The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality

Comments

1
No more irrelevant to non-believers than, say, women's rights are irrelevant to men.
2
Btw, Dan, the link goes back to the Youtube video.
4
Just watched, and he did an amazing job. Yes, I will be forwarding the link liberally. Thanks for the heads up Dan.
5
Can someone give a TL;DW version? Because I'm not gonna watch one hour of religious BS.
6
This is a very tired issue. Arguing with religious persons who are intolerant is not worth it. Better to spend the time finding spirituality in affirming communities. That is really where the upward trajectory is. Getting down in the gutter with ignorant people and arguing with them is like trying to walk on quicksand
7
@5 There's a 4-minute preview at the Huffington Post link.

Try thinking of it as a literature or philosophy lecture. From what I've seen, it seems more like a humanist talk in the context of religion than a sermon.
8
Let me echo the first comment, and affirm that this particular unbeliever found Mr. Vines' presentation gripping. My beliefs, or lack thereof, have not inhibited my ability to empathize with people quite different from me.

What an impressive young man--thank you for posting.
9
Sodom & Gomorrah was about inhospitality and violence, not about the sin of homosexuality.

Leviticus was part of a behavioral code that was abolished by Jesus, and is immaterial to Christians.

In Paul's letter to the Romans, the real sin was in giving up a relationship with God to persue idolotry that was the problem. God then abandon those people to unnatural lusts. The word "unnatural" was more accurately translated as "against custom".

Nowhere in the Bible was loving same-sex relationships condemned, and the term homosexuality didn't even come into existence until the 1900s. Sexual orientation was not even understood during Biblical times. It was all about patriarchy, heirachy and following behavioral rules. They equated strong lusts with things "unnatural", and that is what caused some people to have same-sex desires. They simply had no understanding of homosexuality at all. They didn't think in those terms, so how could they even begin to discuss its relevance in the Bible?

Lastly, there were two words that have been mistranslated frequently, and if you go back to their original Greek meaning, they do not condemn homosexuality, but rather exploitative sex (straight or gay).

His message in a very brief nut shell.
10
Reason. Oh, yeah, that'll work.
11
NO it's not that being Gay is "a fall" Being Gay is like being a woman. Being receptive to insertion. Being a woman is the sin. Being receptive to insertion is the sin. WOMEN are the reason for the fall and hence ANYTHING that is like a woman is sinful. Women are second class, women are unclean. Women bleed. Why would a man want to be like a woman? That is the basis, the essence of the stance against Men acting like women, or being Gay.
12
@10 pretty much sums it up. But it sounds like something nice to pass along to people who can't quite abandon their religion even as it busily condemns them. But that's definitely a TL;DW and impossible for me at any rate (thank you @9 for the capsule summary) and I wouldn't dream of asking anyone to help out with a transcript o.O

Kudos to Matthew Vine and I wonder how long he'll hang on to his religion? (That is not meant as a put down.)
13
Very well argued, and a super bright kid. You see the drive in him, and I'm willing to bet he'll do great things. Now here's hoping he wakes up soon and can find a better use of his time than trying to convince people his take on some ancient Dungeons & Dragons rules makes more sense then that of the currently presiding Dungeon Masters. We need you in science, medicine or politics, kid. Please don't waste your obvious talents on fucking theology.
14
21 years old, and speaking only from glancing at his notes occasionally. Just a great presentation. This kid nails it. Thanks so much.
15
Combine those scriptures with "THE ICK FACTOR", and you get christianist hatred for men who are penetrated. (great description Sargon- thanks!)
The kid did a good job re-hashing other similar explanations of those passages, but for a 'believer' logic, no matter how thought out, doesn't get rid of the ICK and generations of belief that Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed because of the buttsex.
I know- I was a Bible-thumping christian for most of my young adult years. I (personally) cannot ascribe the meaning he does to these verses. SO...I ditched the whole belief system 25+ years ago, and do my best to not ever look back.
Thanks for the link, Dan. But his arguments go nowhere with the 'born-agains' of this country. Might as well argue evolution with these folks- you'll get just as far. Their 'faith' is all the fact they ever need in this life.
16
PS: hanging the mountain of hatred and loathing these folks dish out on 6 FRIGGIN' VERSES IN THE WHOLE DAMNED BIBLE should tell one all s/he needs to know about their thought processes.
17
BEG @12, there's a link to Matthew's own full transcription at the end of the HuffPo piece:

http://matthewvines.tumblr.com/post/1911…
18
@10 - I know, right? Why didn't we think of trying this before? All that time wasted...
19
The fallout from religion-fueled xenophobia and ignorance goes WAY beyond gay/human rights. Look at the fucking political process in the USA. A near-majority of these morons are easily told what to say, how to think, and thus we have a well-established corporate fascism.
20
As an addendum to SeattleKim is his assertion that the passages about people deserving love and fulfilment trump all of the sections he's dissecting anyway.
21
So, basically Matthew Vines researched the question 'are there green goblins or grey goblins?' instead of researching the question 'are there any goblins at all'?

