Reformation or Revolution? A Review of God and the Gay Christian

Note: A PDF of this review is available here.

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Introduction
Summary
Interaction
Conclusion
Pastoral Considerations
Resources for Review

Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian, New York: Convergent, 2014. 213 pages

Introduction

Imagine a book with a thesis that calls into question 2,000 years of established Christian theology and biblical exegesis. It recasts basic principles of biblical anthropology and human embodiment. It also puts two millennia of faithful obedience to divine revelation on the side of injustice and ignorance. Now, Christians are accustomed to either non-Christians or liberal Christians making claims of this nature, but not from individuals supposedly nestled confidently within the evangelical camp.

This week a book making such claims is hitting bookshelves written by a young author named Matthew Vines.

Readers may not be familiar with Matthew Vines. But you will need to know him, for the movement he is leading aims to change the way the evangelical church thinks about human sexuality. At the very least, his work will help advance the coming rupture in the evangelical church at large over issues of sexuality.

Vines is a former Harvard student whose 2012 video taking aim at the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality went viral. Raised in a conservative evangelical home, Vines struggled with his sexuality while attending Harvard. Finally admitting his same-sex attraction, he came out as gay, left school, returned home, and devoted himself to studying all that the Bible teaches on homosexuality. He emerged from his study convinced that loving and committed same-sex relationships are consistent with the Bible and evangelical faith.

He has not only come to terms with faithful homosexual relationships, Vines has become an activist determined to alter the church’s long-held belief that homosexual conduct is sinful. Vines’ organization, “The Reformation Project,” has one, clear, unmistakable goal in mind: to see the Christian church affirm homosexual relationships. His new book, God and the Gay Christian, is the first step in a larger effort to fundamentally recast long-held, universally acknowledged norms pertaining to sexual ethics.

What makes Vines’ book unique is that Vines does not consider himself a theological liberal. He proudly brandishes the identity of a conservative evangelical, claiming to uphold the authority of Bible, affirming its full inspiration and authority. Throughout the book, he quotes John Piper and Tim Keller, thus signaling his evangelical bona fides.

In the marketing materials for God and the Gay Christian, Vines is a theological wunderkind having found the formula for making biblical authority and homosexuality compatible. Vines no doubt believes the authenticity and sincerity of his interpretation and indeed, that is where the heart of this book resides. As the reader soon discovers, Vines doesn’t believe the error in understanding homosexuality is found within the Scriptures, but in our interpretation. Along these very lines, he cites Galileo’s embattlement with the Catholic Church to help justify the new rationale he’s advocating. Like Vines, Galileo wasn’t advocating the abandonment of Scripture, but certain interpretations of Scripture in light of new discoveries about the universe. For Galileo, it was a heliocentric universe. For Vines, it’s the recognition that homosexuality according to our modern understanding is morally praiseworthy. He writes: “My larger argument is this: Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships” (3). He attempts to maintain an evangelical account of biblical authority while attributing error to reader interpretation. What I hope to show in this review is that the integrity of Vines’ interpretation is an anomaly unfitting for evangelical consumption or approval.

A few comments are needed, however, about the timing and context of this book.

If I were mapping a playbook for the gay rights movement, this book is an important point in the strategy. It has to be written in order to introduce confusion within the evangelical firmament, one of the last remaining constituencies in America that has not embraced homosexuality with gusto. 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.

Vines will have succeeded in re-fashioning evangelicalism in his image by allowing sexuality to be treated hermeneutically akin to baptism or the Lord’s Supper. If Vines can blur the lines of interpretation, such that evangelicals can rest at ease with “disagreement at how best to interpret Scripture on sexuality,” he will have succeeded. If he can convince evangelicals that sexuality is an issue that can be reduced to secondary status, such as the mode of baptism or the proper form of church governance, his efforts will have succeeded. That’s what makes this book so pernicious: It’s primed to strike at a time when many evangelical Christians are looking for a way to bail on historic Christian teachings on sexuality—because it makes us culturally foreign and estranged, unsophisticated, non-cosmopolitan, and—gasp—unpopular.

Indeed, if I were a mega-church pastor who stood to gain or lose on this issue and I was wanting to bypass the contentious debate on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, God and the Gay Christian is the book I’d look to and handout to members of my church.

It’s rather appalling that Vines’ organization is called “The Reformation Project,” a title synonymous with the movement of Martin Luther, because there’s a simple, yet glaring error in how he understands the reference to “Reformation.” Luther never believed the church had been in error from its beginning. He wasn’t calling for the rejection of long-held beliefs; instead, Luther was reaffirming the faith “once and for all delivered to the saints.” Vines, in contrast, is calling for Revolution, the type consistent with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Vines believes the church has been wrong for 2,000 years. The early Church Fathers—wrong. Augustine—wrong. The Roman Catholic Church—wrong. Luther, Calvin—all wrong. But I wonder if Vines is willing to accept the alternative—that he’s wrong? Here are the stakes of this book: If Vines is right, the Christian Church must repudiate its long-held teaching. But if Vines is wrong, he isn’t just leading people down the path of error; he’s leading people down the path to hell by denying that homosexual sin needs to be repented of.

Summary

If I was to condense the substance of Vines’ book, here’s what is happening: Vines has compiled liberal biblical scholarship and popularized it for a non-technical audience. Let me be clear: Vines is not advancing new arguments. In fact, his work draws largely from existing gay-affirming scholarship. Vines is making liberal scholarship accessible for common audiences and then compounding its effect by bringing in the emotionally laden context of our times.

Space prevents me from working through a thorough chapter-by-chapter synopsis and the arguments he cites with each relevant text, though resources to counteract his hermeneutical errors will be provided. I would, however, like to hit upon four significant arguments that Vines advocates and considers central in each chapter of his book. These theses form the basis of his interaction and criticisms of the six “clobber passages” in Scripture that condemn homosexuality. What Vines does is filter each of the six passages through his hermeneutical grid, thus allowing him to say that the Bible intends or can be adapted to communicate his point of view, but got lost in a sea of misunderstanding and bigotry.

There are four main theses of God and the Gay Christian. I’ll explain each thesis separately and then provide interaction in a following section.

Thesis 1: Vines believes the historic position that the church has held on homosexuality leads to “bad fruit” in the lives of homosexuals.

Drawing off imagery used by Jesus, Vines insist that only practices that enrich a person’s life meet the criteria of “good fruit.” Hence, the historic Christian position that celibacy and chastity is expected for all those with same-sex attraction is considered “bad fruit,” because it consigns would-be committed, loving same-sex couples to a life of separation, psychological duress, and unrequited love.

