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.
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.
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!
- 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!)
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.’”
- 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! 🙂