Does that sum it up?
22
Well, I don't need to bookmark this link because I don't know any people who think homosexuality is "wrong" or "sinful". Sweden may be intolerant in some ways but this is definitely not one of them. Mostly because religious people are a very small minority but also because we have a very deeply ingrained cultural heritage of keeping our religious beliefs to ourselves, even the conversion to christianity some thousand years ago was contingent on letting people practise whatever beliefs they wanted within the walls of their homes as long as they showed up for church and wore their hammers on the inside of their clothing.
23
@22 Oooh en till Svensk huh? Undrar hur många nordbor vi är här? :)

I was just about to say the very same thing. Even the opening part of it felt completely alien to my life experience and experience with christianity - christians in my world are either rather laid back hippie-like people who believe that god being good must accept that all who try to do good are also "of him/her/it" (the gender of god is something they talk about too).
Then theres the other ones who are just wierdos, hiding their rather archaic beliefs in smaller congregations who try to outwardly put all effort to present a "normal behaviour" in society. Some of them are outgoing about their absurd beliefs but usually if you ignore them they just go away.

I'm not saying this video is pointless... its a persons story to make bridge between his beliefs and his person and that is something I think many people can understand and grasp. Its just that the idea that someone would take an old text as so relevant to his or her life that he has to spend 2 years studying it - is about as absurd as someone taking say the code of Hammurabi and try to come to terms with how he will live his life and still follow these antique rules and regulations.
24
Its been done before. I first got introduced to this theological argument around 1986 a few years after I came out. My father a theologian, an attorney, and an officer of the Presbyterian church introduced me to them.

The problem is "fundamentalists" are not theologians. They simply do not grasp concepts such as, translation questions, contextual analysis, hermeneutics etc...

The sad truth is Christianists do not want to seek understanding. They don't wish to reach out to God. In short they lack the strength and will to stretch out their finger and touch the hand of God. They are afraid.
25
Not worth your time.

The bible is irrelevant to the debate on what society's attitude toward homosexuality should be.

If you give credence to the point of view that the bible does not condemn homosexuality then you must also allow those who interpret it differently to act on their beliefs.

It doesn't matter at all whom, if anyone, is correct in their interpretation.

Religious Freedom means you can't force your interpretation of the bible on society.

Agreeing to argue the issue based on what the bible says is a losing position before the debate ever starts.....
26
Actually, @15 and @24, they may not work for everyone, but they do work for some. They worked for this fundamentalist Evangelical Christian a full six years before I became an atheist.
27
@23 Det kan man fråga sig :)

That's actually one of the great things about our old beliefs (the worship of the æsir, vanir and jotun) is that people nowadays have no problem converting back to it, because the rules and scripture doesn't regulate peoples lives outside of their faith, it only regulates how and when to worship, which is how religion should work.

I have met many interesting and nice people of faith, most of these have been muslim or mormon, the ones I usually find myself having a problem with are catholics or protestants. I find it very fascinating how there can be multiple religions, all worshipping the same god, all based on roughly the same writings, who all hate each other based on what significance is assigned to which passage in a book written in a very distant time and culture and taht ahs been translated and re-written so many times over it has lost all meaning. That alone lets you know that there is no reasoning with these people.
28
Good for Matthew Vines for tackling a controversial issue, but I agree with many of the above commenters that he is fighting an uphill battle. Bible literalists will not give up their homophobia easily, if at all.

The bottom line is whatever people want to believe is their business. Keep it out of politics and don't push it down everyone's throat. Perhaps Mr. Vines needs to get that message out to his fundamentalist friends as well.
29
I'm going to try to watch his presentation, although I'm not sure I'm going to make it through. Fundamentalism absolutely rankles, and I have little patience for it, either in its assertion or in its deconstruction.

Right now, let me instead state the extremely simple religious position of our local Quaker Meeting on marriage: A marriage is not made by a church, minister, pastor, judge or registrar. It is made before God by two individuals who have joined their spirits together and partnered their souls in His love. As a Meeting, we come together as a body to witness and celebrate the declaration of that marriage, but the couple is doing the marrying themselves under the direct aegis of God. The end.

BTW, being Quakers, and traditionally on the cutting edge of Equality, even more of us seem to show up to witness and celebrate one of the rare same-sex marriages than do for most others. And, we've been doing this for at least a decade before our state decided to "legalize" it.

So, Fundies, if your vengeful God doesn't burn the couple to a cinders right then, just stfu, okay, 'cause He obviously approves. Get over yourselves. And, please stop talking about sex and Satan all the time, or the rest of us will get the impression you're some kind of Satan-worshiping perverts. thxkbai.
30
Acts 10:15, 10:28

I, like all my gay brothers and sisters, am Cornelius.
31
As one who was raised in a very conservative Christian environment, I understand his need and desire to have his family and loved ones understand him. I applaud him and think he did a fantastic job. However, I fear the hammer that is getting ready to fall on his life right now. I pray that he has loving people around him and I hope the gay community will embrace and not belittle him.
32
@23, 22, 27 Well, maybe this link would be useful to some of the gay, lesbian or bisexual family members of the "weirdos" in #23's 2nd paragraph. Or maybe the link is useful for the GLB people in the rest of society who have to put up with the intolerance of these religious conservatives. Or maybe not. Either way, congratulations to Sweden for having marriage equality since 2009, but bigotry hangs around for a long time even after the laws have been changed, wouldn't you agree?
33
Ok, I'm a traditional Christian in Kansas and this video helped me to finally get a true understanding of what the bible had to say about homosexuality. When you are told only one way all your life its nice to hear a well argued way that proves otherwise.
34
I was raised methodist, although I told my family at the age of 12 that I didn't believe in God and was not interested in going to church anymore, and we never went to church again, surprisingly (we only ever went rarely and sporadically anyway). I am from Maryland, which is fairly progressive and liberal, so perhaps they're more fundie out in Kansas but I don't think of the Methodists as fundamentalists. I never paid attention enough to know the differences between the various sects of Christianity and which is more bat shit than the next, but I can assure you no one on my moms side of the family would ever subscribe to a fundamentalist religion period. Why is everyone claiming he is addressing fundamentalists?
35
@ 6, 13, and others,