His sexuality made him uncomfortable with the Bible’s prohibition on homosexuality and he began “losing confidence in the belief that same-sex relationships are sinful: it no longer made sense” (12). He continues: “As I became more aware of same-sex relationships, I could not understand why they were supposed to be sinful, or why the Bible apparently condemned them. With most sins, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint the damage they cause. Adultery violates a commitment to your spouse. Lust objectifies others. Gossip degrades people. But committed same-sex relationships did not easily fit that pattern. Not only were they not harmful to anyone, they seemed to be characterized by positive motives and traits instead, like faithfulness, commitment, mutual love, and self-sacrifice” (13).

So, for Vines, “If something bears bad fruit, it cannot be a good tree. And if something bears good fruit, it cannot be a bad tree” (15). Homosexual relationships, for Vines, bear good fruit.

It is important to recognize here that Vines’ a priori assumption brings a moral category to the Bible itself without first subjecting one’s moral assumptions to the text itself.

Thesis 2: The world of the Bible does not speak to the issue of a modern and comprehensive understanding of sexual orientation.

Says Vines:

“Same-sex behavior in the first century was not understood to be the expression of an exclusive sexual orientation. It was understood as excess on the part of those who could easily be content with heterosexual relationships, but who went beyond them in search of more exotic pleasures” (129).

“The Bible does not directly address the issue of same-sex orientation—or the expression of that orientation. While its six references to same-sex behavior are negative, the concept of same-sex behavior is sexual excess, not sexual orientation. What’s more, the main reason that non-affirming Christians believe the Bible’s statements should apply to all same-sex relationships—men and women’s anatomical complementarity—is not mentioned in any of the passages” (133).

Thesis 3: The Bible speaks without any reference to the modern knowledge of faithful, loving, and committed same-sex couples.

Pertaining to Romans 1, Vines says that Paul omits all references to “love, fidelity, monogamy, or commitment. So should we understand Paul’s words to apply to all same-sex relationships, or only to lustful, fleeting ones? How we answer that question has profound implication for our conversation in this book. If there is a substantial difference between the type of behavior Paul condemned and the intimate, committed relationships of gay Christians, then he has not relegated our gay friends and loved ones to the proverbial dustbin. But if his moral objection in Romans 1 was not primarily about lustfulness, but about the anatomical complementarity of men and women intended by ‘nature,’ then that rationale would extend to all same-sex relationships” (102).

Vines believes that Paul is condemning sexual acts based on “excess passion.”

Thesis 4: The patriarchal context within the world of the Bible explains the prohibitions against homosexuality.

Vines writes about “Customary and Uncustomary Gender Roles,” saying:

“In the ancient world, if a man took the active role in sex, his behavior was deemed ‘natural.’ But if he took the passive role, he was derided for engaging in ‘unnatural sex.’ The opposite was true for women: Sexual passivity was termed ‘natural,’ while sexual dominance was ‘unnatural.’ Same-sex relations challenged those beliefs about nature and sex by putting a male in the passive role or a female in the active role. That inversion of accepted gender roles, combined with the non-procreative character of same-sex unions, is why ancient writers called same-sex behavior ‘unnatural’” (111).

He continues: “These texts show how the terms ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ were used in ancient writings. They were not synonyms for ‘straight’ and ‘gay.’ They were boundary markers between what did and did not conform to customary gender roles in a patriarchal context” (112).

Gender roles, Vines argues, issue from a patriarchal worldview evident throughout antiquity and within the world of the Bible. In a time where women were seen as inferior to men, it would be wrong for a man to place himself in the passive and thus, female, role in sex. This thesis allows for Vines to see Scripture prohibiting excess lust and passion, not a normative condemnation of homosexuality itself. He says that the argument against homosexuality based on “nature” and “anatomical complementarity” as evidenced in the work of Robert Gagnon is “speculative” (114). So according to Vines, Scripture does not condemn homosexuality, what it actually condemns—by way of patriarchy—is a man mimicking a women’s role in sex. Had Paul had a modern understanding of sexual orientation, Vines believes the Scripture’s narrative arc would lead toward condoning and celebrating homosexuality and “marriage equality.”

Aside from offering personal biography peppered with a highly unusual concept of celibacy, Vines spends the middle section of his book addressing and correcting what he sees are wrong interpretations of the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. Vines presents the offending text, offers rebuttal from liberal scholarship, and then weaves in either one or all theses mentioned above. He concludes that the church throughout the ages has been, ostensibly, “on the wrong side of history” when it comes to biblical interpretation.

What one will observe is that refashioning of texts condemning homosexual conduct also requires Vines to refashion central themes of the entire Bible. For example, he is forced to render established principles such as the complementarity of human physiology and anatomical complementarity as irrelevant to the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and marriage. He is forced to extinguish the significance of Ephesians 5 from its immediate context. [1] Vines writes,

“So according to Ephesians, gender difference is not necessary to become one flesh in Bible’s understanding of those words. What is necessary is that two lives are joined in the context of a binding covenant” (148).

A similar move is made in his re-interpretation of Romans 1 and Genesis 1-3. Vines is forced to advance untenable and awkward interpretations that wreak havoc on the text’s authorial clarity—that God’s creation of male and female is somehow not uniquely orientated around biological difference, but rather “covenant keeping.” And, ostensibly, Jesus must be wrong in affirming the creational structure of marriage in Matthew 19:4-6. And this is the key problem with Vines’ project: To accept his arguments, one has to question almost the entire narrative of Christianity’s most basic teachings—marriage, human embodiment, biblical anthropology, etc. Vines’ interpretations require that we overturn two millennia of church teaching.

Interaction

For saying he has a high view of the authority of Scripture, Vines is wholly dependent on scholars and books that are no respecters of biblical authority. He has drawn exclusively from a pool of scholars stalwartly liberal and hostile to evangelical hermeneutics. What Vines has done is put together a piecemeal re-telling of liberal hermeneutics for a lay-level readers.

First, Vines’ interaction with conservative scholarship is specious. While he likely has read and interacted with individuals such as Robert Gagnon, he did not elucidate any clear interaction with heavyweight scholarship such as Gagnon in the book. Dismissively, at one point Vines calls Gagnon’s work “speculative” on the issue of creation and human nature, something that cannot be done against the weight of evidence in The Bible and Homosexual Practice, what many consider the definitive work on the topic.

But as to the larger aspects of his four main arguments, responding to Vines can be done in tandem.

