Wednesday, June 4, 2014
God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships
by Matthew Vines
Convergent Books 2014
213 pages Spiritual
God and the Gay Christian is written by a young, conservative Christian gay man. Within the framework of Biblical exegesis, Vines takes on the scriptures that are traditionally used to speak against homosexuality. He looks at the verses and shows how they are taken out of context, or how they couldn't possibly have meant what the nit-picky Bible reader thinks they mean, or how the values portrayed in isolated verses of the scripture have no meaning for today's world. This is a young man on a search for his own Christian faith, for his own values, and for his own understanding of who he is as a gay man. Frankly, a PhD Biblical scholar could not have done a better job.
Vines explains the historical context of the scriptures and offers an interpretation that helps the Christian form a new opinion about their gay Christian brethren. He calls those who decry homosexuality in Christ's name "non-affirming," but his primary attempt is to help his own family come to an understanding of their son and brother as a child of God. "While we are infinitely small in the grand scheme of things, we also have intrinsic value. This belief is shared in some form by many cultures and worldviews, and . . . it is deeply embedded in the Christian faith. The Bible teaches that, as human beings, we are made in the image of God, a doctrine that Christians have long understood to form the basis of our inherent value." If that is the case, then we are ALL formed in God's image. This is how we find our worth, and when we tell our homosexual brethren that there is something wrong with them, we are denying them their infinite worth. He says, "In the final analysis, it is not gay Christians who are sinning against God by entering into monogamous, loving relationships. It is WE who are sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships."
Much of what he discusses I learned long ago in seminary. However, often what preachers learn in seminary is not what they preach, and even if they learn the historical context of the scripture, they tend to take the scripture at face value when they preach from the Bible. After I read a positive review of the book on the Pathos website, which appears to be a progressive website, I then turned to a more conservative review, which of course, sought to downplay the book and threaten that Vines had perverted the scripture for his own gain. It was hard to concentrate on the negative review on The Christian Post website because of the Claritin, Tampax and toothpaste ads that blared loudly in the background. I had to wonder who was perverting the scriptures—Vines or The Christian Post.
Vines writes like a Biblical scholar—actually he is a self-trained Biblical scholar. His words are refreshing, and the time is right for the message of Bible to be looked at through fresh eyes. I commend his work to you. It could very well be that his book could turn the conversation around among conservative Christians.
Recently, I went with several family members to a presentation of the video Seventh-Gay Adventists. While the screening was at a Quaker meeting house, most of the people in attendance were young Seventh Day Adventists. We were invited by our friend Beth, a deeply devout Christian woman who happens to be a Lesbian in a committed relationship. I was struck by the power of the documentary and the conundrum that the three people profiled found themselves in. They wanted to be part of the religious community, but the shortsightedness of the church confounded them. Of course, as the mother of a gay man, I just wanted to shake these people. "Can't you see?" my mind yelled at the screen. "These are children of God that you are rejecting because of your own stupidity." I would recommend this documentary as a companion piece to the book God and the Gay Christian.
Here is a link to the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/user/sgamovie
For a summary of the chapters read the review on the Pathos website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2014/05/review-of-god-and-the-gay-christian.html
The review in the Christian Post: http://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelicals-review-matthew-vines-god-and-the-gay-christian-book-118386/
Matthew Vines website: www.matthewvines.com