First of all, do not be scared off by the title. There is a lot of division happening within churches and Christian communities because of the issue of homosexuality. In order to be part of the conversation, I think you should read books like this.
Vines identifies himself as a conservative evangelical. Although the bias is clear (Vines is open about being gay), he has a desire to understand what the bible does and does not say about homosexuality. He has clearly studied and wrestled with Scripture. Vines considers himself someone who holds a high view of Scripture.
Vines sets out to make a theologically conservative case for the affirming view of homosexuality. He sees the Bible as fully authoritative, but he makes the case that the Bible has been misinterpreted. According to Vines, this misinterpretation has resulted in condemnation of the LGBTQ community by Evangelicals.
Vines explores six passages that he argues are the main barriers to homosexuals being embraced as Christians: Genesis 19:5; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; and 1 Timothy 1:10. He wants “to clarify […] understanding of Scripture.” To read and interpret the Bible, one needs to understand the original context before we can understand what it says for our context. One of my critiques of this books is that it is promoted as a book that will clarify questions about those scripture passages, but that’s an undertaking that is difficult to accomplish within 224 pages. It seems as though Vines is almost doing the opposite of what he presents. Instead of reading scripture for what it says, it seems like he works very hard to find ways in which the biblical text is not saying what he does not want it to say.
The most moving part of the text was his own personal story of feeling rejected by the church for being gay. I think that is where the conversation must begin. We should begin by listening to people’s stories of their experiences. Vines grew up in a traditional, conservative Christian family. Growing up, he attended a church that reflected traditional, conservative values. He remembers always having been taught that same-sex relationships were an abomination and sinful in the eyes of God because the Bible says so. He did not feel he had a safe place to ask questions or voice his thoughts and feelings.
This book provides some questions and statements worth considering. Vines writes: “The church’s condemnation of same-sex relationships seemed to be harmful to the long-term well-being of most gay people. By condemning homosexuality, the church was shutting off a primary avenue for relational joy and companionship in gay people’s lives.”
I think Vines raises some important points for discussion, so I believe this book is worth reading. I believe we should all read books from voices that are different than ours because it helps us understand people we may write off as “the other.” In order to really enter into the conversation taking place about the LGTBQ community, one should read the texts addressing the topic. I recommend this book because it provides a good starting place for understanding the major scripture texts people cite when talking about homosexuality and the Bible.
You can buy it on Amazon here.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.