It becomes apparent from the introduction that Vines’ basic thesis regarding orientation is not derived from the text of Scripture. Rather, the moral force of his argument in favor of legitimizing homosexual desire is used to explain away the text. Which is to say, he’s relying on some other authority for his basic claim—namely, an extra-textual moral authority that neither the history of scriptural interpretation nor church history considers valid. This is evidenced immediately by way of his appeal to “good fruit” and “bad fruit.” Vines does not appeal to the actual exegesis of this imagery in Scripture, but rather employs it in order to enact a moral pronouncement based on a lived and subjective experience. Vines’ argument is first a moral presupposition, followed by a belief that the Scriptures could affirm homosexuality based on the cavalier exegesis and theological interpretation he offers.

Let’s examine Vines’ second assumption: The Bible is silent on “sexual orientation.”

First, just because the biblical authors may not have elucidated an understanding of sexual orientation in modern terms, it does not mean that they didn’t have at least some recognition that individuals of their time were expressively and uniformly homosexual. This is the point that Gagnon makes in his work.

Gagnon has showed convincingly in his volume that New Testament writers like Paul wrote in a context that “could not have been unaware of the existence of men whose sexual desire was oriented exclusively toward other males.”[2] Gagnon cites multiple classical sources that demonstrate this familiarity. To insist, as Vines does, that a classical Greek like Paul would have lacked this understanding lacks warrant itself. Vines merely assumes that Paul could not have familiarity with this concept, despite classical sources proving otherwise. Vines nowhere proves that Paul lacked familiarity with men interested in homosexual relations only. Moreover, an argument in favor of orientation and against conduct is a bifurcation read into the text.

Scripture may not have a highly developed explanation for the modern categories of same-sex attraction such that is a now an “orientation.” In one sense, it’s anachronistic to read our time back into Paul’s. But Paul was not ignorant. He was a man of his times, steeped in the soaring intellectual arguments of his day. He was also infused with the Spirit of God to author what he did. A well-developed understanding of “orientation” in modern terms does not mean that a semblance of this feature is absent from Scripture. What Scripture does unequivocally prohibit and consider sinful, however, is the manifestation of these desires in homosexual sex. Working backwards, it seems sensible to conclude that if the branch (homosexual sex) is considered falling short of God’s intended sexual design, so too is the root (homosexual attraction/desire/attraction).

Liberal scholar William Loader—who is in favor of same-sex marriage—has acknowledged similar claims in his book The New Testament on Sexuality.

Loader states that Paul’s indictment of homosexual relations in Romans 1:26-27 “included, but [was] by no means limited to exploitative pederasty,” “sexual abuse of male slaves,” or “same-sex acts … performed within idolatrous ritual contexts” (325). “Without differentiation he condemns all with such sexual attitudes and desires” (326). Same-sex relationships in the Greco-Roman world “could include lifelong consensual adult partnerships” (324). “It is inconceivable that [Paul] would approve of any same-sex acts if, as we must assume, he affirmed the prohibitions of Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 as fellow Jews of his time understood them” (322). Again, “it is also hard to imagine that Paul would approach [issues of homosexual practice] without awareness of the prohibition of same-sex relations in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which had come to be applied to both men and women” (314).

This is a devastating blow to Vines’ entire argument. Indeed, the hinge of Vines’ argument is really whether Paul and the Bible have a comprehensive understanding of human sexuality vaguely reminiscent of “sexual orientation.” The question of gay identity is superfluous from the condemnation of acts that issue from a gay identity.

As to Vines’ third and fourth theses, he writes that Paul is in fact writing within a patriarchal worldview and views the female sexual role as unfitting for a male to perform. But there’s an authorial intent question at play, one especially relevant to questions of biblical inspiration: Doesn’t Paul still have the right to say, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that sodomitical acts—whether lustful or monogamous—are wrong; that a man should not penetrate another man in a way that chafes against sexual design, regardless of a patriarchal context? Vines assumes that it could only be patriarchy that accounts for a condemnation of sodomy, something that he infers and does not exhaustively demonstrate. What Vines ignores is that even loving, committed, and monogamous homosexuals are engaged in a sexual act that Paul finds contrary to sexual design. That Paul would enlist sodomitical acts as a particularly vivid illustration of human rebellion in Romans 1, it seems compelling that the repugnance that Paul displays is characteristic of all sodomitical acts, lustful or monogamous.

Gagnon writes:

The description of excess passion was a way of demeaning a desire that on other grounds had already been evaluated as abominable; otherwise, how would the author know to characterize the passion as excess? In other words, the characterization of homosexual desire as excessive lust is incidental or supplementary to a prior revulsion toward such conduct.[3]

If Vines’ thesis about sexual orientation is knocked down (and we have historical and textual evidence that it should be) his other arguments fall as well. For if homosexuality—whether in orientation or in practice—is considered a disordered passion, then commitment and monogamy are irrelevant. And so is the question of patriarchy. If Paul is correct in holding to a sexual teleology inherited from a Jewish worldview that saw sodomy as inherently sinful, charges that Paul viewed women as somehow inferior is sublimated under the larger concern that men should not be performing deviant sexual acts—not because they shouldn’t be acting like women, but because anatomical structure was not designed with such actions in mind. Again, one can accept Vines’ argument only if he’s argued convincingly against other themes such as “one flesh” and “nature,” which he has not.[4]

Every issue related to sexual and anatomical complementarity is done only in the context of charges of patriarchy. He simply does not posit any meaningful interaction about the anatomical difference of male and female. For Vines, the Bible cannot posit positive teaching about the significance of male and female embodiment, for if it does, it chafes against his argument. Additionally, questions about human embodiment and sexual architecture are simply missing. From this vantage point, procreation is merely ancillary to the biblical drama that promises salvation through a procreative vehicle (Gen. 3:15).

Throughout the volume I found myself having to willfully suspend disbelief in order to accept his hermeneutics. That’s not because I’ve been immersed in evangelical interpretations such that I’ve become immune from finding liberal arguments compelling, but simply because the interpretations Vines offers are, simply, bizarre.

Vines may read this review and reply, “That’s what I’m saying, the Bible is far more complex on these issues than supposedly ‘settled interpretation’ would have one think.” But this belies a key fault at play in Vines’ work: There are credible and overwhelming amounts of biblical scholarship confirming the traditional biblical interpretation concerning homosexuality. What Vines does is use a set of moral assumptions, insisting that those moral assumptions have to be accounted for, and then finds a way to explain away what the text seems to be saying on the surface. The question for him therefore becomes: What is the basis for this moral assumption that homosexual acts are morally legitimate?

If we account for the Bible’s traditional teaching on homosexuality being correct (and we have exegetical and historic evidence to suggest it is), Vines has two options: 1) To abandon the Bible’s authority, thus negating his evangelical credibility; or 2) Be at peace with representing a minority opinion within biblical scholarship, an opinion that goes against settled scholarship that both liberals and conservatives accept. It seems best to suggest that Vines take “option 1” and admit his disavowal of biblical authority.

But there’s a question that left me with an ache about this book. Matthew Vines is clear that homosexuality and homosexual marriage are to be embraced and celebrated in the life of the church. But here’s my question: If something so vital to Christian theology and human existence has been left ignored and so patently in error, how did it get left out until now? Why should we believe that the church is wrong, now, on issues like sexuality? If there were an opportunity for same-sex marriage and homosexuals to be given its equal place, wouldn’t it have been given its place already—especially in a far more homoerotic culture such as Greek and Roman culture? If we can’t trust the church’s history of interpretation on such things as sexuality, what can we trust it with?

Conclusion

It is likely that Matthew Vines will read this review. As I wrote it, I thought to myself, what would I tell Matthew if we were to sit down over coffee and discuss his book?

First, I would tell him that I love him, and that he’s deserving of dignity and respect as an image bearer of God. 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.

Secondly, I would give him a copy of Wesley Hill’s book. I would point him toward the testimony and work of my friend Sam Allberry’s book and heroic ministry, Living Out. I would tell him of Rosaria Butterfield, whose testimony is a witness to the power of the gospel. I would be honest and tell him that these ministries provide more hopeful, and holistic narratives.

Third, because I love and respect him, I would be compelled to tell him that he’s deceived. He’s believed the lie that homosexuality will prosper his life. Fourth, I would implore Matthew to repent of a book designed to cast a shadow of suspicion and doubt about the Scripture’s teaching on sexuality. Fifth, I would 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. I would tell him about costly obedience. I would tell him about radical self-abandonment, something I imperfectly attempt each day. I would tell him the story of the Rich Young Ruler, reprised for today, and reframed around the issue of sexuality. I would tell him that the gospel subverts the very points at which we say, “Yes, Lord, but…”

Pastoral Considerations

What follows are abbreviated points on why pastors should be aware and ready for this book to spark conversations amongst their members.

  • The book subverts how Lordship and sexuality are inextricably bound.
  • It casts a shadow on the clarity and rationality of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.
  • The authority Vines insists upon casts a shadow over the heroic testimonies of those who have gone above and beyond their sexual desires.
  • For saying he has a high authority of Scripture, Vines has marshaled evidence from authors and volumes that do not.
  • Vines does not clarify that while not all individuals may be called to a life of celibacy, all individuals without a spouse are called to exercise sexual chastity.
  • The book drives a wedge between our design and desire. According to a biblical template, our sexual desires should be oriented to how God intends human sexuality to function. A sentiment underneath Vines’ argument is this: “If it feels good, do it.” Vines makes the claim that an expectation of celibacy has evidence of bearing “bad fruit,” and thus, cannot be accepted. The problem, however, is that this idea assumes any innate attraction or desire must be acted upon in accordance with a person’s will. A proper evaluation, however, would understand that “innateness” is not a normative ethical category worthy of adoption.

Resources for Review

To church leaders, this book will be a pernicious attack on uninformed or easily persuadable Christians that are seeking to abandon the biblical and historic position. In an age when the church is being pressed in on both sides—those outside the church and those supposedly from within the church—it is incumbent that pastors ready themselves with key resources that counteract the errors advanced by individuals like Matthew Vines. Below is a collection of resources that should help. They provide hermeneutical responses to all the thorny issues related to biblical exegesis, along with pastoral responses on how churches should minister to individuals with persistent same-sex attraction.

[1] Because I lack the space to address every argument the book advances, it should be said that Vines’ re-interpretation of Ephesians 5 is disjointed bordering on dishonest. He writes “In keeping with the focus of Ephesians 5, the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one’s spouse in a relationship of mutual self-giving, which does not exclude same-sex couples” (146).

[2] Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), 385.

[3] Gagnon, 386.

[4] On the issue of “nature,” see Gagnon, 389-91.

About the Author

Andrew Walker is the managing editor of Canon and Culture. He also serves as the Director of Policy Studies for The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination’s entity tasked with addressing moral, social, and ethical issues. In his role, he researches and writes about human dignity, family stability, religious liberty, and the moral principles that support civil society. He is a PhD student in Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Andrew lives in Franklin, TN with his wife and daughter and is a member of Redemption City Church. You can find him on twitter at @andrewtwalk.

50 Comments

  1. Another good resource is _The Gospel and Sexual Orientation_ by the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, the same denomination in which Dr Butterfield has her membership. It’s available on Amazon or direct from the publishers at http://www.crownandcovenant.com/The_Gospel_Sexual_Orientation_p/ds535.htm

  2. Colin Reply

    The last gasps to hold back the flood of change. Dedicated rhetoric, but to use a favorite Hebrew expression, the writing is already on the wall. Millennial evangelicals have crossed the threshold of embracing same-sex relationships and there is no historical precedent or current evidence that they’ll turn back. In no more than two generations, this issue will be a thing of the past. Who knows? Maybe you’ll live long enough to be part of the change too before all this is said and done.

    • Im not so sure, Colin. Millennial evangelicals tend to not oppose gay relations in the secular arena, eg in terms of legality. But do they approve of same-sex marriage by Christians themselves?

    • Wesley Hill Reply

      Colin,

      I find it quite ironic that with the subject at hand (sinful nature of man) that you would use the word “flood”. When it was this very nature that caused the “flood”. It is evident that we humans have a sinful nature about us. Have you ever noticed that you have to be taught how to be good, but don’t have to be taught to be evil. The Bible teaches us how to obey God and it clearly teaches the homosexuality is wrong. The sinful nature of man is “arguing” with what the Bible says to try justify their sin. Nowhere in the Bible will you find God, Christ or anyone condoning homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage. You find the opposite. The very design of us humans is evident to how God intended it to be. It’s the sinful nature of man refusing to give up their free will and walk in God’s will is what has led man to try to justify their lust of the flesh. Man can pass as many laws as they want to “legalize” this sin, but that law only applies to the time here on earth. Once their time here on earth is done they will be judged under God’s law not man’s. There’s one reason why Matthew Vines cannot interpret the Scriptures correctly is because he doesn’t believe he’s sinning therefore he has unrepentant sin in his life. Therefore, the Holy Spirit does not dwell in his heart to help him interpret it correctly. He’s reading the Scriptures thru a sinful and harden heart. Matthew is basically saying “Yes God, you are righteous and holy God. You know what’s best for me…except for this part. You’ve got this part wrong.” Matthew and the rest of that community needs to surrender this sin to Christ. It’s why he went to the cross.

