Matthew Vines has announced the release of his first book, titled God and the Gay Christian, which comes less than two years after he delivered a dissertation that he claimed "dismantle[d] every Bible-based argument against homosexuality."
According to the book description, Vines makes a case grounded in the Bible, addressing such questions as: "How could traditional beliefs have been wrong for thousands of years on such an important topic? What is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah really saying about human relationships? Can celibacy be a calling when it is mandated, not chosen? What did Paul have in mind when he warned against same-sex relations? Do biblical teachings on the marriage covenant preclude same-sex marriage or not?"
The publisher, Convergent Books, claims that the book has the potential to "radically change the conversation about being gay in the church."
Vines, a former Harvard University student and the founder of The Reformation Project, a nonprofit organization with a mission to reform church teachings on sexual orientation, stirred debate in 2012 with his dissertation which challenged the "traditional interpretation" of the Bible in regards to homosexuality. He dissected Bible passages commonly used to condemn homosexuality and concluded that the Bible does not condemn "loving, same-sex relationships."
In a September 2012 interview with The Christian Post, Vines said he was raised in a loving, Christian home in Wichita, Kan., and in a church community that holds a traditional view of homosexuality.
Feeling conflicted about his homosexuality and the church's teaching, he took a leave of absence from Harvard to study the Scriptures and scholarly works on the subject of homosexuality. After a couple years of research, he concluded, "The Bible never directly addresses, and it certainly does not condemn, loving, committed same-sex relationships. There is no biblical teaching about sexual orientation, nor is there any call to lifelong celibacy for gay people."
Seeing attitudes toward homosexuality change more and more today, Vines told CP that he feels optimistic that "the position of acceptance of gay Christians is going to prevail."
Several evangelical theologians have rejected his dissertation and made the point that Vines has not presented anything new.
"His arguments are not new, and his predecessors failed to win the day within the Christian community," said Dr. Evan Lenow, assistant professor of Ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. "Therefore, I doubt he will have significant impact in the long term."
Dr. Robert Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, considered one of the foremost experts on the Bible and homosexuality, told CP, "Every one of these rehashed arguments I have refuted in previous work, of which Vines shows not the slightest awareness."
The theologians responded to Vines' specific arguments. You can read their responses here.
Christians with same-sex attractions also weighed in on the debate. Their reactions can be found here.
God and the Gay Christian is set to be released in May.