God and the Gay Christian: A Critical Review

May 15, 2014 | 44 comments

On March 8, 2012, former Harvard student Matthew Vines gave a talk at a Methodist Church in Kansas titled, “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality.” The talk was uploaded to YouTube and has garnered hundreds of thousands of views. Vines identifies as being gay but he claims to have a very high few of Scripture. As a result, he contends that the Bible, when properly understood, does not prohibit same-sex relationships and even lays the foundation for Christians to wholeheartedly support them.

His first book, which expands on the talk, was released few weeks ago with the title, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Vines is a good writer and keeps the “fluff” down to a minimum focusing more on citations from modern and ancient writers. His writing is without invective and so that makes for a pleasant read but ultimately I’m not persuaded by his arguments.

First Impressions

Vines book is clearly aimed at Evangelical Christians, which is probably why it makes no reference to the arguments from natural law that Catholics use to show that same-sex behavior is immoral.[1] Instead, the book engages what Vines calls, “six passages (Genesis 19:5[2] Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10 [that] have stood in the way of countless gay people who long for acceptance from their Christian parents, friends, and churches,” (Vines, 11). Vines complains that as he grew up no one explained to him why same-sex behavior was a sin or the reasons God would have for condemning such behavior. Without a foundation in natural law, it’s easy for someone to see these Biblical prohibitions as just being cultural relics we should discard.

As for the book itself, it’s relatively brief even though the chapters are dense in citations. Vines admits that he is not a Biblical scholar and says his goal is to make the work of scholars more accessible to laypeople (Vines, 2-3).  Most of these arguments, in one form or another, have been around for decades. As one peruses the footnotes the names of these scholars continually pop up especially New Testament professor James Brownson who changed his mind about the Bible’s view towards same-sex behavior after his own son “came out.” Vines heartily recommends Brownson’s 2013 book on this issue and so I will probably review it in the future.

Problems at the Outset

Before we get to Vines’ treatment of the passages in question there a few assumptions he makes that need to be challenged. First, Vines argues that Jesus’ condemnation of anger and lust shows that even our desires for evil are themselves evil and so they must be rejected. However, since people like him can’t change their desires for same-sex intercourse, it follows that God has essentially created people like Vines to sin through no fault of their own. But Vines confuses “having desires” with “dwelling on desires.” In Matthew 5:21-30 Jesus isn’t condemning merely having sinful desires (something we all have). He is condemning dwelling on those desires such as by fantasizing about killing someone or having sex with your neighbor’s wife. The call to not dwell on thoughts about illicit sex is expected of all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

Second, Vines claims that true Christian teaching should produce “good fruit” but the sexual abstinence that is expected of self-identified gay Christians produces “bad fruit.” It is, according to Vines, ”more than many of them can bare” and “fuels despair to the point of suicide,” (Vines, 19).  Aside from this odd interpretation of Jesus’ condemnation of false prophets and teachers (Matthew 7:15-20), Vines offers very little evidence in defense of this claim, aside from a few anecdotes and one study.

This study in The Journal of Pediatrics doesn’t even deal with the suicidal effects of not having sex. It instead deals with “family rejection” of self-described gay youth. The study is not very helpful because it doesn’t adequately define “rejection.” The authors even admit that they did not study the difference between teens whose parents merely did not celebrate same-sex behavior and teens that had parents who exhibited more negative reactions like shunning. The authors simply lump all these behaviors into the category of “rejecting.”[3] Therefore, this study does not show that affirming the traditional interpretation of the Bible causes suicide.

Even the anecdotes Vines offers are questionable. He quotes one Christian named Stephen Long who found sexual abstinence from other men unbearable and subsequently changed his views on what the Bible teaches (Vines, 29-30). But Long’s unnamed partner in the anecdote is a Catholic convert who presently identifies as being gay and celibate. This man ably answers Vines’ argument that celibacy should always be “freely chosen” and therefore it is wrong to expect all “gay Christians” to refrain from same-sex behavior (Vines, Chapter 3). He writes, “For someone whose desires are oriented toward something that Christians en masse agree is wrong for one reason or another -- say, polygamy, or pedophilia, or objectum sexuality -- is apt to experience the same trials of frustration, loneliness, and misunderstanding that afflict a queer experience.”

Vines and The Old Testament

Many Christians reading this review are bound to think that Vines’ task is hopeless. Isn’t it obvious the Bible condemns same-sex behavior? According to critics like Vines, it’s not because in the ancient world there was no understanding of “heterosexual” and “homosexual” as being unique categories. Instead, it was thought that everyone could at least be attracted to the opposite sex and so same-sex behavior was a sign of weakness or excess. Vines says it is those qualities the Biblical authors were condemning and not same-sex behavior between people who are exclusively attracted to the same sex.[4] Therefore, if Vines can show that the reason the Biblical authors condemned same-sex relationships no longer applies to modern relationships, then the prohibition would no longer be relevant and the act would cease to be a sin.

For example, Vines argues that the prohibition of male intercourse with other men found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 was not grounded in violating the natural complementarity God created between men and women. Instead, such actions “degraded” men by treating them in a way that only women should be treated. Vines then cites Philo, Plutarch, and Clement of Alexandria as evidence that ancient people were more concerned about sex lowering a man’s status to the inferior one held by women then with sexual complementarity, an attitude he calls “deeply misogynistic” (Vines, 87).

