Christianity,  Theology/Bible

God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines

Matthew Vines is a young author who has just released a new book trying to disprove that the Bible condemns homosexuality, God and the Gay Christian. Against a 2,000-year old consensus within the Christian church, Vines contends that key biblical texts do not mean what they appear to mean—that homosexuality is fallen and sinful and completely incompatible with following Christ.

Vines argues that if the Bible were properly understood, everyone would see that there’s nothing inherently sinful about homosexual orientation or behavior. Thus there is no biblical reason to prevent gay “Christians” from entering into the covenant of marriage with a same-sex partner. Gay couples can fulfill the marital norms of Ephesians 5 just like their heterosexual counterparts.

There is nothing fundamentally new about God and the Gay Christian. Vines’s arguments follow a conversation that has been going on among biblical scholars for several decades. Nevertheless, he has popularized revisionist interpretations of scripture and has framed them within a very compelling personal narrative.

The danger of Vines’s book is that it pretends that one can affirm the authority of scripture while rejecting what the Bible teaches about sexuality. In my view, that is why this book deserves an answer.

Today Albert Mohler has released a free e-book of review essays responding to God and the Gay Christian. Jim Hamilton, Heath Lambert, Owen Strachan and I join Mohler in answering some of the challenges presented by this book. You can download the book for free here or click on the image at left.


        • Nathan Cesal

          Ezekiel 16:49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

          • Ken Abbott

            Ezekiel 16:46-50: “Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” Ezekiel employs the Hebrew word to’evah, which is rendered “detestable” in these verses and is the same word translated as “abomination” or “detestable” in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

            The point of the passage is not to single out Sodom for her sins, but to show Jerusalem the gravity of her own sins and that God held her even more accountable than Sodom (which was judged) because she ought to have known better. Even so, it will not do to ignore the depravities for which Sodom was judged; her sins ranged far and wide, and included sexual perversities along with social injustices. We, too, ought to take note and wonder how long God will stay his hand.

            • Ian Shaw

              His staying hand is there to keep the record of the wrongs and to also give time to those to repent. But you’re right. We all don’t know how long that will be.

          • Johnny Mason

            Everyone seems to stop at verse 49, but it continues in verse 50.

            “50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”

              • Johnny Mason

                Except we have this passage from Jude 7:

                “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

                Sodom and Gomorrah had a lot of issues, sin will do that to you, but the sexual sin was at the forefront and the primary cause of their destruction.

                • buddyglass

                  Even if Vines is correct and God is fine with homosexual relations it doesn’t follow that Sodom would have been spared. As you note, its sins were legion. Shoot, its sexual sins were legion, and that would still have been the case even without the homosexual stuff. Raping random visitors, general fornication, etc. I just don’t think it follows from the text that if Sodom had been exactly as described except for the homosexuality then it would have been spared.

      • Esther O'Reilly

        Yeah, never mind the fact that they essentially threatened to gang rape Lot’s guests (though given who Lot’s guests actually were I doubt that would have worked out according to plan anyway).

        • Ian Shaw

          To make a blanket statement, one could say that the sin of Sodom was ouitrageous idolatry and sexual sin, which I guess any and all sexual sin could be lumped into the idolatry umbrella as it’s putting anything to worship worship above God.

    • James Bradshaw

      @Johnny: So there was nothing unjust about Lot offering his virgin daughters to the mob without their consent? There was nothing wrong with Lot later getting drunk and impregnating both of them? How drunk does one have to be to “not know” one is having sex with one’s offspring? The Bible says nothing about either, and Lot was referred to as “righteous” was he not?

      This is why I refer to the “incoherence” of Biblical morality. One passage asserts we should lay down our lives for our fellow man while another has folks burying each other in sand up to their eyes and bashing their heads in with rocks because they were picking up sticks on the wrong day of the week. Sorry, but this is just not workable as an instruction manual for everyday life.

      Since you’re being a bit of a literalist, by the way, didn’t Christ admonish His followers to give everything they owned away to the poor if they wished to follow the path of perfection? I know, I know, let’s not get crazy here, right?

      • Bob Wilson

        There isn’t nearly enough attention paid to Lot’s offer of his daughters to the mob when this story is discussed. Absolutely blood curdling! His daughters should have cut his throat as he slept after that.

        I’ve never read a scholarly explanation for that aspect of the story. Does that simply reflect the value placed on women? I believe this part of the bible is purely myth, so perhaps it’s symbolic of something but I can’t imagine what.

      • Esther O'Reilly

        Good grief. The Bible reports plenty of sordid details without feeling a need to insert a “no-good, very bad” tag after each and every one of them. The reader is supposed to use a little common sense. Besides, the Mosaic law covers incest anyway.

        • Bob Wilson

          But the story tells us nothing at all. It simply reports that Lot offered the mob his daughters as if he had offered them sandwiches. And of course his daughters are given no voice at all.

          Even given the very, very different mores back then, I assume a father had the duty to protect his children and that fathers tended to love their children.

          Was the duty to protect strangers greater than the duty to protect family? Ok, fine but then I’d expect the writer to mention Lot’s anguish. Instead nothing.

          I still wonder if part of this story has been lost.