I know it's easy to forget when you live in Seattle, especially places like Capitol Hill where everyone is liberal, non-believing, gay or gay friendly, and all around enlightened, but the vast majority of our country is not this way. REAL progress on LGBT equality and acceptance depends a hell of a lot more on people like this young man, who can speak their language and use their rules to demonstrate why they're wrong in their attitudes and beliefs.

No, he's not going to convince everyone, but he doesn't have to.
36
@ 34, the majority of sloggers are atheists or agnostics, and many have a deep-seated antipathy to organized religion. The ones who have had no experience with Methodism probably don't know that it's not one of the more evangelical denominations, but in their antipathy they probably don't care.

Methodism is, I believe, one of the more liberal churches. My mom was brought up in that one, I think (she converted to Episcopal before I was born), and is quite liberal in her beliefs and politics.
37
What I am getting at is that I don't understand all the nay-sayers who are dismissing what this BRAVE young man has done. Completely pointless, you'll never get through to them, bah! Wake up people, how do you think we got to this point? People stood up, came out, and addressed the lies, prejudices, stereotypes, misconceptions, myths and and utter non-sense surrounding the gay. Is this church going to become PFLAG central and immediately start to actively push same-sex marriage and other gay rights initiatives no. But he has sowed the seeds of alternative thought in every person who heard him speak, he gave them all a different perspective inside their usual echo chamber. Some of those seeds will never take, and some of those seeds won't produce much of anything, but some of those seeds will produce fruit, and spread other seeds (for starters think of all the young people in that church, who haven't latched onto the gays are evil message and consume today's pop culture who listened to Vines that day). The old stances and arguments against gays are breaking down at an ever quickening pace because of people like Matthews Vines.
38
In short to all you cynical, nay-sayers, please pull that pole out of your ass beat some sense into yourself with it, then sit on it and rotate. I do mean that in the nicest possible way. I went through a period of almost militant atheism myself, but we will never win the battle of ideas if we dismiss those who will address those we believe should reexamine their beliefs as pointless idealists.

Even young christian conservatives are now supporting gay rights with significant numbers, the reason we are not seeing progress more quickly is b/c old people are set in their ways and they VOTE! If young people would get involved in politics, at all levels and for every election (not just the sexy presidential, it's the legislative branch which makes our laws) we would see a dramatic shift in policy and rhetoric in this country, but alas so many young voters dismiss the political process as pointless idealism, funny how that works.
39
@34 I am an adamant agnostic myself, but that doesn't give me license to label, or dismiss something that I don't understand. I am also not a fan of organized religion in any capacity, but it is a reality that is here to stay, and something that needs to be addressed in the fight for gay civil rights. While I probably agree with most sloggers on a variety of issues the responses to this post really turned me off, don't know if that was obvious or not. I hope I've added a fresh perspective that open the dismissers eyes, in much the same fashion as Vines.
40
The kid's fighting the good fight, I'll give him that. Still, it seems like a bit of a stretch to argue that followers of Christ should not disapprove of homosexuality. He admits at the start that every time the Bible mentions gay sex it does so in a disapproving way. Also, historically wasn't it the rise of Christianity that made homosexuality taboo in Europe? It was my impression that gay sex was, mostly, allowed before Constantine converted, and mostly not allowed thereafter. Perhaps Kim in Portland would care to enlighten us on these points?
41
He did a nice job. Although, he didn't uncover anything new. These points have been made by others before him. They have even been made over and over again by some of SLOG's old regulars (most have disappeared now). SLOG's a brick wall though. Try Googling Soulforce, Dan. The Soulforce Equality Ride 2012 is going on right now. No-one who wishes to be a Christian has to attend or subscribe to the beliefs of an individual church or denomination that rejects them. The Internet makes it easier than ever.

Good luck to Mr. Vines. I hope his last name blesses him, that his efforts are fruitful and that those who trust "Vines Concordence", "Vines Dictionary of the Bible" will give him attention for name recognition.
42
@39, the dismissive people don't necessarily have a pole up their collective ass. They might just be tired of ramming their heads against a brick wall, which is precisely what it can feel like talking to people using religion as a bigot's bludgeon. Years ago, I frequently brought up several of the same arguments Matthew Vines uses. When I mentioned specific translation issues, several people would just respond that their version of Bible used THIS word. When I reminded them the Bible wasn't written in English, I'd get vacant stares. If I argued the scriptures enough, some folks would comment that the devil knows the Bible forwards and backwards. Eventually, it just grew too tiresome for me. So though I applaud Vines' effort and agree he - and people like him - are playing a valuable role, I can completely understand why some people would consider such efforts as futile.
43
*such efforts futile.
44
@34 I can't speak for anyone else, but I can tell you that my intention in using the term fundamentalist was not to tar Methodists or Methodist theology. It's to describe the false logic of taking words from a book like the Bible and treating them as if they describe a profound truth in themselves, ignoring context, ignoring nuance, ignoring the original language in which they were written, and ignoring the intention of the writer. Such are the "scripture-based" arguments against homosexuality.

