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13: Responses from Others, to Matthew Vines’ Video Presentation

Many people who watched the video were initially convinced by the arguments presented. Some have promoted the video on other websites, sometimes furthering confusion, EG this one, this one and this one which at  the time of me writing this, refuse to display the feedback I sent to their comments sections. Even Dan Savage promoted the video in his column. Several months later though, Dan appeared to acknowledge that the Bible does not in fact support homosexual sex. Matthew’s original home church largely didnt buy Matthew’s arguments either (ref. 2). In May that year, a general conference was held by the United Methodist Church (Matthew’s video was recorded at a United Methodist Church), and despite Matthew’s input (ref.), the conference also decided to retain their official position that active homosexual behaviour is incompatible with Christian teaching. In fact the decision at that conference was more committed to that position, than was the previous conference. One month later, the Southern Baptist Convention voted likewise. Initially some described the video as “scholarly”, but later, even some LGBT-affirming sources  admitted that it’s not. By the end of the year, the top search result on Google for the search terms “Matthew Vines”, was a page refuting his presentation. And around 18 months after the video was released, one of the biggest names in Christendom in regards to the gay topic; Alan Chambers, even after going through a huge redevelopment of his approach in ministry to GLBTs, was still saying that the Biblical model for relationships is heterosexual. Many expressed that they consider the video presentation to be fundamentally flawed and heretical, EG -

Even one or two secularist have joined the critics, as has at least one guy who is same-sex attracted. At least one blogger seemed to find the video humorous, while others began to treat Vines primarily as an exemplar of Scriptural misinterpretation. Various critics have challenged the presenter to a public debate or discussion, (EGEG2EG3, EG4EG5) but have tended to report that their requests for this get nowhere. Avoidance of debate, is apparently something of a tradition for those who promote this sort of philosophy.

Vines’ avoidance of debate with experts finally changed in mid 2014 when he debated Dr Michael Brown, although Vines confided in friends that he didnt realise it was going to be a debate, and he inferred that he would not have proceeded if he’d known when he agreed. Vines has also had a little interaction with critics over facebook, EG with Gagnon, but again, the suggestions of public debate have not materialised, but rather has expressed disinterest. One critic says Vines blocked him on facebook rather than engaging in reasoned dialogue. A little more than 6 months after the release of the video and after much of the publicity and talk had died down, liberal Christian communities such as Huffington’s Religion section and CToBM, both of whom had promoted the video, were promoting articles such as this one, which didnt mention the video but stated that “It is utterly futile to imagine that the biblical writers would be pleased with the concept of men marrying men or women marrying women”. The liberal-leaning MSNBC also said much the same and Australia’s ABC have also expressed a conservative leaning on the topic. Such reports indicate that the video did not result in a watershed change of widespread opinion, even amongst liberals. At the end of the year, the pro-gay Huffington Post recognised Matthew’s ability to get attention by including him in their list of 30 Most Compelling LGBT People Of 2012, but despite his plans for revolution, Matthew’s presentation was not listed in their 51 Hottest LGBT Stories Of The Year. And a little over a year after the video was released, a poll from the Barna Group reportedly found that the percentage of evangelicals who believe that marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman, had increased over the last 10 years.

VinesBook2

A censored screenshot of a facebook post by one of Vine’s supporters.

Of course the presenter has many supporters, and even a few apologists posting things on the web in support of his theories. Ive responded to one of these apologists here (duplicated here). Some Christians shrink in the face of this issue, ultimately deciding not to weigh into to it, and claiming that it’s not their place to judge. But it seems to me that in terms of what is permitted in churches, Christians are actually required to judge. Ephesians 5:7 indicates that there are some people with whom good Chrisitans should not partner. And 1 Corinthians chapter 5 indicates that sincere Christians should not associate with those who call themselves Christians but who are seriously corrupted by sin, specifically those in sexual sin (note this does not apply to associating with non-Christians). In Revelation chapter 2, the indication is that Christians are required to not tolerate teachers who lead others into sexual sin. Christians are supposed to “judge correctly” (John 7:24) and to encourage other Christians to be holy (Gal 6:1-5, James 5:19-20, Titus 1:13) rather than ignoring the sin. Christians are not supposed to judge non-christians though (1 Cor 5:12) or to be judgemental hypocrites (Matthew 7:1-5). Im not claiming that Christians should persecute or harass. But those who cite Matthew 7:1-4 to claim that Christians should not point out others’ sins, tend to ignore verse 5, which encourages us to help others avoid sin.

