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God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships [Kindle Edition]

Matthew Vines
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)

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Book Description

God and the Gay Christian is a game changer. Winsome, accessible, and carefully researched, every page is brought to life by the author’s clear love for Scripture and deep, persistent faith. With this book, Matthew Vines emerges as one of my generation’s most important Christian leaders, not only on matters of sexuality but also on what it means to follow Jesus with wisdom, humility, and grace.  Prepare to be challenged and enlightened, provoked and inspired. Read with an open heart and mind, and you are bound to be changed.”
— Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Faith Unraveled

As a young Christian man, Matthew Vines harbored the same basic hopes of most young people: to someday share his life with someone, to build a family of his own, to give and receive love. But when he realized he was gay, those hopes were called into question. The Bible, he’d been taught, condemned gay relationships.
Feeling the tension between his understanding of the Bible and the reality of his same-sex orientation, Vines devoted years of intensive research into what the Bible says about homosexuality. With care and precision, Vines asked questions such as:
• Do biblical teachings on the marriage covenant preclude same-sex marriage or not?
• How should we apply the teachings of Jesus to the gay debate?
• What does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah really say about human relationships?
• Can celibacy be a calling when it is mandated, not chosen?
• What did Paul have in mind when he warned against same-sex relations?
Unique in its affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity, God and the Gay Christian is likely to spark heated debate, sincere soul search­ing, even widespread cultural change. Not only is it a compelling interpretation of key biblical texts about same-sex relations, it is also the story of a young man navigating relationships with his family, his hometown church, and the Christian church at large as he expresses what it means to be a faithful gay Christian.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

Q&A with author Matthew Vines

Q. Briefly, what is the story of when you initially acknowledged to yourself that you are gay?

A. I didn’t even let myself think about whether I might be gay until I was 19. The personal, familial, and spiritual consequences of understanding that about myself before then would have been debilitating to me. But going away to an LGBT-friendly college gave me the space that I needed to start removing a lot of the psychological barriers I’d built up over the years. Once I finally let myself think about my sexual orientation more honestly, it was glaringly obvious to me. But while that was relieving in a sense, it was also terrifying in light of my family and church background.

Q. As a devoted Christian, how are you able to reconcile your orientation with your faith?

A. That was the question that loomed large for both me and my parents after I came out, and it’s what led me to take a leave of absence from school and undertake an intensive study of Scripture. I’ve now dedicated four years of my life to researching the issue of same-sex relationships and the Bible, and I’ve come to believe that the Bible doesn’t address the issue of committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. And while it’s true that biblical silence doesn’t necessarily mean divine blessing, same-sex marriages are consistent with Scripture’s core teachings about human sexuality, which is why I think God does bless them.

Q. You say you hold a high view of Scripture. What does that mean? Why is it important?

A. In denominational debates about this issue over the past several decades, the key fault line between Christians hasn’t actually been whether they support or oppose same-sex relationships. From the viewpoint of theologically conservative Christians, disagreements over this issue are merely symptomatic of a deeper disagreement: Is the Bible authoritative for Christians, or not?

If you argue that we are free to agree or disagree with parts of the Bible we may not like, then supporting same-sex relationships is easy: just say that the biblical authors were wrong and move on. But that isn’t how I see the Bible, and it isn’t how most evangelicals see it either. When I say I have a high view of Scripture, what I mean is that I don’t feel free to set aside parts of the Bible that may make me uncomfortable. Instead, I have to seriously grapple with Scripture, daily striving to submit my will to the Bible rather than submitting the Bible to my will. For Christians who share that understanding of Scripture, biblical interpretation on same-sex relationships is far more consequential in determining our beliefs.

Q. Why did you feel it was necessary to re-examine the Bible passages on same-sex relationships?

A. Jesus indicates in the Sermon on the Mount that good teachings should bear good fruit. The consequences of the evangelical church’s categorical rejection of same-sex relationships have been anything but good: higher likelihoods of depression, illegal drug use, relational brokenness, and suicide. Those are all red flags that opposing same-sex marriage isn’t the best understanding of Scripture. That bad fruit was the main reason I felt I needed to take a closer look at the Bible on this subject.