    • Ken Abbott Reply

      “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

      Early 18th-century England was rotting from the effects of gin. Then came the preaching of George Whitefield and the Wesleys, and the Great Awakening swept over the country, bringing great revival and social reform. But in 1720, nobody would have predicted anything other than continued degradation. Some historians credit the Great Awakening with rescuing England from its own version of the French Revolution.

  3. Marco Luxe Reply

    Can your admonition that “there are credible and overwhelming amounts of biblical scholarship confirming [ ] traditional biblical interpretation” be used to condemn all new Biblical scholarship? I think this empty tautology is bereft of thoughtful criticism.

    Your ending statement to church leaders seems just like what Galileo’s church prosecutors would have written against the new heliocentrism, or what 18th C. churchmen wrote against William Wilberforce’s new abolitionism. It seems like some new ideas turn out to be good ideas. Like with Galileo and Wilberforce, the Providence-inspired wisdom of humanity will soon reveal the truth. Your scattershot rejection of Vine’s ideas sounds desperate, so I think even you believe that “the arc of the universe is long, but that it bends toward justice, toward one Divine end towards which creation moves onward and onward, forever.”

    • Matthew Kelly Reply

      Characterizing Vines as Galileo here isn’t wise. What’s going on today isn’t progress, with respect to homosexuality being either ‘more generally accepted’ or ‘shoved down your throat’ depending on what flag your flying.

      Homosexuality is how it began. Marriage was the stabilizing force in civilization. Dennis Prager’s essay on the subject it the best, clearest explanation of this. We LEFT homosexuality behind. That we are considering it normative again, despite mountains of evidence against this, is evidence of the regression of civilization, not its advancement.

      Nothing is more ‘earth-centered’ than the notion that homosexual unions are good for either civilization or for the people in the union. It is definitively not good for children.

      With all the sturm and drang from the proponents of gay unions, and to all of their fellow travelers (Transexuals, pedophiles, necrophiles, etc.), and to all their arguments on how all of the evidence shows that these sorts of arrangements ultimately end up benefitting society, I say the following:

      “Eppur si muove” (And yet it moves). It only took the Church 500 years to get that apology to Galileo. I’m not sure we have that kind of time. Better we take up collections in church to fund a cure for homosexuality and pedophilia than to acquiesce to the lavender mafia.

    • Esther Munoz Reply

      The difference is that being on the ‘wrong side’ with regards heliocentrism won’t lead to an eternal separation from God…being on the wrong side of the homosexual debate will.

  4. Max Kuecker Reply

    Why do you want the church to divide over this topic? There are only 6 verses that discuss same-sex acts & a few others that you understand as saying marriage is only intended between people of the opposite sex. Why are we drawing the line in the sand about this, when the Bible has a lot more to say about hundreds of other topics, such as how we treat people in poverty & on the margins?

    • Justin Reply

      Max, God speaking “only 6 verses” is not the issue. One verse would be enough to settle the matter. If homosexuality is sin, then it is sin. And when the culture-at-large begins to aggressively abandon truth for sin and lies, then we must draw “lines in the sand.”

      Also, I disagree with your logic which ultimately states that we should not faithfully defend certain portions of the Scripture because there are “hundreds of other topics” that the Bible speaks of. Truth is truth, and, as such, it must be defended, no matter how much the world tries to minimalize certain aspects of it.

    • Royce Reply

      This is absolutely a “topic” or issue that the Church should and must divide over for it goes to the inerrancy of Scripture and the very Gospel itself. It goes to the heart of the Gospel. It goes to “In the beginning God…” It goes explicitly and specifically to the 1st & 2nd Commandments. Either one surrenders and accepts they are a creation made in the image of God or they create a god in their own image. One either surrenders their life to the Lord, dies to themselves, picks up their Cross, and follows Jesus or they don’t. Scripture talks about the false teachers who will lead others astray and the falling away and this is part of it.

    • I agree Max that this is not the only issue over which it’s appropriate to draw a line. But should a line be drawn at all? Yes. Scripture itself draws a line. A key line that is drawn is the one that divides those that gain salvation and those that dont. Scripture indicates in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that those who practise homosexual relations are on the side of the line where salvation is not granted.

    • Jesse Reply

      Max Kuecker

      I don’t think what he is doing should be considered “dividing the church”. Rather, I think he is setting out to correct a misconception and interpretation of scripture to fit a desire or need.

      For example:
      Oprah proposed that Jesus came to Earth to only show us to live. I don’t recall if she gave any form of scriptural basis for her belief, but it was still a belief and proposition of hers based to at least a slight extent on the Bible.
      Now, within in this scenario, would I not be allowed and would it not seem fit to correct this misconception and belief through writing or speech? Because obviously in Luke 19:10 it Jesus says he came to save the lost.
      Now, within this scenario, I am not correcting Opera to cause division, no am I correcting her to boast in my knowledge. Rather, I am correcting her out of love and desire to see such destructive propositions stopped out of my care for her and others.

      This may be a simple example but it is one that I think anyone can understand where Mr. Walker is coming from. This isn’t dividing the church but helping the church to become more biblicaly stable out of love for the church and for its people. Its also clear in Mr. Walker’s closing statement that he has good intentions.

      I hope I used the proper wording, and I hope you may understand the point is I am trying to get across

      Good day to you

  5. I think it was Thomas Oden, the former liberal theologian, who described the method of thinking that dominates our culture as “modern chauvinism.” He meant the underlying method that drives most of the thinking in our culture views old ideas as necessarily inferior to new ideas.

    I see this way of thinking so often regarding this issue it’s getting really old and tired. It’s just another old and tired justification for sin. Yes, there is an inevitability to sin but God’s judgment is also inevitable because He is good and holy. But God sent his Son Jesus to pay the price for sinners – not so that they will continue in sin – but so that they would be free from the power of sin. True evangelicals will not cut the nerve of the gospel.

    But because we love people, we call them to turn from what will eventually destroy them.

    Not to do so is not loving.

    Good work, Andrew. Continue to speak the truth in love.

  6. drdanfee Reply

    Interested believers or others might also benefit from reading Vines’ newly published book inside the more conservative or traditionalistic range of faith community witness and scholarship. For example, surely the following belong as neighbors of Vines? Andrew Marin’s Love is an Orientation. Gay Christian Network Director Justin Lee’s Torn: Rescuing the gospel from the Gays vs Christians debate. Plus if you really want even-handed scholarship, perhaps the gem of the mix is? Professor James V. Brownson’s book, Bible, Sexuality, Gender: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same Sex Relationships.

    All three and more are available on the Amazon website or your other favorite place to buy books.

    What helps make Brownson’s book so substantial is his carefully spelled out approach to scripture, carried out with even-handed attention to a very large part of the existing scholarship and exhortation range so far published. Surely the least controversial dimension of his work is that he consistently insists on understanding scripture in two key streams of context. First, the original historical-cultural contexts so far as we can honestly-accurately describe and reconstruct those contexts, plus using the salvation sweep of the entire Old and New Testaments as a corollary context for confessing Christians. If you want a good first working bibliography in these domains, you could do a lot worse than just dig into Brownson’s references and footnotes.

    I guess one should also know that Brownson is Professor of New Testament at a seminary with Reformed Church of American roots and vitalities. Each reader will have to weigh whether and/or how much the professor and his neighbors are in fact failing to read scripture seriously or thoughtfully or prayerfully.

    My main reaction to this particular review is that it is far too easeful in the ways it takes refuge from scholarship by both standing pat in a USA Southern Baptist position, while adopting not too subtle ideological tools to distance and weaponize the considerations of sexuality, embodiment, and anthropology. Any believer who thinks Genesis frames the so-called biological difference/complementarity revelation in a clear and final manner, has not probably read Brownson’s attention to all the ins and outs that might revolve (or not?) around this familiar contemporary theme.

    Finally? Well, I live in the twenty first century, and I have some research training. So for me, no part of this discernment/conversation will ever be complete without taking accurate stock of the empirical evidence – six to seven decades of solid human sciences hypothesis testing (mostly done and published after WW II). The clashes between supposedly traditional revelation and new empirical discoveries is indeed deeply relevant to this controversy.

    drdanfee

  7. Karen K Reply

    I appreciate the effort to try to engage here. But its going to take more than giving someone like Matthew a few books, an apology, and a request to repent. Its going to require *you*–wholehearted relationship. Make no mistake about it–you can argue until your blue in the face about Scripture, but if you do not address the despair that drives this search for an affirmative theology on same-sex relationships you will never make any headway. The real issue behind all these arguments is the very difficult reality of life-long single celibacy. With over 20 years of watching and being involved in ministry related to this issue, I can say without hesitation that the number one reason that devout Christians with same-sex attraction end up becoming affirming is because despite prayers and counseling and pleading and trying their sexual attractions did not change, and after 5 years, 10 years, sometimes longer the toll of life-long celibacy became too much. Not so much the lack of sex, but the lack of intimacy. No spouse, no children. Isolation.

    The fact is that studies show 44-80% of young evangelicals have sex before marriage. If we cannot even resolve the problem of young people waiting a mere few years before marriage to have sex, how do we address the demand of life-long celibacy? Of never having one’s own family? Also, Jesus, Paul, and the early church fathers, not to mention Martin Luther all suggested that celibacy was not something everyone could achieve. We need to have an honest conversation about this. Especially in our culture where there are no external supports to make chastity achievable. We let our young folk move out into their own apartments away from family living and then wonder why they “just can’t wait”. Will power is not enough. Falling in love actually affects the brain such that we are drunk. “Just wait” is like telling a drunk person to try harder to drive straight.

    What conversations are you helping to initiate to brainstorm ways to make life-long celibacy possible? Its one thing to say something is wrong, its another to provide the means to be able to live something out. And its easy to demand a sacrifice from someone else you are not willing to make yourself. If conservatives are so concerned about how this fundamentally affects civilization are they willing to put their lives where their mouths are? The best witness in this culture war would be heterosexual conservatives choosing to make life-long vows of celibacy as role models and examples. (And if its as achievable as conservatives espouse, it shouldn’t be a problem to find several young men willing to make this life long commitment–perhaps even one of your sons?) This would also give these conservatives a much better perspective of the ways the Church needs to change to incorporate unmarrieds, including providing kinship for people. Not just weekly potlucks, but actually family to live with for a lifetime. No one is meant to live alone or in serial roommate situations. We are designed for kinship. What are you doing to help create a culture where those who are forced to live life-long celibate lives have kinship? Are you willing to adopt someone like Matthew Vines into your family and let him live with you and share life together–for life? Can this conservatives do more than talk and hand out books? How much are you willing to sacrifice to really bring change?

    • Emily Reply

      Thank you. It’s so easy to tell someone they’re wrong. It’s harder to practice what you preach.
      A verse that I found very interesting is 1 Corinthians 7:1-7. It says that it would be best if no one was involved in sex, but since the temptation is so great, it is acceptable in marriage. Are homosexual attractions somehow less tempting than heterosexual attractions?

    • Esther Munoz Reply

      And the root of the dissatisfaction with life-long celibacy is because we’re looking for our intimacy & completeness in other people instead of Jesus. It’s only when we’re completely satisfied with Christ as our ALL that the fleshly desires start to fade. Not saying it’s easy…but Jesus never said following Him would be easy.

      • James Reply

        If that were true then Christians wouldn’t be married to begin with. If a strong straight christian still feels the need to get married does that mean he truely hasn’t surrendered to God?

    • James Reply

      Well said totally agree. What makes ALL gay Christiand such a good candidate for Celabacy?

    • Brian Jose Reply

      Great pastoral response. Thanks for that. It is interesting that it seems to have taken a generation or two for evangelicals to develop a high commitment to adoption after first adopting an anti-abortion stance. May calls like yours for radical re-orientation (see what I did there?) of family and community will become more frequent and heeded. The individualism of the West is poison in many ways. You’ve identified another in this post.

  8. Rev. Brad Vincent Reply

    Since you have written your critique of Matthew’s book in a spirit of love, I hope you will believe me when I say that I write this critique of your critique in the same spirit. I will try to be as concise as possible:

    #1 You are correct that Paul was very familiar with exclusively same-gender attractions and relationships. In fact, they were more prevalent and accepted during his lifetime than they are now.

    #2 You are also correct that celibacy does not automatically equate “bad fruit.”

    #3 You are correct that pastors must prepare themselves for the increasing amount questions their congregations will be asking.

    #4 Most importantly, you are correct in advocating that we should hold to a strict interpretation of the Bible.

