I love God. I also happen to be gay. In a better world, this would be no more interesting or noteworthy to people than loving God and happening to love, say, cheesecake. But of course, we all know that that isn't the world we live in. And for some reason, a lot of people have a big problem with anyone who believes in God and is gay. As someone who grew up in a conservative Christian church in Kansas, I am all too aware of the problem of religious homophobia.
So when reality won out during my sophomore year of college and I finally had to admit to myself that I was gay, I was both relieved and crushed -- relieved because everything that hadn't made sense about my life finally did, and because love no longer seemed like an impossibility for me, but crushed because of the likelihood that I would be rejected and lose the community I had always called home.
I'm not generally a rebellious person. It's not in my DNA. But I'm also no fan of misery and self-loathing, so I opted for the more rebellious route in this case. I didn't want to lose my relationships with people back home, though, or the sense of belonging that I'd had in Kansas. There were just a few things standing in the way of that goal. To name them: Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, and Romans 1:26-27.
These are the Scripture passages that I knew many people from my home church took as the final word on this issue. These three verses in the Bible, as well as three others (Genesis 19:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10), have proven the end of the road for so many who have tried to gain acceptance from their Christian parents, friends, and pastors for so long.
Could it be true? Could it really be that this holiest of books, which contains some of the most beautiful writings and inspiring stories known to mankind, along with the unparalleled teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, also happens to require the emotional and spiritual destruction of sexual minorities? For any of us who learned to love the Jesus who called the little children to him, whose highest law was that of love, and who was a fierce defender of the downtrodden and the outcast, this simply did not seem possible.
If it were true that God wanted to devastate the souls, psyches, and lives of gay people, then how could He be a loving God? This could no more be consistent with His loving character than if God truly wanted white people to enslave and oppress black people for centuries. For any Christian who has struggled to come to terms with their own church's persecution of gay people, this is the contradiction we have faced. Anti-gay teachings have caused an untold amount of pain and suffering in the world. They have borne very bad fruit and thus have failed Jesus' own test for good teachings (Matthew 7:15-20).
So two years ago, I took a leave of absence from college and committed myself to thousands of hours of research and study about the Bible and homosexuality. I wanted to figure it out, to resolve this contradiction. But as someone who has always upheld Scripture as authoritative for Christian faith, I didn't want to accept easy answers that failed to do justice to the biblical text. It took a lot of time, to say the least.
But earlier this month, after having invested thousands of hours into research, I gave a presentation at a Methodist church here in Wichita, Kan. on this subject. It's a little over an hour long, and yes, it's a lot to absorb. But what I wanted more than anything when I was wrestling with coming out was a single resource that explained everything about these Bible verses, one that I could confidently ask my more conservative friends to watch and consider. But for all the resources that are out there, none of them fit the bill. Few of them were intentionally and respectfully addressed to Christians who are "traditionalists" on this issue. So I set out to make my own.
This video is the product of that. Please watch it and share it. My family and a number of our friends proved to be accepting, I am happy to report, but not everyone is so fortunate. My heart breaks for all the LGBT kids in churches around the world that do not understand or accept them, and I know firsthand how much fear and pain that causes them. The goal of this video is to reach those kids, no matter where they are, and to walk them through, step by step, these few passages in the Bible. Then, they can share it with their parents and friends, and they can have something solid to stand on when asking their communities for acceptance. Yes, this video is long, but it is thorough. This is a message that everyone needs to hear, even if you aren't a Christian, and even if you don't believe in the Bible, because how Christians interpret these few verses of Scripture has a huge impact on the lives of LGBT people all over the world.
Again, please watch it and share it. But also learn these arguments: absorb them, and be able to repeat them whenever anyone, anywhere tries to make an anti-gay argument from Scripture. The Bible does not condemn loving gay relationships. It is not opposed to justice and equality for gay people, and in fact it supports their equal right to marry. Scripture can prove to be one of our greatest allies, if only we're reading it correctly.
Here's a four-minute trailer of my presentation:
And here's the full, hour-long video, which I hope you'll watch:
Speech Transcript: http://matthewvines.tumblr.com