          • Bob Wilson

            I think I am still not being clear. So perhaps to clarify: since I assume back in ancient times, a man’s duty was still to protect his family. Lot’s offer of his daughters to the mob is deeply perplexing to me. Was he a coward? Since the story tells us Lot is righteous, I assume not. But then why? Was this somehow within the mores of the times, which would explain why no motive is given? Daughters less valuable than male strangers? I can only guess.

            • Kevin Anderson

              Lot moved his family into a place where worldliness & idolatry was rampant. Since bad company corrupts good character, we should expect to see even a righteous man such as Lot corrupted by the influence and norms of his peers. For as long as Lot lived in Sodom, Lot had been throwing his daughters to the world rather than encouraging them to pursue holiness.

              Think about a contemporary dad sending his children to any of the vast majority of Colleges or Universities, for a contemporary equivalent.

              The influence didn’t end with Lot throwing his daughters to the world. Like Lot, in this setting Lot’s daughters would lack a Christian worldview that would inform them that incest was wrong. Sexual restraint was simply foreign to them. Again, contemporary cultural examples are legion.

              You’ll also note Lot’s wife’s choice for worldliness too as they ran from Sodom prior to it’s destruction. This is a tragic family legacy of poor leadership, and it should reinforce the gravity of the responsibility for family leadership that God placed on the husband & father.

  • Ken Temple

    You left out verse 50, which includes homosexual acts – the word “abominations” (also used to describe homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 and adultery and incest in Ezekiel 22:11 and other sins like stealing, murder, adultery, lying, idolatry, etc. in Jeremiah 7:9-10.

    The Hebrew word, to’evah (????? = abomination) is clear.

    Ezekiel 16:50 “Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.”

    • Suzanne McCarthy

      To’evah is also having sex with your wife when she is having her period. This is an abomination. I realize this is still observed by some Jews but I have never heard it mentioned in church. So we talk about one certain kind of sexuality as an abomination, but never mention another kind. Clearly there is an emphasis on certain biological elements that are to be kept separate. I am not entirely sure that this law is related to how women feel about it, but rather what kinds of bodily effluent is in contact.

      What is lacking is any consideration of how cruel and dehumanizing heterosexual sex can be within or without marriage. In this case the law of loving the one who is next to you as yourself is more relevant. Don’t betray your daughters or abuse your wife. This is the law reinforced by Christ in the gospel.

      • Ken Temple

        “never heard it mentioned in church” – probably because it is not repeated in the NT, but homosexuality as sin is (Romans 1, 1 Cor. 6, 1 Tim. 1:8-11, Jude 7); and preaching on it would seem to force conversation to inappropriate details.

        Bringing that up, in the context of the debate in our culture about homosexuality, along with other Levitical food laws, etc. always seems like a ploy to distract and stop the person from teaching on the clear things that are abominations. (like the famous West Wing episode in the early 2000s rant against a character that was obvioulsy suppossed to be Dr. Laura Schlesinger, etc.)


        Actually, Leviticus 18:19 does not use the word To’evah specifically in that verse for having sex during the wife’s period. But it does seem to include it, by summarizing all the practices that are prohibited as To’evah in Leviticus 18:24-30. In other chapters in Leviticus it calls it “unclean”, but it doesn’t use the specific word, To’evah for it there. (Lev. 15:24ff; 20:18) That still does not negate all the clear verses that I mentioned above.

        Cleanliness laws are not repeated in the NT as applicable, and food laws and Jewish feasts, circumcision, Sabbath Day laws, sacrifice laws – these are fulfilled in Christ in the new covenant. (Mark 7:19; Acts 10-11; Colossians 2:16-17; Galatians 4, Hebrews 7-10) There was an obvious change from the Old covenant to the New covenant in those areas. But homosexual sex is still sin. Marriage is still only between one man and one woman. Jesus said that also in Matthew 19 – “did not God create them male and female?” and “the two will become one flesh”. Jesus clearly spoke positively for marriage as grounded in creation and God as creator and one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve) as the ideal original plan.

        Ancient desert culture needed rules for cleansing, sanitary cleanliness, right? We have whole modern systems of tampons, pads, etc. for helping women in that area – disposing of sanitary napkins, etc. – Is it ok to not dispose of that material and wash up? but mentioning that and violence and abuse to women still does not take away from the fact that the Bible is clear that homosexual sex is wrong by nature, ontologically. The word To’evah (abomination) is used for beastiality and adultery and other sins also.

        “I am not entirely sure that this law is related to how women feel about it,”

        – most women probably don’t want to have sex during their period, don’t you agree? God’s law seems to also be sensitive to the woman during that time.
        Maybe the OT is kind to women after all . . .

        “but rather what kinds of bodily effluent is in contact.” Sanitation and cleanliness laws.

        “What is lacking is any consideration of how cruel and dehumanizing heterosexual sex can be within or without marriage. In this case the law of loving the one who is next to you as yourself is more relevant. Don’t betray your daughters or abuse your wife. This is the law reinforced by Christ in the gospel.”

        “can be” – True. But heterosexual sex is not wrong by nature, or in itself. Homosexuality is always wrong by nature, within itself, by itself, ontologically.