Q. What did you discover in your research that helped you and your family with accepting your orientation?

A. The first thing I realized was simple but significant: The longest discussion of same-sex behavior in Scripture—in Paul’s letter to the Romans—referred only to lustful behavior. The types of loving, committed gay marriages we see on a regular basis today are never discussed in the Bible. In fact, the entire understanding of same-sex orientation as an exclusive, permanent, and unchosen characteristic of some people is completely foreign to the world of the Bible, which helps explain why the Bible’s discussion of same-sex behavior looks quite different from our modern debate. Understanding those differences was crucial in bringing my parents to a place of affirming my sexual orientation.

Q. How does the case you present in God and the Gay Christian change the conversation regarding the inclusion of LGBT Christians in the church?

A. Given that the six references to same-sex behavior in Scripture are all negative, it’s easy to see how the debate has unfolded in the way that it has. For a long time, it’s seemed like there have been two options: either accept Scripture’s negative judgment on same-sex unions, or set aside certain passages from Scripture and accept same-sex unions. But as I argue in the book, that is a false choice. Through a careful study of the type of same-sex behavior described—and condemned—in Scripture, Christians can affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships and also affirm the full authority of the Bible. That understanding is critical to laying the groundwork for LGBT acceptance in conservative and evangelical churches.

Q. What do you hope is the outcome from your book?

A. My initial hope for the book is that it helps to finally open up the conversation on this issue in conservative churches, where there has been little to no theological debate so far. When I was trying to come out to my church a few years back, it was incredibly difficult even to start the dialogue with most people. When that’s the case, the strength of your arguments almost doesn’t matter, because if you can’t get a hearing, nothing will change. If the book can help to start the dialogue in those churches, that would make a tremendous difference for the LGBT people who worship there. Beyond that, my longer-term goal is to help forge a world in which all Christians embrace and affirm their LGBT brothers and sisters as true equals. This kind of theological dialogue is indispensable in shaping that future.


Praise for God and the Gay Christian

“For anyone who wants to know why some evangelicals find that the Bible does not condemn same-gender marriage, Matthew Vines’s book answers the question. Christians who oppose gay marriage should consider what he has to say.”
— Tony Campolo, professor emeritus, Eastern University; co-author of Red Letter Christians

“Many people believe you can either hold a high view of Scripture or affirm gay relationships, but not both. Matthew Vines proves them wrong. Provocative and relentlessly Bible-focused, God and the Gay Christian offers hope and insight for Christians who have felt conflicted on matters of sexuality.”
— Justin Lee, author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

“A must-read for all Christians, but especially parents. Matthew Vines brings great insight and wisdom to the conversation so urgently needed by today’s church. God and the Gay Christian has the information I was searching for when my son, Tyler Clementi, came out to me. This book will have a great impact on families, freeing parents of misunderstandings about their LGBT children while letting them hold securely to their faith.”
— Jane Clementi, co-founder of The Tyler Clementi Foundation

“Matthew Vines has accomplished a rare feat in this book, combining a detailed mastery of a wide range of material from the ancient world and the Christian tradition, a clear and articulate writing style, a deep commitment to his Christian faith, and an incisive judgment that can cut through complex arguments and mountains of data, and identify the core issues and their implications for human life. This book makes significant contributions, not only to ongoing scholarly conversations but also to the average person who wants to probe more deeply how to think about God and the gay Christian. It is the breadth of his reach and the integrated character of his vision that makes this book particularly worth reading.”  
Dr. James Brownson, Reformed theologian and professor of New Testament; author of Bible, Gender, Sexuality

God and the Gay Christian is a game changer. Winsome, accessible, and carefully researched, every page is brought to life by the author’s clear love for Scripture and deep, persistent faith. With this book, Matthew Vines emerges as one of my generation’s most important Christian leaders, not only on matters of sexuality but also on what it means to follow Jesus with wisdom, humility, and grace.  Prepare to be challenged and enlightened, provoked and inspired. Read with an open heart and mind, and you are bound to be changed.”
— Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Faith Unraveled

