Matthew Vine’s conclusion after studying Old and New Testament references to homosexuality (matthewvine.com) is quite simple:
The Bible never directly addresses, and it certainly does not condemn, loving, committed same-sex relationships.
To reach that conclusion, he has examined – and, I believe, trivialized – six biblical passages. The story of the men of Sodom wanting to gang rape two males is only about violence and inhospitality, says Vine. The homosexual part of the story is incidental and irrelevant. The prohibitions about homosexual behavior in Leviticus are inapplicable to Christians, Vine argues, because we are no longer accountable to living by the Old Testament laws. In the New Testament, the passage in Romans that describes what God does to those who reject him (i.e., he lets them do awful things such as homosexual intercourse) only applies to those who are by nature heterosexual. Two Greek words used in Paul’s epistles – malakos and arsenokoites – are used too infrequently for us to know their precise meaning, so we might as well ignore them.
This is hermeneutics by evasion and is disreputable and irresponsible. The plain sense of each of these texts may not be as direct as some might like but it most certainly is clear enough in each case that, if we dismiss the homosexual element, we are left with utterly trivial texts. Simply erasing biblical texts which move in a direction we don’t like is not an honest way to deal with Scripture.
The website which first commended Vine to me has an entry on Gay Christians which begins with these words:
The Bible does not condemn gay people or gay relationships. If it did, I could ignore it.
That says directly what Vine spent 5,000 words saying. We know what we want to believe and will not let even the Bible contradict us.
Having noted that the Bible does indeed condemn homosexual behavior, we still must deal with two serious problems in our modern treatment of those in the LGBT community.
First, homosexuals are subjected to persecution, up to and including murder, for their sexual orientation. Hatred is never a mark of the Lord’s people. We are to treat others with respect and dignity and, when they suffer, with compassion. Instead, we have often contributed to the ill treatment given homosexuals. We must speak out against this very openly and forcefully. It is absolutely indefensible. And we must apologize for our part in stirring the fires of hatred.
Second, if we are expecting abstinence of homosexuals, we at least need to recognize that we are asking of them something few of us would want for ourselves. We live in a society which expends billions of dollars each year exploiting and encouraging sexual license. We do little to protest and little to demonstrate healthier and more fulfilling ways of dealing with our biology at one level and our loneliness at another.
In our day, the LBGTs have become more demanding and are sometimes quite offensive about it. We in the church need to acknowledge that their pent up frustration and pain is due in large part to the repression which we have enforced on them in our inability to face the issues directly and find ways for homosexuals to be treated as and to feel themselves to be persons of dignity and value.
There is a big log in our eye and we’re not in a position to deal with the speck in the eyes of our brothers and sisters.
A final question: Is the LBGT movement like the civil rights movement among the Blacks and the call for equality by the feminists? Yes and no. In their call to be treated as persons of dignity, all three movements are quite alike and quite right. Blacks and women were not calling for the right to be immoral, however, and the equality they sought simply enhanced the fabric of our social structure. What the homosexual activists seek is permission to be promiscuous (though Vine speaks only of loving, committed relationships) and to be what they in fact are not: married.
Imagine that I decide at age 70 that I really want to play football again. And I don’t want to go back merely to the flag football of my younger years but I want to play in the NFL. And so I mount a campaign to force the NFL to change it’s rules for me: No tackling or knocking each other down, no blocking or intercepting any errant passes I might throw, no more using a ball that is too big for my small hands, and so on. Would anyone take me seriously? Of course not. I have the same right as anyone to play in the NFL but I do not have the right to demand that they change the rules to suit my own particular situation.
We’re a long way from even understanding what is justice for homosexuals and we in the Evangelical community need to be among those at the forefront of those calling for that justice. We cannot let anyone tell us to dismiss the Bible because it does not suit his or her own particular situation but neither can we dismiss them for being different in some way from the majority.
We are all, each and every one of us, flawed and limited, yet in need of justice, freedom and dignity in the way we are treated. That means we need the grace of God, the love of God, the compassion of God, each and every one of us.
I recommend that you check out the videos found at the website Cause for Joy: