A realistic view of gay issues in the church?

Mathew Vines (Photo supplied by Vines)
Mathew Vines (Photo supplied by Vines)

Matthew Vines is a 24-year-old gay former Presbyterian who says others misinterpret the Bible as anti-homosexual and has written a book, “God and the gay Christian,” which he dedicates “to all chose who have suffered in silence for so long.”

Although I’m not gay, I support his beliefs in a God who is, I believe, far more understanding and willing to accept than many who pound the Bible and condemn those who love and wish to marry members of their own sex.

Vines speaks Sunday at Metropolitan Community Church in Roanoke, a sanctuary where dialog on such subjects is encouraged.

Vines says he was a member of an evangelical Presbyterian Church when he came to terms with his own homosexuality.

“I came to terms with being gay,” he said to Mike Allen at The Roanoke Times.  “When I came out to my parents they were not thrilled.”

Vines finds hypocrisy to the anti-gay arguments of Christians who accept strict interpretations “buried in obscure Biblical scholarship” on gay issues while dismissing other interpretations that support other issues.

He looks at the six verses normally used to support anti-gay positions and makes strong points that they are misinterpreted.

I agree with Vines on the “pick and choose” approach of using Biblical verses to support certain positions while dismissing others that don’t come into play.

An example that I use is the verse from Leviticus that states a man who works “on the sabbath” shall be put to death. Whenever I cite that quote to a minister he or she normally looks the other way.

Vine created The Reformation Project, a not-for-profit group that trains others to identify and present Biblical arguments that show acceptance of gay people and issues to Christians.

Is it working?  Some say it is.  Politico recently identified a growing number if evangelicals who have changed their positions on gays.

Polls show more and more self-declared Christians now support gay marriages and other rights for couples of the same sex.

But such arguments remain difficult to swallow among hard-core fundamentalists who use the Bible to support homophobia and, in other instances, bigotry.

In June, the Presbyterian Church, USA, the largest Presbyterian denomination in America, approved allowing their pastors to perform gay marriages.

That move followed a 2011 decision to allow the church to ordain gay ministers. That led some fundamentalist Presbyterian churches, including Slate Mountain and others in the area, to leave that branch of their church.

My maternal grandparents were co-founders of Slate Mountain.  My mother was raised in that church, which also hosted her funeral two years ago.

Slate and its pastor were there for our family when my mother passed.  They were there for Amy and me during my long fight to recover from a near-fatal motorcycle accident shortly after mom’s passing.

Minister Jeff Dalton is a friend and, for a while, I considered switching my church membership from my northern Virginia Presbyterian church and one that supports the Presbyterian Church, USA, beliefs is acceptance of gays as ministers and marriages of gays.

But I cannot leave a church that shares my beliefs in what I feel is a critical issue and move to one that is adamantly opposed.  That, I believe, would be both uncritical and contrary to the Christian principles that I embrace.

My best wishes to Slate but those wishes also include a prayer that they will, some day, see the word of God in a different and — I feel — a more realistic light.

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