The new book by Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (you read that oxymoron right) releases today, and simultaneous with its release comes a book conceived and edited by R. Albert Mohler Jr., God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines.
Dr. Mohler wrote the introduction, I had the privilege of responding to the way Matthew Vines attacks the Old Testament, Denny Burk to his attempt to explain away the New Testament, Owen Strachan to his misuse of church history, and Heath Lambert gives the lie to what Vines says about sexual orientation. As my remit in the e-book was the OT, I must comment on what he does with the NT here.
Matthew Vines has failed to understand the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:15–20.
The first chapter of God and the Gay Christian is entitled “A Tree and its Fruit” (5–21) and here Vines quotes Matthew 7:15–20 (15). He is mistaken both in his understanding of the text and in the use he makes of it.
Vines passes over the fact that Jesus is talking about people—false prophets—when he uses the tree metaphor (Matt 7:15). Jesus teaches his followers that false prophets are like trees. Just as you can tell whether you are dealing with a good or bad tree from the fruit it bears, so you can tell whether you are dealing with a true prophet or a false prophet by the fruit he bears, by what he says and does (7:15–19). So when Jesus says, “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (7:20), he means that his followers will be able to discern between true and false prophets.
If we ask how the followers of Jesus are to evaluate what is good or bad fruit, true or false teaching, the answer is simple: the Bible determines what is good and bad, true and false, right and wrong. So we simply ask of the teaching of anyone who would explain the Scriptures: does their message align with the teaching of the Scriptures?
In the repeated appeals that Vines makes to what Jesus says about a tree and its fruit he always treats a view (that all same-sex relations are sinful) as the tree and how that view makes people dealing with same-sex attraction feel as the fruit (cf. 20–21). He writes, “Today, we still are responsible for testing our beliefs in light of their outcomes—a duty in line with Jesus’s teaching about trees and their fruit” (16).
Testing the results of believing the Bible is not the duty enjoined by what Jesus said about trees and fruit. The duty Jesus enjoined is that of recognizing false prophets by the bad fruit they bear, and that bad fruit usually involves trying to lead God’s people into sexual immorality and idolatry.
Vines has subtly assumed the conclusion that embracing his view (that committed same-sex relationships are not condemned by the Bible) would bear good fruit.
Ironically, the very text that Vines appeals to speaks against his whole project. The Bible has identified what Matthew Vines tries to accomplish through his book as “bad fruit.” A tree (a person) who bears bad fruit is a person who transgresses God’s commands and advocates that others do the same. This is exactly what Matthew Vines is about, doing exactly what Jesus warned his followers against in Matthew 7:15–20, and by doing this Vines sets himself up to experience what Jesus describes in Matthew 7:21–23,
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord . . .” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
What does it mean to be the kind of “worker of lawlessness” Jesus says he will dismiss from his presence? Doing lawlessness is doing what God says not to do! To break God’s commands in the Bible is to work lawlessness. To advocate that others are free to do what God forbids in the Bible is to work lawlessness. To claim that affirming and supporting workers of lawlessness “is indeed a requirement of Christian faithfulness” (183, emphasis original) is to work lawlessness.
The Bible teaches that those who work lawlessness will feel guilt, shame, and fear.
The Bible teaches that those who would escape the guilt, fear, and shame that results from their sin must repudiate their sin and trust in Jesus, whose death on the cross paid the penalty for sin.
Those who repent of sin and trust in Christ then find their identity not in their sin but in Christ.
Jesus is everything to them.
Any time guilt, fear, or shame for past failures and sins returns, followers of Jesus look to the glory and purity and sufficiency and love of Jesus to find refuge and relief.
Followers of Jesus do not argue that what the Bible forbids as sinful behavior should be endorsed as righteous conduct by the people of God.
I pray that Matthew Vines will repent.
Matthew Vines, if you are reading this, I plead with you to repent. The wrath of God stands over you. Please turn from your sin.
More reasons you should repent of your sin are set forth in God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines.