Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Onward (Gay) Christian Soldier

The New York Times published an interesting profile late last week of Matthew Vines, a young gay man from Wichita, Kansas, who --- having taken a direct hit from the Bible bomb in his home congregation --- took a year off from classes at Harvard to study the issue. The result was a long, dense and thoughful presentation, published via YouTube, that grabbed the scripture grenade and lobbed it back. In the nicest possible way, of course.

That video, and Vines, have become popular among LGBT people still inexplicably interested in Christianity, especially the younger ones, and to others in some congregations where open minds exist.

The great LGBT debate has long since been resolved, by the way, among Unitarian Universalists and within the United Church of Christ. The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Presbytieran Church USA more recently have moved toward full inclusion. Mess around with most other denominations, however, even more or less friendly ones, and there's still plenty of hellfire and damnation left to go around.

Anyhow, a Times reporter caught up with Vines after a presentation at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, affiliated with the Reformed Church in America but functionally nondenominational and, obviously, gay friendly.

Vines' approach is traditional, in the sense that he takes biblical texts seriously, but argues as a Times quote puts it, that “It is simply a fact that the Bible does not discuss or condemn loving, gay relationships. The point is that these texts (traditionally used to condemn gay people) have a meaning, and the traditional reading of them is wrong. It is incorrect — biblically, historically, linguistically.”

It's an interesting approach to what is not a new concept --- but presented in an accessible and updated way.

It's only fair to point out that the alternative approach, for those of us who value the Bible in some way but consider it to be words about God rather than the word of God, is to dismiss passages that affirm slavery, celebrate senseless killing and violence, demean women, encourage racism and anti-semitism and condemn gay people as simply irrelevant in the 21st century. Except when they're used to harm others.

Here's Vines' YouTube presentation. Be warned that it is very long --- in excess of an hour.

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