        You want abuse and cruelty to women in heterosexual relationships to also be mentioned in church and sermons; ok. Yes, those are wrong also, but the issue right now is that Matthew Vines and others are trying to overturn God’s creation intention (Genesis 1-2; and what Jesus said about marriage – Matthew 19:1-6) and overturn 10,000 years of history and all cultures and civilzation by saying that one can be a Christian and be homosexual and have a loving, committed relationship – no, that is wrong. The NT repeats that homosexuality is sin in Romans 1:22-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11, Jude 7 (“they went after strange flesh” – obviously saying that homo sex is sin.)

        But, the point was that Nathan left out a verse in Ezekiel, seemingly he was trying to imply that the sin of Sodom and Gommorah was only pride and selfishness and not caring for the poor and lack of hospitality, when Genesis 19 is clear that the sin of Sodom and Ghommorah was primarily homosexuality. Their pride and selfishness and stubborn rebellion was also deep within their hearts.

        • Suzanne McCarthy

          “when Genesis 19 is clear that the sin of Sodom and Ghommorah was primarily homosexuality.”

          That could possibly be the view of the author of this narrative. Certainly. And do we then throw virgin daughters into the street? Surely one can see that we don’t actually honour the moral perspective of this passage. It is based on the importance of not mixing the certain things together.

          “Don’t have male on male sex, rape the virgin girls instead.” Gang rape them, of course, until they are dead. This perspective dehumanizes women in an intense way. How can women go to church and not be traumatized. They compose their grocery list in their heads, when these things come up, and focus on organizing playdates for the babies with their friends during coffee time. But this interpretation of the Bible demands that women protest. We cannot share the moral perspective of this narrative.

          How can people in church even discuss things like this, and not be aware that they are treating women like objects, like less than animals, just bodies which, because they are not male, are available for violation, according to the laws of cleanliness. And this in our own world where the weak, male or female are still violated. Why not stand up against all forms of violation, and let homosexuality fall into the same trough of “sex during menses,” not something we need to talk about so much.

          • Ken Temple

            The author of Genesis 19 is clearly condemning homosexuality/sodomy, but the author is not approving of Lot’s gross action of offering his virgin daughters. Genesis 13:13 and 18:20 and chapter 19 show that the men of Sodom and Gommorah were wicked and the male homosexuality is condemned. But the fact that the angels blind the homosexual men(v. 11), and so protects Lots daughters from harm, also shows that the narrative does not approve of Lot’s stupid and uncaring and horrible offer. Historical narrative also records the wrong actions and wrong attitudes of people. Lot’s offer was wicked also, if he really meant it sincerely. He was a bad father, for sure, if he really meant that. Fortunately, those evil men don’t do any harm or violence to Lot’s virgin daughters. Or Lot could have just been buying time, knowing that they are so wicked and hard-hearted and he knows they are not interested in women – as verse 9 shows – they said, “stand aside and they pressed in to try and force themselves through the door, almost breaking down the door; and they accussed Lot of “judging” them. That is a very common charge today, “don’t judge” – used against Biblical Christians. Just as the historical narrative later will record Lot’s daughter’s incest(Genesis 19:32-38), Noah’s drunkenness(Genesis 9), David’s adultery(2 Sam. 11), Solomon’s polygamy (1 Kings 11) – it does not approve of those things – same with the offer of Lot’s in Genesis 19:8 – there are too many other passages in the Bible against rape and violence that make it clear that Lot’s offer is wrong.

            • Suzanne McCarthy

              Here is the text –

              8 Behold now, I have two daughters that have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing; forasmuch as they are come under the shadow of my roof.’

              9 And they said: ‘Stand back.’ And they said: ‘This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs play the judge; now will we deal worse with thee, than with them.’ And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and drew near to break the door.

              These men have come under Lot’s hospitality. He must maintain his reputation for hospitality as this is his honour so he offers to sacrifice his daughters instead. The issue is not for Lot to refrain from being involved in an act of sexual immorality, but for him to maintain his word as one who shows hospitality to strangers. And the Sodomites know this.

              The Sodomites accuse Lot of having come to judge them for what? For their lack of hospitality, of course.

              • Ken Temple

                no; they accuse him of judging them by calling their homosexuality evil and wicked.

                4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” [ie, have sex] 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly

                Genesis 13:13 – Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.

                Genesis 18:20 – Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave,

  • Don Johnson

    I have not read Vine’s book, altho it is on my wish list.

    I did read the first 2 parts of the free e-book and have some critique of Dr. Hamilton’s chapter. He points out that Mark says that Jesus “declared all foods clean” but Jim (I think) misunderstands what is meant. If Jesus or Mark had wanted to claim they were overturning Torah, the quote would have been “declared all ANIMALS clean” but this is not what is written, altho Jim takes it to mean this, in error.

