Review of God and the Gay Christian
I can see the appeal of the book. It is written in a simple and endearing style. Further, the author, Matthew Vines, argues for the authority of Scripture throughout. He attempts to make the case for the acceptability of homosexuality within the biblical corpus. For those unfamiliar with the arguments made in favor of his case, the mountain he has chosen to climb may seem unconquerable. Nevertheless, many have found his case convincing.
Some of my previous university students, many of them bright students, have embraced the view that homosexuality is biblically acceptable. I have seen this trend especially among those who either embraced homosexuality themselves or are close to others who have embraced this lifestyle. In a conversation with one of the students recently, she indicated that I needed to read more on the topic. I chose the book God and the Gay Christian because it appears to be the most popular book on the topic.
I can see the appeal of the book. It is written in a simple and endearing style. Further, the author, Matthew Vines, argues for the authority of Scripture throughout. He attempts to make the case for the acceptability of homosexuality within the biblical corpus. For those unfamiliar with the arguments made in favor of his case, the mountain he has chosen to climb may seem unconquerable. Nevertheless, many have found his case convincing. I read the book hoping to understand how my former students came to accept such a position.
As with most arguments, the most important occur at the foundation. I would say that Vines presents two major arguments for the pro-homosexual position. First, Jesus said that a good root produces good fruit. Second, when the Scriptures speak of homosexuality, they are not talking about the same type of homosexuality we are talking about today. Let’s examine these in turn.
Good Fruit, Good Root
Vines opened the book by quoting Jesus who said that a good root produces good fruit. Vines then argued that homosexual unions of the variety he is proposing (monogamous, faithful, loving, etc.) are good fruit and therefore arise from a good root. On the opposite end, the church’s rejection of homosexual unions leads to self-hatred, impaired lives, and often suicide. These are obviously negative, and therefore, the rejection of homosexual unions springs from a rotten root.
Now I am simplifying his argument, but I would argue that this is a fair representation of his case in chapter one. A few responses may be leveled against this argument. First, he forms his argument in such a way that Christians are opposing loving, committed homosexual relationships. But this is far from the norm within the homosexual community. Simply watch video of a pride parade (actually, I would strongly suggest you do not), and it will prove the point. Of course, I am not denying that there are homosexual couples who have embraced these values; I am simply noting that it is far from the norm. There appears to be a deep connection between homosexuality and the breaking of God’s norms in other realms (a connection I think is borne out in Romans 1).
Second, throughout the book, Vines is concerned with the horizontal element of sin: sin is that which harms another person or oneself. Such a perspective is good as far as it goes, but it is incomplete. There is also a vertical dimension to sin. God created the world to operate in a certain way. As Creator, He has the right to determine how we ought to live. This brings me to a slightly related point, Vines’s argument may also be used to defend bestiality, for the one who practices this could show great loyalty, devotion, etc. (a good root?), and yet they would certainly feel rejected by the church (a bad root?).