Blog: God and the Gay Christian

By Mary Sinnamon

By Mary Sinnamon

In the book entitled, “God and the Gay Christian,” Matthew Vines outlines scripture passages that have caused the gay community severe grief and even death over the past several years. He wrote this book after examining other authors’ research and perspectives, studying scripture in different translations, and after reflecting on his own experiences as a gay Christian. He takes these passages and confirms that there is a better, more sophisticated, and loving way to interpret and understand them. He had collected information on the culture of the time and place in which the books of the Bible were written and analyzed the original language and terminology (e.g. Greek, Hebrew) of which the verses were written. That way, he could discuss the Bible verses appropriately in context with deeper insight, unlike those who have read and interpreted the verses frivolously at face value.

Library
I recommend this book as a good “first read” for Christians who are in the process of coming out and for the family of those who are coming out who are struggling to reconcile their family member’s sexuality with their spirituality. I believe this because it was the first thing I read after having come out myself and impacted my spiritual growth greatly. I also hope to share this with my family eventually. It is a relatively short and easy read while also including all the relevant and compelling arguments surrounding these Bible passages. Vines hits on many of the big topics such as Adam & Eve, the gift of celibacy, Sodom & Gomorrah, the laws in Leviticus, Romans 1, who will inherit the Kingdom of God, a biblical argument for marriage equality, the image of God, the hurts of the ex-gay movement, and the uplifting work & hope of the reformation project. He also discusses the importance of understanding sexuality as an “orientation” and the ways in which it affects how the Bible verses are interpreted. Vines examines all these topics and wards off the misconceptions bridging the gap between Christianity and the gay community.

Book CoverStain Glass

I don’t want to give away too much detail about this book because I want you to read it, rather than reading a giant paraphrase of it by me lol 😉 but I would love to share some of my favorite quotes that I’ve highlighted under various topics from the book. This way, you get a good sample/snapshot of what the book is like!

  1. About the laws in Leviticus & Paul’s idea of natural: “…Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish. And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.’ Yet Christians no longer regard eating shellfish or men having long hair as sinful.” (and there are many more laws that aren’t valid today!)
  2. Vine’s reflection on same-sex relations relative to sin: “…as I became more aware of same-sex relationships, I couldn’t 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 didn’t fit this pattern. Not only were they not harmful to anyone, they were characterized by positive motives and traits instead, like faithfulness, commitment, mutual love, and self-sacrifice.”
    “Sadly, negative attitudes toward gay relationships have led to crippling depression, torment, suicide, and alienation from God and the church. I suggested that, if for no other reason, those destructive consequences should compel Christians to take a closer look at the relevant Scripture passages.”
    “There was no word in ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Latin that corresponds to the English work for ‘gay,’ as the concept of an exclusive, permanent same-sex orientation is little more than a century old.”
  3. On sexual orientation: “…sexual orientation is not a choice, and it is highly resistant to change.”
    “If you are a straight Christian, I invite you to think about your own experience with sexuality. I doubt you could point to a moment when you chose to be attracted to members of the opposite sex.”
  4. On celibacy: “We can embrace gay relationships and maintain a traditional view of celibacy, or we can change our understanding of celibacy and keep a traditional view of gay relationships. But we cannot do both.”
    “…the New Testament endorses celibacy as an honored way of life. But at the same time, it makes clear that celibacy should be a voluntary choice, not an imposed requirement…Jesus said celibacy could be accepted only by ‘those to whom it has been given.’ Celibacy is a gift, and those who do not have the gift should marry”
    “…for those who have the gift, lifelong celibacy should at least be possible without causing them grave damage. Sadly, for many gay Christians, that isn’t the case.”
  5. About creation: “…the account of Eve’s creation doesn’t emphasize Adam’s need to procreate. It emphasizes instead his need for relationship…Adam’s spouse couldn’t have been a man any more than she could have been an infertile woman.”
  6. About Sodom: “Sodom’s sin was declared to be arrogance and inhospitality.”
    “…this (requesting Lot’s guests to have sex with them) was not an expression of sexual desire. It was threatened gang rape. In the ancient world, for a man to be raped was considered the ultimate degradation…Aggression and dominance were the motives in these situations, not sexual attraction.”
  7. God’s image: “In Genesis 1:27 ’in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’—most likely means ‘that both male and female are created in the divine image…[and] that all the dignity, honor, and significance of bearing the divine image belong equally to men and to women.’”
  8. About marriage: “In Jesus’s understanding of marriage, covenantal commitment is foundational. The ability to bear children is not.”
    “…and despite the significance of procreation in the Old Testament, infertile marriages were not considered illegitimate.”
    “What seems to me to be the most important in marriage is not whether the partners are anatomically different from one another. It’s whether the inherently different people involved are willing to keep covenant with each other in a relationship of mutual self-giving. Differences in personality, passions, careers, goals, and needs are the differences that require each partner’s self-sacrifice, which reflects Christ’s sacrificial love for us. Those kinds of differences, when valued and sacrificed for, bring the Bible’s basis for marriage to life. Same-sex couples can and do live out that deepest sense of difference.”

