22-Year-Old Helping To Rewrite The History Of Homosexuality In Christianity

The Bible has always been the conservative right’s main weapon in the war on homosexuality, but 22-year-old Matthew Vines and his 67-minute YouTube video are slowly redefining what it means to be gay and Christian.

The New York Times profiles Vines, who after being excommunicated from his church last year, created “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality” — the culmination of a massive scholarly undertaking by the Wichita, Kansas-native to reconcile his sexuality with his religion for himself and his family.

What he found was that the six passages referring to homosexuality don’t relate to the modern understanding of the love that doth not speaketh its name. “It is simply a fact that the Bible does not discuss or condemn loving, gay relationships,” Vines told the Times. “The point is that these texts have a meaning, and the traditional reading of them is wrong. It is incorrect — biblically, historically, linguistically.”

The New York Times explains:

Some of the arguments were well known (Leviticus does not apply to Christians, for example); others less so, like the more plausible translations for the Greek term malakos, long interpreted as “effeminate” in the Corinthians passage listing those who won’t inherit the kingdom of God.

But key for Mr. Vines was the realization that every instance of homosexuality in the Bible represented excess lust, gang rape or “unnatural” acts committed by heterosexual men. Portrayals — much less condemnations — of naturally gay men, for whom opposite-sex relationships are not an option, simply never appear.

Vines came out in 2009 and decided to take a leave of absence from Harvard to come out to his devoutly religious family. Vines produced a six-page research paper that he used to try to enlighten the congregants of his childhood church, but met with hostility, he and his family eventually fled the flock. Determined to use his paper as “a resource that every gay Christian anywhere in the world who is struggling with this can access and can learn from,” Vines put together a presentation, paid a local production company $500 to tape it and uploaded it via YouTube.

Six months later, “The Gay Debate” has more than 350,000 views, over 7,000 comments and has been translated into six different languages.

The video has its share of fans and detractors; some claim it changed their lives, the way they read the Bible and reaffirmed their faith; others claims Vines is the devil incarnate. But most importantly, Vines is inspiring a debate and challenging the notion that being gay and Christian have to be mutually exclusive.

Check out Vines in action in “The Gay Debate” below:

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #christianity #matthewvines #religion stories and more


  • Eric Auerbach

    Or, you could simply accept that the Bible is a bunch of fairy tales written by nutjobs thousands of years ago, and that it doesn’t matter WHAT it says.

  • brent

    This is good stuff. For once someone realizes that you don’t have to chose between being gay and christian. Too often people on both sides want you to give up one or the other.

  • Ogre Magi

    Gay+Christian = YUCK

  • Dakotahgeo

    A most refreshing story! All best blessings and peace to this young man! We CAN learn from younger people also!
    Dakotahgeo, M.Div Pastor/Chaplain

  • jwrappaport

    A noble man, but one who’s adding epicycles to an already broken moral framework. Leviticus is unambiguous, and so too should be our rejection of superstition and fear-based morality.

  • MartinDK

    Great article, and well written too!

    I really applaud his work, and his dedication. Christianity and being gay does not exclude each other, and chrisitianity contains much that is valuable and true. Great, and a ressource to many who need it!!

  • inthecloset

    You guys do realize that insisting we do away with religion is every bit as problematic as telling people they shouldn’t be gay? If you have your beliefs, your personality, etc. and you are not only comfortable with them but they are a part of who you are, who should tell you that you have to abandon them just because others are uncomfortable with such things or don’t agree with them?

    Some people are gay. Some people are Christians. Some Christians are NOT bigots. Some gay people ARE bigots. I’d like to see a world where we have fewer bigots and hypocrites all around, regardless of who they are or what they are. Why don’t you jump on your own bandwagon of tolerance and applaud a person who is bridging gaps and trying to bring not only tolerance but acceptance into this world?

  • yaoming

    People are born gay; they are not born x-tian, so I have no problem saying goodbye to x-tianity any more than I have to saying goodbye to flat-earthism.

  • inthecloset

    @yaoming: But you see the problem right there is that you are implying that all Christians are ignorant. That’s not true. Furthermore, who are you to say that people can’t be what they want to be, whether they are born that way or not? When you try and dictate what can and can’t be and you run into the same prejudiced ignorance that you criticize Christians of. I think ignorant, bigoted Christians are despicable. I think untolerant liberals who want to do away with everybody/everything who doesn’t agree 100% with them are also despicable. Preach tolerance, practice tolerance. Gay people want Christians to accept them even though Christians might not agree with it or like it; well, the shoes go on both feet. You can’t argue for acceptance even in the face of disagreement and then not follow through on such a thing yourself.