He also argues that if Leviticus were about sexual complementarity then why doesn’t it condemn female-female sexual relations? Vines concludes that since we no longer endorse such “patriarchy,” male intercourse can be seen as the loving exchange of equals and not as the degradation of a man to the status of a woman. But I believe Vines has missed the point due to a modern sense of political correctness. 

For example, saying an adult is being childish does not mean children are bad, sub-human, or detestable. It doesn’t even mean children have less worth than adults. It just means adults are not children and so they shouldn’t act like children. Likewise, ancient writers calling men in the passive role of anal intercourse “effeminate” or “man-women” does not mean women are bad and therefore men shouldn’t be brought down to their level. It just means men aren’t women and so they should not be treated like women by being sexually penetrated.

Regarding the lack of female-female sexual prohibitions in Leviticus 18, this does not prove the text is not about sexual complementarity. That’s because all the prohibitions in Leviticus 18 were written for a male audience. For example, even though women were not explicitly prohibited from engaging in incest, the fact that men were prohibited means the same rules applied to women. The same assumption can be made for male-male and female-female sexual relations.

Vines and the New Testament

The “patriarchy argument” returns in Vines’ treatment of Romans 1:26-27, which is perhaps the most explicit condemnation of same-sex behavior in the Bible. Here Paul speaks of idolaters and how God, “ . . . gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

Vines claims that the “unnatural” intercourse in this passage involved men taking the woman’s passive role in sex and women taking the man’s active role. It had everything to do with ancient patriarchy and nothing to do with either the anatomy of men and women or the body’s natural purpose. But this totally misses the point of the “exchange repetition” in Romans 1.[5] Prior to Romans 1:26 Paul says that Creation shows there’s one true God and the idolaters have no excuse not to worship him (Romans 1:20). But their minds were “darkened” and they exchanged the proper end of their worship, or God, for an improper end, or idols (verses 21-23).

Next, their bodies were “defiled” and they exchanged the proper object of their belief, or “the truth about God,” for “a lie.” This could only happen because they suppressed knowledge of God that becomes obvious when we think about creation. Finally, their passions were “degraded” and women exchanged the natural object of their sexual desires, or men, for women and men did likewise. What all of these exchanges have in common is not failing to adhere to society’s moral norms, but failing to adhere to the natural order seen in creation itself -- whether it’s worship of the creator or sexual relations with the natural partner. Paul even uses the Greek words for “male” and “female” instead of the Greek words for “men” and “women” to no doubt harken back to the creation account in Genesis 1 which describes how God made humans “male and female.”

Vines’ treatment of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10  focuses on the Greek words malakoi and arsenokoitai (the latter of which also appears in plural form in 1 Timothy 1:10), whom Paul says will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Vines argues that these words do not refer to monogamous same-sex relationships or “homosexuals” as some modern translations render the words. Instead, malakoi is ambiguous and could just mean “weak” or “soft” while arsenokoitai refers to some kind of sexual exploitation or pederasty (sex with post-pubescent children). But if that’s the case then why doesn’t Paul just use the Greek word for pederasty (or paiderastes)?

Keep in mind that before he condemns the malakoi and arsenokoitai for their persistence in sin, Paul condemns idolaters and adulterers and then he condemns thieves and greedy people. Adultery and idolatry are often associated in the Bible and thievery and greed certainly go together. This makes it likely that arsenokoitai goes hand-in-hand with malakoi. The fact that arsenokoitai matches the Greek words in the Septuagint’s translation of Leviticus 20:13 is unmistakable. The word breaks down to “arseno” (or “male”) and koite (or “bed”) and literally means “man-bedder.”

Paul is saying that at one point some Corinthians practiced the active and passive roles in same-sex behavior but, as verse 11 says, “this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” As the Catholic apostolate Courage shows, just because certain people once engaged in same-sex behavior that is no barrier to them being sanctified by the grace of God. God loves them and us and wants everyone to understand their true identities not as being “gay” or “straight,” but as being sons and daughters of the Most High.

Finally, when interpreting these passages it’s important to have the Bible’s whole context in mind and that’s why the affirmation of male-female sexual pairing in both Genesis 2 and Matthew 19 cannot be ignored. The Bible never portrays same-sex relationships in a positive light but it does portray opposite sex relationships in that way. Vines’ answer to this is to say that the description of man and woman coming together as “one flesh” relates to a very close emotional union and not to anything intrinsic to men and women (Vines, 146).  

But this misses the point that when men and women have vaginal intercourse their body parts work together as an organically ordered whole to accomplish a purpose that cannot be achieved if the two were separate – the creation of new human life. The two retain their identities just as a patient who receives a heart transplant retains his unique DNA, but in both cases two sets of DNA become one in function. No other merging of body parts can accomplish this organically ordered “one flesh” union. (See the book What is Marriage for a good treatment of this idea).

