves the girl grievously wounded and the story ends with her dealing with those injuries. In this sense, Undivided is the stuff of Tolkien, of Frodo who also grew up with a dark secret, a monster that was also slowly destroying him, but who found his courage and who, if he did not destroy the monster himself at the end, was the one who did the most to see that it was vanquished after all.
It might be considered that this is not the most hopeful of analogies. After returning to the Shire, Frodo is unable to settle down. The wounds caused by his battle against the One Ring are too profound. In the end, he has to leave Middle-earth with the last of the elves in order to find some measure of peace for the remainder of his life. Where can Vicky Beeching go?
The question is irrelevent. There isn’t anywhere that she needs to go because she’s already there. The Undying Lands for a Christian is our relationship here on earth with Jesus Christ. Amazingly, Beeching’s love for Him has survived all that has happened to her.
For the way her church has treated her through its teachings;for the way her peers in the Christian music industry treated her after she came out; for the way many Christians to this day treat her, for example, on social media, she would have every right to reject Him; how can He be real when His people are so full of hatred?
That Beeching remains a Christian I think can only be accounted for by the fact that she loves Our Lord with a very deep love indeed. In that respect, Undivided functions as both a prayer and billet-doux, a love letter to God, in which she reveals herself to Him just as lovers do. This aspect of the book reminds me of C. S. Lewis’ masterpiece Till We Have Faces,
When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the centre of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?
This is Undivided – the speech at the centre of Vicky Beeching’s soul is the truth of her sexuality; for years she has spoken it to herself over and over; in 2014, by God’s grace, she found her face and came out; in Undivided, she speaks to God face to face.
She doesn’t just speak to Him. Through this book, as much as in her public career now, Beeching speaks to us. And each time she does speak, she puts herself in the firing line of those who disagree and are fuelled by hatred. For someone who has to deal with significant mental and physical ill health she is very brave.
Undivided will be read easily by anyone – Christian or otherwise – who shares Vicky Beeching’s LGBT+ religious views. I recommend it to them but also to anyone who doesn’t. The book makes no demands. As all good thinkers do, Beeching proposes and leaves it to her readers to decide. Of course, if they come away agreeing with her, all to the good; but even if they don’t, I think it would be enough if theyat least take on board the quotation from Billy Graham that Beeching provides. To paraphrase it, let God judge, the Holy Spirit convict, and us, love.
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love – St. John of the Cross
Credit Where It’s Due
Front Cover of Undivided – Audible