Can you be Christian and gay? What does the Bible say and what does it not say? What does the Bible mean and not mean?
If you are a Christian parent of an LGBTQ child, or a Christian LGBTQ, these are questions that you must answer to be at peace with your faith.
In his new book God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines does an incredible job at just that, as he gives insight and historical context that helps make sense of this whole issue in a truly biblical way.
I want to give you just a few discoveries that will turn our understanding of the Ancient Greek culture on its head:
- bisexuality was expected; heterosexual men, married to women, also had sex with boys — Vines quotes several sources for this.
- men were expected to have sex with women, men, slaves, concubines: but not in the female role; hence “lying with a man as with a woman” means just that, as taking the female role in sex belonged to slaves, boys, and women — and why is that so terrible?
- …because a woman was considered to be “a deformed male” — can you see how the context of those verses matter to our interpretation?
- same-sex relations in the Bible were about excess lust, not orientation — Vines provides quotes
- “unnatural” in Romans 1:26 means “beyond nature” because of its excess, not because it is same-sex
- same-sex relations with a slave was also abuse of power, as the slave had no choice but was forced into the “inferior” female role
- pederasty [sex with boys] was often “an act of sexual assault and conquest, a spontaneous transgression, [and] a casual diversion to satisfy an occasional sexual urge.”
These are just a few of the discoveries in Vines’ book. They reveal a significantly different culture from ours, making it impossible for us to lift Bible verses off the page and think we understand them. We do not. Only with significant study and wisdom can we begin to understand something of their intended meaning. That ought to be enough to make us stop quoting those “clobber” verses until we have read this book!
As Vines’ writes: “[T]he traditional interpretation of the Bible affects gay Christians in a unique way. It requires them to be single and celibate for life. If past societies shared similar understandings of sexual orientation, we should expect them to note that requirements as well. But they do not. I have not been able to find any Christian writings prior to the 20th century that acknowledge that lifelong celibacy is the necessary outcome for those who are incapable of heterosexual attraction.“
If we seriously want to have a voice in this debate that is relevant to the people we are making judgments about, then we need to take it seriously. To understand this issue and the biblical intent behind it, you owe it to yourself to read this book. I hope you enjoy.