Legalization of marriages between two people of the same sex is the law of the land.
The establishment of this milestone in American history has the support of a majority of Americans. Acceptance and affirmation of gay people in same sex romantic relationships is especially strong among younger Americans.
Resistance to acceptance remains very strong among Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians. Their resistance is almost always based on particular interpretations of six passages in the Bible. Christians of this particular persuasion are very difficult to convince that a new look needs to be taken at the homosexual phenomenon and a new look needs to be taken at the six “hammer” passages in their infallible Bibles.
A day of reckoning has arrived. Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches are faced with a stream of young people in their congregations, who are coming out of their gay closets. Even more church related heterosexual young people are speaking out for their friends. Young people, including those in Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches, are now aware of the massive change of opinions in America about homosexuality. An abundance of information is at their computerized finger tips. The flow of information is not simply abundant. The flow of information cannot be controlled by family or church.
In the past gay young people simply left their Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches in silence. This is no longer true. Young people are staying in their churches and are speaking out. The voices from within Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches, colleges and Christian institutions are many and are having growing impact. Some voices get a larger audience and are having greater impact. One of those voices with greater impact is that of Matthew Vines.
He had struggled with his sexual feelings for several years. He was from a very caring and devoted Christian family. He was loved by his parents and his sister. Matthew always knew he was loved by his church, a large Presbyterian Church in Wichita, Kansas. However, he also knew what his pastor and church leaders believed about the sinfulness of homosexuality. The family faith had become his own faith. He was a devout Evangelical Christian who had a very high view of the inspiration and trustworthiness of the Bible.
Early in his sophomore year at Harvard University he faced himself and made his great admission. “I am gay.” Some 5 years later he has written a very readable and reasonable account of his own journey. He writes about his own struggles with his parents and his church.
In the book Vines does a credible job of bringing a different interpretation of the six critical passages from the Bible that are used to bring judgment on gay persons. Vines never questions the validity of the six passages. He simply states that Evangelical Christians have been wrong in their interpretations of the passages. After facing himself, his family, his friends, and his church, Matthew Vines remains a devout Evangelical Christian with a high view of the inspiration and authority of the Bible.
“God and the Gay Christian” is finding a reading audience. Vines’ perspective has found endorsement by other Evangelical believers, who have been looking for a way to come to terms with the rapidly growing public acceptance of the normalcy of gay sexual orientation and relationships and of the legalization of gay marriages.
This will not be the first time Christians and Christian churches have been forced to change their minds. Need we be reminded that the Roman Catholic Church in the 17th century pronounced Galileo a heretic because he concluded that the earth revolved around the sun rather than the sun revolving around the earth? The reasoning was simple. The Bible says that the sun rises and sets. Now every child learns basic science that says the earth revolves on it axis and additionally travels around the sun, providing the illusion that the sun is rising and setting.
Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches and the Roman Catholic Church need to do more than change their mind. Exodus International was a large and thriving Christian organization 20 years ago. Exodus had 250 chapters. Their claim was that they could change gay people into heterosexual persons through a program of reparative therapy. Their program was rejected by responsible organizations of psychologists and psychiatrists. In June, 2013, Exodus closed their doors and issued an apology to gay people they had damaged. Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches and the Roman Catholic Church have also done enormous damage to gay people. A mind change is urgent. Apologies are in order. Mathew Vines is a prophet among us. We should all listen.
Matthew Vines has quickly become a sought-after public speaker. James McGrath, professor of Religion at Butler University says “A century from now, people may look back to this book as the one that decisively turned the tide.”
Watch for the name Matthew Vines. Buy your copy of “God and the Gay Christian.” Read for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman or its parent company, Wick Communications.