On April 22, 2014, a new attack on the reliability and perspicuity of Scripture was released. God and the Gay Christian is a book that seeks to teach readers that the Bible condones living a monogamous homosexual lifestyle. The author, Matthew Vines, is an openly homosexual man and a professing Christian, whose video on homosexual behavior went viral and gave Vines a platform from which to declare his views.1 Being an openly practicing homosexual and claiming to be a Christian often means the person has an agenda to attempt to make the Words of Scripture fit with his worldview. This is the case with Matthew Vines. His attitude toward Scripture is like that of Christians who believe in evolution and millions of years, and thus reinterpret the clear words of Genesis to fit their already held beliefs. It is compromise right down the line. We do pray the church realizes this!
Sadly, a number of Christian leaders offered their praise of Vines’s new book. Rachel Held Evans, an outspoken Christian author (who has already published Evolving in Monkey Town2 in an effort to compromise Genesis with evolution and millions of years), writes that it 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. Matthew Vines emerges as one of my generation’s most important Christian leaders.” Evans, unfortunately, would write much the same for church leaders who compromise Genesis. When Rachel Held Evans came out with her book Evolving in Monkey Town, I (Ken) wrote about her blatant compromise with man’s fallible words. So it is not surprising that she is now being consistent with her approach to Scripture and compromising on teaching concerning marriage and homosexual behavior.
We carefully consider what God says in His Word and judge man’s fallible ideas accordingly—which is what every church leader should be doing.
James Brownson, professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Michigan, states boldly that Vines’ work is “a significant contribution, not only to scholarly conversation, but also for the average person who wants to think more deeply about God, the Bible, and the gay Christian.” And Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University, affirms, “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.” Actually, we carefully consider what God says in His Word and judge man’s fallible ideas accordingly—which is what every church leader should be doing. If compromising church leaders were to judge Vines’s words against Scripture, they would have to condemn Vines’s book for what it is—a work that misleads people to believe the author’s homosexual lifestyle as a professing Christian is consistent with Scripture.
These and a variety of other promotional statements appeared on the front and back cover of God and the Gay Christian. And believers reading these statements should be alarmed. Professing Christians are applauding a man who is advocating for the normalcy of the homosexual lifestyle and attempting to justify it with Scripture.
We believe it is important to boldly stand against the ideas Matthew Vines is promoting by saying unequivocally that the book God and the Gay Christian is dangerous to Christianity.
“Let’s Start at the Beginning”
Vines offers many of the arguments typical of liberal-leaning Christians who wish to justify homosexual behavior, claiming ultimately that monogamous same-sex relationships were not what Scripture had in view in its condemnation of homosexual sin. To make his case, Vines removes small portions of Scripture from their context and offers a portrayal of God’s Word that simply is not accurate. (Steve Golden will be writing a full review of Vines’s book, to be posted on the Answers in Genesis website in the near future, which will cover these issues in detail.) One of the most problematic examples, as noted by Dr. Al Mohler in his review of Vines’s book, is the treatment of Genesis 1–3.
Dr. Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, found Vines’s book to be yet another confirmation that soon “there will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent” on the issue of homosexuality. He adds that Vines simply divorces parts of Scripture from itself to make it mean whatever he wants it to:
The most radical proposal Vines actually makes is to sever each of these passages from the flow of the biblical narrative and the Bible’s most fundamental revelation about what it means to be human, both male and female. He does not do this merely by omission, but by the explicit argument that the church has misunderstood the doctrine of creation as much as the question of human sexuality. He specifically seeks to argue that the basic sexual complementarity of the human male and the female — each made in God’s image — is neither essential to Genesis chapters 1 and 2 or to any biblical text that follows.
In other words, he argues that same-sex sexuality can be part of the goodness of God’s original creation, and that when God declared that it is not good for man to be alone, the answer to man’s isolation could be a sexual relationship with someone of either sex. But that massive misrepresentation of Genesis 1 and 2 — a misinterpretation with virtually unlimited theological consequences — actually becomes Vines’s way of relativizing the meaning of the six passages he primarily considers.3
What Dr. Mohler claims is no overstatement. In reading Vines’s analysis of the creation account, it becomes evident that he has little regard for God’s intention in making Adam and Eve male and female. Vines’s agenda is clear: he must make room for same-sex relationships—from the very beginning of Scripture.
Vines writes, “Let’s start at the beginning.” After offering a summary of the creation in Genesis 1, Vines goes on to say that “for everything God regarded as good about his creation, there was one thing he said was not good” (author’s emphasis): it was not good for man to be alone. But Vines begins to twist Scripture here:
This story shows us what the world looked like before it became tainted by sin. Non-affirming Christians [i.e., those who believe homosexual behavior is sinful] generally argue that the creation of Adam and Eve reveals the limits of God’s blessing for sexual relationships: one man and one woman. . . . But the account of Eve’s creation doesn’t emphasize Adam’s need to procreate. It emphasizes instead his need for a relationship.4
It was not good for Adam to be alone, and Vines is correct to point out how Eve fulfilled the need for a relationship. But one of the commands God gives when He creates the first couple is to “
be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). This is a clear indication that humankind has a purpose—to fill the earth. Vines seems to be saying that God’s command to be fruitful is secondary to finding a fulfilling relationship—the definition of which, according to Vines, is in the eye of the beholder. Even in Malachi 2:15, the prophet refers back to the “
one flesh” in Genesis 2 when proclaiming one of the primary importances of marriage—to produce godly seed (“
godly offspring”): “
But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15, NKJV).
Despite what Matthew Vines claims, God explains what marriage between two humans looks like in His design: “
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). “
Father and mother,” “
man,” and “
wife” are all used intentionally—there is no allowance for another arrangement, such as a man being joined to another man. Not only that, but in Matthew 19, Jesus quotes from Genesis 2:24 (and Genesis 1:27) when giving the meaning of marriage:
And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”(Matthew 19:4–6, NKJV)
The Reasons for God’s Provision
But Vines is not satisfied with just changing the definition of marriage in Scripture. Vines also reinterprets why Eve in particular was created for Adam, claiming that God’s decision was based not on any sort of fixed definition of marriage, but rather on “sameness.”
How does Vines attempt to support his position? He uses God’s process of bringing the animals to Adam to be named and Adam’s failure to find a “
helper comparable to him” among them (Genesis 2:20) as evidence for his case that sameness—rather than marriage in God’s design—is the focus. However, the vast majority of Christians would agree that the best kind of companionship for a human is with another human and that bestiality is sinful. God shows Adam through the naming process that there was no suitable helper for him among the animals. Of course, God could have stopped there in His provision of a companion for Adam, thus proving Vines’s point that any human, male or female, will do. But He doesn’t.
No, God gives Adam a human, female companion—who also fits the exact definition of marriage God provides in Genesis 2:24. And when we consider this against the whole of Scripture (something Vines fails to do), God’s provision of a woman as a suitable helper for the man Adam is consistent with Scripture’s repeated warnings against same-sex and bestial relationships, and Christ’s affirmation of marriage as it was described in Genesis 2. Scripture also refers back to Genesis (just like Jesus in Matthew 19) quoting the “
one flesh” of Genesis 2 in Ephesians:
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”(Ephesians 5:28–31)
Vines counters assertions that Adam and Eve are the model for marriage by stating that Eve was a woman out of necessity: “Adam’s spouse couldn’t have been a man any more than she could have been an infertile woman.”5 While Vines admits that procreation is important in the Genesis account, he limits this to Adam and Eve’s unique situation as the first two humans with a call to be fruitful and multiply. Beyond that, Vines writes, “Adam and Eve’s sameness, not their gender difference, was what made them suitable partners.”6
In other words, Vines leads readers to believe there is no clear definition of marriage in Genesis; rather, marriage is based on “sameness”—even if that sameness means two men or two women enter into a same-sex “marriage.”7
Dangerous to Christianity
The section on Genesis in God and the Gay Christian is two and a half pages in a 213-page book—and yet Genesis gives the account of the first marriage and how God defined it, a definition that is reiterated in Matthew 19 and Ephesians 5. Church, we want to say once again, Matthew Vines’s God and the Gay Christian is dangerous to Christianity. The danger is outlined clearly by Dr. Mohler:
Matthew Vines demands that we love him enough to give him what he desperately wants, and that would certainly be the path of least cultural resistance. If we accept his argument we can simply remove this controversy from our midst, apologize to the world, and move on. But we cannot do that without counting the cost, and that cost includes the loss of all confidence in the Bible, in the Church’s ability to understand and obey the Scriptures, and in the Gospel as good news to all sinners.8