A few days ago, Kevin DeYoung at The Gospel Coalition published “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”. It was an excellent and gentle way to approach the subject of same-sex attraction and homosexual marriage. One could detect immediately that his piece would have an impact. It did.
Matthew Vines. He wrote a book called God and the Gay Christian. He has not been silent about his advocacy for the gay lifestyle being biblical. Today he issued his own response, "40 questions for Christians who oppose marriage equality"
I am a Christian opposed to homosexual marriage. So, I’ve chosen to answer them. Vines’ questions are in bold. My answers follow. (Left, M. Vines)
Dear Mr Vines,
My young friend, I am thoughtfully and earnestly answering these questions you posed. Since you took the time to create them and publish them, and I took the time to answer these questions, I ask you kindly to read them.
I have a special, personal, heartfelt message for you at the end, Mr Vines … Matthew. My heart really goes out to you. In my message at the bottom, I am honest, transparent, and perhaps you will detect in me that at one time we were the same. Hang in there with this piece and please, I do want the best for you and I’m not here to be your enemy. I’m answering as an old Baptist lady twice your age, lol, that has some things to share based on experience in the Lord, that I believe would bless you to read.
• Do you accept that sexual orientation is not a choice?
No. All sin is a choice.
• Do you accept that sexual orientation is highly resistant to attempts to change it?
Yes. All sin is highly resistant to change- in the flesh. Ask an alcoholic/drug addict/kleptomaniac/nymphomaniac…Yet through Jesus we can do anything. (John 15:5)
• How many meaningful relationships with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) people do you have?
• How many openly LGBT people would say you are one of their closest friends?
Are we defining biblical truth by our experience with a randomly allotted number of friends?
• How much time have you spent in one-on-one conversation with LGBT Christians about their faith and sexuality?
Again, are we defining spiritual truth by the number of hours talked?
• Do you accept that heterosexual marriage is not a realistic option for most gay people?
No. “And such were some of you”. (1 Corinthians 6:11).
• Do you accept that lifelong celibacy is the only valid option for most gay people if all same-sex relationships are sinful?
Lifelong celibacy is not unbiblical and it’s not a jail sentence. ALL people who are single are expected to be celibate. (Matthew 19:11). And post-conversion, marriage IS in the cards for some who were previously gay, previously fornicators, previously sexually overactive in any way. The only people marriage is not in the cards for biblically are those who divorce for unbiblical reasons.
• How many gay brothers and sisters in Christ have you walked with on the path of mandatory celibacy, and for how long?
The bible mandates celibacy for all single people, and constrains sexual intercourse to marriage between one man and one woman. It’s not a punishment, though your phrasing indicates you believe it is.
• What is your answer for gay Christians who struggled for years to live out a celibacy mandate but were driven to suicidal despair in the process?
• Has mandatory celibacy produced good fruit in the lives of most gay Christians you know?
Has celibacy produced good fruit in most of the heterosexual Christians we know? Yes. And by the way, this is the fifth question out of ten you've asked so far directly dealing with sex. And homosexuals say it’s not about the sex? Methinks…you…doth…
• How many married same-sex couples do you know?
Until last Friday, same-sex marriage was illegal in our state.
• Do you believe that same-sex couples’ relationships can show the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
No, not in a way that is pleasing to God because same-sex couples do not have the Spirit in them. The Spirit is not given to unrepentant sinners.
• Do you believe that it is possible to be a Christian and support same-sex marriage in the church?
No, because it would mean denying the clear teachings of scriptures in the Old Testament and the New Testament and defying God’s picture of His Son and His bride.
• Do you believe that it is possible to be a Christian and support slavery?
Since we are talking spiritually, bondage to sin is the ultimate slavery. Jesus came to set us free from it.
• If not, do you believe that Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards were not actually Christians because they supported slavery?
Let’s look at fallible men to make your case for a biblical truth. Not.
• Do you think supporting same-sex marriage is a more serious problem than supporting slavery?
More serious? Less serious? On a scale of one to ten, … it has a good beat and I can dance to it. Matthew, moral relativism has no place in a discussion of biblical truths, because God’s moral law is absolute. We find that absolute in the bible.
• Did you spend any time studying the Bible’s passages about slavery before you felt comfortable believing that slavery is wrong?
You’re aiming for an emotional argument here, one from conscience. Owning another human being has nothing to do with the sin of sexual union with the same gender. By the way, slavery is more endemic in this day and age than it ever was previously in any age. All sin is rising in the world.
• Does it cause you any concern that Christians throughout most of church history would have disagreed with you?
Once again you appeal to experience and behavior to attempt to prove a moral law, which can’t happen because man is sinful and God is not. God is the only arbiter of morals.
• Did you know that, for most of church history, Christians believed that the Bible taught the earth stood still at the center of the universe?
Did you know that mankind still cannot figure out how the pyramids were built?
• Does it cause you any concern that you disagree with their interpretation of the Bible?
Not as much as my concern over your misinterpretation of the bible.
• Did you spend any time studying the Bible’s verses on the topic before you felt comfortable believing that the earth revolves around the sun?