Oh my goodness gracious, now I’m writing the whole book. There’s no way one blog post can do it justice, so read it. It’s really great! 🙂

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Blog: My Story, Mary Sinnamon

By Mary Sinnamon

By Mary Sinnamon

It wasn’t until I was about 25 and having breakfast with my sister and two friends at The Friendly Toast in Boston that a very heavy burden fell off my shoulders that I had been carrying around my whole life.  I clicked well with our waitress and was talking to her a lot when my sister’s friend said, “Why don’t you just write your number on her hand or something? Woah…are you even into women?”  I faltered over how to respond, and apparently, not saying anything at all is the same as saying yes.  On the plane ride home to MI, my thoughts were running a thousand miles an hour—perhaps faster than the plane.  What will happen when the Baptist churches I would faithfully attend with my family find out? Could I ever go back? Will the Christian fellowship group I’m a part of at MSU kick me out? Let me still be a leader? How will my parents respond? I could feel that burden crawling back onto my shoulders again. Then a funny thing happened.  I realized I had sat in the wrong seat on the plane, yet no one made me move.  I looked at the man next to me and told him my concern. He smiled and said, “I’m sure it’s ok, you can stay.” I then noticed that he was wearing a rainbow bracelet.  I tend to be curious about bracelets because it seems like people always have a story behind them.  I asked him what his bracelet was for and he told me he is gay.  All the way home, we talked about life and the journey of coming out. I even told him my concerns about being Christian & how that would work. He said, “I know it’s scary, but some people will surprise you.” And that’s exactly what happened. I feel like God set up that encounter, and since then, I began my journey of coming out little by little to more people.

Mary (2)

I got mixed responses.  I found out a few of my closest friends weren’t surprised at all, they had always wondered if I was gay, and my family ended up being loving toward me. However, I did get some harsh messages from people within the Baptist church, and wasn’t allowed to become a leader for the college Christian fellowship group which hit me hard. But like my friend on the plane said would happen, a few people from my church and old college group came to me in support which surprised me a lot. However, it wasn’t enough to make me feel welcome at the Baptist churches and that small amount of support couldn’t change the fact that I couldn’t sign the contract (which blatantly condemned homosexuality) to be a leader for the fellowship group.  I then desperately wanted to belong somewhere, so I began looking up LGBT+ groups on campus, and luckily MSU is extremely friendly in that criteria. They had a lot of groups, and I was ecstatic when I realized that a club existed for Queer Christian people—QCROSS.  They happily welcomed me into their group and introduced me to affirming churches in the area, and I never before felt more at home.

All the way from kindergarten through high school graduation, I had attended a small, private Christian school in Troy, MI.  They were against a lot of things—homosexuality was towards the top of the long list.  My first crush was on girl in my sister’s class in elementary.  As I grew older, I came to the conclusion that my attractions were abnormal, even sinful.  Shame began to build within me till I felt like I could burst. I began to pray to God to be different, I kept praying those magical salvation words and getting re-saved over and over, and on multiple occasions I even asked God to take me to heaven because nothing I tried was changing me.  I ended up dating men only to get hurt or hurt them which struck my life with a lot of strife and anxiety.  After having come-out, I realized my relationship with God has grown exponentially stronger.  I finally felt whole.  However, attacks did come my way.  The most difficult thing to hear from people in my old church is their opinion on my walk with God.  People would write to me over the social media, and because I’m lesbian, they would “assume” I no longer go to church, that I never pray, that I’m promiscuous, that I’m just “confused,” and nothing could be farther from the truth.  The best piece of advice that I have from that experience is:  Never let anybody tell you how your relationship with God is.  Your walk with God is yours and yours alone.  I feel like God is for me, and even though I may not have realized it growing up, he has always been for me and has always loved me just the way I am. God wouldn’t have made me this way and will that I be alone.  That goes against His character and His entire reason for creating more than one human in the beginning (Genesis 2: 18 “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone…”).

I recently attended MBLGTACC in Normal, IL.  It was a complete culture shock for me, but I learned so much there.  I remember at the opening ceremony, Laverne Cox saying, “Hurt people hurt people.” Then at the ending ceremony, Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington said, “Self-work, healing, forgiveness, & self-love are necessary for acceptance of others.”  When you accept yourself for who you are, you are more capable of loving and accepting others, and others are more capable of loving you as well because you let them.  I think this is why my relationship with God grew so much stronger. The feeling of disappointing Him and feeling judged by Him ceased when I came to realize that I am just the way He made me to be and that I am worthy of his love.  So, it’s better.

Mary (3)

On a final note, Easter is approaching.  Remember, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. He didn’t just give His life for some people. He gave His life for you, for me, and for everyone who wants to know Him!