In his book God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines wrongly suggests that the view that same-sex relations are sinful is a bad tree bearing the bad fruit of hurt feelings in the lives of people dealing with same sex attraction. He bases this argument on a misreading of Matthew 7:15–20, and on his bad exegesis he builds a bad argument: Vines urges people to use “an experience-based test” to prove that this fruit is bad.
The bad argument about experience based tests based on the misunderstanding of Jesus goes as follows:
Vines claims that “the earliest Christians used a similar, experience-based test when making what was one of the most important decisions in church history: whether to include Gentiles in the church without forcing them to be circumcised and obey other particulars of the Old Testament law” (15).
The fundamental difference, however, between the kind of “experience-based test” the early church used and the one Vines wants people to use makes this an example of the logical fallacy of a false analogy. Bad exegesis supported by logical fallacies don’t make for good arguments, but this is all Vines can do to support his case that the “bad view” produces “bad fruit.”
What happened in Acts 10, 11, and 15 can hardly be called an “experience-based test” at all. No one was consulting the feelings of Gentiles. No one asked those under pressure to be circumcised how the Judaizers were making them feel.
What was “experienced” was something that God did: God gave the Spirit to the Gentiles apart from circumcision (Acts 10:44–45; 11:15–18; 15:5–11).
The important thing in Acts is what God did not how anyone felt.
This is very different from the “experience-based test” Vines advocates. He encourages those who would advocate his position to “bring the focus back to the people affected by the church’s stance” (179–180). Vines is unwilling to acknowledge that “the church’s stance” only reflects what God has commanded. Vines argues: “If someone is convinced that same-sex relationships are sinful, encourage them to consider what the viewpoint means for gay Christians” (180).
Would we respond to a thief, an adulterer, a drunkard, a swindler, or a liar this way?
What God’s commands mean to all sinners is the same: they can repent and be delivered from the consequences of their sins by what Christ has done on the cross, or they can choose to remain in their sin and face the wrath of God.
You will have to choose between Jesus and your sin. If you choose your sin, the Bible’s condemnation of that sin is not at fault.
For a more detailed response to Vines, see the e-book edited by R. Albert Mohler Jr., with contributions from Heath Lambert, Owen Strachan, Denny Burk, and yours truly: God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines.