Matthew Vines' church presentation on
committed same-sex relationships & the Bible.
Matthew Vines' presentation, the video:
On 2012-MAR-10, Vines' posted a video on You Tube of the presentation that he had made at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, KS two days earlier. The video is slightly over an hour long. As of 2012-SEP-29, it has been viewed almost 400,000 times.
Contents of the video:
In the introduction to his presentation, he apparently referred to the United Methodist Church's internal conflict over homosexuality, and by extension other mainline Christian denomination. Relatively little conflict exists within very progressive Christian denominations who already accept homosexuality as simply another unchosen, natural, normal, fixed, and morally neutral sexual orientation experienced by a minority of adults. Similarly relatively little conflict exists within fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian denominations who currently accept homosexuality as a chosen, unnatural, abnormal, changeable and morally sinful behavior engaged in by a minority of adults.
"The issue of homosexuality -- of the ordination of gay clergy and of the blessing of same-sex unions -- has caused tremendous divisions in the church in recent decades, and the church remains substantially divided over the issue today.
On the one hand, the most common themes voiced by those who support changing traditional church teaching on homosexuality are those of acceptance, inclusion, and love. ...
On the other hand, those who oppose these changes express concerns about sexual purity, holiness, and most fundamentally, the place of Scripture in our communities. Are we continuing to uphold the Bible as authoritative, and are we taking biblical teachings seriously, even if they make us uncomfortable?"
Some points raised in his talk:
According to the traditional interpretation of the Bible's anti-gay and anti-lesbian "clobber" passages, as supported by religious conservatives:
The six clobber passages condemn all forms of same-gender sexual behavior:
Passages in Leviticus 18 and 20 condemn homosexual behavior, calling it an abomination.
Paul, in Romans 1, discusses men and women "exchanging natural relations for unnatural ones" by engaging in same-gender sexual activity.
Before the Fall of humanity in Genesis God created humans as male and female to be fruitful and multiply. Thus homosexuality is a sign of the Fall.
Having a homosexual orientation is OK. Acting on it is a great sin. Gays and lesbians are called by God to celibacy. They are expected to live alone, without a significant other for the rest of their life, with no children, no spouse, and no family.
Heterosexuals fall in love, develop a commitment to each other, get married, have children, and create a family.
Gays and lesbians are driven by lust, and have sex. Their relationships are intrinsically sinful, whether they are one night stands or long term committed partnerships.
According to a progressive interpretation, supported by religious liberals:
Gays and lesbians have the same ability and interest as do heterosexuals to fall in love, form relationships and perhaps build a family.
They should have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else.
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, Jesus warns about false teachers and offers a criteria for recognizing good teaching: "By their fruit, ye shall know them." Vines says: "Good teachings, even when they are very difficult, are not destructive to human dignity. They don’t lead to emotional and spiritual devastation, and to the loss of self-esteem and self-worth." However, this is exactly what traditional teachings have done to gays and lesbians; they have caused "incalculable pain and suffering." So perhaps the traditional teaching is false.
In Genesis 2:18, God is quoted as saying: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." For a gay or lesbian adults, a helper can only be a person of the same sex. By prohibiting a loving, committed same-sex relationship, conservative Christians are declaring loneliness good even though God stated the opposite.
Resolving this conflict requires a return to the six clobber passages and questioning whether their traditional interpretation are right:
Genesis 19, the story of Sodom: The passage describes how the men of the city wanted to have sex with angels who were visiting the city. They were staying in Lot's house and he protected the angels from the mob. After Lot and the family escaped from the town, God destroyed Sodom and killed the remaining inhabitants. The theme of the story was a contrast in hospitality. Earlier Abraham had offered hospitality to God and the angels; later, Lot offered hospitality to the angels. This contrasts with the men of the city who wanted to anally rape the angels. Anal rape was often used in ancient time to humiliate men in ancient times. Sodom is mentioned 20 times in the rest of the Bible; homosexuality is not mentioned. It was only during the Middle Ages that the sin of Sodom began to be interpreted as homosexuality.
Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13: The conventional translation of these passages refer to the prohibition of a male lying with another male as with a woman. They form two of the 613 prohibitions and requirements codified in the Mosaic Code. The Hebrew word translated as "abomination" refers to a matter of ceremonial cleanness, intended to separate the Hebrews from their neighboring tribes. The punishment of execution called for in Leviticus 20 was similar to many other "crimes" punishable by death, many of which are not considered sin today. At the Council of Jerusalem in 49 CE -- some two decades after Jesus crucifixion -- the early Christian Church decided that the Mosaic Code was no longer binding on Christians. Two illustrations of this are writings by Paul: In Galatians 6 Paul writes that the Old Law was a "yoke of slavery" that Christians are not to be burdened by. In Romans 10, Paul writes that "Christ is the end of the law." But somehow, most conservative Christians consider these passages in Leviticus as still valid and binding on Christians today.
Romans 1:26-27: Paul discusses some Christians who had abandoned God and reverted to Paganism. The traditional interpretation is that they engaged in same-gender lustful sexual activity, which Paul regards as unnatural and outside of God's design as set forth in Genesis 1 & 2. A progressive interpretation recognizes that the Christians who reverted to Paganism were heterosexuals who went against their nature, abandoned their heterosexual orientation, and engaged in same-gender sex. Matthew writes:
"Gay people have a natural, permanent orientation toward those of the same sex; it’s not something that they choose, and it’s not something that they can change. They aren’t abandoning or rejecting heterosexuality—that’s never an option for them to begin with. And if applied to gay people, Paul’s argument here should actually work in the other direction: If the point of this passage is to rebuke those who have spurned their true nature, be it religious when it comes to idolatry or sexual, then just as those who are naturally heterosexual should not be with those of the same sex, so, too, those who have a natural orientation toward the same sex should not be with those of the opposite sex. For them, that would be exchanging “the natural for the unnatural” in just the same way. We have different natures when it comes to sexual orientation. ..."
"In the ancient world, homosexuality was widely considered, not to be a different sexual orientation or something inherent in a small minority of people, but to be an excess of lust or passion that anyone could be prone to if they let themselves go too much."
Matthew examines 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 which talks about long hair on men being against nature but long hair on women being natural. He regards the passages in Roman 1 and 1 Corinthians 11 as being close parallels, and related to the culture at the time.
The Gentile cultures
-- Roman and Greek -- regarded sex as involving an active role reserved for a male and a passive role reserved for a female. Sexual activity between two men or two women would have been unnatural simply because it contradicted this social custom, which was ultimately based on the patriarchal nature of their societies.