Conclusion

After reading this book I get the feeling that if you are committed to the moral permissibly of a certain behavior, then there’s an abundance of ways to justify it in the same vein as the arguments in this book. For example a person could say,

“There isn’t anything necessarily unbiblical about “swinging” or sharing your spouse with someone else. The Biblical authors only condemned adultery that involved “deception” or “taking another person’s property.” St. Paul would have had no concept of the modern notion of swinging and would not have condemned “loving, equal adult relationships.” Do you even know the complicated history of the Greek word for adultery (or moicheia) and its inherent ambiguity? (Insert scholars who’ve “seen the light” after a recent divorce and now defend Christian “swinging”)

Overall I do commend the book for skillfully compiling much of the recent scholarship on this issue so that readers can easily see the arguments for this position. There’s a lot here I did not have the space to address so if you want to see how the other side might respond in full, then I recommend Robert Gagnon’s book The Bible and Homosexual Practice.[6]

 


[1] CCC 2357, “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

[2] I think Vines’ treatment of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is mistaken, but that passage is not very helpful in determining the Bible’s views on same-sex behavior so I won’t address it here.

[3] The study says, “We dichotomized item responses because, at this point in the research program, it is unclear whether the frequencies of different rejecting reactions are equivalent with respect to potential health impact. For example, are multiple acts of exclusion from family activities equivalent to multiple disparaging comments made by the family about LGB persons? We plan to address these questions in subsequent analyses.

[4] This creates a dilemma for Vines when it comes to people who identify as bi-sexual. If they can be satisfied by the opposite sex, then does the Bible condemn their “excessive” relationships with the same-sex? I think Vines would say that as long as they are monogamous with the same-sex, bi-sexual people are not sinning, at least judging from an endnote he wrote on page 206 of his book.

[5] Vines seems to be aware of such an argument but pivots to an explanation from Brownson in response to it that I did not find compelling (Vines, 204-205). It’s too short of an excerpt to analyze here so I will wait until I look at Brownson’s book in full.

[6] Even though Vines says Jim Brownson’s recent book has refuted Gagnon I’ll wait to make my own judgment in a future review of Brownson.

 


Ever since he converted to Catholicism at the age of seventeen, Trent Horn has had a passion for explaining and defending the Faith. After earning a degree in history from Arizona State University, Trent traveled the country training pro-life advocates on college campuses to engage opponents in...

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  AJ Boggs - Buena Vista, Virginia

Excellent critique of some bad arguments from Vines. As with most non-celibate gay "Christians", Vines' arguments seem to be based on personal feelings and an appeal to his own desires rather than natural law, scripture, or humble love. We are called to be pure of heart (Matt. 5:8). To the Catholic, this is clear; any form of sex that removes the openness to new life is impure, and we strive to love like children do, not slaves of carnal desires. As the gay celibate rightly pointed out, if it is unfair to expect gays to be celibate, it is also unfair to expect pedophiles, zoophiles, and any other group to remain celibate as well. They experience the same "loneliness"; why then are gays exempted from this cross? That argument is also just silly and rather shallow. It's as if sex is like this all-important thing that all humans need to personally survive and be happy. Again, this is patently false. He'll also have to take these arguments up with Jesus, who says in Matthew 19:11-12:

But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”

There's also 1 Corinthians 7:32-35:

"But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction."

Finally, Revelation 14:4 states:

These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

Not only is celibacy good, it's actually righteously superior to the married state! As Paul points out, he who marries the virgin woman does good, he who doesn't marry does better (1 Corinthians 7:38). Vines is apparently unable to accept this teaching.

May 16, 2014 at 8:11 am PST
#2  Usulor Kenneth - Lagos, Lagos

As far as the Sacred Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition are concerned, there is no justification, whatsoever, for same-sex relationship (homosexuality) and other perversions related to it. Vines and men like him simply want to put words in the mouth of God or rather never want to abide by the plain words of God. Natural law is even sufficient enough to establish the perverseness and the unacceptability of same-sex relationship and all its allied sins. Those who search the Scripture to justify it are prizing their emotions, whims and convenience above the will and commandment of God. Against this vice the Holy Ghost warns: Go not after thy lusts, but turn away from thy own will. If thou give to thy soul her desires, she will make thee a joy to thy enemies. Ecclus. 18:30-31

May 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm PST
#3  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

When evil becomes good, and good becomes evil, there is a major problem. This is what is happening in our society. The new normal is the acceptance of divorce, drugs, abortion, homosexuality, and other lewd behavior. Such things become less of a shock to each new generation, they grow up thinking such things are normal behavior, so much so that even some so called Christians accept these acts that are against the will of God. We will not have to wait on the wrath of God to destroy this once great nation, man is doing it on its own!

People need to learn lust isn't love, and temptations are not free passes to act out irrational behaviors.

May 19, 2014 at 1:59 am PST
#4  Marty Goforth - Davidson, North Carolina

Scripture can be twisted to justify absolutely anything at all. Case in point, there are thousands of independent Protestant offshoot denominations with often mutually-exclusive beliefs...they can't all be true since there is only One God and He is unchanging. But each claims that their teachings are the only correct interpretations.

Likewise Catholics and those who challenge any Catholic teaching, such as the sinfulness of homosexual actions, will each claim to have Scripture on their side. What's a person to do?

I choose to put my faith on the side of the original Church, founded by Christ, nurtured by the Apostles, guided by the Popes. They've done all the hard work for me by studying and debating these issues for 2000 years. All I have to do is follow. :)

May 19, 2014 at 7:07 am PST
#5  Michael Murphy - San Carlos, California

I remain constantly amazed at how much time and effort that Catholic Answers, both in its print media and on the radio, put into discussing and condemning homosexuality, making sure we all know homosexuality is WRONG. It appears to be treated as THE great sin (even though I don't recall Jesus spending much time on it), the perversion that represents all that is wrong with our culture today. It's such a copout.