I admire that the bible confirms science.
• Do you know of any Christian writers before the 20th century who acknowledged that gay people must be celibate for life due to the church’s rejection of same-sex relationships?
The church rejects same-sex relationships, as well as animal-human sexual relationships, sexual relationships outside of marriage, and incestuous relationships because they are sinful
• If not, might it be fair to say that mandating celibacy for gay Christians is not a traditional position?
Celibacy for anyone who is not married, is “mandated”. That is the traditional position.
• Do you believe that the Bible explicitly teaches that all gay Christians must be single and celibate for life?
The bible teaches that all persons not in a marital relationship must remain pure, and abstain from all sexual activity. There is no such thing as a Gay Christian. I say this with no snark and much sorrow because I know you identify as such…
• If not, do you feel comfortable affirming something that is not explicitly affirmed in the Bible?
Celibacy for anyone not in a biblically ordained marriage is explicitly affirmed in the bible.
• Do you believe that the moral distinction between lust and love matters for LGBT people’s romantic relationships?
Anyone, and that means anyone old or young, straight or gay, who lusts in their heart has already committed adultery. (Proverbs 6:25, Matthew 5:28).
• Do you think that loving same-sex relationships should be assessed in the same way as the same-sex behavior Paul explicitly describes as lustful in Romans 1?
There are no loving same-sex relationships because they are all built on hate for the word of God and for our redeemer Jesus Christ. Anyone who sins and has not repented is an enemy of Jesus. That’s hate.
• Do you believe that Paul’s use of the terms “shameful” and “unnatural” in Romans 1:26-27 means that all same-sex relationships are sinful?
Seeing that Paul’s exact words were inspired by the Godhead, I’d say yes.
• Would you say the same about Paul’s description of long hair in men as “shameful” and against “nature” in 1 Corinthians 11:14, or would you say he was describing cultural norms of his time?
“Would I say” is not the way to go about interpreting the bible. Proper hermeneutics and an understanding of the verse/passage/chapter in context is how to go about understanding what the Spirit is saying to us. Nevertheless, there are many things described as shameful in the bible. When we read one of them, we should take heed.
• Do you believe that the capacity for procreation is essential to marriage?
I believe this because the bible proclaims it. However that capacity is God-given, and we know that the capacity to procreate is not God-given to absolutely everyone.
• If so, what does that mean for infertile heterosexual couples?
It means that God has not deemed those persons to procreate, just as He has deemed some to remain unmarried for periods of time, and others to remain celibate. In the main, though, marriage is a picture of Christ and His church, it is for partnership complementary to one another for life, and is for sexual union and the blessing of being given a child. All this is plain in the bible.
• How much time have you spent engaging with the writings of LGBT-affirming Christians like Justin Lee, James Brownson, and Rachel Murr?
None. I spend my time in edifying materials. First, the bible and next in material Philippians 4:8 urges us to digest. Why would I want to think on materials that are at enmity with God and teach against His moral principles? Just so, I also choose not to read writers who urge us to sexually partner with children or animals. Why would I?
• What relationship recognition rights short of marriage do you support for same-sex couples?
Absolutely none. Indulging in sex outside of biblically ordained marriage is a sin.
• What are you doing to advocate for those rights?
We already possess the highest “recognition” in the universe: all are made in the image of God and while we were still sinners, God loved us. When I repented and became a citizen of heaven, all my “rights” transferred to Jesus and flow from Jesus. I (try) to do only what is “right” in His eyes.
• Do you know who Tyler Clementi, Leelah Alcorn, and Blake Brockington are, and did your church offer any kind of prayer for them when their deaths made national news?
Our church frequently prays for many of the families of people who die, (we don't pray for dead people themselves, their eternity is fixed by then) though we tend to stay away from “national news” oriented situations.
• Do you know that LGBT youth whose families reject them are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than LGBT youth whose families support them?
First, it is shameful for families to reject any of their children. It is an especial sin for Christian families to do so. (Col 3:21, 1 Tim 5:8). Your question didn’t distinguish whether it’s Christian families or NON-Christian families doing the rejecting. As for the homosexual youth who kill themselves, that is because their sin and rebellion is causing them intense depression and despair. ALL sinners are in despair, and many sinners perform suicide. However the antidote for suicide is not to indulge their sin. Jesus overcame all sins of oppression, depression, possession, and despair, and once a person is in Christ, has the strength and help available via the Spirit to climb out of their sinful hole and resist the temptation to kill themselves.
• Have you vocally objected when church leaders and other Christians have compared same-sex relationships to things like bestiality, incest, and pedophilia?
No, why would I object? Homosexuality is in the same list as the things you mentioned and all of them are an abomination to the LORD. They are all sexual sin and Jesus came to die for pedophiles, animal lovers, homosexuals, and incestuously active, the same as He came to die for embezzlers, liars, hypocrites, gossips, adulterers, coveters, etc.
• How certain are you that God’s will for all gay Christians is lifelong celibacy?
