Many LGBT people feel as though they must choose between faith and being themselves when they come out. For Matthew Vines, who is not only gay but also a devout Christian, making that choice was not a viable option. According to The Harvard Crimson, Matthew came to terms with his sexual orientation while in his second year at Harvard University, and found many allies and friends in the LGBT community there. However, he felt that many of them didn’t understand his aversion to what he felt would be abandoning his faith.
Moreover, the traditional teachings of Matthew’s Christian faith did not allow for him to reconcile his faith and his sexual orientation. So he took a leave of absence from Harvard to study Biblical texts in depth, even going so far as to teach himself basic Greek and Latin. Why go to all this trouble? Matthew “really want[s] to reclaim the Bible… in a way that’s [not] manipulative of the text,” according to the Crimson. The result? Matthew feels that his “arguments and interpretations are actually more accurate historically and Biblically” than the traditional ones. (Matthew formally presented his arguments on March 8, 2012 in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. A video of the full speech can be found here.)
Matthew couldn’t accept a Biblical interpretation that “cut corners.” He feels that LGBT advocates occasionally “completely knock the Bible altogether, or Christianity altogether,” which, as he points out, is counterproductive. “Why on earth, when you’re dialoguing with people, would you take something extremely sacred to them, and degrade it?”
Another important takeaway from Matthew’s story is his commitment to his faith. And he’s not alone. According to a Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults put out by the Barna Group 60% of LGB adults describe their faith as “very important in their life, and 70% of them self-identify as Christian, with 40% claiming to be “absolutely committed” to the Christian faith.
Matthew’s absolute commitment to his faith, and his sound Biblical conclusions, prove to any who have a heart and mind open enough not only to hear but to listen as well that “to deny to a small minority of people, not just a wedding day, but a lifetime of love and commitment and family is to inflict on them a devastating level of hurt and anguish. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that Christians are called to perpetuate that kind of pain in other people’s lives rather than work to alleviate it, especially when the problem is so easy to fix. All it takes is acceptance. The Bible is not opposed to the acceptance of gay Christians, or to the possibility of loving relationships for them… Gay people should be a treasured part of our families and our communities, and the truly Christian response to them is acceptance, support, and love.” Matthew’s entire speech is full of such inclusive and accepting philosophy, even though he only mentions gays and lesbians in his speech. To find out why this is I sent him a personal message, which he has given me permission to share with you. Incidentally, he just didn’t want to lose his audience but he also “see[s] no reason not to view bisexual orientation and transgender identity as simply varied parts of creation…” He feels that “[while] they are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture… there is no good reason not to see them as such.”
What do you think of Matthew’s findings? I think his most valid points come from his Harvard Crimson interview, about not degrading others’ personal views that we disagree with while dialoguing with them. I think that is probably one of the hardest things to remember.