Blind leading the blind: Matthew Vines’ dime store gay theology
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
After an oped by gay wunderkind Matthew Vines on the Christian Post, several theological scholars were drafted to take a serious look at his claims, assertions and the loophole type theology being used to rally the spiritually blind to his cause. GCM Watch has reported on Vines before here and here.
The conclusion (as if serious theologians were really needed to deconstruct Vine’s patently superficial arguments) left Vines looking like a foolish and petulant child who skipped Sunday School classes.
The scholars: Dr. Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Seminary, Dr. Evan Lenow in Fort Worth, TX and Professor Sean McDonough of Gordon-Cornwall Seminary joined in on the collaborative critique.
We’ve pulled out some of the highlights of the fairly comprehensive theological smackdown of Vines’ juvenile assertions. Although MV insisted he spent two years “studying the bible”, its evident he actually spent two years memorizing rehashed false teachings from blind teachers of religion. Vines’ rise to attention echoes his youthful predecessor, John Boswell who traveled this same path only to meet with a tragic death from AIDS at 47. But unlike Boswell, Vines has an obvious intellectual deficiency. Part of his strategy seems to be creating trite, soundbite memes like “being gay is not a sin”.
Being gay is not a sin” is the mantra that one young Harvard student is trying to promulgate. But while Matthew Vines has attracted a growing following with what some are describing as accessible, scholarly arguments, evangelical scholars don’t believe he’ll make much headway in the Christian community.
“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.”
But the arguments he presents have been rehashed from the work of such scholars as Finnish Old Testament scholar Martti Nissinen, homosexual New Testament scholar Dale Martin (Yale), and homosexual church historian John Boswell [see our expose of Boswell's teachings here and here], according to Dr. Robert Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who is considered the foremost expert on the Bible and homosexuality.
Of course the scholars immediately recognize that Vines is pouring out old, sour wine from an old wineskin.
“Every one of these rehashed arguments I have refuted in previous work, of which Vines shows not the slightest awareness,” said Gagnon, who studied the issue for 15 years after completing a masters of theological studies at Harvard Divinity and a Ph.D. in New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary.
His (Vines’) take on Genesis 1 is theologically incoherent. He seems to concede the goodness of God’s creation of man and woman (which forms the basis for subsequent biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality), then claims that in the current state of things homosexual desire is natural, and therefore good, for homosexuals. But this spectacularly avoids the problem of the Fall in Genesis 3.
“One might equally argue that while peace was a desirable state for Adam and Eve in Eden, murderous envy was the ‘natural’ state of Cain, and thus he cannot be condemned for acting on his innate desires. He also suggests that the only possible way not to be alone in the world is to be in a sexual relationship. Why would this be so?”
Like most arguments in support of homosexuality, they are heavy on emotional manipulation primarily because they have no foundational truth to stand upon. That’s another cog in the wheel of trickery the scholars pointed out.
But for McDonough, Vines’ main appeal is emotional, “with a thin dusting of logic on top.”
“Vines presents himself as a sensitive, rational soul simply trying to figure out what the Bible really says. But underneath the veneer there is a pretty manipulative premise: if you disagree with me, you are by definition cruel and oppressive,” McDonough commented. “Who wants to be cruel and oppressive?”
The evangelical scholars agreed that Vines may be able to sway some believers.
“We are living in a time when many younger folks are looking for alternatives to traditional Christian views about sexuality,” said Mouw of Fuller. “Unless we do a much better job of ministering to people with their very real dilemmas, arguments like those set forth by Vines will arise, even though they are highly speculative as interpretations of biblical teaching.”
Finally, as Jesus said those who follow someone blind will fall into a ditch. Vines’ superficial theology manipulates shifting emotional instability, rehashes shallow heresies and seeks to destroy the very foundation of biblical teaching.
True of most if not all of gay christian theology is its serpentine logic. Lenow noted:
“If one were to follow Vines’ logic, that calling homosexuality a sin marginalizes homosexuals, then the church would have to approve of all things that the Bible calls sin “lest we marginalize any segment of society. This would, in effect, eliminate sin from Scripture and eliminate our need for a Savior. By doing so, we would eliminate the church and Christianity.”
Resources: A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement by Joe Dallas [amazon]