That his Methodist church welcomed him and his presentation is proof enough that they have a more lively view of theology.

I watched Mr. Vines' presentation as he deftly disemboweled the fundamentalist argument against homosexuality. I have nothing but praise for this young man, but as others here have said, he really shouldn't have had to do this. And yet, while true fundies (again, not speaking of persons present during the presentation, but those who may see this video) will reject his thoughtful theological analysis, more thoughtful Christians who simply haven't had the opportunity to think about the issue before hearing this, will certainly be moved.
45
Wonderful young man who has the opportunity to change many lives.

I hold the belief that Aesop is pissed about that bet he once lost to Jesus which put him in charge of the nursery forever...
46
Vines graduates Harvard this year. A classmate describes what led him to take time off for a while:
Vines came to grips with his sexual orientation during his sophomore year of college. He found numerous allies at Harvard, but felt consistently rebuffed by the fact that many of them came from such different cultural and religious backgrounds than he did. One LGBT tutor, for example, responded to his plight by bemoaning the burden that religion often placed on its gay adherents. “Her attitude was basically ‘Matthew, religion isn’t worth it,’” Vines said. “And I was just like, ‘well, okay, but that’s not really helpful.’”

Vines returned home to Kansas after that semester and stayed there. He decided that he couldn’t complete his undergraduate degree until he discovered a way to square his sexual orientation with his faith. This ended up being harder than expected, since he was at a loss to find a comprehensive, cogent, single piece or argument that he felt did justice to the issue. “There were so many books written on this topic, there are so many websites,” Vines said, but virtually all of them “cu[t] corners in order to reach their desired conclusion.” Most of the genuine scholarship on this issue, Vines discovered, was inaccessible to the vast majority of Christians, and most of the popular literature wouldn’t persuade a mainstream conservative Christian—and, most importantly, persuade Matthew Vines.

So ever since March 2010, Vines has devoted his life to researching this topic. This involved reading myriad scholarly articles, teaching himself basic Greek, and even returning to Harvard briefly to study Latin. Only after thousands of hours of study did Vines finally feel comfortable enough to present his findings. “I really want to reclaim the Bible,” Vines told me, “and not have to do it in a way that’s manipulative of the text. And fortunately…I think that my arguments and my interpretations are actually more accurate historically and Biblically” than the traditional ones.
[...]
Even if you’re not a Christian, even if you’re not very religious, and even if you disagree with Vines’s findings, his work serves as a beacon to those who seek a popular discourse on religion that is grounded in erudition, thoughtfulness, and dignity.
http://www.thecrimson.com/column/lightin…
47
Kim@41: sure, vine, but what about his first name? Cone on! You've got 1 of the 12 and henry's at least....
48
@1

Oh, great. Next you're going to tell me I have to give a shit about why AD&D is better than 3.5.
49
*By change many lives, I don't mean the people in that church.

I mean the young kid at home that has been institutionalized by religion into thinking who they are is a sin. It's the "It Get's Better: The Pew Edition".

So many kids grow up in the "Real America" with Jesus fish and homophobia. They deserve an advocate, like Matthew Vines, who they can identify with that can cut through the bullshit, articulating the reality of Homosexuality vs. The Bible.
50
Folks, go read the Huffington Post piece for context, like Dan Savage suggested, especially the penultimate paragraph. Vines' goal--or at least one of his major goals--is to reach out to gay Christian kids who have been shamed all of their lives. Essentially, this is an "It Gets Better" video (or perhaps more accurately, an "It Is Better" Video). Saying that fundamentalists aren't going to budge or that gays should just leave the church aren't going to do anything for these kids; demonstrating that Scripture is not inherently anti-gay will.
51
@35 I'm not against Christianity becoming a more tolerant religion, but I have a pretty fucking good point when I say following dogma of any kind is the real problem, not just fixing the homophobia rampant in Christianity. Because say this kid has an awesome impact, and I sincerely wish he does, we're still left with Christian global warming deniers who use the Bible as evidence God will never flood the Earth again, we're still left with Christians trying to get the teaching of evolution out of schools, we're still left with Christian terrorists attacking abortions clinics and doctors, we're still left with the view that women are second class citizens, all views perpetuated by either their holy book or many of their cult leaders, or both. And I hope the whole pantheon of Christian sects does eventually see the light of reason on all these issues. But the more efficient route is to throw the bathwater of religion out if we can, so people can realize there was never any baby there.

P.S. I know all of America isn't Seattle. There are things like news and blogs for such insulated city dwellers (P.P.S.: just for the record I did recently move back to the midwest) to learn of what goes on in the outside world. That doesn't mean we can't pick our battles and see religion itself and the ability to make people unquestionable believe in dogma as the root of Christianity's problem with homosexuals, along with thousands of other vile teachings (And P.P.S.: just for the record I recently moved back to the midwest)
52
@40

Same-sex unions can be traced from Platonic Greece to Christianized premodern Europe. During that time same-sex unions went from moral ambivalence to gradual intolerance, but not before the Catholic and Orthodox Church created liturgies for same-sex unions. Historians find hostility towards same-sex unions in the Visigothic laws, in civil court, and the oppression was directed towards Jews and women too. Laws against same-sex behavior were promulgated between 1150-1250 CE. The Church's attitude appears to have changed to follow secular popularity in the 13th and 14th century. The Christian "tradition" is not as ancient as some would have people believe. Shorter: the Church's attitude and oppression of gay people came about during the same time European society nearly unilaterally turned against social and religious non-conformity: the Inquisition arose, Jews were expelled.

If you want to know more I suggest starting with John Boswell.

Take care.
53
It is very discouraging to hear someone who spent two years researching this to still trot out the idea that the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with Lot's visitors. In earlier translations of the Bible, the verse is actually "And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them." Read that again. That we may KNOW them. The whole homosexual bent is based on the phrase "to know" -- or "ya,da'" as it is written in Hebrew. Ya,da is a Hebrew verb which is commonly translated as "know." Its meaning is ambiguous. It appears 943 times elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Usually it means "to know a fact." In only about a dozen of these cases does it refers to sexual activity; in these instances, the sexual meaning is always obvious. The text generally talks about a man "knowing" a woman and of her conceiving a child as a result of the "knowing." In all instances, such references involve heterosexual relationships. In Genesis 19:5, the meaning of "ya,da" is ambiguous at best. Given that the usual meaning of the word is nonsexual, it stretches credibility to immediately assume that the meaning was sexual. So to hear the mistranslation being repeated here is very depressing.
54
Terpsichorean! I am delighted at your pseudonym's reference to the muse of dance. This has a little hidden meaning for me that I've carried since my gradeschool days and I had never run across someone, in person or in digital, who's mentioned or alluded to Terpsichore. Maybe it's because I don't hang around dancers.

Anyway it looks like the thread's approaching the point where someone mentions that the classical Judeo literary anthology we call the Bible, and particularly its translations, is notoriously littered with inconsistencies, forgotten words, and fractions of passages whose meanings have become obscure with time. And yet Bible literalists take their interpretation of their second or third generation translation and act like it's as clearly unambiguous as a John Grisham novel. Like it was recently noted, these literalists will either grow very foggy or belligerent if you mention this because it's not about finding the "true meaning of the scriptures". Rather, it's about cobbling support for what they have already concluded.
55
You can also read the transcript interactively on the youtube site by clicking the icon below the viewer, to the left of the share and flag buttons. Interactive means you can click on a line in the text to go directly to that spot in the video. Similar to the TED talk vids.
56
I watched this with some reluctance. I'm an atheist, and generally couldn't give a shit about the nitpickings of bible interpretations. Plus, it's more than an hour long.

But I have to say he did a great job. I've heard some of the arguments before, but from a scholarly standpoint, he brings it all together perfectly. Its better than some doctoral theses I've read. Harvard should award this kid his BA based on this alone.

No, it won't persuade rabid fundamentalists. But it can be very persuasive for middle-of-the road christians. It should be required viewing for theologians and seminary schools.

My answer when confronted with christianity's many inconsistencies was to abandon it entirely. But a vast majority of this country still clings to christianity and is unwilling to abandon their faith. For young gay people who are conflicted with their faith, and unable to make the leap to atheism, Vine's video might be immensely helpful.
57
Correction: The intereactive transcript button is to the right of the share and flag buttons. I guess I have an aversion to typing "to the right".
58
@ 51, picking ANY battle against religion is a losing proposition. People like the comfort of it, and telling them they're wrong only makes them dig in their heels more.

Yes, your point is a good one, but it's not entirely informed. There is a growing environmental movement within evangelism, so writing them all off as global warming deniers is not only wrong, it's also damaging to the cause as it will prevent the coalition of environmentalists from forming. There are plenty of people on the fundamentalist side working to keep the division intact; we gain nothing by aiding them there.

We also must not forget that extremists talk most loudly, so it's easy to think they're the majority of faithful. Treating them as such only gives them more power, and does a disservice to the actually quite wide variety of people that they are. And keep in mind that most of this nation's successful progressive movements, from abolition to suffrage to Civil Rights, were led by religious people who found biblical justifications for their actions.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of people to be insular, regardless of awesome portal to the world that is the internet. I speak from personal experience there, having lived in Seattle, Boulder, and Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood (which is to Denver what its counterpart is to Seattle).
59
@21, nope, not at all. No goblins were even mentioned.
60
It is certainly true that reasoned argument is not going to convince those who are not open to it. But that is not true only for religious people: there are plenty of atheists on whom reason and argumentation also make no deep impression, if they don't like the topic.

But there are sincere people in all groups, people who are actually trying to live up to what is best in whatever group they belong to, atheists, Christians, New Agers, spirituality-seekers, Buddhists, or philosophers. People who are ready to admit that their personal vision of some topic may not be the last word, and who are amenable to -- actually interested in -- discovering other opinions and viewpoints.

It is to these people, who do accept the authority of the bible but who are open to discussing and understanding it better, that this video is really oriented. And it does indeed a wonderful job.

But more than anything: this is a video about the result of a personal journey, in which someone decided to confront a widely held belief -- and came out with a strikingly positive opinion.

If people who grew up in 'loving, traditional, Christian homes' as he put it, are able to do this -- to wander through the alleys and passages of their own worldview, and reach out to its very core, and find the good in it and separate it from superficial interpretation and meanness -- then this is the kind of people we need.