“Few things in today’s world divide churches and Christian communities more deeply than the issue of homosexuality. What lies at the very heart of the matter is the Bible and its interpretation. The very few biblical verses that touch upon same-sex-related matters say nothing about love and enduring relationships between people of same sex—on the contrary, these texts condemn harshly the activities they describe, such as attempted rape, debauchery, or depriving a person of his male honor. This has led theologically conservative Christians to condemn altogether what is today called ‘homosexuality.’ As the consequence of such an interpretation of the authoritative Scripture, hundreds of thousands of members of Christian communities have faced the difficulty, if not impossibility, to live out their non-heterosexual orientation while maintaining their Christian identity. Matthew Vines dedicates his book to ‘all those who have suffered in silence for so long.’ He reads the Bible and biblical scholarship as an evangelical gay Christian, giving a voice both to the biblical texts and its readers. He takes seriously the biblical text which for him represents the authoritative word of God; historical scholarship that reads the biblical text against what can be known of its historical context; and the experiences of Christians who read the Bible today. Importantly, his own personal voice is to be heard throughout the book, which only adds to its credibility. A careful scrutiny of the six biblical passages that somehow address same-sex behavior leads Vines to make a compelling argument against mandatory celibacy for gay Christians. More than that, he argues that Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. Matthew Vines’s well-read and well-argued book deserves to be read by all those who have suffered in silence, but also by members and ministers of Christian communities struggling with the recognition and appreciation of their gay members.”
— Martti Nissinen, professor of Old Testament Studies, University of Helsinki, author of Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective

“Matthew Vines lives at an intersection of identities: a committed, theologically conservative Christian who also happens to be an out gay man. In offering both a scholarly and profoundly personal reconciliation of a duality often depicted as hopelessly at odds, he performs a public service that is valiant, hopeful and long overdue.  He points the way forward for all those still stranded at the intersection.”
— Leonard Pitts, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist; author of Freeman

“Matthew Vines brings within reach of non-specialists the rich store of scholarly work on what Scripture does and does not say about same-sex relationships. Coupled with his poignant descriptions of the damage done by traditional exclusionary interpretations, his book is an essential resource for all who seek to find their bearings in the current debate over the Bible’s teachings for gay people.”
— Dr. Mark Achtemeier, Presbyterian theologian; author of The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage 

Product Details

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
186 of 225 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as convincing as advertised May 12, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Matthew Vines is an Evangelical Christian who is seeking to not only establish that the Bible does not actively condemn loving, monogamous, homosexual relationships, but actually supports them, and he’s going to try and do that using a high view of the Bible.

I’ve seen other resources, primarily online, from various progressive churches that are inclusive of the LGBTQ community by taking a low view of the Bible, that is, by not accepting that the Bible is inerrant and ultimately the authoritative Word of God. It’s more of a set of “guidelines” and therefore, the sections of the Bible condemning homosexual behavior are not to be taken literally or, they were social norms that were once valid in ancient societies but have no application in the modern world of faith.

Vines, by contrast, embraces the full authority of the Bible but believes it has been misinterpreted and misapplied, resulting in the Evangelical Church’s long condemnation of homosexual behavior and of gay people, including the gay Christians in their (our) midst.

Dirst, let’s take a look at the reasons Vines believes Evangelicals should re-evaluate how they read the Bible relative to LGBT Christians:

1. First, we saw that a categorical rejection of same-sex relationships has been deeply damaging to gay Christians.

2. …we saw that the concept of same-sex orientation did not exist in the ancient world. Prior to recent generations, same-sex behavior was widely understood to be the product of sexual excess, not the expression of sexual orientation.

3. …the church has an established tradition affirming that lifelong celibacy should be voluntarily chosen, not mandated. Maintaining a condemnation of same-sex relationships would require us to revise that teaching.
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112 of 143 people found the following review helpful
God and the Gay Christian -- The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines is an important book for the conservative Christian church, now. Vines presents clear and well-sequenced arguments to support a more accurate interpretation of six passages in the Bible which have been used to exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from conservative churches.