The vast majority of us are not homosexual, so condemning homosexual behavior is an easy thing for the vast majority of us to do. We're allowed to be morally superior, instruct OTHER people on how God wants THEM to be (while demanding nothing of ourselves), all the while feeling we have the moral high ground. We'll ignore the fact that, throughout history, as well as today, homosexuals have been harassed, mistreated, excluded, even killed. We'll ignore the fact that constantly talking about it is extraordinarily painful to homosexuals and their families, while at the same time feeding into the prejudices and homophobia of many. Let's just jump on that "condemn homosexuality" bandwagon, though of course we'll say, so caringly and full of consideration and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, that we hate the sin but love the sinner.

Finally, when will we start seeing on this website, or hearing on the radio, more of what the current Pope speaks so passionately about, especially his concern for the poor? Of course, that would require that WE change...economically, politically, morally...our whole world view. It's so much easier if we can instead talk about THEM. You want perversion? Children going to bed hungry, people in the world without clean drinking water, war, violence, etc. Those things are truly perverse. Lest I come off as too "pie in the sky", go to Matt 25 and the Final Judgment. Don't see anything on homosexuality...see a lot on how we should feed and clothe our brothers and sisters.

May 19, 2014 at 7:27 am PST
#6  Victor Sweeney - West Fargo, North Dakota

@Michael: Catholic Answers is primarily an *Apologetics* website, meaning that they are primarily concerned with answering divergent opinions of social issues, defending Catholic belief, and educating. Economic policies and social needs are covered by many, many other websites and Catholic organizations: and done so with an infrastructure to make a difference, I should add.

I don't think Catholic Answers can be faulted for critiquing current issues and spreading the Good News in their own particular and purposeful way.

May 19, 2014 at 9:20 am PST
#7  Michael Murphy - San Carlos, California

Victor....I agree with much of what you say. My issue is the emphasis given to discussing homosexuality on Catholic Answers. Almost everyone knows the Church's position on homosexuality; why is it so often a topic of conversation, especially on the radio show? I find it frustrating and a poor and narrow representation of who we are as Church.

May 19, 2014 at 11:15 am PST
#8  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Michael, It is a topic because our society is making it a topic. I applaud Catholic Answers for bringing up all topics. Maybe if it was an issue that has torn your family apart you would be more understanding. We do need to take care of the poor more I can agree to, but if we can not deal properly with issues of the current culture there will be less in the Church taking care of the poor. Jesus didn't say much about homosexuals because people then didn't flaunt it and men were not kissing men in public, nor were there homosexual unions allowed. Just relax and let Catholic Answers do their job, and let the many charities do their jobs. God bless.

May 19, 2014 at 2:20 pm PST
#9  Michael Murphy - San Carlos, California

Thank you, Christopher. However, I still suggest that perhaps Jesus didn't say much about homosexuality because He was more worried that we should all focus on being more loving and caring towards those around us who need help. He also never seemed real big on people pointing out OTHER people's perceived failings.

I have a gay brother-in-law. He doesn't "flaunt" it, though he has suffered a great deal as he's tried to deal with his sexual orientation. Especially when he was younger, people were very cruel. It hasn't helped that the Church, especially prior to Pope Francis, seemed so fixated on this particular sexual sin (as opposed to the many that we non-homosexuals might commit.) It also hasn't torn my family apart. We love him, and he knows it. He know the church's teachings. I figure it's now between him and God.

My point has been that I'm not sure why the emphasis on Church teachings concerning homosexuality in some Catholic circles, including here...that's been my focus in these posts. I'm not saying the Church is wrong. However, it's not like there are a whole lot of people out there, trying to decide whether or not to become homosexual and we need to convince them to stay heterosexual. It's not like people don't know the Church's position. So why so much energy in condemning the sin of homosexuality? If we're going to focus on right/wrong, good/bad, saying "don't do this" and "don't do that", then let start talking about other sins that are committed by so many of us.

Now, I'll relax! : )

May 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm PST
#10  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

Michael,

I had to put down my laptop and give you a standing applause! Thank you so much for articulating a feeling I've had so often of late in such wonderful detail. There is nothing as consistently frustrating as when our Catholic media and American Church leaders consistently make our enormous Church--with all its works and love--seem so incredibly small.

Please continue to speak up. You have fans out here.

May 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm PST
#11  Eric Vanderburg - Yukon, Oklahoma

"However, I still suggest that perhaps Jesus didn't say much about homosexuality because He was more worried that we should all focus on being more loving and caring towards those around us who need help"

I understand where you're coming from here, but there are many things we can point to that Jesus didn't directly address that are still sinful. I'd provide a list, but I think you get where I'm coming from.

"He also never seemed real big on people pointing out OTHER people's perceived failings."

We're not talking about "perceived" failings here. Are we? You are a Catholic right? Now, you seem quite willing to point out the "perceived" failings of Catholic answers. I don't know how to perceive your posts thus far other than highly hypocritical.

"It hasn't helped that the Church, especially prior to Pope Francis, seemed so fixated on this particular sexual sin (as opposed to the many that we non-homosexuals might commit.)"

It might surprise you, but having read much of St. JP II and Pope Benedict's XVI's works, they address many of the sexual immoralities I'm assuming you're alluding to. I'd also suggest you read some of Pope Francis's earlier statements on the issue when he was a Cardinal. He stated on a Argentinean bill to recognize same-sex marriage...

