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.
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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.
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.
Kudos to Matthew Vine and I wonder how long he'll hang on to his religion? (That is not meant as a put down.)
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.
Does that sum it up?
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.
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.
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.....
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.
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.
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.
I, like all my gay brothers and sisters, am Cornelius.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
Oh, great. Next you're going to tell me I have to give a shit about why AD&D is better than 3.5.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
We're not to subscribe to an eye for eye are we?
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…
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
For those hindered by the length of the video, at least watch his section on Leviticus (starting around the 23 min point).
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.
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.
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.
Back to your scheduled discussion of the actual content of the video.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What's wrong is the forcing, the coercion, not necessarily the philosophy that is being forced or coerced. Some atheists are just as capable of this kind of 'forcing' as the most rabid religious types.
Indeed, the argument with faith is the basis of all debate. And one interesting thing with it is that, since one cannot logically deduce anything from nothing, every debate must rest on a set of unproven assumptions or postulates, à la Euclid; i.e., postulates accepted on faith. If we were incapable of faith, we would never have developed logics or science.
But if you see it metaphorically -- then what it seems to be saying is 'if you really believe in something, then be ready to make big sacrifices for it; or else you don't really believe in it.'
Just my €0.02.
go Back to Harvard and get on with your life. BTW, what selrespecting christian,fag hating family would let their kid go to harvard???
something doesnt smell right. i wont be surprised if this tuns out to be a fake story....sounds too good to be true...cute kid fights bible thumper and becomes famous and gets book deal