Book Review: God And The Gay Christian
By Rev. Dr. Blair Thompson-White
When I think of a word to describe this book, the word that comes to mind is ‘compelling.’ It was so compelling, in fact, that I had to reschedule an appointment because I was so caught up in reading it that the time got away from me! Why is this Matthew Vines’ work so compelling?
Because it is personal. When we talk about ‘the issue of homosexuality’ we can easily get caught up in language and lose the most important point: this is about people. Matthew shares his personal story; his narrative is so open and relatable, you feel like you are listening to a friend tell you his life story.
Matthew grew up in a mainline church where he was taught that God is against homosexuality. He watched his sister’s friend Josh bravely ‘come out’ and share his sexual orientation to his family, only to be completely rejected. Although Josh grew up in the church and was a beloved son of the congregation who sang in the choir, the church couldn’t accept him as gay. Matthew could sense people’s shame about Josh’s sexual orientation…and so could Josh.
Josh felt rejected by the church and alienated from God because he was taught that the God of the Bible required him to hate a core part of himself. He left town and left the church. Years later, Josh’s family would embrace him but Josh never returned to the church, the wound was too deep and damaging.
Josh’s experience is unfortunately all too common and Matthew feared it would be his experience, too:
For a young kid who realizes she is gay and has no one at home or church she can talk, it can be an impossibly heavy burden. For a young man like Josh, who internalized rejection from our church with barely a word spoken, it can drive a wedge between him and God. And what would become of me?
What became of Matthew is he took on the church’s teachings head on, with his un-affirming dad by his side. Together they explored scripture and tradition and by the end of their journey, Matthew’s dad changed his mind. He no longer thought homosexuality was incompatible with Christian teaching.
Which leads to the second reason why this book is so compelling.
Because the theology and scriptural interpretation is spot on. Because the message of Scripture is NOT what non-affirming Christians have said it is. To put it more plainly: there is another way to interpret scripture.
If you are like Matthew’s dad and you are genuinely open to having your mind changed, this book will guide you through all the questions / objections you may have to same-gender relationships, such as “What is the meaning of marriage according to the Bible? And, can same-sex unions fulfill that meaning?”
Or, if you are LGBTQ+ affirming but you have always struggled with how to respond to someone who says, “but the Bible says homosexuality is a sin” this book will take you through each passage and give you the tools and resources you need and overarching Biblical themes that are—well, compelling—
The Biblical scholarship, historical evidence, and reason in this book is compelling—but what is perhaps most compelling is why, in the end, Matthew’s dad decides to ‘make some changes.’
Because when you take a closer look at Scripture you are compelled to advocate for the equal rights of our LGBTQ+ siblings.
The changes that Matthew’s dad makes include deciding not to renew his membership in a national organization for Christian lawyers because “I no longer agree with their position on gay Christians,” he said. He also became a vocal advocate at his church for LGBTQ+ inclusion.
We, too, are called—no, we are compelled—by our faith to be agents of transformation until our churches and our world not only welcome all but embrace all and celebrate all as God’s beloved.
In 2012, Matthew shared his experience at a United Methodist Church. His speech went viral and became be the foundation for his book God and the Gay Christian. Click Here To Listen