    The entire Mark 7 teaching unit (pericope) is about how the Pharisees added to Torah with their handwashing ceremony and the Pharisees declared some food unclean because it was eaten with unwashed hands, that is, hands that had not gone thru their handwashing ceremony, the details of which can be found in the Mishnah, for those interested. By adding in their human traditions to (Written) Torah, they actually ended up violating Torah, by declaring food that (Written Torah says) is clean to be unclean. Jesus in contrast says in context that one doing the handwashing ceremony does not mean that the (kosher) food is clean, the (kosher) food is clean already and one does not need to do the handwashing ceremony. One can figure out that kosher food is meant because Jesus is talking among Jews, to such a group, if something is not kosher it is not even considered food. So I claim Jim entirely misunderstands this aspect of Mark 7.

    There is more that I think Jim misunderstands, but my point is that if Jim misunderstands this, what else does he and the authors of this e-book misunderstand in Scripture?

    • Ken Abbott

      Don, how does this interpretation of Mark 7 comport with verses 14-23, in which our Lord (rather emphatically, because he immediately repeats it to his disciples) teaches that uncleanliness originates from within, not from without?

      • Don Johnson

        Mark 7:14-23 is one of the parables that is often not discussed in books on parables.

        My understanding is that Jesus is saying the clean/unclean distinctions for a human in Torah all have to do with what comes out of the person (like blood), not what goes in; furthermore that this distinction is a parable for sin (specifically being profane as contrasted with being holy); what comes out of a person ( not body discharges like blood) but actions resulting from what is inside, thoughts whether bad or good. One of the points is that Jesus is saying the Pharisees miss this with their misunderstanding of clean and unclean as it applies to people. In other words, while they may mean well, they teaching is wrong and results in them making further errors.

        One thing to see on the clean/unclean distinctions is that being unclean does not necessarily mean one has sinned, but that when in an unclean state one cannot do temple things or else it would be a sin.

          • Don Johnson

            In Mark 7:19b (Thus he declared all foods clean.) Jesus is saying that the handwashing ceremony of the Pharisees does not need to be done.

            If something was Jewish (kosher) food when Jews sat down at the table, then if one does not do the handwashing ceremony, it does not become unclean food, contra the teaching of the Pharisees. To be specific, in this case, the Pharisees added human tradition to (Written) Torah and ended up negating Torah (by declaring something that is clean to be unclean), so the human tradition is to be rejected.

            • Ken Abbott

              Do you think Mark’s largely Roman Gentile readers were likely to understand the distinction? Twice before in chapter 7 he has added parenthetical notes explaining peculiarities of contemporary Jewish practices. Given that Gentile Christians in Rome were exceptionally unlikely to adhere to kosher dietary laws, let alone Pharisaical traditions concerning hand washing before eating, why would Mark think he had to explain to his readers that they didn’t have to be concerned about this?

              • Don Johnson

                I agree that Mark was probably written to a Roman audience.

                I agree that Gentiles do not need to eat kosher.

                The congregation of believers at Rome were at first Jews and proselytes. (Acts 2:10-11) The Jews were kicked out of Rome at one point and then allowed back, this is thought to have included Jewish believers in Jesus. So I see Mark’s audience being mixed congregations with more Jews than in the regular population. So the Jews in the congregation would explain to the gentiles the various sects of 1st century Judaism and what they each taught when it was something they did not know from general experience of living in a cosmopolitan environment.

                Part of the story of Jesus for a gentile audience was/is to explain how while Jesus was Jewish, he was rejected as Messiah by most Jews, while some gentiles did choose to accept Jesus as Messiah, so that at some point most congreations had more gentiles than Jews. Why did not more Jews come to Jesus since he was Jewish? The answer, of course, is that Jesus had many disagreements with Jewish authorities and the handwashing ceremony of the Pharisees is an example of this.

      • Ian Shaw

        Bingo Kenm

        18, And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him. 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled? (Thus he declared all foods cleans) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

  • Sam Dillon

    Just to get this off of my alleged mind and I truly don’t mean to be critical but I saw the 90 page outline of this response and wondered if there’s anyone who disagrees with your view that will read it? It seems more to me that these responses are more of a stand up to a certain issue and be counted amongst those who agree with us type of thing. The back slapping on twitter and other responses of why we need responses like this .. and on and on. I love you guys. I’m looking forwarding to reading the short book as I also hold your position on the issue. Sorry, just thinking out loud as it were.

      • Ian Shaw

        Yes, it has nothing to do with the fact that SSM has been the “zeinith cultural flavor of the week” for news coverage on local, statewide and national broadcasts for the past 5 years…..

        Advertising is a two-way street as well.

    • Ken Abbott

      Will anyone who disagrees with it read it? Probably not, but in the providences of God we humans can never know about these things. The value of such responses is that they serve as protections for Christ’s people, those who may be blown about by every wind of doctrine. The authors are fulfilling their call to be good shepherds and not hired hands.

  • Curt Day

    It is obvious that one must engage in olympic level exegetical gymnastics to interpret the Bible as condoning homosexuality. But that shouldn’t be our main concern. Our main concern should be whether the Church’s reaction to homosexuality played a role in pushing Vines to try to condone it using the Scriptures. In other words, did Vines see Biblical approval of homosexuality as the only way to move Christians to a place of treating gays as equals in society?

    • Esther O'Reilly

      See, the problem is that not everyone believes “treating gays as equals in society” is a good thing, if by “treating gays as equals in society” you mean:

      1. Redefining the whole institution of marriage to pretend that anyone other than one man or one woman can be “married,” with all the benefits that accrue as a result.