  • richg813

    @inthecloset, you are absolutely correct!

  • yaoming

    “Gay people want Christians to accept them…”
    Maybe some do, and I would be inconsistent if did, but I don’t accept Christians (their “Christianity”, anyway), and they don’t have to (and probably won’t) accept the “sinful” homosexuality they claim is my wicked “lifestyle choice”. The difference is that I didn’t chose to be gay, while they are fully responsible for their ignorant beliefs and decisions.

  • marc sfe

    @inthecloset: I don’t care what christians believe or don’t believe. What I DO care about is this faction trying to turn this country in to a theocracy and sharia law be in place. THAT’S what pisses me off about christians.

  • inthecloset

    @yaoming: Politically they do, most definitely. Socially, I would argue they do as well. Just like we have eliminated segregation but still want to eliminate all traces of racism. It’s the same thing. All groups want to be accepted for who they are and “despite” what they are. I’m not saying that gay people want to feel legitimated or even supported by the Christian culture, but they do – I believe – want to be accepted by them. Not bullied by them. Not denounced by them. Etc. But you’re right; maybe my choice of vocabulary (“accepted”) is not entirely accurate. I hope you understand what I mean anyways.

    @marc sfe: I agree with you on that. I am really bothered by this theocratic legistlation and mindset and think it’s necessary to fight on every level. But I also don’t believe that religion is going anywhere, and if we could move towards NOT alienating a group when standing up for another group I think it would be a step in the right direction. I think the only time you should “fight fire with fire” is with some of these truly UNBELIEVABLE “Christians” who lack all ability to reason or use logic. Fortunately many Christians are not like this; they have simply been inundated with propaganda (and really, who hasn’t, just for different things…). Those more reasonable Christians will still not respond well to others telling them that what they believe is wrong and needs to be abandoned. So trying to stand up against theocracy by attempting to destroy religion is not the best move…

  • inthecloset

    Also, as a general follow-up, I would really like to see some more “real” Christians out there speak up. The people who are trying to impose their morals on others via legislation are in direct contradiction with the Bible. They also seem to have forgotten the admonition to “remove the plank from their own eye before pointing out the speck in their brother’s eye.” Finally, if these people were truly concerned with the insitution of marriage they would be crusading against divorcees, extramarital sex, and well, Hollywood in general. They’re not. Which means they are misguided to the extreme.

    I consider myself a Christian. I am also gay. I am appalled at times by the things said and produced by both “sides.” I realize that there is an extremely conservative strain of Christians who are so over the line they’re not even Christians anymore. But I know that there are many others like me who need to speak up and help Christianity stop getting such a bad name. Christianity in and of itself is not bad. A great many Christians ARE “bad” and we need to fix that but not by attacking Christianity or all Christians…

  • marc sfe

    @inthecloset: Yes, however, I wish the xtians who do not side with the likes of Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer, et al would stand up and take back their religion. The one’s I know rather sit silently and whilst agreeing their religion is being hijacked will do nothing to salvage it. This young man is attempting it but he’s facing a long battle and it seems the sheople are content to sit idly by.

  • jwrappaport


    Nobody is suggesting destroying religion or preventing the free exercise thereof – unless I missed it in the comments here. My argument (and that of others, I should think) is that I am tired of being forced to treat religion as though it is above criticism and rational inquiry.

    I think history very clearly vindicates my position, that is, that religion is not benign and it is not a force of good in the world. People do many good things in its name, but equally many or more bad things in it as well. Moreover, belief in the supernatural has never been a necessary or sufficient condition for any moral act. I give you the Hitchens challenge: (1) Name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer; (2) name me a wicked statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer. Chances are you’ve already thought of ten examples for the second challenge, and none for the first.

    Religion, that is to say, credulity and belief in the supernatural, assaults our most basic essence: it says that we cannot be moral without totalitarian permission from above – that we cannot love, we cannot be just, we cannot know truth or beauty without appeal to the supernatural. It tells us we are sinful and abject things to be given up to the will of god, and that without his grace and mercy, we would be nothing. It simultaneously tells us that we cannot meaningfully question the existence of god or subject these precepts to any serious rational inquiry – it tells us that faith, that is, belief without justification, is a virtue.