Not certain at all. Many gay people who repent and have the Holy Spirit in them go one to enjoy productive and happy relationships in marriage with the opposite sex. Even bearing children. Of the ones He deems to be celibate, and not all of those are gay people, Matthew, He gives the strength to remain so. In fact, in the last days Tribulation, Rev 7 and 11 shows us there will be 144,000 celibate virgins running around doing God’s work. Happily. Imagine that. Moral sexual purity during the WORST sinful time Matthew 24:21 says there shall ever be.
• What do you think the result would be if we told all straight teenagers in the church that if they ever dated someone they liked, held someone’s hand, kissed someone, or got married, they would be rebelling against God?
The result would be that the pastor and deacons and elders would take me aside to explain my error in biblical interpretation regarding marriage.
• Are you willing to be in fellowship with Christians who disagree with you on this topic?
I am already in fellowship with Christians who disagree on a variety of topics. That’s called the normal Christian life.
Personal message to Matthew Vines:
My dear young man, and I mean the “dear”, in reading your list of questions it becomes obvious that you view leaving the identity of homosexual and turning to Jesus as one of loss. “Woe is me, I won’t be able to have sex.” “Woe is me, I’ll never be able to marry.” “So sad for me, I’ll be denied hand-holding and cuddles.”
This is why you rail against the Christians who attempt to correct you. You are focused on what you have to give up, on what you think you’ll lose. You never see the true benefit of repenting and the treasure hidden in the field you will receive instead. You’re clinging to a boulder on a sinking ship, and you never look up to see the helicopter with a lifeline ready to take you to glorious heights.
I said I’d be transparent with you. I am not gay and I’ve never once thought about a same-sex relationship. I was married but now I'm divorced. That happened at about the same time I was converted, at age 43. That was 11 years ago. I’ve been celibate for all these years. In the inimitable way the Lord has, He made it clear that I was not to be married. I am one of those people Paul speaks of who has “the gift of celibacy.”
I self-identified as a healthy, excessively lusty woman, interested in cuddles, hand holding, all the way up to sex with a man, who would be my husband. When the Spirit inspired John’s Gospel and he recorded the incident with the woman at the well, He likely had me in mind, lol. I liked sex, a LOT. I was defined by my sin. But it was getting pretty heavy.
When I was converted by grace of God, I struggled. I was single, and looking down that long hallway of life and had a very hard time coming to grips with the notion that I would be not only single, but- gasp!- celibate. I could barely say the word. What would I do? That aspect of me comprised almost all of me. It was who I was and was who I identified as being. Who would I be if I gave it up? I know you can relate.
I struggled mightily for a year. Yet the bible was very clear. I loved Jesus. I loved sexual relations. How could He do this to me, deny me? The tension between who I wanted to identify as (sexually liberated woman) and who I was now (pure daughter of Christ) grew unbearable. Something had to give. It soon became apparent I had to give up my self-identity because it was based on the sin of lust, and I now must rest “in Christ”. On July 4, 2006, I laid down on the floor of my vacation cabin, put my face to the ground and said, “Lord, this sin of lust is keeping me from thinking straight. It is keeping me from a biblical mind-transformation that I need to have. It is keeping me from YOU. I cannot serve two masters. Lord, the bible says,
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43-48).
That is pretty graphic, no? And it is equally clear. I had to let go of the boulder. I was clutching at something that I thought made me, me, and it was drowning me. The boulder was NOT my self-identification, the Lord had now identified me as His child. I must be pure. Help, me Lord in this that you require.
I did not have a safety net. There was no “leap and the net will appear.” I had no idea what lay ahead. I just knew that I needed Christ’s strength and I clung to his promise to GIVE ME LIFE AND LIFE ABUNDANTLY instead of my boulder of lusty-self-identification.
I said, “If this is what it means to have a deep relationship with You, Lord, I cut out my beloved sin. I cast it at Your cross. I repudiate it.”
Do you think, Matthew, that the Lord would “mandate” celibacy for singles, a word you enjoy saying so often, and not help us maintain it? BTW He has the authority to “mandate” everything, you know. Do you believe that He is that weak, uncaring, impotent to overcome all your temptations? He HAS already overcome them. Do you believe He may not have a gracious and loving woman in reserve for you to marry, should you repent and convert? Do you not believe He wants your best, a best that is outlined in the bible? Even if it means still allowing you to struggle with sexual lust, do you not think that there are others who have similar struggles and temptations in all areas of life? Don't you think it's a bit self-involved to think no one else has temptations like you men who self-identify as gay have? Yet somehow they and I find the strength in Christ who rely on Him to help us. We have wonderful lives full to the brim and overflowing with grace and service and love.
He forgave all my sins, and lifted all my temptations. He gave me abundant life, He gave me HIMSELF. I traded a dusty and rotten old boulder on a sinking ship for glorious heights in His service, happily, in the new life He made for me. I am the woman at the well. Here is how she ended:
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42).
He can be your Savior, complete and powerful, offering you release from the chain that you are attached to, that boulder of lust for men. Don’t be Mrs Lot, looking back at what you think you will lose. The full Christian life is not about losses and lacks. Look ahead, Matthew. No, look up.
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
Elizabeth, some ole Baptist lady in Georgia who loves you and wants the best for you.