      2. Pretending that there are no differences between homosexuals or heterosexuals that should affect how homosexuals interact with other members of the same sex in contexts like dorm rooms, sports teams, or the army.

      3. Punishing school-children and other ordinary members of society who react in an uncomfortable or concerned way when a transgender individual is allowed to use the wrong bathroom, or otherwise expose himself around members of the opposite gender (there was a case of this happening with a man at a women’s spa full of little girls–guess who was coddled and who got chided?)

      4. Punishing people for not cooperating in various other ways with the transgender fiction in general (e.g., not referring to the individual as “she” when “she” is really a “he,” etc.)

      5. Preventing business owners from withholding their services from a homosexual “wedding,” by law, thereby opening them up to ruinous litigation if they follow their consciences.

      6. Treating homosexuality as normative, and consequently exposing young children to it in popular culture/entertainment while pretending it’s just like showing them a man and a woman kissing.

      We could go on, but you get the idea. Differences matter. Beating homosexuals up or screaming that God hates them is obviously not the way to go, but pretending there should be no societal differences or consequences of their sin when there patently are is equally destructive and unloving.

      • Ian Shaw

        Much like how the feminist movement became about same-ness, “equality” and “same-ness” are two completely different things. But I’m sure I’ll be flammed for being a complementarian…..

        • buddyglass

          I’ve interacted with plenty of feminists, some of whom I’d characterize as “off the deep end”, who don’t argue for “sameness”. In fact, they make a big deal out of celebrating womanhood. They just don’t define “womanhood” the same way, say, Mary Kassian does.

        • Esther O'Reilly

          Well, good for the mayor. I’m sorry, but I agree with him wholeheartedly. Given the homosexual lobby’s history of causing political strife and seeking personal vengeance, those particular reprimands don’t surprise me at all. And his “shocking” private phone conversation was actually both relatively restrained and completely sensible/healthy. Besides which, the whole idea of a lesbian police chief is just disgusting. I think it’s ridiculous and inappropriate for even a straight woman to be a police chief, ordering men around, but the lesbianism compounds the inappropriateness. There has been case after case of lesbians using their authority over men vindictively. It’s happened to a personal friend of mine, and it’s come up in multiple public stories. So, sorry, not shocked or impressed.

          • James Bradshaw

            “Besides which, the whole idea of a lesbian police chief is just disgusting.”

            I think that says it all. Personal animosity and irrational hatred. Nothing more.

            • Esther O'Reilly

              Nope, not irrational at all if you believe that there is a natural order of things in which men are different from women and homosexuals are different from heterosexuals. This, my friend, is where the mayor has it right while you persist in a state of denial.

              • buddyglass

                One can “believe that there is a natural order of things in which men are different from women and homosexuals are different from heterosexuals” and not come to the conclusion that it’s inappropriate for a woman to serve as police chief.

                It only follows if one believes in a particular order of things. You can’t reasonably imply that anyone who disagrees with you recognizes no natural order of things and thinks men and women are the same. They may not recognize a natural order and they may think men and women are the same, but neither of things is necessary in order for them to disagree with you on this issue.

                • Esther O'Reilly

                  Still, to hold that view one must still regard men and women as, in some important sense, _interchangeable_. You must believe that in theory, there’s no reason why a man and a woman couldn’t be equally qualified to serve in the army, lead a group of men in some physically demanding task where male bonding is key, etc. Which actually is resisting the natural order of things.

                  • buddyglass

                    “to hold that view one must still regard men and women as, in some important sense, _interchangeable_.”

                    One needn’t view men and women as interchangeable in a fundamental, universal way, i.e. in all contexts, in order to view them as interchangeable in certain contexts. I may be mistaken, but I would guess there are some contexts where you yourself view men and women as interchangeable. “Police chief” just isn’t one of them.

                    “You must believe that in theory, there’s no reason why a man and a woman couldn’t be equally qualified to serve in the army…”

                    That’s doesn’t follow either. One could very easily believe that a woman is equally capable of acting as police chief without also believing a woman is equally qualified to serve as a soldier.

          • Suzanne McCarthy

            Are you suggesting that there are no cases of straight men using vindictive power over other straight men? I would be shocked if you could prove this.

            In fact, straight Christian men have been known to treat other straight Christian men with great injustice. This happened to a friend of mine. And has come up in multiple stories So – sorry, I am not impressed.


            I worked in an organization that had only female leaders, in education, so no men competing in this particular field. We had women with the personality of military sergeants, and other inappropriate styles, but finally, we got a director with a sweet feminine personality, she was liked by everyone, and her spouse had breast cancer, and her daughter had a brain tumour, so she worked hard and cared for her family like every other woman. Yes, she was lesbian, and had moved to Vancouver because we recognize the home-loving, positive influence of homosexuals “settled in families.” This is just my experience, not a theological statement.

            • Esther O'Reilly

              *rolls eyes* This is about proportions. You yourself are admitting that it took a while for you to get a female leader who was even nice! However, education is different from police work in that it shouldn’t ideally be a men-only domain prima facie.

