This is the second book I’ve read on gay theology, along with countless blog posts and articles. The issue of homosexuality within the Christian sphere has been so hyper-politicized that it is difficult for anyone to have a thoughtful conversation on the topic when it challenges the most conservative prevailing view that homosexuality is explicitly condemned in the Bible and that being gay is a choice (and if it isn’t a choice, then gays still don’t have a choice as they must remain celibate). This book by Matthew Vines is meant to introduce Christians to alternate readings of Scripture and promote an affirming view of gay marriage and homosexuals in general within the Church.
Vines discusses the mandatory 6 biblical references to homosexuality (Genesis 19:5; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9; I Timothy 1:10) and attempts to place each passage in its historical context – a highly patriarchal society where women had very legal recourse and where the Greeks thought of women as deformed men. Vines also focuses on the relevant issues of mandatory celibacy for gay Christians, how homosexuals have been treated within the Church (a demonstration of the fruit of the spirit?), homosexuals being made in the image of God, marriage as a covenant and grace.
All the statements are footnoted with sources and it is clear that Vines has done his research. What is disappointing is that he does not grant any points to his opposition. The issue from my perspective is very grey and both sides of the debate are able to defend their position either through a literal interpretation of the English Bible and church tradition or through a reinterpretation of the Bible through the lens of modern science, historical context, progressive revelation, and a desire to extend communion to a hurting community of believers.
From my perspective, the way Christians have dealt with homosexuals in their midst has been tragic and indefensible. A conversation is necessary and it must be framed with respect and love for the other – not fear and loathing.