By Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
The relationship of homosexuality to Christianity is one of the main topics of discussion in our culture today. In the fall of last year I wrote a review of books by Wesley Hill and Sam Allberry that take the historic Christian view, in Hill’s words: “that homosexuality was not God’s original creative intention for humanity … and therefore that homosexual practice goes against God’s express will for all human beings, especially those who trust in Christ.”
There are a number of other books that take the opposite view, namely that the Bible either allows for or supports same sex relationships. Over the last year or so I (and other pastors at Redeemer) have been regularly asked for responses to their arguments. The two most read volumes taking this position seem to be those by Matthew Vines and Ken Wilson.
Vines, Matthew, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships, Convergent Books, 2014
Wilson, Ken, A Letter to My Congregation, David Crum Media, 2014.
The review of these two books will be longer than usual because the topic is so contested today and, while I disagree with the authors’ theses, a too-brief review can’t avoid appearing cursory and dismissive. Hence the length.
I see six basic arguments that these books and others like them make.
Knowing gay people personally.
Vines and Wilson relate stories of people who were sure that the Bible condemned homosexuality. However, they were brought to a change of mind through getting to know gay people personally. It is certainly important for Christians who are not gay to hear the hearts and stories of people who are attracted to the same sex.
And when I see people discarding their older beliefs that homosexuality is sinful after engaging with loving, wise, gay people, I’m inclined to agree that those earlier views were likely defective. In fact, they must have been essentially a form of bigotry. They could not have been based on theological or ethical principles, or on an understanding of historical biblical teaching. They must have been grounded instead on a stereotype of gay people as worse sinners than others (which is itself a shallow theology of sin.) So I say good riddance to bigotry. However, the reality of bigotry cannot itself prove that the Bible never forbids homosexuality. We have to look to the text to determine that.