              Anyway, it’s clear that you don’t really grok gender roles or sexuality in general, so I’m not going to try arguing these points with you.

              • Suzanne McCarthy

                I don’t grok at all so I can’t respond much. But I am very grateful that our police force is a good part female. I don’t think I have any grasp where you are coming from. I have had good and bad administrators who are men and women. I really don’t understand your tone or attitude at all. It seems entirely about stereotyping and criticizing not the job, but on the basis of your own preconceived notions. I don’t understand people who operate on assumptions over facts.

                • Esther O'Reilly

                  To “grok” something means to understand it properly, or to “get it.” And clearly, you don’t “get” gender roles/sexuality.

                  • Suzanne McCarthy

                    How could you possibly diagnose whether someone groks sexuality from the internet??

                    Gender roles, well I think of the huge shift that came somewhere between Gen. 3 and 4. In the early days, people hunted, foraged and dug gardens with sticks and hoes. This was the hoe culture and definitely hoeing belonged to women, since men were out and about more. The garden was in the care of the woman, and the other stuff more for the man. But actually, if they got most of their nourishment from the garden then both men and women worked the soil equally.

                    In the next stage, plough agriculture, men ploughed, women milked, gardened the smaller stuff, cared for the animals, spun, wove, cooked and created a great deal of the trade goods. Different gender roles developed.

                    But in fact, there were differences between men. Some men were scholars and judges and the wives did all the agriculture, hiring servants or slaves, and managing the household, making sure the extended family was provided for, so these men did no manual labour at all, and provided no financial resources to the family. This culture still exists. From Proverbs 31 to our day.

                    So … gender roles – which ones??

      • Curt Day

        For point #1, not everybody believes it. But be aware of the ramifications of rejection marriage equality. And we can be better aware of those ramifications if we put ourselves in the positions in which we want to put gays. For example, how would we react if a group with significant political and cultural influence fought tooth and nail to make marriage between two Christians illegal? And their argument would be that allowing such marriage would be admitting that Christians were right and that being a Christian is normal.

        For point #2: recognizing homosexuals as equals does not imply that there are no differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. All I am saying is that in terms of society, the differences are not significant enough to stigmatize and treat homosexuals as being less than people like myself.

        For point #3: which school children are you talking about? For instance, at what age are people allowed to change gender?

        For point #4: how many people are comfortable with cooperating with Christians? There is a growing number who are not and one of the reasons for their discomfort is our intolerance-driven desire to control society.

        For point #5: See Jim Crow

        For point #6: believing that homosexual behavior is normal does not imply that homosexuality is morally right. Distinctions like that can be made. But as in Civil Rights movement days when those Whites who believed in segregation felt uncomfortable being with Blacks, the price of a society that is suppose to be based on equality is putting up with that discomfort.

        Again, in all your points, your desire is that homosexuals be stigmatized so that they are treated as less than by society. How do you think others will view your Christianity when you express that desire? And btw, though our sins are different, we are fellow sinners with gays.

      • Rick Wilson

        Esther is right on here, Curt. Your definition of equal is very faulty. Esther position here is the orthodox, historic Christian position, and those that disagree with her are heterodox on this issue. This is not up for debate among God’s people.

    • Ian Shaw

      Curt, I think you have a point about the church’s reaction. It was poor, it wasn’t a “truth in love” response.

      A great piece on Desiring God has been put up on the response and I’ll let you check it out, but the big take away was the following up on 1 Corinthians 6:9–10.

      —–>We are against any sin that restrains people from everlasting joy in God, and homosexual practice just gets all the press because, at this cultural moment, it’s the main sin that is so freshly endorsed in our context by the powers that be. Let’s hope that if there’s some new cultural agenda promoting thievery — one that says it’s now our right to take whatever we want from others by whatever means — that Christians will speak out against it. The issue is sin. That’s what we’re against. And that’s what should make our voice so unique when we speak into this debate.

      The response should have always been and alwasy be that first line. “We are against any sin that restrains people from everlasting joy in God”

      Going on in the piece:

      Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under societal pressure. We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong” and “I love you.” We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved. We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross — the same words that God spoke us — “You’re wrong, and you’re loved.”

      • Curt Day

        What have to make a distinction between what should be allowed for those who are members of good standing in the Church and what should be allowed for those who are members of good standing in society. Unless we want a theocracy, we have to make that distinction.

        • Ian Shaw

          Curt, I would agree with you. I’m just saying the response from the church (generally speaking) hasn’t been one that is very encouraging to c all those that are fallen to come to Christ.

    • Ken Abbott

      “Did Vines see Biblical approval of homosexuality as the only way to move Christians to a place of treating gays as equals in society?”

      If so, it’s a deal with the devil. “Did God really say…?”

      God takes a very dim view of those who willfully tamper with his word, to make it say things it most certainly does not say.

  • Ken Temple

    Suzanne McCarthy wrote:
    “In this case the law of loving the one who is next to you as yourself is more relevant.”

    Are you implying that anyone can be “who is next to you” – that Lesbianism and male homosexuality is ok and not sin?

