I’m not going to do a deep dive on this issue, because there’s plenty out there already for that. I’ll just share some of my impressions and analysis of the books. One of the things that I’ve found frustrating over the years when some well known, or even some less than well known, Christians come out with an affirming view same-sex marriage is that they seem to say the same thing. They typically start by saying they have really wrestled with the Scriptures, but then they give an argument that is not really based on Scripture as the reason for their belief or position.
To his credit, Matthew Vines has wrestled with Scripture and I think one of the things that clearly shows through this book is a really sincere effort to ground his position while maintaining a commitment to inerrancy. But Vines, despite the cover caption “The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” resorts to the same default. Because the approach or the book does not offer support for same-sex relationships. Others on the affirming side, as quoted in Mohler’s SBC response to Vines, offer freely that it’s really not possible to offer Biblical support for Same-Sex Relationships and efforts need to be made elsewhere to prove the point. And this shows in Vines’ methodology in that he takes the 6 most referenced Scriptures related to homosexuality and then tries to offer different interpretations for each of them.
One thing I thought was very weak in the book was how much rests on emotional appeal and the logical fallacy that since Exodus International closed its doors and apologized for damage done, then it is clear that sexual orientation can’t or shouldn’t be viewed as wrong or sin. Another dimension of this argument is that because such denial or efforts to suppress perceived sexual identity leads to suicide, then such efforts or thinking that change is possible is wrong and should be repented of. These are real issues that merit a lot of study, sensitivity, and attention. But the conclusions drawn should not be held as a given based on that data alone.
Vines throughout is respectful in his writing, sincere in his hopes and desires, but just can’t escape poor hermeneutics and agenda driven interpretation. For someone with little or no training in Biblical interpretation, this book would seem to provide overwhelming proof that maybe the Bible does not say what people think it says. But as some of the responders in Mohler’s book of response to this show, this is as clear of an example of letting agendas drive interpretation as anything you’ll found out there.
That being said – I think it’s an important book for Christians to read to wrestle with these texts and understand the arguments Vines is making and to wrestle with how they would respond. I suspect many would feel paralyzed to respond to such arguments and therefore it’s actually a great opportunity to help people develop more responsible and compassionate theology that represents what the Scriptures teach related to sexual identity and orientation rather than the foolish and hurtful “Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve” references that get through out there from time to time. The church needs more people equipped with robust theologies of identity and sexuality that actually is anchored in and faithful to Scripture and Vines’ book I hope is a catalyst to helping people go deeper into the Scriptures and do good theology which translates to more integrity in defending the Scriptures as well as more respect and compassion in representing the Scriptures to others that have rejected what the Scriptures teach.
The church needs more people equipped with robust theologies of identity and sexuality that actually is anchored in and faithful to Scripture and Vines’ book I hope is a catalyst to helping people go deeper into the Scriptures and do good theology which translates to more integrity in defending the Scriptures as well as more respect and compassion in representing the Scriptures to others that have rejected what the Scriptures teach.
After I read Vines’ book, I read Mohler’s response. I had mixed feelings on the response. One one hand, there was well thought out arguments from Scripture and good theological counterpoints to Vines’ that I think put Vines into proper perspective. But I did not like the tone of a couple of the responders in their arguments – especially Mohler’s individual response. I just don’t think these discussions require snarky jabs that come across as condescending or arrogant. There were times I felt like the responses had a courtroom feel where they were acting like bantering lawyers rather than communicating in grace and truth. I did not feel that from several of the responders including Denny Burke and Heath Lambert. Lambert’s was the best of the responses in my opinion in his piece entitled, “Is ‘A Gay Christian’ Consistent With the Gospel of Christ?”
I did not feel that from several of the responders including Denny Burke and Heath Lambert. Lambert’s was the best of the responses in his piece entitled, “Is ‘A Gay Christian’ Consistent With the Gospel of Christ?” The whole Mohler response, which can be found online in its entirety via search as a pdf, is worth reading through. Vines’ arguments are countered clearly, but most clearly the hope that you can provide Biblical support for same-sex marriage is dealt a heavy blow. I just wish all the voices in the response could avoid some of the cheap shots that just don’t help the conversation or relationship building in what at times is a very hostile dynamic.
I’ve got several more books from different perspectives I’m wanting to read as I continue to refine my own positions and equip myself to engage the discussion with integrity and faithfulness to Scripture as well as with compassion, understanding, and love for real people who see things differently from me – both in terms of the issues themselves and in regards to sound hermeneutical process.
If you are are affirming in your position – I still have yet to see much work drawn deeply from Scripture that supports same-sex relationships as the arguments get redirected elsewhere. If you are non-affirming, don’t be scared of this book – it’s an opportunity to learn and equip yourself to think more deeply and more responsibility about complex issues. This book alone will not equip someone to jump into the deep end of the pool of these issues, but it can be a resource in conjunction with others that can help sharpen one’s thinking and theology.
But I’ll say this – while I’m sad for how many may uncritically conclude from this book that there can be a Scriptural argument for same-sex marriage, I came away with an appreciation for the search that Vines is on though I do not believe his search has led him to truth as of yet. I hope he continues to seek truth and I too hope to continue to read and study and learn as there’s so much in this arena I need to learn.