Matthew Vines’ book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, was released this past Tuesday. Vines has devoted significant time and effort to prove that the Bible condones same-sex relationships. He states his position as follows: “The Bible never directly addresses, and it certainly does not condemn, loving, committed same-sex relationships. There is no biblical teaching about sexual orientation, nor is there any call to lifelong celibacy for gay people….”
This is not an effort by an unbiased source to discover biblical truth but rather a crusade by a homosexual with a Christian background to prove his biblical right to gratify his homosexual desires. It might also be pointed out that Vines, who from a very young age has demonstrated entrepreneurial tendencies, stands to make a significant amount of money from this endeavor.
I have not read his book. I don’t plan to do so. I believe that the Bible is clear enough on this issue that spending money buying this book and taking time reading it are not warranted. In addition, I am not inclined to support Vines’ cause with God’s money. If a book comes out claiming biblical support of pornography as worship of God’s handiwork I won’t be buying that one either.
Has He Succeeded
But without reading, I believe that Vines’ will succeed in this sense. When Bill Clinton was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky affair, I recall feeling pity for those going on national television to defend him since they had absolutely no basis for doing so, only to watch them so muddy and confuse the issue that what was at the outset a clear case of immorality and deceit by the end of their defense was no longer so clear. “Does this really have anything to do with his functioning as President? Shouldn’t we be discussing his record and achievements? Do we examine everyone else’s sex life?” I realized at the time that anyone can defend position on any issue, if only by confusing the issue and distracting with other issues so as to muddy the waters. In fact, the Greek sophists were trained to do just that.
I am sure that Vines, a very smart person, will achieve that. He will be having some people say, “Well those passages may not be referring to committed homosexual relationships but promiscuous sexual behavior.”
This confusion will open the door for some evangelicals to claim that there are honest people taking differing scholarly viewpoints on this issue, and therefore we must be careful not to judge. Andrew Walker, Director of Policy Studies for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, expresses this concern as follows:
“This book need not be 100 percent compelling or accurate in order to succeed. All that needs to happen for Vines to claim victory is for his readers to be confused and not necessarily convinced of his argument.”
Motivations for Embracing Vines” Conclusions
Mere confusion on the homosexual issue can result in evangelicals warming to the idea because doing so provide a basis for calling a truce on this battlefront in the culture war. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler accurately observes that some evangelicals are “just trying to get out of this cultural pressure-cooker by finding the most convenient, persuasive off-ramp they can find.”
Other motivations also exist among evangelicals for at least believing Vines may have a point.
Accepting gays unconditionally fits into the contemporary evangelical template. Evangelicals only require a very small window through which to crawl to approach them with that message. Vines will provide a window sufficiently large for some.
Related to this, history is full of those desiring to present themselves as open-minded and insightful, wizened forward-looking thinkers rising above narrow, bigoted conservatives. Holding this intellectual high ground provides one with a sense of moral and academic superiority. Vines will provide these types with the opportunity for achieving this superiority. I can hear the thoughtful response already: “After reading his book I believe he makes some valid points.” Only the nuanced reader can see them.
Ken Wilson, a Vinyard pastor in Michigan has now concluded, “When the Bible prohibits same-sex sex, what was the historical context for that? There’s no real indication monogamous, gay partnerships were the aim of the biblical texts….” As Jennifer LeClaire observes regarding Wilson, “Now he goes down in evangelical history as perhaps the first pastor of a large church to come out of the closest in support of gays.” We can be sure that he won’t be the last.