  • Ken Temple

    Mark 7:19 is pointing to more than foods – “by saying this, He declared all foods clean” – He is pointing to the acceptance of eating other foods with Gentile cultures, foods that were considered unclean in the OT are now no longer forbidden to eat. Jesus is telling the Jews to reach out to Gentile cultures and nations. Acts chapter 10-11 also shows this. Food is a deep part of culture. Accepting someone’s food and hospitality from another culture breaks down prejudice and is a great way to open doors for evangelism in other cultures. Jesus deliberately leaves Israel proper and goes into pagan areas of Tyre and Sidon where the Phoenicians (Canaanites) are. (Mark 7:24-30) This explains Jesus’ statement that, by itself, seems cruel (calling the Canaanite woman a dog, etc.), but He was mainly testing the Jewish disciples to see if they had learned the lesson of sinful uncleanliness in the heart. He also is testing her, and she passed the test by her attitude of humility and accepting the truth that she also is a sinner, “a dog”, so to speak. Mark 7:20-23 lists pride and foolishness in the list of internal sins. The sin of racial hatred of other cultures and ethnicities comes from sinful pride. Jesus was deliberately testing that in the disciples hearts. Acts chapters 10-11 demonstrate what Jesus was talking about – “what God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” – the message is – “don’t think the Gentiles cultures and ethnicities are unclean as people, rather reach out to them with the gospel, and eat their food with them and love them and share the gospel with them.”

    • Don Johnson

      I agree with most of what you wrote, except the part about Jews eating gentile food. I think you are misunderstanding Acts 10-11. At no time does Peter eat non-kosher food, not even in his vision. Peter even tells us what the (correct) interpretation of his vision is and it has nothing to do with eating food.

      • Ken Temple

        Then why does God tell Peter to get up, kill, and eat those animals, that Peter considered unclean?

        “But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.” Acts 10:10-16

        • Don Johnson

          One thing to notice is that rats, vultures, scorpions, and spiders were included in the sheet in the vision. Most gentiles, let alone Jews, do not consider these as viable food options except perhaps in desperate circumstance.

          Note that the contents of the vision were repeated 3 times, this means Peter REFUSED to eat unclean animals inside the vision 3 times. For Hebrews, doing something 3 times shows it is a deliberate act, not accidental, which might be the case if something is done once or at most twice.

          So Peter deliberately refused 3 times to eat unclean animals and Peter tells us the (correct) interpretation of the vision is that God told Peter he should not call any person (gentile) common or unclean, contra what other Jews taught. The challenge is then getting from the details of the vision, which perplexed Peter (so it was not obvious at first thought) and arriving at the conclusion that no person should be called common or unclean. This can be done, but involves understanding the clean/unclean and holy/common distinctions found in Torah; but since most prots are told it is OK to skip those parts as no longer relevant, it is not well known.

          Jews had a tradition that going into a gentile’s house made one unclean. This is yet another case of human tradition negating what Torah actually taught.

              • Johnny Mason

                Peter ate some pig.

                Galatians 2:11-14

                But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

                • Don Johnson

                  That is not necessarily true. For example, I eat meat, but vegetarians have dined with me, yet they did not eat any meat and it would be a mistake to think they had just because they ate with me, the food served was vegetarian (and delicious).

                  Under the Kingdom principle of deference to others (not making any stumble), I see it as essentially certain that the gentiles eating with Peter would not have required him to eat non-kosher. When I have gone to a Messianic Passover service, I certainly expected to eat kosher.

                  Recall that some Jews taught that just going into a gentile’s house made one ritually unclean and eating normally took place in a house.

                  • Johnny Mason

                    “… If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles”

                    Living like the Gentiles does mean having Gentiles over to your house eating a kosher dinner. It means behaving, eating, and acting in ways that are not Jewish.

                    Peter’s vision was about this issue. The Gentiles were considered unclean and the people of Israel were set apart for God. In the same way, certain foods were considered clean or unclean, but now that Christ has come, that dividing wall has been torn down, and those previously considered unclean (the Gentiles) are now clean.

                    It would therefore make no sense for the Gentiles to be clean, but the type (i.e. non-kosher food) to still be considered unclean.

                    Peter understood this, which was why he was OK eating baby-back ribs with his Gentile brothers.

                    • Don Johnson

                      Gentiles are often not circumcised, Peter did not become uncircumcised, altho there was a painful operation that did this.

                      Paul points out that Peter remained a Jew.

                      Gentiles were considered unclean due to a (wrong) Jewish tradition, but they were not actually unclean. That was the point of the vision as explained by Peter.

                      The dividing wall was a human tradition in the temple courts that kept out gentiles from going further into the temple area, this was contra Torah, which is why Paul says it is now torn down, as anyone can not get close to God thru Jesus. Archeologists have found a copy version and a partial version of the warning sign put on the dividing wall.

                      It is not that non-kosher food is considered unclean, it is that it is not even considered food by a Jew. That is, an unclean animal can never be processed so that it becomes a clean animal, let alone be able to be eaten.

                      There are 3 distinctions that are relevant to food/non-food in Torah and Jews were taught there were (a similar) 3 distinctions that were relevant to human “life in the age to come” what we would call salvation. But there are really only 2 distinctions. That is why the sheet vision meant what it meant when Peter figured it out. But this gets into some complex details, so this place may not be the appropriate place to post it.

