For a lot of Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?
Most of us who grew up in a conservative church environment are familiar with the texts typically associated with this question—found in Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 & 20, Romans 1, I Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1—and their interpretation from the traditional perspective.
So how do Christians who believe in the authority of Scripture and who also support committed gay/lesbian relationships interpret these passages?
I’ve read several books and articles exploring both the traditional and affirming perspectives, but perhaps no one else so succinctly, persuasively, and carefully presents the affirming view than Matthew Vines in his now-famous no-frills, one-hour lecture on the topic, delivered at a church in his Kansas hometown. Upon confronting the reality that he was gay, Matthew, a committed Christian, left college to devote two years to studying the topic. Now he has launched The Reformation Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. He is currently writing a book for publication by Random House in early 2014.
While Matthew is essentially just presenting the same arguments various biblical scholars have been making for decades, he summarized the position so well, it’s worth sharing for discussion. So I’ve embedded the video and linked to the transcript below.
I know it’s a bit long, but if we’re going to discuss this issue, it’s only fair to familiarize ourselves with both “sides” in the discussion and, unfortunately, what I hear most often from evangelicals is that the Bible is absolutely unambiguous on the topic and that those who would deny that are simply denying the authority of Scripture. I think this shows that there are thoughtful Christians who are both committed to Scripture and unconvinced that all gay relationships are sinful. You don’t have to agree with them to take them and their perspectives seriously and respond to them charitably.
Here’s the video (with captioning):
Here’s the transcript:
A few questions for discussion:
- What most resonated with you from Matthew’s presentation? Which points were the strongest, and which would you say were the weakest?
- Which traditionalist response offered the best crituqe? Did the responses adequately address the challenges to the traditionalist viewpoint raised by Matthew? How so?
- How do you interpret these passages and how did you arrive at that posture? What would you say is the strongest point made by those with whom you disagree? What is the weakest? What are you most unsure about?
[I'll share some of my thoughts in a comment below.]
Let’s keep the conversation civil and constructive, and please take the time to read/watch before weighing in. (I realize this requires some time commitment, but given the intensity of this debate and the profoundly personal nature of it, I think it’s worth taking the time to seriously consider the various viewpoints—whether through these resources or others; don’t you? I’ll make sure to check the comments throughout the week so you have plenty of time to read/watch before weighing in.)
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