God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines: a Book Review

If you don’t trust ‘progressive Christians’ or ‘liberals’ with the Bible, then let me tell you something about Matthew Vines. He isn’t even close! He makes it clear from the outset that he has a ‘High View’ of scripture, and he demonstrates that throughout his book.

Matthew states on page 1:

To be fair, many Christians now support same-sex relationships. But those who do tend to see Scripture as a helpful but dated guidebook, not as the final authority on questions of morality and doctrine.

That is not my view of Scripture.

Like most theologically conservative Christians, I hold to what is often called a “high view” of the Bible. That means I believe all of Scripture is inspired by God and authoritative in my life.

If you are a conservative evangelical or a fundamentalist with a high view of the Bible, and you want to understand better what the Bible says about same-sex attraction, then this is the book for you!

God and the Gay Christian

Click the book image to see God and the Gay Christian on Amazon

Matthew Asks Himself a Startling Question

Matthew had a terrible thought during his sophomore year of college. He says his knees buckled, his stomach turned, and he felt the strength drain from his body. It came in a moment of confronting a question he had avoided for years–‘Am I gay?’

Once he realized that he was, indeed, attracted to men rather than women, he began a long and thorough investigation of what the Bible says about the issue. He had never been promiscuous and was committed to abstinence before marriage. He did not change those commitments, but he did want to explore whether a committed same-sex relationship could be honoring to God.

Matthew read widely and thoroughly. I find it amazing the number of significant resources he brought to the investigation, from ancient sources to contemporary scholarship. All the while he was concerned about the importance and authority of Scripture:

It’s God’s written revelation to humanity…Jesus said that “Scripture cannot be set aside.” (John 10:35).

But at the same time, the things he learned seemed not to support the traditional interpretation of those passages used to condemn same-sex relationships. He says:

“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), yet our understanding of Scripture can be wrong.

Dealing with the Clobber Passages

One of the things I like about this book is that Matthew clarifies the terms most appropriate to a discussion on gay Christians. He thinks traditionalist, revisionists, pro-gay, and anti-gay are not the most useful terms to use to describe contrasting positions. Instead, he prefers affirming and non-affirming as they get to the real issue: Some Christians affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships, while others do not.

With this, he begins to deal with the handful of biblical references used to condemn same-sex relationships—especially the 6 clobber passages. What he discovers is that the clobber passages do not even address committed, monogamous, same-sex relationships we talk about today because such relationships are unknown in the Bible or in antiquity. In fact, until fairly recently there was not even a concept of a ‘gay’ person with a same-sex orientation. Until 1869, terms like ‘homosexual’ didn’t exist in any language.

Here he surveys how same-sex behavior was understood and practiced in antiquity–including the time of the Bible. Anyone writing about homosexuality and the Bible must deal with the clobber passages, but I think Matthew has done so with more depth and insight than anyone else I have ever read—with all of it based on a high view of Scripture. His book is worth the read just for his research and analysis of these passages—like ‘What does abomination mean in Leviticus?’ and ‘What does Paul mean by unnatural acts?’

Matthew ably investigates a number of additional issues in the Bible that relate to the question of affirming gay relationships. You can read them on your own, but your assumptions might be challenged.

Five Recommendations for Affirming Christians—whether Gay or Straight.

The book ends with five recommendations for those who are affirming of gay Christians.

  1. Share your views publicly
  2. Talk with your pastor and church leaders
  3. Start a support group for LGBT Christians
  4. If you are LGBT, come out
  5. Take some risks

If you are affirming of gay Christians, if you are not affirming of gay Christians, or if you are struggling to decide what you should understand the Bible to say about gay Christians—then I wholeheartedly recommend that you read this book—God and the Gay Christian.

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Have a great day! ~Tim
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6 Responses to God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines: a Book Review

  1. michaeleeast says:

    The book sounds interesting.
    I find it surprising that he can have a high view of scripture
    and still reject the clobber passages.
    Most would say that the ancients rejected homosexuality
    but we need not do so today.
    Thank you for a thoughtful review.

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      I agree that the best answer is that we don’t have to accept the understanding of ancients as the word of God, but I also agree with Vines that the Bible doesn’t even teach that gay relationships are a problem.

      While I don’t want to promote inerrancy, Matthew Vines is able to reach people on gay issues that you and I are not.

      Like

  2. sheila0405 says:

    Tim, I read Matthew’s book last year, and i thoroughly enjoyed it for the same reasons you do. I had hoped to find a gay Christian who could address the Biblical passages which seem to condemn homosexuality. I really gained a deeper understanding when I read the book. I am also reading “The Bible Tells Me So”, which is also fabulous. It is so helpful after the last three years or so of torment from some family. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      I am glad you found both of these books useful; I certainly did. The Bible Tells Me So is a remarkable book.

      Like

  3. Pollydolly says:

    I wonder which scripture was being referred to when Jesus said “scripture can not be set aside” as clearly the books of the N/T hadn’t been written yet.

    Like

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