For, in the end, it doesn't matter if you're an atheist, a theist, an agnostic, a Christian, a Muslim, or a devout believer of the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- what matters is what this belief does to you. And what it makes you do to others.
61
@52, 58, 60 Huh. Isn't it funny how what we agree is wrong (the Inquisition, expulsion and forced conversion of Jews from Spain, persecution of gays) is a product of secular influence, but what we agree is right (abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement) is a result of religious leadership?
62
@60, really nicely put.
63
@60 "For, in the end, it doesn't matter if you're an atheist, a theist, an agnostic, a Christian, a Muslim, or a devout believer of the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- what matters is what this belief does to you. And what it makes you do to others."

Here Here! When I realized it was not about what others believe, but about how they treat others my angry, rabid atheism seemed silly and immature, now I am a laid back agnostic, and I am more open to the world around me.
64
@ 61, WTF are you talking about. Those things all have, or became, religious in nature.

It's simple - viewing ALL religion under a lump judgment is at best lazy, and at worst the same kind of intolerance you're condemning. (In your case, what you're implying that you condemn.)

Keep in mind that there is virtually no black and no white in the world. Almost everything is shades of gray, and the broader the topic, the truer this statement.
65
Edit - change "have" in the first sentence @ 64 to "were."
66
@58: While I understand the impulse of progressive, science-minded types and gays to have a knee-jerk reaction against religion, I agree with you: we need to be building coalitions, not writing people off based on simple stereotypes and prejudices.

We're not to subscribe to an eye for eye are we?
67
"Imagine no religion; it's easy if you try. No Hell below us, and above us only sky."

68
I believe in god or more to the point religions and for something to have existed so long in humanity in so many regions of the earth it would seem any scientist would cock an eyebrow at the numbers. again the bible is nothing but stories of how humans suck and how god hates humans but then again humans do suck and humans hate humans. we understand the earth (at least some do) we dont know jack shit about space or even how big it is and exactly everything that is in it. So it is religion is a wild card and it would seem any intelligent person can realize a Dram queen if it be a hate filled preacher or a media slut looking for a nitch topic to boast or a Homosexual pissed off as humans suck and god hates everybody. The religions don't really play favorites and the song remains the same on earth as it is in heaven.
Religion may have been the same penis extension of the past as a Ferrari and strawberry cheese cake and a square mile condo in downtown Seattle. we "are" human and the the fact our shit is extremely weak leads us away from paying attention to responsibility and truth and justice and reality and all of the Superman crap.
once we start understanding our earth we cant help but ponder the unknown as the earth is a bizarre twisted frighting place that makes the lifeless endless vast of space look pretty damn good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsC-QnabA…
69
@ 61,
Humans are responsible for injustice. And we are responsible for social and political transformation. I think it is folly to ignore the fact that Christianity and dominate Western culture became wedded as a result of Constantine's embrace in the 4th century. Hence, the majority of self-proclaimed Christians seem to seldom engage in radical criticism of social order. I think it would be unfortunate to forget those who do radically criticize social order, and it would seem in his own way Matthew Vines has found his voice to criticize. Just as others have done: MLK Jr., Gandhi,
Vincent Lingiarri, Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, Christopher Hitchens, Barbara Gittings, Randy Wicker...
70
I wish this boy luck, but I don't have much hope for him. I'm pretty sure this will sound to any believer like liberal claptrap and sophistry to justify perversion.
71
I read until I found my comment. #24 Fundamentalists are not theologians.
That's it. They don't care for any truth beyond what they have already found. To vary from that point is to deny they have had the right set of hates in place, which can't be done of course without a personal experience or the rare epiphany (a child who is gay for example).

I have no faith in the faithful.
72
41 wishing fruitfulness on a homosexual seems mean
73
may your rectum produce many children!
74
#53... your reference to "ya,da'" in the original really makes me laugh. Not because of what you are saying, but because of Jerry Seinfeld, where there is a debate as to whether "yada yada yada" means having sex or not.
75
@63, that was also my own personal journey. (My own kind of atheism was very strong-worded and angry, a but like Mattyx. But then I opened my eyes and realized that rabid atheists are not much different from rabid Inquisitors: they only have less power, but are equally ready to chastise heresy with the worst words in their vocabulary. Some atheists would deserve the title of Witchfinder General.)

I don't think I'm an atheist anymore (spirituality has changed its meaning recently for me), but for all intents and purposes my opinions are so close to it that you may as well round me up to atheist. I have, however, a strong respect for religious people (not fundamentalist bigots: truly religious people) who have made religion a constructive influence on their lives, and who are open to those, like me, who found other, non-religious ways of deriving meaning from existence; and I am fascinated by the human interest in the numinous and where it comes from.

76
@23 Jag är inte från sverige, men min mor är. But my svenska is inte så bra.

