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Thursday, April 24, 2014

God & the Gay Christian?

Given the rapidly growing assault on biblical sexuality and marriage, it is sad but not surprising to see a new book making the dangerous claim that homosexuality and gay marriage are consistent with a high view of Scripture.  On Tuesday of this week, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines was published by Convergent Books, a subsidiary of Multnomah Publishing.  In it, Vines argues that “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships.” 
One of the primary objectives of the book is to reinterpret six key passages in the Bible that “have stood in the way of countless gay people who long for acceptance from their Christian parents, friends, and churches.”  In dealing with these passages (Gen19:5, Lev 18:22, 20:13, Rom 1:26-27, 1Cor 6:9, 1Tim 1:10), Vines seeks to divorce them from overarching Biblical truths about human sexuality and gender roles.  He argues that the opposite-sex relationship through which God created humankind is not an essential component of Genesis 1-2 and that same-sex relationships can be part of God’s good creation.
This book is extremely dangerous for one main reason: it is written by someone who claims to have a high view of Scripture.  Vines writes, “I believe all of Scripture is inspired by God and authoritative for my life.”  This claim will serve to separate Vines from many who have come before him offering the same arguments but who have not held to a traditional view of Scripture.  In the eyes of many, it will give him greater credibility. 
The growth of support for gay marriage and homosexual relationships even among self-proclaimed evangelicals has been swift.  Many professing believers are motivated to embrace the trend because is it easier to go with the flow than to stand against it.  Nobody wants to be viewed by society as a bigot.  The only thing causing some believers to hold out is the belief that the Bible clearly condemns these things.  When people get wind that there is an “inerrantist” making a biblical case for homosexuality and same-sex marriage, that is all it will take for them to take the more popular position on the issue, even if they don’t take the time to read Vines’ book or understand his arguments.  For this reason, it would not be surprising for Vines’ book to gain a lot of traction in some evangelical circles.
Because of the danger this book poses, Dr. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and four of his colleagues have published an e-book response to Vines entitled, God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines.  “Not every book deserves a response, but some books seem to appear at a time and context in which response is absolutely necessary,” Mohler told Southern Seminary News. “The kind of argument that is presented by Matthew Vines, if not confronted, can lead many people to believe that his case is persuasive and that his treatment of the Bible is legitimate. I think that it’s very important that evangelicals be reminded that the church has not misunderstood Scripture for 2,000 years.”
Dr. Mohler and the other four authors – Drs. Jim Hamilton, Denny Burk, Owen Strachan, and Heath Lambert – are strong and persuasive voices in the evangelical response to current cultural issues.  Each of them contribute important perspectives on Vines’ abuse of Scripture: Dr. Mohler gives an overall critique of Vines’ argument; Dr. Hamilton (who will be speaking at our annual Bible conference in October) addresses Vines’ Old Testament claims; Dr. Burk addresses the New Testament assertions; Dr. Strachan deals with the church history claims; and Dr. Lambert deals with the issue of whether there is such a thing as a “gay Christian.”  Throughout, the authors contend that embracing Vines’ view removes hope from those struggling with same-sex attraction.  Only the transforming power of the gospel can free a sinner from darkness.
This e-book is available for free download at the SouthernSeminary website.  Though it is written by world-class biblical scholars, it reads like a popular-level book.  I highly recommend taking the time to download it and take a look.  You will undoubtedly begin to hear some of Vines’ arguments in your conversations with casual churchgoers and other professing believers.  This book will equip you to not only understand why those arguments are faulty, but how the relevant passages should really be interpreted.  Because it is free, it is a great resource to send to those who have questions on the issue or who may be persuaded by Vines’ view. 
I’m thankful for resources like this one in a time of much theological and moral confusion.  These men have done a great service for the church by providing strong and clear biblical answers in such a timely manner.  May the Lord give us the strength to cling to the truth knowing that only the truth will set the captive free.

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