          • Derek Taylor

            Even if the main purpose of the vision is to demonstrate the inclusion of Gentiles into a Jewish understanding of the Church (and I agree that this is the main purpose), we can often find multiple applications from passages such as this. The bottom line is that Peter’s vision was a complete paradigm shift, which leads me to agree with the dominant view on this passage, that the passage also includes a message from God releasing Jews from the dietary laws of the Mosaic Law. One of the reasons I believe this is that anyone who has spent any time in missions understands that when one enters a new culture, they will invariably be confronted with foods that are foreign and often, even un-hygenic, for a person’s who has not developed immunities to the foods. The bottom line is that if one is to have a truly missionary mindset, he will inevitably need to trust God to care for them in that which is normally unsafe or even unwise to eat. Lack of flexibility and faith here truly will jeopardize one’s ability to do missions work. Therefore, this is not as trivial a matter or application as it may appear on the surface.

            • Don Johnson

              The paradigm shift was to discard the human tradition that claimed that Jews could not enter a gentile’s home without becoming unclean. In this case, the human tradition directly impacted God’s plans to spread the gospel, so it had to go.

              Once the gentiles were included, gentiles could do the work of evangelism without as many restrictions as a practicing Jew. But some Jew needed to cross that (false) boundary first and it was Peter and then Paul spent his life crossing it.

              When the text explicitly tells the reader the correct interpretation of a vision, I think it is exegetically dangerous to go beyond that interpretation.

              • Randall Seale

                I think the paradigm shifted much more than that of “the human tradition that claimed that Jews could not enter a gentile’s home without becoming unclean.” It is nothing less than God accepts people of all nations through the Messiah. It wasn’t just getting Peter inside Gentile residences but getting God’s vision for mission inside Peter. This is seen in Acts 10:28 “. . . but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” Why? Because in Acts 10:34-5 Luke explains through Peter: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” This is cemented by Luke in Acts 11:18: “And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

                • Don Johnson

                  Yes, of course, gentile inclusion in the Kingdom right now (at the time of Acts 10) was the larger paradigm shift that needed to happen; but the first smaller paradigm shift was to discard the human tradition that claims a Jew became unclean just by visiting a gentile, I hope one can easily see how the latter needed to be revealed as a part of revealing the latter.

              • Derek Taylor

                Don, your interpretation doesn’t seem to leave room for any meaningful paradigm shift. It only leaves room for a different interpretation on a narrow extra-biblical tradition (to what extent and how a Jew may interact with or visit a gentile). Your view is much more narrow than the passage indicates that either Peter or we should take it. We know, especially when we look at Paul and Barnabus’ ministry among the Gentiles later in Acts, and then from the Jerusalem council’s conclusion, that Peter’s vision was in fact pointing to a true paradigm shift affirmed many ways by the Holy Spirit and the Apostles, that would require a reassessment of many things, including the dietary laws, sabbath keeping, circumcision, etc.

                • Don Johnson

                  I agree that Acts 15 is a progressive revelation on top of Acts 10-11. In Acts 15 believing gentiles are asked to do 4 things so that there can be table fellowship with believing Jews, things that Jews would consider total gross outs, but they do not need to be circumcised, they can remain gentile. I see this as a great win for Paul’s mission to the gentiles. However, in Acts 15 the question was about gentiles and the answer was written as to what gentiles needed to do.

                  Gentiles do not need to do any of the Jewish identity marker things found in the Bible, but they are allowed to do so. For example, I have partaken in a Messianic Passover a few times and recommend doing it, but it was not required for me to do so. I happen to have been circumcised as a baby, but this does not mean I am Jewish or that it was wrong for my parents to do this or somehow wrong for me to be this way.

  • Ken Temple

    and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. Acts 10:12

    Those that you listed could have been included in this description, but not necessarily for sure included. We don’t know for sure which ones they were, but obviously some were included in each category that the Jews considered unclean. “all kinds of” does not mean, “every single kind that is in existence”

    • Don Johnson

      The relevant Greek word is pas. Here is Thayer’s def.

      Thayer Definition:
      1) individually
      1a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
      2) collectively
      2a) some of all types

      The idea is that all kinds or every type of the 3 categories was on the sheet.
      These types or kinds should be thought of as including every kind or type found in Scripture, so I agree that perhaps the koala, kangaroo, and similar was not there, as they did not know about them, that is, there was a cultural limitation to the meaning of “all”. But I think Greek pas means all they knew about, at least; just like scripture’s use of “all the world” meant all the known world.

  • Frank Gant

    I think that all all 5 gentlemen make valid arguments against the writing of Matthew Vines; but I want to bring up Vines’ argument that Paul, and the 1st century as a whole, had no clue about sexual orientation, so he could not be condemning homosexuals having sex with another man ho loved but only condemning those who had multiple partners, etc.

    I was somewhat surprised that none of the 5 made what, to me, is the most obvious response to Vines on this point — that is that God wrote the Bible, not Paul, per se, and since God knows everything there is to know, he most definitely understands about sexual orientation, desire, lust, etc.

    Paul wrote negatively about homosexuality because he was lead by the Spirit to do so. End of discussion.

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