"In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

he then stated....

“Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

oh, and then....

“today the country, in this particular situation, needs the special assistance of the Holy Spirit to bring the light of truth on to the darkness of error, it need this advocate to defend us from being enchanted by many fallacies that are tried at all costs to justify this bill and to confuse and deceive the people of good will.”

I'd say Pope Francis's comments as a Cardinal are far more harsh than anything in CA's most recent article. You then wrote...

"We love him, and he knows it. He know the church's teachings. I figure it's now between him and God."

Tell me a situation where this cop-out couldn't be used? I have an atheist friend. I shouldn't evangelize him, that's between him and God.

"However, it's not like there are a whole lot of people out there, trying to decide whether or not to become homosexual and we need to convince them to stay heterosexual."

It's not like anyone here is arguing that point. Being an alcoholic isn't wrong. I'm one myself. When I indulge in alcohol to get wasted, it's sinful. Even when I refrain from drinking, believe you me, I'm still an alcoholic. I just choose a different way of living. The craving for alcohol is still there. That's not sinful in itself.

"So why so much energy in condemning the sin of homosexuality? If we're going to focus on right/wrong, good/bad, saying "don't do this" and "don't do that", then let start talking about other sins that are committed by so many of us."

Seriously? Listen, you live in the same secular environment as I do. If you're trying to pretend that you don't understand why CA's is posting these articles, then you are being dishonest Michael. You know why. Knock off all the holier than though ignorance please. Let's get to the heart of the issue. I'm asking you straight up, are homosexual sex acts sinful?

May 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm PST
#12  Tom Diebold - Shelby, Michigan

Michael,

Your comment reminds me of the recent contention, taken in part from a misrepresentation of something that Pope Francis said, that the Church is "obsessed" with homosexuality. The reality is that it is those who are pushing for the normalization of homosexuality, and the legalization of same-sex marriage, that are obsessed. We are merely responding to their obsession.

The Church, and many Catholics, are responding to the continuous campaign to normalize homosexuality and the unprecedented determination to radically change the definition of marriage. The secular culture, including much of the entertainment industry, is advocating, if not actively pushing for, these changes. The "establishment" media, almost in its entirety, is an open advocate for these changes. There is, literally, no other public source of dissent than the Church, and the voices of individual Catholics and other Christians.

Many young people have never even been thoughtfully exposed to a competing point of view, they have never thought through the breadth of considerations on this issue; they have been constantly exposed, over a prolonged period of time, only to a one-sided portrayal of the issue. When many of them are exposed to the idea of a competing point of view, how do they often respond? Not intellectually, but emotionally, as they have been taught to respond. This makes serious consideration of dissenting views almost impossible.

The homosexualists, and their allies in the culture and the media, would like nothing better than for those who think differently to remain silent or to hesitate to respond to their incessant and strident voice in the culture and the media. Then the totality of the one-sidedness of the issue would be complete.

We did not choose this, it was imposed on us.

May 19, 2014 at 6:21 pm PST
#13  Eric Vanderburg - Yukon, Oklahoma

Also, I'd like to list the previous article posted here on catholic.com.

It's Not All About You-May 14

Evangelizing Mormons-May 8

Wedding Season Blues-May 7

Athanasius Contra Mundum: The Courage to Act Alone-May 5

Waterboarding Reconsidered-May 3

Seven Proofs for the Natural Immortality of the Human Soul-May 2

Did Thomas Think Jesus Was God?-May 2

What About Waterboarding?-May 1

Catholic Answers’ Jimmy Akin: "Time to Cut Through the Confusion About Pope Francis"-April 30

How to Stay Catholic-April 30

How St. Catherine Brought the Pope Back to Rome-April 29

Protestantism's Missing Saints-April 28

How Jesus Became God: A Critical Review-April 25

Everyone's a Critic-April 23

These Nonbiblical Movies Have to Stop!-April 16

The Real Story of the Fourth Crusade-April 15

Pastor Claims ‘Blood Moons’ a Sign of Things to Come-April 14

Are There Souls in Hell Right Now?-April 11

Why Catholicism Is Preferable to Protestantism-April 10

Catholic Answers Prepares Faithful to Confront Assaults on Church-April 7

The Holy Spirit is God-April 4

Harden Not Your Hearts-April 2

Is Confession in Scripture?-March 28

Defending Public Abortion Images (Part 1)-March 27

Did the Apostle Paul Worship a Space Ghost?-March 23

Apostles Who Weren't Part of the Twelve?-March 21

The Protestant Achilles' Heel-March 21

Reflections on the Latest Big Bang Discovery-March 20

Don't Believe the (Divorce-and-Remarriage) Hype-March 20

The Church Scandalous-March 19

Release the Lion-March 18

AND FINALLY

Did Christianity Give Us Gay Marriage?-March 17

May 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm PST
#14  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Michael, so you think a couple articles condeming homosexuality is too much? If it bothers you don't read it. Maybe it's just me but it seems like you are trying to excuse this destructive and immoral behavior as though it is not relevant or important. Romans 1:21 makes perfectly clear what our Lord thinks about it. I've seen it rip families families apart and people lose their faith over it. You won't get any applause from me. Each and everyone of us were made in the image of Christ and I can assure you Christ was no homosexual! It is a nasty perversion plain and simple, it is lust and the sex act that comes with it is unatural and completley opposite of the way God designed us. The liberal secular media wants to sugarcoat it as harmless and acceptable, that is a lie! I don't know about your Church but my Church takes up second collections all the time and discusses love and charity at almost ery Mass. NOT ONCE IN MY LIFETIME (47 years)HAVE I HEARD ONE PRIEST GIVE A HOMILY ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY.

