In previous posts I have discussed Matthew Vines’ new book: God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Regarding this book, Christian Post published an article entitled “Evangelicals Review Matthew Vines’ ‘God and the Gay Christian’ Book.”
Andrew Walker’s Response
This Christian Post article includes a proposed response by Andrew Walker, Director of Policy Studies for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, should Vines read this article.
Aware that Vines may read his review, Walker says the first thing he would do is tell Vines that he loves him and that he deserves dignity and respect.
“I would apologize to him for what I can only assume are the countless insensitivities and insults he’s experienced as a same-sex attracted person. I would also apologize to Matthew for the pat, unhelpful answers and rejection he’s received from Christians who don’t know how to speak about homosexuality.”
He adds, however, that he would also tell Vines that he has been “deceived.”
“He’s believed the lie that homosexuality will prosper his life.”
He says he would also “implore Matthew to repent of a book designed to cast a shadow of suspicion and doubt about the Scripture’s teaching on sexuality;” and “exhort him to a path of discipleship with incalculable unknowns – unknown difficulties I will not experience and can only sympathize with. But I will commend him to set his desires before the cross, knowing that Jesus is better than any desire we think needs satisfied; that Jesus is better than marriage, than children, than sexual fulfillment itself.”
Walker’s response includes conveying his love and expression of dignity and respect for Vines, apologizing to him on two counts for acts that Walker did not commit, indicating that Vines’ was deceived, and sympathizing with his struggles should he choose to live biblically.
Some Biblical Responses to Sinful Acts
In evaluating this response, I believe it would be helpful to compare it with responses in the New Testament toward those performing acts injurious to the church and the advancement of the gospel.
Ananias and Sapphira sold property, conveyed that they give all the proceeds to the church, but held back parts for themselves. Here is Peter’s response to Ananias:
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4 ESV)
Notably absent are Peter’s expression of love and respect as well as his apology. Peter might have said something to the effect that the fact that Ananias was about to be smitten dead should not be viewed as conveying a lack of appreciation for what they had given even though it was not the total amount, and that he apologized if it came across that way.
Then there is the Apostle Paul’s rejoinder to Elymas, who had just opposed Paul’s attempt to share the gospel. His response went like this:
But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. (Acts 13:9-11 ESV)
Since this was his first stop on his first missionary journey we might attribute Paul’s harsh tone to a rookie mistake or perhaps a flashback to his old days as a Pharisee. However, this explanation doesn’t work because immediately preceding the response the passage tells us that Paul was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, this message is actually from the Holy Spirit communicated through Paul. Here, too, notably missing are the expressions of love, respect, apology, and sympathy.
Comparing these biblical responses to the one offered by Walker, his retort reflects all of the backbone of a marshmallow peep. This leads to the question of why all the syrupy sweet rhetoric directed at one whose work has the potential to be so destructive to the church.
Vines’ book could do as much if not more harm than the works of those in the biblical examples above. His intention is to make the people of God believe homosexuality per se and committed homosexual relationships are biblical. If he succeeds on his diabolical mission this could result in the evangelical Christian church embracing practicing homosexuals, which would result in the loss of whatever is left of the church’s power and the withdrawal of God’s blessing on it.
Paul unequivocally teaches: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:17 ESV) This verse indicates that unless he repents, the judgment of God will fall on Matthew Vines, if not in this life then in the next. In Walker’s sugarcoated response he failed to mention this prospect.
Please don’t misunderstand. My problem is not so much with Andrew Walker as with contemporary evangelical Christianity that he so accurately represents. The weakness of the church in addressing wickedness results from the weakness of its view of God. I am convinced that most evangelicals don’t really believe that God will destroy Matthew Vines as Scripture states. Therefore, it assures him of God’s love rather than warning of His judgment. In the name of love it commits the most unloving act of all in failing to warn of judgment ahead.