Friday, July 29, 2016

Answering Vines: Part 2

So it took me a little over a year to get around to this. Just to refresh your memory, Matthew Vines, an advocate of Christian homosexuality, wrote an article titled “40 Questions for Christians Who Oppose Marriage Equality.” I decided to write some responses to Vines’s questions, and you can read the first half of those responses here. Again, I’m not answering every single question; just the ones that particularly interested me.
“Do you believe that the Bible explicitly teaches that all gay Christians must be single and celibate for life?”
I believe that the Bible explicitly condemns the practice of homosexuality. The Bible doesn’t operate with the category of “gay Christian,” so obviously it wouldn’t explicitly teach that “gay Christians must be single and celibate for life.” But if the Bible explicitly condemns the practice of homosexuality (as it does), then it clearly follows that Christians who feel same-sex attraction must refrain from acting on those feelings.

This is not difficult logic. But Vines is trying to get a lot of mileage out of that word “explictly.” And you can excuse a lot of terrible things by claiming that the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid them.
“If not, do you feel comfortable affirming something that is not explicitly affirmed in the Bible?”
Yes, absolutely. And we do this all the time.
“Do you believe that the moral distinction between lust and love matters for LGBT people’s romantic relationships? Do you think that loving same-sex relationships should be assessed in the same way as the same-sex behavior Paul explicitly describes as lustful in Romans 1?”
My short answer (to the second question) is yes. But I’m mainly including these two questions for future reference. Because I’d like everyone to take note of the fact that, at this point, Vines wants us to understand that he’s advocating loving same-sex behavior, which in his mind is entirely different than the purely lustful same-sex behavior described in Romans 1.
“Do you believe that Paul’s use of the terms ‘shameful’ and ‘unnatural’ in Romans 1:26-27 means that all same-sex relationships are sinful?”
Yes. (This question is only asked in order to set up the next one.)
“Would you say the same about Paul’s description of long hair in men as ‘shameful’ and against ‘nature’ in 1 Corinthians 11:14, or would you say he was describing cultural norms of his time?”
I don’t think that Paul was describing cultural norms of his time in that passage either. So I do affirm that long hair on men (as well as short hair on women) is contrary to nature, but that doesn’t make those things morally equivalent to homosexuality. Homosexual practice is regularly and severely condemned in ways that unnatural hair-length is not.

Lying and murder are not morally equivalent, despite the fact that they’re both sins. Similarly, homosexual practice and unnatural hair-lengths are not morally equivalent, despite the fact that they’re both contrary to nature.

But the most interesting part about this question is how Vines has now completely changed his argument. Remember how just a couple of questions ago, he wanted us to think that Romans 1 was condemning only a purely-lustful sort of same-sex behavior (as opposed to loving same-sex behavior)? Well, now he wants us to believe that Romans 1 was simply describing cultural norms of Paul’s day and age. But those two lines of argument don’t fit together. Which is it?
“Do you believe that the capacity for procreation is essential to marriage? If so, what does that mean for infertile heterosexual couples?”
I believe that godly offspring is one of very reasons God established marriage in the first place (Mal. 2:14–15). So anybody who gets married I think ought to be doing so with plans of having and raising children.

Of course, there are married couples who are infertile. But that doesn’t make their marriage pointless. For one thing, infertile couples can adopt. And those adopted children will be better off having a mom and a dad who are married to each other. Yet even if an infertile couple chooses not to adopt, that still doesn’t make their marriage pointless. The intimacy, companionship, and commitment of their marriage is still a valid representation of Christ and the church.

But if two dudes try to emulate this same marital intimacy, then they’re participating in something that the Bible plainly forbids (which in all honesty is really the center of this whole debate).
“How much time have you spent engaging with the writings of LGBT-affirming Christians like Justin Lee, James Brownson, and Rachel Murr?”
Basically none, which is entirely irrelevant. Nobody has to read all the scholars on one side of a debate before they’re allowed to express their own informed position. That’s just silly.

I’ve listened to/watched a couple of debates and presentations that Vines himself has done, and my assumption is that he would present his strongest material in those settings. And yet none of it has persuaded me. To be frank, life’s just too short to spend hours reading authors that are going to make the same feeble arguments that Vines is making, only with scholarly verbosity. I’m happy to leave that sort of thing to the likes of Robert Gagnon.
“What relationship recognition rights short of marriage do you support for same-sex couples?”
The exact same relationship recognition rights short of marriage that I support for heterosexual couples, which is none. Why would the government have any interest at all in relationships short of marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual?
“Do you know who Tyler Clementi, Leelah Alcorn, and Blake Brockington are, and did your church offer any kind of prayer for them when their deaths made national news?”
Obviously, all three of those deaths were tragic, but the concerns of a local church aren’t determined by what’s in the headlines, especially not when such tragedies are being politicized to promote an LGBT agenda.
“Have you vocally objected when church leaders and other Christians have compared same-sex relationships to things like bestiality, incest, and pedophilia?”
No, I haven’t. But what’s interesting to me is that all three of those perversions that Vines just mentioned (bestiality, incest, and pedophilia) have been gaining more acceptance lately, using many of the same arguments by which homosexuality gained acceptance. So why is Vines so hateful toward those who feel such attractions?

But I have another thought at this point. If you were to try and argue against homosexuality by appealing to Leviticus, Vines’s standard response would be to say that the Old Testament law isn’t binding on Christians. So my question is, how would Vines argue biblically against things like bestiality and incest? Remember, the Old Testament law is off limits, and also recall that, according to Vines, we shouldn’t feel comfortable condemning anything that the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid.

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