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: