Not more than a few hours after its official release, Matthew Vines’ new book God and the Gay Christian began sparking intense debate. An evangelical Christian identifying as gay may seem like an oxymoron in today’s American discourse, yet Matthew’s story offers a sharp challenge— one can identify as gay and still affirm a conservative interpretation of the Bible.
Raised in a conservative evangelical Kansas household, Matthew’s father described Matthew’s coming out as the worst day of his life. Together the two wrestled with the biblical options for Matthew’s chosen lifestyle, asking “If heterosexual marriage wasn’t a reliable option for me, what should I do?” (11). This book is the product of Matthew’s journey to answer that very question and his message is simple: “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships” (3).
God and the Gay Christian is unlike any treatment of this topic before. For one, Matthew holds the highest view of scripture from any I’ve read on this subject. Matthew offers to pull up a chair and read with you those controversial biblical passages that have members of both camps reeling. He synthesizes the major developments in biblical scholarship in a relatable and easy-to-understand style, asking questions like “What is Paul saying here?” “What exactly was the sin of Sodom?” and “Is gender difference between spouses essential?” For those looking for a scripture-based perspective on LGBTQ equality, this is the resource to start with.
However, Matthew’s book should not be viewed as “the end of the conversation” for LGBTQ equality within the church. I am an advocate of increasing our awareness of gender and sexuality beyond the conservative framework. Marriage need no longer be the American Christian ideal. Gender fluidity and Purity Culture beckon us to new conversations about Christian sexual ethics. Further, the Bible cannot, in my opinion, be expected to reflect our modern understandings of sexuality.
While God and the Gay Christian is quite conservative in its treatment of sexuality, gender, and marriage, more conservative than my own preferences lie, Matthew’s voice is encouraging to me. I appreciate people who identify with the religious tradition of their childhood and who refuse to relinquish that identity simply because some in their tradition do not welcome their perspective. Not everyone can or should maintain such a dichotomous identity, yet Matthew’s deeply held beliefs in the Bible as God’s word will resonate with many. There is room for all at the table.
God and the Gay Christian is available for purchase today!
Also, watch Matthew describe the book below: