Gay man’s Wichita speech is eye-opener

May 3, 2012


Sometimes, people hide inside the Bible.

That is, they use the Christian holy book as authority and excuse for biases that have nothing to do with God. They did this when women sought to vote and when African-Americans sought freedom.

They are doing it now, as gay men and lesbians seek the right to be married.

The latest battleground in that fight is North Carolina, where voters go to the polls Tuesday to render a verdict on Amendment One, which would add to the state constitution the following stipulation: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Mind you, the Tarheel State already has a law on the books banning same-sex marriage. The would-be constitutional amendment is meant to double down on exclusion. And if you read the language carefully, you saw what many observers have seen — that it can also be interpreted as denying legal recognition to unmarried heterosexuals.

Not that this holds any sway with those who hide inside the Bible. “God has defined marriage,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a Sunday sermon quoted in the Charlotte Observer. “It is not up to us to redefine it.” In a letter to the editor, an Observer reader put it thusly: “You either believe (the Bible) or not.”

One wishes those people could spend a little quality time with Matthew Vines.

Vines is a Christian, a 22-year-old Harvard undergrad raised in a conservative evangelical church in Kansas. He is also gay and says he grew up being taught that the Bible condemns his sexual orientation. He took two years off from school to research and study whether or not that assertion is true.

The result is “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality.” It’s a video — you can find it online with a simple Google search — of a speech he gave in March at a church in Wichita that has become a minor sensation. Small wonder. Vines’ speech is a masterwork of scriptural exegesis and a marvel of patient logic, slicing and dicing with surgical precision the claim that homophobia is God-ordained. So effective is the video that after viewing it, Sandra Delemares, a Christian blogger from the United Kingdom who had, for years, spoken in staunch opposition to same-sex marriage, wrote that it “revolutionized” her thinking.

Vines points out, for instance, that the frequently quoted condemnation (homosexuality is an “abomination”) from the lawbook of Leviticus has no application to Christians, who are bound by the teachings of the New Testament. He explains that St. Paul’s admonitions about the “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” stem from modern mis-translations of ancient Greek terminology.

It is fascinating stuff, and there is not nearly enough space here to do it justice, but the salient point is this: Matthew Vines is not some godless heathen lobbing bombs at Christianity from outside its walls. No, he lives inside Christianity’s walls, still holds the faith in which he was raised. So this is not an outsider’s attack. It is an insider’s plea.

One hopes that plea is heeded. Vines’ speech is long — a little over an hour — but well worth the time, particularly for those seeking to reconcile first-century faith with 21st-century social concerns.

Many in North Carolina — many around the country — are swimming against the tide of human freedom and blaming God for it. Again, this is not a new thing. We saw it back when God was for segregation and against women’s suffrage.

How convenient it must be to lay your own narrowness and smallness off on God, to accept no responsibility for the niggardly nature of your own soul. Vines’ video is a welcome, overdue and eloquent rebuke of the moral and intellectual laziness of throwing rocks, then hiding inside Scripture. It is a reminder, too.

You don’t go to the Bible to hide. You go there to seek.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.


FalseHopeNoChange 5 years, 11 months ago

"African-Americans" and "Gay and Lesbians" have a lot in common. Pitts make an excellent point of the similarities.

"How convenient it must be to lay your own narrowness and smallness off on God, to accept no responsibility for the niggardly nature of your own soul."

ebyrdstarr 5 years, 11 months ago


Just FYI, the random quotation marks do not help readers who are regularly confused by your comments.

Mike Ford 5 years, 11 months ago

trolls push buttons.....is there anything else they're good at? while I'm at work they're in parent's basement waiting for the grilled cheese and chips mom will bring down to the troll cave......no point explaining their wrongness..... they laugh at the people they wind up with their lunacy. poor trolls.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 11 months ago

tuschie, it you are at least 1/32 troll, you too can claim trollness on job applications and get the benefit of affirmative action. ( .......... from .......... a .......... source .......... )

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

Snakes are scary critters lets outlaw them. Elephants, way too big, they could step on you, scary, ban them. Spiders, they are the devil, ban em. Birds poop on people's heads, ban them. Opera music is obscene, ban it. Ben Affleck's acting stinks....ban him! Cars can run us over, outta here. Airplanes scare me...banned! Fat people, yuck...ban them. Babies make noise and creep me out, gone! Women think for themselves and that scares me, bye bye. Houses fall down when big storms come and that can kill ya, banned! The sun burns me and can give me cancer, pee off! Dogs can eat us, bye bye Rover. Cats have their own agenda, gone. Water, scary, can drown....adios amigos. Men, they cause more problems than women (shout out to Brownback) buh bye. The earth, well, pick one of the many traps it has that can kill us, way too scary....buh bye.

So, I got rid of everything that scares me or that I do not like and I am all by myself and don't even have an earth to stand on. Grow up!!

JayhawksandHerd 5 years, 11 months ago

How so? Pitts is a columnist; you can choose to read his work, or not. Brownback's fiscal irresponsibility and strict adherence to ideology-as-policy, on the other hand, impacts us all.

JayhawksandHerd 5 years, 11 months ago

"According to the alternative Yes! Weekly, writer and campaigner Chad Nance spoke to a pollworker who told him that Jodie Brunstetter (wife of state Senator Peter Brunstetter) said, 'The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to uh, reproduce.'"

Of course, she later stated that her use of the phrase "Caucasian race" was taken out of context. "I'm afraid they have made it a racial issue when it is not," she said.

Wow, you really can't make this stuff up.


australian 5 years, 11 months ago

Just wanna say that there are people claiming that the arguments presented by Vines are flawed, eg as detailed here: http://stasisonline.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/homosexual-marriage/

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

I've asked the question numerous times about all of the forbidden activities in the OT, and pointed out that it is in fact the OT, not the NT, that discusses them.

No good answers have appeared.

For some reason, anti-gay religious belief maintains that single activity continues to be forbidden, while all other ones in the same book of the OT are fine. Seems that many folks are somehow obsessed with homosexuality.

ThePilgrim 5 years, 11 months ago

I think that the issue of gay marriage needs to be a larger conversation.

What is marriage? Is it a civil custom/concern, a religious custom/concern, or what?

People get married by the Justice O the Peace, or at church, yet they want the judge to divide up their stuff when they get divorced. We have a no-fault divorce state, yet people still think that they will be able to point fingers and dredge up nasty details when they go to court.

Is marriage primarily about procreation, raising kids? Is marriage about passing on your genes? Or is it about feelings and matters of the heart? Face it, feelings certainly change.

Is it a legal and tax classification? Or does it solely give the person the right to collect benefits? Or get the right to talk to the doctor about your partner? Heck, because of HIPAA I can't even make an appointment for my wife, ask the doctor any questions about her care (she seems to be unable to ask the questions I want and write down the answers).

I have read postings by gay people who are offended by married heterosexual folks' pictures of their family in their cubes or on their desks.

Should cohabitation have the same benefits as married people? The State of Kansas doesn't recognize cohabitation...unless it is denying benefits for welfare.

Notice that I didn't mention the Bible, God, or scripture. What is the point if people don't believe the same? We live in a postmodern world after all.

These questions need to be part of the conversation. But they won't, because ideology is only black and white.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

Good questions.

If your wife tells the doctor's office that you have the right to her information, you can talk with them and ask questions, as far as I know.

HIPAA doesn't preclude the sharing of information, if the individual allows it.

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