God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines
After the Andrew Marin debacle, I was ready to read something a little more…affirming and unconditional, shall we say. I’ve been convinced for the last several years that same-sex marriage is not something that is automatically going to keep people out of heaven. The Bible verses that people have used to “proof-text” against same-sex marriage are often passing references that stand out of context from a chapter in the Bible about something else entirely. My spouse recommended Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian, and I was eager to see how this one contrasted. For starters, Vines is himself a gay Christian. I wanted to see how he’d contrast with Marin.
For starters, let’s go with the fact that Vines is not encouraging a works-oriented salvation that involves repressing one’s orientation or choosing lifelong celibacy as a condition of a relationship with Jesus. He also advocates the reasons why marriage, seen as a boon to straight Christians, is also a boon to gay Christians. Seriously, it’s refreshing. Vines does not write as a theologian but a young academic-type who wants to wrestle with common non-affirming stances and make them more personal and open up logical questions. The testimonies at the end were great, as well. Vines writes about a woman who became an affirming Christian and now advocates for same-sex couples, a pastor who learned to affirm, and a gay Christian.
Non-affirming Christians might (and have) accuse Vines of glossing over major theological arguments, but that’s not necessarily the point of this book. Vines wants to humanize gay Christians and point to hypocrisies present in anti-affirming stances towards same-sex civil rights (especially marriage) for LGBT Christians. If you have a person in your life who is affirming but wants to discuss why more intelligently, or is not affirming but wants to know how to support the LGBT Christian in his or her life, this is the book you want to recommend. It enters a conversation and makes it personable and real. Gay Christians are not inanimate stakes in a political minefield, for God’s sake. They are people, and Vines points this out early and often.