May 19, 2014 at 8:55 pm PST
#15  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

No, no one is excusing anything... It's just a matter of emphasis. If you listen to Catholic Answers Live, and other shows hosted by some of these apologists, and read this site often, and visit other Catholic blogs, the amount of gay-related discussion is simply overwhelming the many other serious and urgent matters related to our faith. For example, how can we best convince those with plenty to give to this with little, using the Gospel as our guide? That, to me, is one of the more basic questions of leading a Christian life, and yet I've never once heard it mentioned in outlets such as these.

May 20, 2014 at 11:28 am PST
#16  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

And also, you make a great point about these issues not coming up much at mass... Probably because they have little to do with the Gospel of Jesus!

May 20, 2014 at 11:29 am PST
#17  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

So sermons on avoiding sin has nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus. OK, that's a new one on me.

May 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm PST
#18  Mark Yebra - Everett, Washington

To Michael Murphy:

It has been pointed out that Catholic Answers is a Catholic Apologetics Apostolate. "Apologetics" came from the Greek “apologia” which means “systematic defense” so one could expect Catholic Answers to be a forum for the systematic defense of Catholic teachings.

This brings an issue of intent, target audience and content of material. For example, the content of the materials here in Catholic answers mostly involves responses (i.e. Answers) to things being propagated in the wider culture. The target audiences are readers of the website, usually those trying to find answers to questions about the Catholic faith. It just so happens that, in this article, Trent Horn is responding to a book written on the topic of the acceptance of homosexuality in Christianity. His intent is to critique the contents of the book and his target audience is those who would be seeking the Catholic perspective.

You mentioned “He [your relative] know the church's teachings. I figure it's now between him and God.”
Couldn’t you apply the statement to every failing as being only between “him and God,” so therefore a Catholic Apologist should be silent on the issue? How about the issue of divorce and remarriage? How about fornication? How about torture? How about simony? How about sloth? Catholic Answers have answered questions about these in the past.

If you are concerned about the seeming over-emphasis, let’s consider again what is happening in the wider culture. Catholic Answers Live (the radio show) responds to current events and questions from callers. Do you think that when faced with such question it is more prudent for them to say: “That issue of homosexuality is between that person and God. Therefore, I should not talk about it.” And if there is a book that says homosexual acts are OK, apologists should say, “This is something between them and God. I cannot say anything about this.”

Since there is clear Catholic teaching on this issue, I think it’s more prudent that they should do what they do and answer the questions and discuss the topics as they arise with solid foundation on the teachings of the Church, “the pillar and foundation of truth.”

I suggest that if you are getting tired from Catholic Answers from fielding “Catholic answers” about homosexuality, then you should spend efforts in keeping people (and the culture) from fielding questions about it. You wouldn’t want to do that, would you?

May 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm PST
#19  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

Avoiding sin, yes, not one specific sin out of millions time and time and time and time again as if there is no other evil in the world...

May 21, 2014 at 10:14 pm PST
#20  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

But as Michael pointed out, homosexuality is an easy target. In America, sin abounds in every section of society--particularly greed, sloth, and violence--yet these sins cross political boundaries and are difficult to explain. Why think too hard when we can point at homosexuals and scream, "sinner," as if Jesus didn't die for all our sins, but only some.

So how about it, Catholic Answers? Up to the challenge?

May 22, 2014 at 11:33 am PST
#21  Daniel Marcum - Mansfield, Ohio

Jeremiah said...
Avoiding sin, yes, not one specific sin out of millions time and time and time and time again as if there is no other evil in the world...

I'm looking through the radio calendar, and it looks like there are about 6 shows per page. There are nine pages of shows on the "browse shows" page, which makes roughly 54 radio shows that they've done since April. Of those, precisely two are about homosexuality, and homosexuality is a major topic in our culture.

Post #13 showed that the blog has discussed this topic precisely two times since March. Combining these two objective analyses, don't you see why we think that Catholic Answers hasn't been focusing on this topic like you say?

I imagine it comes up a lot on the call-in shows. But that isn't their fault. What are they supposed to do? Imagine you were listening to Catholic Answers Live, and a caller called in to ask about homosexuality, and they answered, "Um, sorry, but our listeners ask about that question too much, so we're going to have to hang up on you without answering." Is that really what you want?

May 24, 2014 at 9:37 am PST
#22  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Sure there are many sins that come up often, the difference is that no one is making excuses for those sins. All sins can be forgiven but to push homosexuality as normal when it is not is harmful, especially for the youth who are trying to discern right from wrong. Homosexuality destroys families, marriages, friendships, spreads disease and is a lust forbidden by God.

May 24, 2014 at 7:28 pm PST
#23  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

Wow... that deserves a big LOL!

Homosexuality is the only sin excuses are made for in our culture? I want you to think real hard about the outright lunacy of such a statement, come up with a few other examples, and then let's debate some more.

May 25, 2014 at 10:20 am PST
#24  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

What's Chastity?