In this vein, the Windsor Report of 2004 states in part – 

Not all ‘differences’ can be tolerated. (We know this well enough in the cases of, say, racism or child abuse; we would not say “some of us are racists, some of us are not, so let’s celebrate our diversity”). This question is frequently begged in current discussions, as for instance when people suggest without further argument, in relation to a particular controversial issue, that it should not be allowed to impair the Church’s unity, in other words that the matter in question is not as serious as some suppose. In the letters already quoted, Paul is quite clear that there are several matters – obvious examples being incest (1 Corinthians 5) and lawsuits between Christians before non-Christian courts (1 Corinthians 6) – in which there is no question of saying “some Christians think this, other Christians think that, and you must learn to live with the difference”. On the contrary: Paul insists that some types of behaviour are incompatible with inheriting God’s coming kingdom, and must not therefore be tolerated within the Church.

Media reports about the presentation etc have sometimes unsurprisingly been rather biased. One of the bigger newspaper reports stated that the presenter was “forced to leave” his original church due to his homosexuality. But was the presenter ‘forced’ in terms of being told to leave? No, according to this later article and according to this report which says he never formally left. It would have been more accurate for the media to have reported that he ‘chose’ to leave.

Gay and troubled? If you are in the US, you can call the Trevor Project for help, on 866-488-7386. TheTrevorProject.org Further material: 

  • Dr Greg Bahansen’s response to similar claims from pro-gay leader John Boswell
  • Robert Gagnon speaking on relevant themes at GROK Radio
  • Bobby Conway’s 2012 1 hr loving video overview of homosexuality (incl. misleading references to immutability)
  • Dr Howard Batson’s response to similar claims from Bruce Lowe (incl. possibly inaccurate statements about St Paul’s understanding)
  • Sexegesis, an Australian Evangelical book that responds to the recent book Five Uneasy Pieces.
  • Answers to the broader questions about homosexuality, from Christopher Yuan
  • Ron Belgau’s theological analysis of homosexuality
  • William Witt’s The Hermeneutics of Same-Sex Practice: A Summary and Evaluation

Stasis Online Contents Page for Matthew Vines


2 Comments on “13: Responses from Others, to Matthew Vines’ Video Presentation”

  1. Robert says:

    As a gay man – I have had to live with being called names as a child – employment opportunity not granted to me – limited my experience in this free country – and accept a minimized view in my close religious family – endure countless weddings being th prized pig that can sing and do flowers while the chosen can go on to have a partner and happiness with children – while I sit by the side lines
    Mr Vines comments gave me for the first time in my entire life the deep feeling that God might actually love me – as who I am – which I have always know but my “faith”- church would never accept

    That alone is reason enough that a righteous man such as yourself should view his humble approach to consider the scriptures and the fact that for the first time In 25 years felt that I could read and consider the scripture and how it pertains to my life as an option.

    I say shame on you –

    This is a young man struggling with what he knows to be true – the church has done nothing but shame and alienate an entire body of christ –

    This will change – maybe not within my life time but it will change – my God is a loving caring God that I turn to on a daily bases – Mr. Vines I feel was a servant of my God which maybe some of his others servants should pay more attention to instead of lashing out.

    Respectfully – Robert Boyd

    • stasisonline says:

      Thanks for reaching out, Robert. Im sorry to hear that people have been unloving and made things difficult for you. And Im very saddened to hear once again the perception that gay people often have; that God may not love them. I dont recall such a perspective being taught in churches Ive attended, and I still find it strange that people believe it, despite the fact that the Christian phrase “love the sinner …” is so widely known. Are you able to help me grasp where the message that “god hates gays” comes from? The only source that comes to my mind is the tiny yet vocal group known as Westborro Baptist Church. Are there any large or mainstream groups that teach that god hates gay people?

      God does love you Robert, very much.

      But I dont buy into the notion that if someone feels better or happier, then the cause of feeling better is necessarily aligned with God’s will. Rain falls of the righteous and the unrighteous. We see in Scripture that sometimes God’s people are happy and sometimes they are unhappy. Often they endure hardship. The fact that Mr Vines brings you happiness does not mean that it’s from God.

      In regards to paying attention to Mr Vines – well Ive done that. A lot. I dont think I have lashed out at him. At least no more than could be said that he has lashed out at those who disagree with him. I have reviewed his theories rather closely patiently and soberly and have found them to be flawed. In my opinion, my response on this blog is very logical, reasonable and well measured.

      Im humbly suggest that the claim “the church has done nothing but shame and alienate an entire body of christ”, is overly negative. Certainly there has been shaming and alienation. But there has also been many efforts to work together for good. Groups like the Marin Foundation, Courage and Exodus, though none are perfect and some have made been very flawed, have all sincerely sought to minister to and help GLBT Christians, some for decades.

      At the end of the day though, you and I may disagree on what god thinks of homosexual practice, but I think we can agree that God loves everybody. Blessings to you.


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