I still have to read his analysis, but I often wonder why people who take so much time to look into these sorts of questions and come up with well-reasoned interpretations don't also realize that the whole thing is BS. The intended meaning of the scripture is an interesting question, but anyone who studies the thing long enough to figure it out ought to be able to realize that the scripture is no more true than the Epic of Gilgamesh.
77
Lol...I got to the part about Sodom & Lot and had to hang my head. I am glad he found this to not an anti-gay passage. But we are also talking about a story in which the good host offers his daughters to this mob. Sorry if I fail to find this affirming....
78
@36 There are plenty of Methodists in North Carolina, and my impression is that they aren't particularly liberal. Methodism may be more liberal than Southern Baptist Christianity, but I think it can vary quite a bit depending on where the Methodists are from.
79
I'm not going to spend my time watching it - and further declare - I don't need to. The truth about "homosexuality and the bible" has been around for a long time. I read about it in the 1970's. I sorta had to - my first real boyfriend was a Christian. If there are any intelligent "Christians" around who can dabble in critical thinking, they know there is no basis for hating gay and lesbian people - or hating what they think we do - regardless of how much or how little they cling to their bible. For the haters who call themselves christian it isn't about their interpretation of the bible -it's about their own fear and hate based mentality. Although it's human nature, the christianists have perfected the ability to justify absolutely anything that suits them.
80
I refuse to watch it because Dan's heartfelt recommendations always suck and I know everything this kid could say already and it's stupid and...oh, except I watched it and it was an objectively awesome experience and I'm super glad I took the time out of my busy fucking schedule.
81
@77 Yeah, it's pretty sad that no comment is made on the fact that Lot's solution is to offer his daughters to be raped.

Obviously the problem with the Sodomites is that they wanted to rape, but how many Christians talk about what a horrible father Lot is? First he offers his daughters for rape. Then his daughters get him drunk and have sex with him after Sodom is destroyed (pretty sure we'd call that rape nowadays). He's supposedly the righteous man, but how can you read that chapter and have a good opinion of almost anyone in that story? God is a dick - the men of Sodom might have been wicked, but so much so that all the people of Sodom deserved to be wiped off the face of the earth, including the children? And he turned Lot's wife to salt for the "sin" of looking back.

Why anyone would read that story and look to it for moral guidance is beyond me. It's absurd. It's some fucked up twisted shit that no modern person should consider any more a guide to morality than the story of how Poseidon gave Minos a bull to sacrifice, and Minos decided to keep it instead, so Poseidon made Minos's wife fall in love with and have sex with the bull and give birth to the Minotaur, which they then fed with youths from Athens as part of their domination of and revenge against Athens.
82
The leader of my SWTOR guild is a religious Christian, and social issues came up in guild chat. His opinion is that homosexuality is sinful, but that everyone, gay or straight, sins, and that it's nobody's place to try and judge anyone else on that account.
83
ForkyMcSpoon, my thoughts exactly. And as far a a cohesive argument, backed by, you know, evidence....this fails. The number of logical fallacies was atrocious. I am Pro LGBT, but not because any holy book says I should or shouldn't be.
84
Very few on that side of the issue have been swayed by argument. Knowing someone who is gay is effective, but these arguments have been out there forever. Ultimately, an argument based on innate sexual orientation will not sway people who don't believe there is such thing as a sexual orientation, only evil sinners.
85
The bottom line on religion: I've found that God's will ALWAYS neatly aligns with what the person telling you what God's will is. Sacrifice is always for someone else. It's almost as if these prejudices are innate and simply justified by the Bible. Some people look at it and find it doesn't condemn homosexuality, and hey, neither do they! Some look at it and find that it does, and curiously enough, they just happen to have a problem with homosexuality. What a coincidence!
86
That was excellent. He's like a Christian lawyer.

For those hindered by the length of the video, at least watch his section on Leviticus (starting around the 23 min point).
87
I am frankly rather shocked that Dan would find this something to recommend. I was deeply impressed by this young man's tenacity and courage, but also deeply concerned of his need to validate his homosexuality by encouraging this congregation to accept him through a religious understanding of gays.
The first warning sign is his equating God's love of gays as their need for a loving, monogomous relationship. What happens if he is 30 and still single? Is he going to continue to find his gayness accepting? What is wrong with being gay, not monogomous and just a good person?
He also uses the same approach that anti-gay "Christians" do by interpreting passages out of a 2,000 year old book to fit his conclusion -- then renders his entire argument moot by admitting the Bible's points of view only really apply to context of the time during which they were written. Exactly!
I also wonder how much traction he expects to get with this "gay isn't a choice" argument, since many religious people argue science hasn't 100 percent proved that.
Dan, you should be concerned for this young man's own future, and how his religious upbringing could evenutally prove determental when he can't live up to his unreasonable standards.
If you really want to help him, Dan, give him some of your "It Gets Better" videos.
88
Much of his argument in the latter part of the video is based around the meaning of words in their original languages, eg arsenokoites. If you Google that word you find there is controversy and ambiguity, but Matthew simply favours an interpretation that suits him when he goes so far as to claim that the word would not refer to modern homosexuality. The video is interesting, but his conclusions are too biased to be scholarly.
89
@53 - sam2300:

If the men really just wanted to "know" the visiting angels - as in "meet," "come to know," etc. - why would Lot have offered his daughters to have sex with them instead?

He says, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

It seems pretty clear that Lot understood their "know" to be the "have sex with" know. Otherwise, why else would he refer to it as a wicked thing? Why would he hope raping his daughters would be an acceptable alternative?

"Know" may have two different meanings, but I don't see how you can possibly determine its use here to refer to intellectual curiosity. Sorry, but that's just ridiculous.
90
While it's nice that Vine has done some work to debunk key Biblical passages used to bash homosexuality, his claim, voiced early on in the trailer version of his speech, about "the authority of Scripture" turns me off.

He says, "You cannot elevate your experience over the authority of Scripture in order to be happy -- this is true."

You can't? Wow. Even if he'd qualified that statement and said, "As a Christian" you can't, I'd have problems with it.

