Reflecting on Matthew Vines

There’s a video doing the rounds at the moment.  It is by Matthew Vines and is often found under headlines such as “Every Biblical Argument Against Being Gay, Debunked Biblically.”  There’s a link to the video at the end of this article.  Here are my reflections.

Matthew Vines’ presentation is a moving experience. It gives great insight into the pain and anguish that interaction with the issue of homosexuality can cause if it is not handled with appropriate love, care and inclusion.

 Of particular insight and concern is the perception that traditional readings of the Bible are seen as assertions that gay people, in order to be holy, should also be lonely. But the Bible does not affirm loneliness as a means of holiness. Friendship and often used word “fellowship” rings throughout the Bible. We are called to live in community, grace, generosity and the hospitality of friendship. In traditional Aussie speak it is “mateship”.

 Alongside friendship/ fellowship, the Bible affirms both singleness and married life:

  • Firstly it affirms “singleness” not as an affirmation of being alone (so not “single” at all really), but as an affirmation of personal status in which there is particular freedom to share friendship and affection within the wider community. “Singleness” is therefore a wonderful gift which celebrates the inclusivity of the gospel.
  • Secondly it affirms marriage as the sexual union of a husband and wife as a precious context in which new life and family is created and celebrated. Being married is therefore also a gift which celebrates, in particular, the complementary exclusivity of the gospel.

Despite his obvious sincerity Mr. Vines fails to make an accurate academic biblical argument. The book Sexegesis is a relevant resource for those looking for a rebuttal on specific points. In broad terms, however, Mr. Vines’ argument fails in that he approaches the biblical texts on the same terms as some of those who would misuse them against him.

He treats six Bible verses and draws his conclusions specific to those passages but fails to engage with broader affirmations, such as the positive affirmations of non-sexual friendships. Unlike the unmarried or married states, there is no biblical affirmation of the homosexual lifestyle. Same gender relationships are affirmed as non-sexual celebrations of friendship.

Above all Mr. Vines applies relies heavily on assumptions about the nature of sexuality and the biblical application of sexuality. The biblical affirmations of relationship presuppose that self-actualisation (i.e. the expressing of one’s identity in the most true and life-giving way) derives from agape love, the love of self-sacrifice. It does not derive from eros love, the love of chemistry and “natural” inclinations (of any orientation). The Bible calls all people, regardless of orientation, to express their sexuality self-sacrificially by restricting it to celibacy or the intimacy of one’s spouse.

Mr. Vines obviously feels torn between his desire for companionship and a family. His desire for family can be fulfilled heterosexually. The creation of a family requires self-denial and self-sacrifice on the part of any father, including in the area of sexuality. Mr. Vines therefore struggles to extend the same self-denial and self-sacrifice to his desire for companionship.

We can identify with this struggle, and empathise, yet nevertheless disagree with his assertions about the Biblical message. The cost of following the Biblical affirmations of life is high for all of us.

For interaction on similar issues of biblical interpretation and exegesis:

http://www.peter-ould.net/2009/06/29/sexuality-and-slavery-part-one/

http://www.peter-ould.net/2009/07/02/sexuality-and-slavery-part-two/

http://www.peter-ould.net/2009/07/12/sexuality-and-slavery-part-three/

http://www.peter-ould.net/2009/09/01/sexuality-and-slavery-part-four/

http://www.peter-ould.net/2010/02/03/sexuality-and-slavery-part-five/

Click here to watch Matthew Vine’s presentation.

Click here to watch a helpful video on gay Marriage by Dr John Dickson

 

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