May 26, 2014 at 4:01 am PST
#25  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

So Jeremiah, you think when families are devestated or destroyed by sin it deserves an lol? I have witnessed a son tell his father he hates him because his father refuses to accept the sin. There is nothing laughable about that is there? There is no debate when it comes to sin, you either accept it and hold hands with Satan, or you reject it and hold hands with Christ, even if it means losing friends or family members. You are either with the ways of the world or you are with the ways of Christ. For me and my household we will serve the Lord, that means doing our best to reject all sin, especially those that are doing the most harm to our family.

May 26, 2014 at 8:28 pm PST
#26  David Kole - PURCELLVILLE, Virginia

The Bible tells us, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . .". I wonder if Matthew Vines being a Christian believes in the Trinity? I imagine he does. I would ask him why the Trinity is 3 persons in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He may say it is a mystery. . . but since God made us in His image (3 persons), after His likeness (again 3 persons) it is clear that God is not one person alone if God is Love, since God would then be a narcissist if he is just one person and is also Love. God being 3 persons is the lover, the loved and the love between them (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Since God says we are made in 'our image' (Trinity), we reflect the Trinity as man (Father), woman (Son) and the love between us after the sacrament of marriage (the baby born out of Love between the man and woman). The baby is a new soul created by God with the cooperation and love between the man and woman. God defined this image, not us or this world. Jesus said in Matthew 19:5-6 that man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife as one flesh. One flesh, 2 persons, then the love between them creating the 3rd person. God's definition is truly man and woman, not man and man or woman and woman, which can never reflect the Trinity with life giving love creating a new soul.

May 28, 2014 at 5:39 pm PST
#27  Uriel Mumford - Sunnyvale, California

Unfortunately.

I must disagree,
It is humankind Mankind that decided that vines was incorrect not god.

"All man were created equal" being gay or lesbian can not be a sin for something to be a sin it must be a choice unbeknownst to most Catholics Being gay is NOT a choice nowhere in the bible does it say that gays are sinful it is NOT a ten comandment.

It's not a sin therefore no catholic who is gay will go to hell as it a interpretation not FACT. That gays will be condemned it does not say anywhere specifically and obviously that gays are sinners this is all false. ALSO. Jesus Christ once said "those without sin cast the first stone". You are all hypocrites.

May 29, 2014 at 7:16 pm PST
#28  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

1 Corinthians 6

May 31, 2014 at 4:52 am PST
#29  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

I'm a gay Christian-Catholic. I am struggling with this aspect of my life. I want to experience love but my religion does not embrace it. The Church teaches that being gay is not sinful in itself but having gay sex is. It also teaches that people are to remain celibate until marriage. Gays can't get married in the Church. There's very few options for people like myself. I either remained celibate all my life, this is affecting my psychological and emotional well being. Or I begin a same-sex religion and go against my religion. I don't want to go against my religion. I have prayed countless of times for God to "change" this desire. I doubt I will ever become straight. I also fear going against God. Please pray for me.

June 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm PST
#30  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

Josh,

I welcome you to this discussion with the most open arms. I hope you know you are a Christian brother to all those who post here, even those who won't embrace you as such. None of us are without sin, and surely most of us are burdened with much heavier sin than the attractions you feel. Whomever does not acknowledge this to you is a hypocrite and a liar. Please be welcome to post here and speak your mind on all Christian media outlets; your voice will be so healing for so many.

With great love and brotherhood!

- Jeremiah

June 4, 2014 at 11:50 pm PST
#31  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

Josh,

I welcome you to this discussion with the most open arms. I hope you know you are a Christian brother to all those who post here, even those who won't embrace you as such. None of us are without sin, and surely most of us are burdened with much heavier sin than the attractions you feel. Whomever does not acknowledge this to you is a hypocrite and a liar. Please be welcome to post here and speak your mind on all Christian media outlets; your voice will be so healing for so many.

With great love and brotherhood!

- Jeremiah

June 4, 2014 at 11:50 pm PST
#32  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

No, Christopher, what deserved the LOL was this quote of yours, as I clearly stated...

"Sure there are many sins that come up often, the difference is that no one is making excuses for those sins."

I want you to think real hard about that, come up with some other examples, and then get back to me so we can have a conversation based in reality.

June 5, 2014 at 11:08 am PST
#33  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

My prayers are with you Josh. There is nothing wrong with celibacy, Christ and St. Paul were fine examples of that. There will be many who tell you "do whatever you want, do whatever makes you feel good." Beware of those who cause scandal. I pray your conscience will follow Church teachings regardless of how difficult it may be. Often times I am told the same, to do whatever I want, by those who disregard the Church's teachings on the use of birth control and NFP. God bless you and never feel like you are not welcome in Church, because you always will be, but don't expect the Church to ever change Her teachings to revolve around the laity. And those of us who see homosexuality as a sin are not haters or bigots the way we are made out to be, we simply are trying to follow the Churches teachings on such matters. We are all sinners, that's why we need the Church.

June 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm PST
#34  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

To express Christian love, we must first know the difference between what is good and what is bad for us as human beings and then share that knowledge with others for everyone’s good. Paul expressed this when he wrote, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9).

God loves you. Believe in Him, and pray. The Catholic Church will guide you into all truths.

Let Jesus Christ be our highest inspiration.