    I say, not so – a Big Brother in the sky and absolute, unwavering belief in him that forces me to abandon my intellect and powers of observation and reason is not to be extolled or held in any esteem whatsoever. I know many good, kind people of faith (and love them very much), but they would be good and honorable without it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that religion and bigotry are so closely related: discussion of the supernatural forecloses rational inquiry and any appeal to truth, logic, or what can be adduced empirically. Religion calcifies these backward superstitions on sex and sexuality and prevents societies from subjecting them to meaningful debate – just try having a conversation about gay rights with a conservative if you don’t believe me.

    I do not think you or other believers are necessarily bad, stupid, or ignorant because of your belief in god. (History equally vindicates the intelligence and morality of believers: Newton, Einstein, Thomas More, William Penn, among many others.) Indeed, you seem like none of those things. I am surely not suggesting that you should be prevented from believing or practicing your religion. What I am saying is that religion is problematic at best and for the best of people – it is not neutral and certainly serves to freeze antiquated prejudices into practice by closing rational debate.

  • Aaron

    @jwrappaport: “Nobody is suggesting destroying religion or preventing the free exercise thereof – unless I missed it in the comments here. My argument (and that of others, I should think) is that I am tired of being forced to treat religion as though it is above criticism and rational inquiry.”

    I must agree – I see this in my everyday life in a small Midwestern town, where people are free to speak of their Christian values on an almost constant basis, with God and prayer (to God) accepted and encouraged in all public forums. On the other hand, if I say aloud that I do NOT believe in the Christian idea of God – I am being offensive, inappropriate, and antagonistic. For some reason my beliefs are NOT respected, and I should keep them to myself or face consequences, yet Christians may say or do anything in the name of God or Jesus, and I am required to respect their faith.

  • Aidan8

    Whatever. There’s truly nothing new here about his “scholarship.” I guess I applaud his efforts to personally resolve his existential issues; but beyond that, it’s a waste of time.

  • Aidan8

    @Ogre Magi: LOL Gay + Christian = Yuck. LOL

  • GreenmanTN

    There is a lot of valid criticism here. No, unlike being gay, no one is “born Christian” or Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever. With a little creative switcheroo in the hospital nursery, a child of Muslim parents would be raised a faithful and believing Jew, a Christian be Hindu, etc.

    I am not a believer.

    However, it’s not realistic to say “nobody is born religious so you should all just get over it.” Just as we ask THEM to accept that homosexuality is a fact of life now and throughout history, we have to accept that it’s a fact of life that there ARE believers and it’s not going to just go away for our convenience. If you’re waiting for religion to go away, well, don’t hold your breath.

    And some of those believers are also gay. And many believers who are not gay (and some who are) are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to achieving gay rights. No, they shouldn’t be able to impose their religious beliefs on secular, civil law and we ARE making progress on that front, but there are many religious ideologues who want to impose their faith on government and they have people who support them in that goal.

    So what Matthew Vines is doing has value even if you’re not a believer, helping religious gays integrate their sexuality and faith and defusing some of the religion-based opposition. It doesn’t effect me directly but I’m glad he’s doing it.

  • randallreynolds

    Matthew Vines is just another Christian tool trying to keep Christianity viable, even though it continues to prove archaic, divisive, discriminatory, and FALSE.

  • EvonCook

    Hopefully he also read John Boswell’s book on The History of Homosexuality, Social Tolerance and Christianity, as it is one of the most profound and exhaustive studies on the subject, not to mention Boswell’s books on medieval orphans and early marriage between men. John Boswell is one of the greatest scholars that ever lived and certainly put his talents to the service of better understanding real history, enlightened interpretations of scripture, intelligent and correct translations and the gay community.

  • Billysees

    @inthecloset: Re 15, “Also, as a general follow up….

    You’ve spoken simply.

    And easy to understand too.

  • Billysees

    @inthecloset: Re 8, “You guys do realize…..

    I appreciate the sound mindedness of your comments.

    Like all gay folk, we need more of your kind of thinking.


    Here is what I feel like saying now —

    All of us LGBT’s (and everybody else too) should be treated in the folowing way. Don’t recall what the verses are, they are either paraphrases or translations, 3 are from Paul and one from Peter —

    1. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

    2. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

    3. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

    4. Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Eric Auerbach: That is what you believe, others don’t. :)

  • DarkZephyr

    @yaoming: I don’t think there is a religion called “X-ian” anyway.

  • DarkZephyr

    @jwrappaport: Who is foring you to treat religion as though it is above criticism and rational inquiry? Religion seems to be one of the favorite things for people TO criticize (granted that this is often deserved). But I think its silly in this day and age to pretend that criticizing religion is some sort of taboo. Heck, even Protestants criticize “religion”.

