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Views & Voices

Matthew Vines: Reforming the Gay Christian Debate

Sunday, September 23, 2012

“What does the Bible say about loving, same-sex relationships?”

Nothing. Not a thing.

And in that absence of Biblical direction of support for or condemnation of these relationships, Christians need to follow the general principles of the Bible: love, justice and kindness.

This was the point Matthew Vines wanted to emphasize at his recent presentation at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

Kathy Baldock

Matthew Vines

Matthew’s story is intriguing; he began to understand and accept that he was gay while in his first semesters at Harvard. The Wichita native knew, that by accepting his sexual orientation, he was risking his long time status in the Presbyterian church in which he had been raised, as well as relationships with family and friends.

“You realize how alone you might be when you come out,” recalled Matthew. He resolved to take a leave of absence from Harvard to embark on a scholarly study of the subject of homosexuality in the Bible.

What most people see and know of Matthew is his excellent 67-minute video, “The Gay Debate.” The presentation in itself is quite remarkable; the young man is even more impressive.

I visited Matthew and his family in Wichita. Over dinner, I asked his Dad, Monte, if he was surprised at the notice Matthew was getting from the video.

“No, not really. We are delighted, but not surprised. What Matthew sets out to do, he accomplishes.”

Monte and his wife, Kim, then told us about Matthew’s work when he was a high school junior to influence the investments of the state’s largest pension fund. The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System had $38 million invested in companies with ties to Sudan. If Kansas and other states divested funds in Sudan, there would be increasing pressure on Sudan to end the violence in Darfur.

“A college student was heading it up, but he had abandoned the effort, so I decided to take the lead,” said Matthew.

“I drove him all over Kansas that year and he personally spoke with half the legislators,” Kim said.

At the end of the effort and ten days in Topeka working in the capitol, a bill forbidding Kansas pension investments in Sudan was passed and signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007.

Matthew is a delightful young man who is serious about his own relationship with God; he makes an excellent spokesman for the issue.

I was in New York City on the night of Matthew’s presentation at Marble Church, co-sponsored by GLAAD and Marble Church. He outlined his story and took questions from the predominantly older gay Christian audience.

The assembly was filled with people who had struggled, not so much with their sexual orientation, but with the treatment they had received in families, communities and churches just for being gay. They had been outside the margins of acceptance when they were Matthew’s age.

“Twenty years ago”, Matthew said, “I would have been expected to marry a woman. Enough work has been done so that I am now on the margins of the conversation and not outside of the conversation.”

And that is exactly where the dialogue is — on the margins in most churches. The vast majority of people in the pews are not intentionally motivated to be unkind or hurtful; they simply have not heard another valid interpretation of the verses used to condemn the gay community.

The beauty of what Matthew has done in “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality” is that he has created an accessible, scholarly, easy-to-understand one hour video.

Matthew is helping to move the informed, thoughtful, compassionate conversation about gay Christians from the edge to the center, where it needs to be, now.

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7 more reader comments:

  1. cherry picking the book of genocide does not CHANGE the book of genocide written by bronze age tribesman to justify murdering people they did not like

    Posted on Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 11:35am
  2. I admit I haven’t watched this video yet. I’m happy to see more Christians embracing reason and tolerance. Yet I fear there will always be those hardcore fundies who will believe what they want to, and nothing anyone says will dissuade them from their craziness. Sad.

    Posted on Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 11:52am
  3. Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 12:17am
  4. Jesus said in Matthew 19:4-5 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
    There was no contemplation of “same sex marriages” in the Bible, by the commandment of God, they did not exist. Those who tell you otherwise are liars. Don’t let the children of Satan fool you, there is plenty said in the Bible about “men laying with men as with women” and none of it is good. It always leads to death, Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

    Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

    Leviticus 18:24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

    Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 8:40am
  5. Please see, God is not mute on the subject of marriage, it is clear that He hates the act of sodomy and that marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman. I do not tell you this to condemn anyone, I just want you to know what the Creator Himself says. If you say “He made me this way”, it’s not true. We are all capable of sin and we all sin, not because we are made that way by Him, but because of our own proclivity to do so. Have this hope, all, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, who put their faith in Jesus, will escape the eternal punishment for their sins. It’s far easier to listen to lies when the lies are in agreement with the sins one wishes to commit, but the wages of sin is death, the death of eternal punishment in a lake of fire and eternal separation from the Creator Who made you lovingly. The Truth is hard, but it is none-the-less the Truth, a life lived in sin and selfishness leads to an eternity of punishment and torment. A life given to Jesus is forever secure, no one is more powerful than He is. He is the One Who will judge each and everyone of us. Would you rather stand before Him as a sinner who hated Him and refused His Word, or as one of His followers?

    Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 8:47am
  6. I have a very short attention span, and he was able to hold my interest through the entire thing. I’ve never read the bible, but his speech seemed to be very well researched. Sadly I think that most people who watch this are probably already for same-sex relationships and marriage, but those that oppose it would be probably have a near impossible time providing eveidence that he’s incorrect in his interpretation. Take the two comments above mine, from what they’ve said, I doubt they say more than a minute of it, if even that.

    Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 9:38am
  7. Faith obviously did not watch the video. Note that 1) the church was responsible for translating the transcripts 2) because they translated from ancient manuscripts, many of the words have different translations that are equally valid 3) because the church is all about control, they pick and choose which ones they want. What we DO know is that mercy triumphs over judgement EVERY time. So, if there is any doubt, or if there is any doubt that God is the only judge (not humans) we should always side with mercy. And the knowledge that we don’t know everything. for example, the church supported slavery, laws against interracial marraige, and the subjugation of women and children; all using verses from the bible. And they are like “oops,” now we get it. Same ol’ same ol’: get a brain and think for yourself sometimes…instead of believing what you hear from your place of indoctination.

    Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 10:54am