All may achieve a blessed life through continence, charity, and chastity, and
through celibacy [if in life, women, which is to be loved and which is to become finally the part of us, through God's sacrament of marriage, has not yet arrived. But still believe she will come, our hope is in God].
Let this Living and Holy Instrument and Divine Institution, the Body of Christ help you.

Pray the Holy Rosary and dwell on the mysteries.. this is a powerful tool of many miracles.

Also, see Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. She is the role model of modesty, and the role model of chastity. Even though she was married, she continued to be in chastity and in modesty. Our mother, will always give her help to us.

May God bless us and bring us to charity and truth.
May the Peace and Love of Christ be with us always.

June 6, 2014 at 6:11 am PST
#35  Ged Narvaez - Daraga, Albay

*(Comment to self) Brother this is in more reference to our ordinary life. Let us be obedient to God, to the Catholic Church, and to the Priests, as Christ representatives. And let us also go to His Mass, and receive the Holy Eucharist, our source of nourishment for a healthy and spiritual life.
Love brings truth.

May God bless us. =)
Pax Christi

June 6, 2014 at 6:30 am PST
#36  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

Christopher, any thought in clarifying the quote of yours I pointed out before? Is homosexuality really the only sin excuses are made for in society? Or are you just really fixated on it?

June 6, 2014 at 10:59 am PST
#37  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Jeremiah, what do you not understand? How much simpler can it get? There are those who tell us it is OK to sin, they make excuses for their own sins and/or for others. For example...abortion. Although the Church teaches all abortion is murder and sinful, there are many who will justify it if there is rape or incest involved. The reality I was trying to convey is that no matter what sin the Church teaches against, there are those who will justify the sin by putting their own reasoning over that of Church. Now do you get it?

June 6, 2014 at 11:00 am PST
#38  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

"Sure there are many sins that come up often, the difference is that no one is making excuses for those sins."

Do you take this back then? Otherwise, you're not making much sense.

Furthermore, are their non-sexual sins that society makes excuses for? And do you care about those with as much attention as the sexual sins?

June 6, 2014 at 11:13 am PST
#39  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Jeremiah, I have never been fixated on any sin in particular. I see them as all the same, all are against the will of God and can harm our relationship with Him. Not sure why you would think I am fixated on this particular topic when I blog about everything. Let us act with love and charity, and I am sorry if it offends you that I see homosexuality as a sin, that is what my faith proclaims and what I must hold as truth. God bless, and hope you are having a good day.

June 6, 2014 at 11:15 am PST
#40  Jeremiah Wingerden - New Paltz, New York

I also hold the Church's teaching to be true. But when you say things like you did in the above quote (which you repeatedly refuse to acknowledge now that it's been pointed out to you) it makes us all look a little foolish. Please take care not to hold sexual sins above the rest in your words from now on.

God bless, and I hope you are having a great day as well.

June 6, 2014 at 11:21 am PST
#41  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

I acknowledge everything I said, and would say the exact same thing all over again, you just took it the wrong way and seemed to get the impression I was holding sexual sins above the rest. Nothing I said implies that at all. I did make clear that homosexuality can be a devastating sin with many consequences, but it no way did I place it above or below any other sin. I was speaking as a witness to such destruction, a father who loves his son so very much, but adheres to Church teachings, meanwhile the son tells his father he hates him because he refuses to accept his lifestyle choices. The son leaves the Church, and because the Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin, the son no longer accepts Christ or any of His teachings. Therefore a family has been torn apart and a soul is in jeopardy. I guess that's the reason why what seems as no big deal for some can be a bigger deal to others.

June 6, 2014 at 2:59 pm PST
#42  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

Isn't the redefinition of marriage a result of the degradation of sex? Culture has changed sex is not exclusively an act for married people anymore. In the same manner culture now insists that marriage is a right for everyone.

June 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm PST
#43  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Josh, you are very correct in what you say. The secular world (the world that does not acknowledge the teachings of Christ) is a world void of sacrifice and love. Real love is replaced by lust and what ever feels good to each individual is their doctrine. Thank you for your post and telling it like it is.

June 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm PST
#44  Michael Rogala - Chicago, Illinois

Well, Trent, me lad, the likely reason that the book doesn't mention Natural Law is that except for the staunchest of Roman Catholics, it has very little credence.

Equivocating on the word "rejection" is just plain stupid. You haven't done much research or been party to having to counsel those with "coming out issues" or guilt imposed by religious fundamentalists . . . among them, I'm sorry to say are some Catholics.

Now look what you started . . . confusion among the faithful . . .You have AJ Boggs "proof-texting" a fundagelical way of using Scripture to prove anything you can imagine; Goforth, who thinks all he has to do is follow cause all the work has been done for him . . . and it goes on from there.

Vine's book is not very good to be quite honest. Either in sentiment from someone who is gay or as a gay apologetic. That you commend Vine's scholarship, Trent, says more about your own then Vine's. NOT a good thing.

For those struggling with this issue . . . I recommend James Nelson's seminal work entitled "Embodiment". It is scholarly, well-written, and very, very readable for lay-person and scholar alike.

The fact is that per se as we know it, Scripture has nil to little to say about "homosexuality" . . . even about homosexuality that was culturally sanctioned by certain civilizations in those days. One has to give some understanding to the Aristotelian concept of proper "natures" to help in understanding the New Testament mention of homosexuality.

Painting with a broad brush . . . the "sin" is in the flagrant using of another human being contrary to one's nature.

August 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm PST

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