Vines was raised in a conservative Christian home in Wichita, Kansas. In his family, gay and Christian were not words that co-existed side-by-side, until Vines realized he was gay and a Christian. He began a several years' project to make sense of the Scriptures, historical Bible teachings, and his faith. God and the Gay Christian -- The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships is the culmination of that work.

Arguments for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in faith communities have evolved over the past 45 years. Often, arguments for inclusion have been dismissively labeled as "pro-gay theology." Vines presents a careful and more accurate reading of Scriptures in context, and with understanding of the culture in which they were written. The information in his book reveals insights that may be new information for many readers.

Like Vines, I did not think a person could be both gay and Christian. For over two decades in the Evangelical church, I thought the two words could not possibly coexist. Then, I met gay people who identified as Christians. How could I remain faithful to God and His Word and honor their testimony and witness of the indwelling Spirit of God? Relationship created the impetus I needed to confront my theology. At the time, 10 years ago, there were no books that answered my questions to satisfaction.
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77 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last.... April 25, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a Catholic lesbian who has experienced self-oppression, then attempted to be "straight" and then chose celibacy. These are the only options that are available in the church. I got married to a man in my early 20's and that decision caused much pain for me, my husband, my daughter and our families. Celibacy is a joke because unless you are called to it by God it just means that you have either a lonely life or a life where romantic relationships form even without you even trying. Even if those romantic relationships remain platonic there is great amount pain and suffering and self hatred for being gay.

Our community needs this book. Luckily for me, I finally reached a place of self respect, married a woman and had family like anyone else. I also had to leave the Church. If I had Matthew Vines' book as an adolescent my teens and twenties would have been much different!

This serves our LGBT community and, whether they appreciate it or not, it serves the conservative Christian Church. It is written with great honesty and respect to the LGBT community as well respectful of both affirming and non-affirming Christians. Anyone who has walked in these shoes can attest that it takes great strength in character to remain respectful to the people who are oppressing us. Matthew does just this in a strong, beautiful way.

To all the bible scholars who are up in arms about this book I ask that they keep an open mind. No, Matthew Vines is not a biblical scholar and he does not claim to be. Be open, kind, and as respectful to him as he is to you.

To everyone else: This book is solid, honest and a must-read for anyone who is coming to terms with their gay identity or wants to be an affirming Christian without slamming Christianity in general.

Thank you, Matthew Vines, for writing this book and putting himself in the line of fire. It is honest and it is brave and it will help many, many people.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good read
Published 1 day ago by AMY R CROWE
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Argument and a New Idea
This book is well written and researched. The author presents his arguments well and pulls directly from scripture to try and help the reader take on a new angle. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Raakal
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you an "on-the-fence" evangelical when it comes to this issue?
If you are an evangelical who cares deeply about the authority of scripture but have been told you cannot be gay-affirming AND Christian then grab your bible and this book and... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Eric
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very informative
Published 11 days ago by Craignet
4.0 out of 5 stars Vines has put it all down in popular form...and it works.
Vines dows a good job of summarizing for Bible-believing Christians all the explanations for our current misunderstanding of the Bible, while respecting the authority of the Bible. Read more
Published 11 days ago by King Schoenfeld
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book that every Christian should read, ...
This is a book that every Christian should read, is a book that invites us to reflect and evaluate our positions on this issue.
Published 12 days ago by Ricardo Matamoros
5.0 out of 5 stars Game Changer for the Gay debate
Every Christian and every Gay person with a Christian background should read this book. Mr. Vines is a conservative Christian who attempts to live a scripture based life. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Dennis M. Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, excellent
Excellent, excellent. It's a great read for any Christian who feels torn on this topic, it helped me greatly to reconcile - well, reality - with Scripture in quite a scholarly... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Lynn Fifer
5.0 out of 5 stars All who are interested in the topic should read this ...
All who are interested in the topic should read this well-written book. The author begins from a conservative, evangelical interpretive standpoint and reaches conclusions which are... Read more
Published 16 days ago by gnjatk
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend it to everyone who wants a readable exegesis of ...
This is the most helpful book I've read in regard to examining the context of Biblical texts regarding same gender sexuality. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Don Stribling
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