    Unfortunately, you are also wrong about some very important aspects of this issue:

    #1 The original Hebrew in Leviticus condemns a “man who lies the lyings of a woman” which means a man who has sex with a woman’s husband.

    #2 Paul uses Greek words in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that he created by combining the above words as they were used in the Greek translation of Leviticus. Consequently, “man-bedder” mean’s someone one who “beds someone else’s man.”

    #3 As same-gender attraction is natural for homosexuals, they cannot be the people Paul is referring to in Romans or is 1st Timothy when he speaks of people “abandoning” their natural uses.

    #4 In Matthew 19:12, Jesus specifically told “eunuchs from their mother’s wombs” NOT to marry women. At that time, “eunuch by nature” was actually a legal classification for gay people.

    #5 The “traditional” anti-gay Biblical interpretation that you endorse was not the prevailing viewpoint of the early Christian church. In fact, it took over a thousand years to grow from a minority opinion to a majority opinion.

    I agree with you that Matthew is sometimes in error, but I’m afraid that you are the one who simply hasn’t done the theological and historical research, and you are severely mistaken regarding the essential questions on this topic.

    Your most profound mistake is believing that same-gender attraction is essentially about sexual activity. It isn’t a sexual orientation. It’s a love orientation. It begins long before puberty, and it continues long after passion has run its course. Unlike activities, an orientation isn’t something that a person can be celibate from, and it isn’t something someone can be repent. It is a state of being that imbues everything we do. Yes, at a certain level it is sexual, but it is also emotional, spiritual, and philosophical.

    Ultimately, you aren’t advocating that homosexuals stop having sex in the way they naturally have sex . You are advocating that homosexuals stop loving in the way they naturally love.

    With all due respect, if you are going to advocate a “radical self-abandonment” that requires people to reject the multi-dimensional love that God put in their hearts, I personally believe that you need to have a much more solid theological underpinning.

    I firmly believe that heterosexual Christians like yourself should take a step back and allow this debate to take place between homosexual Christians, because heterosexuals can’t even begin to understand the complexities involved.

    Lastly, pastors don’t just need to prepare themselves to speak to “uninformed or easily persuaded” Christians, and they don’t need to just prepare for “mistaken” young gay Christians like Matthew. They need to prepare themselves for the multitudes of older and wiser gay Christians who are increasingly unwilling to continue wandering in the wilderness. They want to come home, and they have the life experience and theological knowledge to know that the church made a mistake just like it did regarding slavery. Most importantly, they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and they have decided to stop listening to false teachings that the Holy Spirit tried to get them to ignore for most of their lives.

    How do they know anti-gay theology is a false teaching? As Matthew and you both mentioned, they know by the fruit. Is it the anti-gay theology or the gay-affirming theology that bears the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and integrity? Gay Christians know the answer to that in a way that you couldn’t possible understand.

    I humbly suggest that you defer to gay Christians in these matters and focus your energies elsewhere – feeding the poor for example. Speaking of which, since you referred to “sodomy,” I thought I should remind you that Ezekiel 16:49 states, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

    • Jamie Reply

      Rev. Brad,

      Thank-you for your wise, thoughtful and humble response. I am an evangelical Christian, seminary trained, evangelist to the core of my being, a lover of Jesus and I am embarrassed by most of the responses to this issue by my fellow evangelical Christians. We so often come across as judgmental, arrogant and devoid of grace….maybe because we are.

      Again, thank-you for your words.

      May the peace of Christ be with all God’s people and upon His Church.

  9. Royce Reply

    Mr. Walker, unfortunately, doesn’t even see that in his own writing he has shown that the homosexual agenda is winning. How many times does Mr. Walker use the word “gay”? Words have meaning and consequences. There is nothing “gay” about a harmful, destructive, perverted lifestyle that will lead to eternal damnation. Reportedly, the word “homosexual” is increasingly becoming a pejorative. Why? Could it be because it simply states exactly what is going on and doesn’t try to deceive or sugarcoat a perversion?

  10. Really….quite what is Walker talking about or (as it rather feels) boxing for? You don’t need to be any dyed in the wool theological liberal and I’m not to realize the Bible and St Paul cannot be authoritative for just anything and everything. Plainly American Christians have never let them be so or they would never have been so anti Paul as to have revolted against “appointed authority” to become a nation, Baptists would never have allowed women to preach and so on.

    One can only ever keep to the general spirit and design of scriptures as time goes by. The same Torah used to condemn gays would have hands cut off thieves Taliban style and women forced to marry their rapists. And what Christians could approve of that? Plainly there are levels and types of inspiration and sensible people must realize it. And why cite even Augustine or Luther as authorities, wise though they often were? The former believed it was more humble to pray to Mary than Christ, the latter preached an anti-Semitism poisoning all German society. These people cannot be our authorities. “Hear what the Spirit says to the churches” counts as much as scripture and Christian philosophers and there’s surely much offensive to the Spirit in the damage to lives (Vines’ “bad fruit”) that evangelical attitudes have done to gays.

    But…those who defend the Bible on the gay issue, how much do they quite know it? Even Matthew Vines and gay theologians wrongly assume there is nothing Jesus says or implies on the gay subject. This entire debate around homosexuality must be broadened and thrown more open. I have tried to do that most recently in the article “God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’ Vision
    http://bit.ly/1izBz2C

  11. Daniel Reply

    According to the resources that this book draws from, there are no credible references to those Theologians who hold the bible as Inerrant and true, just those who challenge the bible and don’t believe all of it’s truth. The church is to be a place where sinners are invited to come and embrace God’s word and there God changes hearts. Same sex marriage and Gay relationships are clearly declared sin in the bible and goes against the very foundations that God created and established in Genesis. It’s sinners are invited to come without a declaration of repentance and a life of Sanctification is dismissed, then the gospel therefore is removed which means the status of the church is now a community lodge or something else. This is a dividing issue because too many so called followers of Jesus don’t believe in sin anymore, they just want to live like they are athiests outside the church and then come worship God on their terms. All are welcome to hear the message of God, but acceptance of sin instead of repentance is a sign of the end!