  • brent

    @yaoming: [email protected]randallreynolds: Instead of being a christian maybe he should turn green. Then that way he can go around and brag about holy he is when it comes to the environment.

  • brent

    @yaoming: The earth and the afterlife are two different things. You can prove that the earth is round, you cant prove god exists.

  • brent

    @Aidan8: LOL Gay + Green = Yuck LOL

  • brent

    @GreenmanTN: Let’s not forget that there are many moral secular groups that want to impose their morality on us. I speak of environmentalists and animal rights activists.

  • brent

    @DarkZephyr: Try criticzing or ridiculing islam and see how far you get. You notice when Rachel Maddow has muslim guests she never asks about gay rights.

  • tdx3fan

    @Eric Auerbach: Yes, but since the vast majority of America, not to mention the world still follows these fairy tales, it makes a great deal more sense to convince them using their own belief system that they are simply incorrect.

  • tdx3fan

    @brent: Those that do not actively condemn religion are responsible for all of the ills and wrongs of religion ranging from the crusades to the molestation of children in the Catholic Church.

  • tdx3fan

    @inthecloset: Christianity IS a choice. Being gay IS NOT a choice. NEVER try to equate the two things!

  • tdx3fan

    @inthecloset: I do not want to be accepted by Christians. I do not want to be accepted by anyone except the people I chose to surround myself with. I have absolutely no problem with every Christian hating gay people. I do have a problem with a nation that prides itself on equality using the will of the majority to deny the rights of the minority. That has nothing to do with acceptance. It has everything to do with equality.

  • tdx3fan

    @Aidan8: There does not have to be anything knew about it, and it is still scholarship in its clearest sense of the word if he did the study himself. What matters is that he is able to reach people and get the message across. Salesmanship is 100% of academia.

  • tdx3fan

    @brent: You can not possibly be serious. So, tell me… Is it really alright in your book for corporations to produce pollution as a side effect. I’m from the greater Cleveland area. In the 1970s, our river caught on fire. Have you ever seen water burn? It burnt because there was so much pollution that there was hardly any water left. It has been completely cleaned up thanks to those environmentalists that you hate so much.

    As far as animal rights. What kind of a sick sadistic ass would you have to be to think that it is funny to torture a puppy or a kitten just because its something new to try? I think anyone that is that sick and twisted is well on their way to being Jeffery Dahmer.

  • Freddie27

    While I applaud Mr Vines’ work, any reading of the Bible shows you that the invisible man in the sky is not best pleased with homosexuality. Yeah, I have heard that it’s gay prostitution being condemned or gay pagan rituals and I call bullshit. We all know it’s plain old homosexuality that is being condemned and called sinful because the Bible was a reflection of the prevailing cultural values. In a world where procreation was absolutely vital because of the small world population, anything that does not procreate needed to be condemned as deviating from man’s natural course. The same way fornication, adultery and sexual promiscuity are condemned Biblically, not because the body is Yahweh’s holy temple, but because it prevented an accurate identification of the father of the child and thus the inheritance due. The Bible is merely a collection of documents recording the attitudes of Middle Eastern desert tribes 2000+ years ago and is not a guide for today. An interesting historical and anthropological document yes, but not a record of man’s supposed contact with a divine being.

  • John Doe

    I think that comments that attack people’s religious beliefs are rather immature, insulting and disrespectful. To start referring to the “invisible man in the sky” and similar remarks is also hypocritical if we’re going to attack others for insulting the LGBT community. Lets keep in mind that there are millions of people of faith that support marriage equality and that there are also countless people in the LGBT community that consider themselves of a particular religious faith. What is the value of attacking these people’s beliefs? We can surely attack that their religious views have no validity when it comes to secular laws, etc. But, everyone has the freedom to believe in religious – or not too. The guy who is mentioned in this article is an example of how many people of faith are trying to bridge the gap between the LGBT community and Christian believes and values. That should be respected…. much more than someone just throwing stones at people who believe in a God. If we are frustrated and angry that many religious folk say extremely insulting things about the LGBT community…. that doesn’t mean that the entire religious community believes the same. At present there are at least 7,000 churches that support the LGBT community. That’s a big change from 5 to 10 years ago. Times are changing and the correct response is to respect other people’s religious beliefs about God’s existence…. even if you yourself don’t believe it. Stop with the hate. Hatred goes both ways.