There are plenty of progressive Christians (who I guess don't qualify as real Christians when judged by many non-progressive Christians) who believe, as the United Church of Christ says, that "God is still speaking."

Sure, the Bible is a piece of literature that can be useful for Christians and even interesting to non-Christians, but to think that's all there is to say about life, that the "authority of Scripture" (meaning canonical Christian Scripture) is the be all and end all is insane and not what I would expect from a Harvard student.

Now it's quite possible that Vine explains his statement in his hour-long video, and perhaps I'll watch the whole thing at some point, but that he chose to include this statement in the 4-minute trailer he posted to promote his talk does put me off.
91
I have absolutely nothing to add to this conversation, as I haven't had an opportunity to watch the video, but I just had to say, as a college-aged gay boy: what a cutie.

Back to your scheduled discussion of the actual content of the video.
92
@dlauri

You're missing the point. His whole video is about justifying homosexuality from a theological perspective. He predicates this argument on the Bible because that's the basis of Christian theology.

If you're breaking *from* the Bible you *aren't* being Christian. If you have a theological argument based on the Bible to support your liberal beliefs, *then* you are being Christian.
93
@bleepinbleep: Perhaps I do miss the point and focus too much on one statement by Vine.

But perhaps you miss the point. If what one worships foremost is the "authority of Scripture," is one a Christian or is one instead something else, a Biblicist, for lack of a better term?

It seems to me, and, I think, to others who believe "God is still speaking" (google that phrase if you want to find some Christians who believe what it says) that one can be a follower of Christ or a Christian without in fact bowing down to worship the "authority of Scripture."

Of course most of what we presume to know about Jesus comes from the Bible, but that doesn't mean we have to wring our hands trying to reconcile every last passage in that book. I'm not saying it's bad that Vine spent two years of his life trying to reconcile who he is as a gay man with his background as a conservative Christian -- if he can debunk verses used to attack queers, great -- but perhaps letting go of the "authority of Scripture" might have been easier, and it wouldn't have meant having to give up following Jesus.
94
@89: I always read that not as an actual offer but as a "over my dead body" sort of statement. You know, saying that he'd sooner let his own family be attacked than betray the trust of guests under his roof.
95
I think this resonates with Christians. I used to talk to an Evangelical, creationist conservative at work. We happened to have many tastes in pop culture in common, believe it or not. She was "smart," as far as someone not willing to question her beliefs goes.

But wasn't she? One day she came to me, confused, talking about how she's not sure how her church should respond to gay people, seeing as to how it may be true that God made them that way. I told her that the best Christian response should be with love, compassion and open arms. She said , "well, I don't know is the thing."

I would have pointed her here.

Otherwise, I can't help thinking that this guy is ALMOST THERE. He's able to question scripture, or rather, rationalize it to fit his beliefs. Christians have one thing in common: they create God in their own image. Somehow, he always manages to share the same values with those who believe in him. Very convenient. Perhaps he should spend more time thinking about natural reasons and benefits for homosexuality and apply THAT to his reasoning about God. Morality comes first, always. If that God differs from your values, what's more reasonable: to stretch scripture to make it fit your desires, or to actually morally evaluate scripture. You know my answer. But the latter is exactly what Christians do every day.
96
...I meant the former.
97
@dlauri, even though I agree with you that the scriptures should not be considered authoritative, and especially not to the extent that Vine does, I do think you miss an important point: namely, that since he is arguing from within a certain worldview, he cannot logically extricate itself from it while remaining on topic. If he did give up the authoritativeness of scripture, he would do that not only for the gay question but for a whole bunch of other topics -- which is a major change.

I point out that this young man was able to find other ways of dealing with sexual orientation within the confines of the worldview that he prefers.

You may claim that it would be better for him to change that worldview, and you may even be right. (Personally, I even agree with you.) But this is a decision to be made not because of one specific topic (sexual orientation), but, to me, for much deeper philosophical reasons.

What is interesting to me here is that even when someone's philosophy is not changing its foundations, when someone is not abandoning one's worldview, there still is room for improvement and growth. In fact, since probably any worldview currently practiced (including yours, and mine) is probably wrong on at least some aspects of reality, if it were not possible for improvement and growth within the confines of a not-all-to-correct worldview, then the human condition would be hopeless, and we'd be all forever doomed to stasis.
98
The fact that he was allowed to make such an argument in a church is probably significant in itself.
99
@76: Right, but the thing is that nobody's trying to force other people to live their lives according to the Epic of Gilgamesh.

One reason why people take so much time to look into these sorts of questions, or should, is (to paraphrase Christopher Hitchens) that the argument with faith is the basis of all debate - about philosophy, morality, history, science, and human nature.
100
lol @53.

Yeah, we all have our own pet theories. I happen to think, contra most historians, that Sickles' advance to the Peach Orchard worked out for the best, even if it seemed tactically foolish and resulted in such high casualties. The blood of those killed and the time spent in the battle allowed Sedgwick time to arrive and establish the center of the cemetery ridge to little round top line.

My pet theory makes sense. Yours ignores context and circumstance. So you might want to tone down your disdain for those who don't hold it, professor.

Of course, I do confess to being confused about the story of Sodom. I can never decide if the moral of the tale is that being a good host requires you to offer your daughters up for rape; that people - even children -deserve death if their fellow townspeople behave badly; that incest is okay as long as you get the other person pass-out drunk first; or that there was a salt shortage in the ancient world.