  12. rosemary Reply

    Thanks so much Mr Walker for presenting the truth about homosexuality with clarity and exposing the deception. Those that will be deceived will be and we can only pray that they come to the knowledge of CHRIST on such issues. The Bible read with the love of God and the help of the Holy Spirit will always preserve one from such lies. God is not mocked rather such deceived people create spiritual problems for themselves and those who listen to them. Nothing new with such controversies as it was also in Jesus’s time. It is also not new to God. He knows our hearts. No Christian who daily fellowships with the Holy Spirit will ever be deceived on any matter. The anti Christian move is not new . I only urge all Christians to continue to love all people regardless of their opinion. Jesus taught and lived this truth and it triumphs over all controversies

  13. Wesley Hill Reply

    Max,

    There is not a “want” for the church to divide over this. The homosexual community that claim to be Christian expect the church to change the way we believe and to what the Bible says to justify their sin. Yes, and when the Bible “discusses” same-sex acts it clearly says it is forbidden. And when the Bible “discusses” marriage it’s between a male and female. You will not find it any other way. So if anyone tries to question or interpret it any other way they are falsifying the truth of the Word of God. The Christian community has been passive about this long enough. They’ve been trying to justify their sin every which way they can. Every Christian should draw the line in the sand now. Especially since they are now trying to change the Word of God. Christian business owners already can’t practice their moral religious beliefs in the way they run their business when dealing with this very issue and other issues. So when is enough is enough? When do you draw the line? If your a Christian and it goes against God’s Word, draw the line and defend His Word!

  14. C Boyer Reply

    Mr. Walker’s review of Vine’s book is intellectually challenging.

    When I speak to people on the topic of homosexuality and Scripture (by the way, I’m nobody famous) and whether or not people should discount what God says I emphasize: the first trick in Satan’s book (and his second, third, fourth….and last trick) is to get us to DOUBT THE VERACITY–TRUTHFULLNESS–OF GOD’S WORD. Satan did this with Eve (and Adam succumbed, too) by saying Yeah, did God really say you shouldn’t eat…? Then Satan went on to “explain” that even if God did say that that God was wrong Nay rather your eyes will be opened and you will be wise and be like God…
    Mr. Vines has succumbed to Satan’s age-old trick.
    Having illuminated that point, I will tell you what I say to all homosexuals or those who think God should “accept” them: God’s plan isn’t to make anyone into the worlds greatest heterosexual. God’s plan is to conform us into the image of His Son. Who fulfilled the whole law. Jesus could not even consider thinking of anyone as a sex object, much less a homosexual sex object. Heterosexuals are not to think of anyone–including their spouse–as a sex object. Before sin, God had to tell Adam and Eve to reproduce (have sex.) It wasnt’ even the first thing on their minds–and they were naked. How often do we hear of people who marry or get together solely becuase of sexual attraction and find that just doesn’t work out.

    Homosexuality is the sin that Scripture says it is. Jesus can take care of it, but the deal is not to “pray it away.” Confess it. Deny your sinful nature. Pick up the cross (the Lord’s cause) daily. And follow Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and by reading–then doing–Scripture, we become more conformed to Jesus’ likeness.

  15. james w Reply

    Excellent and useful commentary. Thank You.

  16. Right on, Andrew. Christians who think this is much ado about nothing are deluded and deceived. The very essence of the mystery of existence and redemption and Christ and the Church is bound up in our bodies and our sexuality. When God made Eve out of Adam he was saying much more than here’s how you have an orgasm or here is how you procreate. Woman made out of man was the very reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and thus become one flesh. This is a foreshadowing of the mystery of Christ and his bride the Church, the two becoming one.

    People who say there are only six references in the Bible about what has only been called homosexuality since the 1870s are simply ignorant of the Bible and the flow of redemptive history, as if the entirety of biblical sexual ethics can be proof texted with a handful of verses that explicitly mention it. Unfortunately, most evangelicals and Catholics are biblically and theologically illiterate, so are susceptible so the heresy that Vines is peddling. In the long run the truth will win out; it always does. Keep up the good work.

  17. Ken Reply

    Thank you for this very timely article addressing an issue Christians need to think through carefully. I admire the way you lovingly and sympathetically address Mr. Vines. But I find it very unfortunate that you go on to say, as if you agree, that church leaders will find his book “a pernicious attack on uninformed or easily persuadable Christians.” That’s language and thinking worthy of talk radio, not Christian love, which looks for and recognizes the best in people. A defense (in this case, of innate inclinations ) is not an attack.

  18. Sammy Reply

    Harvey Milk Stamped “Out” Forever !

    The Obama Cabal is behind universal GAYety with a “forever” postage stamp glorifying Harvey Milk, a Jewish homosexual predator “attracted to boys aged 15-19,” according to WikiAnswers! (Also see Wikipedia.)
    Global gaydom was even predicted by Jesus (see “days of Lot” in Luke 17 and compare with Genesis 19).
    And the Hebrew prophet Zechariah (14th chapter) says that during the same end-time gay “days” ALL nations will come against Israel and fulfill the “days of Noah” at the same time (see Luke 17 again) – a short time of anti-Jewish genocide found in Zechariah 13:8 when two-thirds of all Jews will die.
    In other words, when “gay days” have become universal, all hell will break loose!
    Shockingly, the same “days” will trigger the “end of days” – and when they begin, worldwide human government will quickly wind down in just a few short years! For the first time in history there won’t be enough time for anyone to even attend college, let alone have a family, save money, enjoy retirement, etc.
    One final thought. The more we see gays “coming out,” the sooner Jesus will be “coming down”!
    For more, Google or Yahoo “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up,” “Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality. When gays have birthdays…,” “FOR GAYS ONLY: Jesus Predicted…” and “USA – from Puritans to Impure-itans!”

  19. Archbishop Bain Reply

    You write that “I would exhort him to a path of discipleship with incalculable unknowns—unknown difficulties I will not experience and can only sympathize with. ” Since you exhort, you ought to expand on this topic. What do you think life will be like for Vines as he grows old alone, and dies alone? Do you think his married friends or a church full of married people will be an adequate substitute for the love of a spouse? If Our Lord ordered you to leave your wife and child and live alone the rest of your days, how would you feel? Could you do it?

    This is what you prescribe. Have the decency to look it in the face.

  20. Gary47290 Reply

    You state in your review:
    “the historic Christian position that celibacy and chastity is expected for all those with same-sex attraction”

    Wrong. Historically, the Church held that homosexual behavior a perversion per se. The Church had no concept of same sex attraction because it was incorrectly assumed such did not exist, and when same-sex activity occurred, was due to lust (or demon possession or what have you).

  21. L. Lee Reply

    The tempter has gained a great foothold when society accepts aberrant behavior. It is a LEAP further when the church chooses to lean on the understanding of human reasoning, rather than the revealed plan of God. Does not even nature itself…. Is it really love to undermine the foundations that would support struggling individuals or have we so believed the lie that we are greasing the slope into the abyss.

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