  • brent

    @tdx3fan: The crusades were centuries ago. As for today we have freedom of speech we can criticize religion all we want. But if you’re a liberal you can’t criticize catholice and mormons, then say islam is off limits. And how far do you go? During the prop. 8 protests people destroyed and burned the mormon holy book. Does that mean the guy in Florida has the same right to burn the koran?

  • brent

    @tdx3fan: I’m not in favor of pollution or animal torture. I’m talking about environmentalists who turn the envir. into a religion. The people who want to punish you for you’re so called eco sins are no different than the family value crowd. What buisness is it of you or anyone what kind of lightbulb i burn? Or how if i can cut down a tree on my own property. As for animal rights, what right do they have to keep us from drilling in alaska, they make up lies about polar bears. Yes they lie like any religion. I also think if a woman has a legal right to an abortion, she should have a legal right to wear a fur coat.

  • Charlie in Charge

    As a religious person (though not a Christian), I am very happy to see work being done to create more tolerance and love within the Christian church.

  • Charli Girl

    Ok folks if u choose or not choose a relationship with GOD then that’s between you and GOD.
    But let folks that DO choose:make that choice. Lookat it this way, if the right wing nuts keep telling us that
    GOD doesn’t love something that GOD created, let them meet their maker! I KNOW that I wouldn’t be anywhere without GOD, and that is my right to believe that. And they keep trying to convince everyone that we should turn away from GOD, so let the chips fall where they may.. If you’ve ever spoke to a REAL Christisn.. They are the sweetest and most humble folks you’ll ever meet. I think I’ve met ONE!!!
    I visited my gf’s folks and they claimed to b Catholic and was the most prejudiced S.O.B’s you’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and then have the gall to speak about church after they talked horribly about every race they could… And basically how liberals should all be shot..OMG!’ I wanted to shower and burn my clothes when I got home!!
    Can you imagine the shit list they are on for hating something that GOD made ???
    Uh oh… You gun git it!!! Lol needless to say : may have to find a new gf..Ughh!

  • Charli Girl

    @John Doe:
    Well said my friend…:-) I agree. Hate breeds hate!

  • kw

    Instead of trying to reconcile what a book of fairy tales teaches about anything, he’d have benefitted more from simply realising what a load of bollocks it all is and getting on with a guilt-free life devoid of religion. But indoctrination is a powerful thing, and I guess his research might help a few other xstians to reconsider their position.

  • kw

    @John Doe: What a load of crap. Religious BELIEFS are just that – fact-free belief in a load of shit taught by mysogenistic, homophobic, racist, bronze-age war-mongers. To hold that theology up against a basic human rights claim that all people are equal, and should be equally respected, is like comparing nazism with the work of Medicines Sans Frontiers, and demanding equal respect because they’re both vocations. What’s immature, is still believing in fairies as grown adults, and I assume by your statement that you are a christian?

  • gsingjane

    @inthecloset and @John Doe – good luck guys! The unfortunate thing is that there are a lot of influential gay bloggers who are openly, extremely hostile to and scornful towards organized religion (Dan Savage and JMG come to mind) and they seem to wield a great deal of influence. I don’t actually see what the two things necessarily *have* to do with each other – why so many people on both “sides” want to insist that someone can be pro-gay or gay, or Christian, but not both. And, this great antagonism towards religious people wins few friends for the GLBT community. Most folks that I deal with don’t even understand why they’d be asked to make that choice. It’s like being in the military, if someone insisted that you couldn’t be gay or pro-gay and also in the military (because you, yourself, didn’t care for the military on moral or whatever grounds), most people would just ask you, “why?” Aren’t you doing more harm than good by scoffing, ridiculing, and … hating?

  • Jim Hlavac

    I find too that Liberal Democrat leaning and voting anti-gay people use the Bible too. For instance, Certain Jewish Rabbis and Democrat NY State Senator Ruben Diaz — staunch Liberal Dems in Democrat (mostly) NYC – both anti-gay and Bible quoting. Catholic senior clergy, all for ObamaCare and other liberal programs, very anti-gay Bible quoters. Maybe, just maybe, you can see that there is no “Left” and “right” in the gay thing — some on either side like us, some don’t. Some use the Bible for us, some against. They vote either way, or no way, or some other way. And that’s because there is no normal “Left-Right” divide on gay folks. Please stop making it so — pick on the individual moron, not a group as if they all think alike, for they don’t. Not on gays. We are just so different that it gets strange bedfellows like Democrat Ruben “Death to gays” Diaz, and Republican Maggie Gallagher to hold larger rallies in the 90% Democratic voting Bronx New York. When it comes to gays, one can pick on both sides — and we should do so.

Comments are closed.