I am reaching out to a woman who has a gay brother. This man is in a committed relationship and is also a committed church member in a large denomination that accepts gays. She doesn't think it is loving to reject gays who are born with same sex orientation which her brother claims to be. She sent me a video (transcript here) and I found it extraordinary. This young man is an amazing communicator and very convincing in his arguments for acceptance of "righteous" same sex oriented gays in Christian fellowships. In his video speech (one hour long), Matthew Vines annihilates most arguments I have heard. I see some loop holes in his argument, and feel the absence of the Holy Spirit in his presentation, but would also like your feed back after listening to this. Thank you.
- He invites us to walk in his shoes. How can a Christian say no to such a request?
- He repeatedly emphasizes the loneliness of being same-sex attracted in a world that often does not value him as a person. This was painful to hear.
- Yet I felt he was manipulating the scripture when he claimed God does not desire for gay people to be alone. “It is not good for man to be alone” is a general truth. It is actually good for many persons to be alone (in the sexual sense), as Jesus (Matthew 19) and Paul (1 Corinthians 7) insist.
- Further, “I am uniquely excluded from having a family”? Not so. There are several categories of persons who will not or should not have families. To cite Genesis 2:18, then assert what he is attempting to prove (that, e.g., a lesbian is a suitable partner for a lesbian), is not good interpretation. The historical position of the church gives not credence to this view, and obviously neither do the rabbis.
- He tells us that straight Christians tend to view gays as lustful. Perhaps this is true, though I am not sure how many Christians think this way. Because we are familiar with sin, we know that most humans struggle with sexual purity. I wouldn’t think gays are any more lustful than non-gays, though perhaps my SSA friends in Christ can clarify the matter.
- Matthew concludes that the Christian response to gays is love, acceptance, and support. I believe we should extend all three, without having to concede that homosexuality is the will of God. Many Christians have failed to offer respect, love, and affection to gays, as well as to many other classes of persons. Maybe we need the reminder that while Jesus freely associated with all sorts of people, he did so to demonstrate a divine love that motivated them to repentance. Think of his meal with Zacchaeus (Luke 19). Remember his meal with Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7).
- I personally found the implicit complaint (rather whiney): “It’s not fair!” There are a lot of things in the Lord’s will that we may not like. Claiming they violate our rights or make us feel excluded resonates with the last two generations, yet is not a true engagement with the Bible. I was glad he said he wanted to give the six key passages a fair examination. I felt he was making a sincere effort to come to terms with these passages, even though he slips when he comes to the New Testament.
- “I did not choose to be gay.” This I hear over and over, and have no reason to reject it.
- In some sense SSA is “natural.” I recently attended a class on the genetic component of homosexual orientation. I find it easy to believe there is a biological basis—just as I accept a biological basis for proclivities towards overeating, anger, laziness, impulsivity, and so on. We are biological creatures; brain chemistry is significant; we are all called to master the flesh. Putting it another way, we are called to live supernaturally—to transcend nature.
- There is a tug-of-war going on between the flesh and the Spirit. We can live at the level of the flesh, indulging its desires (Romans 13), or we can live by the Spirit (Romans 8; Galatians 5). Putting sin to death doesn’t necessarily mean the end of temptation. It does mean a certain victory, however. We can “say no” (Titus 2:11).
- Malakos isn’t necessarily sexual. From all my reading of the ancient literature, I would agree. And obviously even if we allow the translation “effeminate,” that doesn’t have to mean gay.
- The central sin of Sodom was not homosexuality. True—Ezekiel 16:49. Most scholars see the indolence and apathy towards the poor as the key problem, which expresses itself in outrageous ways (gang rape), while it may be more subtle in our own case (“overfed”). The arrogance and detestable things (Ezekiel 16:50) were the fruit; the root is where we ought to focus. (He did not deal sufficiently with Jude 7, in my opinion.)
- Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 forbade homosexual acts under the Old Covenant. Michael concedes this, including it under the same heading as violating the Sabbath or eating lobster (“abomination”), although he claims that the prohibition was lifted after the Cross.
- At any rate, if the Bible spoke only of homosexuality in the OT, we might well conclude it was a culture or ritual taboo, with freedom under the new covenant to express ourselves differently.
- I also appreciated his bringing out how modern translations seem to be “weighing in” in the gay/straight issue. Of course that doesn’t mean the newer translations are wrong.
- The speaker asserts that the quality of homosexual love is identical to that of heterosexual love. Since he cannot speak for me, nor can I assay his experience, I am left with two responses. First, I don’t know what “identical” really means. Second, I don’t know how anyone could compare the two experientially (a bisexual?), since the matter under consideration is what the Bible says, not how one feels.
- Paul coined the word arsenokoites—it appears nowhere before the apostle. This is not true. The Jews translated their Bible into Greek in the centuries before Christ. The term could have been coined by Paul, based on a phrase in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Paul's OT was the Greek OT. The word is thus not so much a neologism (the jury's out anyway) as an obvious reference to a sin passage that would have been familiar with anyone who read the Greek OT.
- He also claims that there is no biblical word for “gay.” Technically, this is right. Gay is an English word that has been pressed into service (since the time we were children) to mean homosexual. The phrase “[males] those who lie with males” is attested in the O.T. and in Jewish literature. And besides, men having sex with men or women having sex with women—phrases, not words—still connote what is meant by the modern phrase “homosexuality," even if there is no exact biblical equivalent of the English words gay/homosexual.
- Since we looked at Leviticus 18:22, it is a shame that the verses before and after were not covered. Sex with animals is also a perversion. I doubt the speaker would claim that this has been “decriminalized” in the NT. Another detestable thing is to sacrifice one’s child as a burnt offering (see 2 Chronicles 28:3). 1 Kings 14:24 refers to male prostitution. Sin is detestable to God (Proverbs 6:16), yet the problem is that the term is used for ritual sin as well as for (absolutely) immoral actions. It is oversimplifying to posit that what is detestable is culturally determined, biologically justified, or only a matter of old vs. new covenant. Furthermore, Ezekiel 18 lumps covenantal prohibitions with acts of immorality. Most often I find that what is detestable in scripture is idolatry (1 Peter 4:2 etc). Anyway, it would be nice if the Bible made clearer distinctions among the nuances of “detestable,” but we have to deal with the text as the Spirit has given it to us.
- He did not answer Paul; Romans 1:26-27 remains a clear rejection of the gay lifestyle. Claiming that any behavior becomes “natural” if you are inclined to it is no proof at all.
- 1 Corinthians 6 refers to custom? On the contrary, 1 Corinthians 6 gives us strong hope to overcome a wide array of sinful behaviors.
- Matthew refers to ancient pagan writers who counsel moderation in sexuality. Yet this is a pagan virtue (temperance, or balance), not a biblical one. The biblical ideal is holiness. Holiness is not the mean between tea totaling and drunkenness—as though it’s okay to be occasionally drunk, or drunk in private. We are not to get drunk at all. The ancients spoke against humility, in favor of pride, and even in favor of pedophilia. Appealing to the ancient Greeks and Romans does not clinch the case, since some spoke of homosexual behavior positively, others rejecting it.
- I was glad he didn’t appeal to 2 Samuel 1:26. I have heard so many persons—even in seminary—trying to make this apply to homosexuality. Maybe Matthew knows that scripture doesn’t work—and that homosexuality was consistently rejected by the Jews from the very beginning. (Interestingly, the rabbis today generally condone homosexuality—even the orthodox. But then this is a far cry from the time of Jesus!)
- The truth is that while only one testament enjoins circumcision, just as it forbids pork, both testaments condemn homosexual actions.
I know this is cobbled together and it's not very smooth, but I really did attempt to interact with the class. And as you can tell, I took my time. So what do you think?
Hello Douglas! I just wanted to thank you regarding the response to Matthew Vines. I vacillated over whether to share this response with the young person I know who is same-sex attracted because I was not sure if they had been exposed to Matthew Vines. I decided to to find out that they had indeed seen his video and were very familiar with Matthew Vines -- of course! These kids are exposed to so much and there is so much information at their fingertips! It was so great to have this thoughtful and sensitive perspective to share, so good to have. Just wanted to encourage you with the many ways your ministry is meeting a need that you wouldn't know unless we tell you. God Bless.—a Canadian disciple