Gay and Lesbian theology

god and the gay christian

God and the Gay Christian
Matthew Vines
Published by Convergent Books
ISBN 9781601425188

 

This is one of the best introductions to gay theology that I have come across. It is written by Matthew Vines, the founder of the Reformation Project.
He writes it in a style where his intended audience is his father, who is a conservative evangelical, and other evangelicals like him. This sets the tone for the book, which is very Bible based. His approach is that gay Christians have not abandoned the Bible, but instead have studied it more deeply and looked at the history and culture behind the scriptures, to get a richer understanding of the Bible.
This approach allows him to explore the ‘difficult’ Bible passages and look at other arguments such as celibacy, bad fruit and the way that churches have changed their interpretation of certain passages over time.
He has researched the material well and discusses each of the ‘difficult’ passages, looking at who they were aimed at, the culture in which these passages were written and some of the problems of translating obscure Greek and Hebrew words and phrases. Translation problems mean that the exact meaning of some of these passages cannot be known for certain. His explanations are clear and very well put together.
The weakest argument is the excess passion explanation he uses for some male same sex sexual activity. In this explanation, the prohibition is against ‘straight’ men who have sexual relationships with their wives and also with men. Having sexual relations with men and women, shows an excess of passion and this excess is what necessitates the prohibition. His argument about ‘excess passion’ has been criticised by bisexuals, who argue that sexual relations with men and women describe bisexual behaviour.
This book is about gay theology as it has little to say about women. Even the discussion of Romans 1.26 is seen through the wider discussion of nature, shame and exchange. This means that the scope is limited to the perspective of gay men, but it is a book with significant depth.
I recommend this book to people who want a book to start learning more about sexuality and the Bible. It is not the last word on the subject, but it is a good introduction.

Available to purchase at amazon.co.uk

love lost in translation

 

Love lost in translation
By K Renato Lings
Published by Trafford Publishing
ISBN 9781466987906

 

This is a very impressive book. It considers the translation of various ‘difficult’ bible verses and passages, such as Leviticus 18.22, Romans 1.26, 27 and Genesis 18 – 19. Not only is Renato Lings able to read the original Hebrew and Greek, but is also able to compare these with the Latin Vulgate translation and the Septuagint. This means that he has the linguistic skills to deconstruct the original text and to look at how some of the difficult material could be translated so that it is comprehensible in modern English and is still true to the text.
For example, his analysis of Leviticus 18.22 shows how the literal translation would be rendered as ‘with (a) male you shall not lie (the) lyings of a woman. (An) abomination (is) that.’ The Hebrew construction ‘lyings of a woman’ is found nowhere else in the Bible and it is not clear what it actually means. The words can be translated, but the meaning of the words is not clear. As Lings points out, it is not an absolute prohibition on a male lying with another male, he just cannot do it in a particular way. The Hebrew word translated ‘lying’ does clearly have a sexual meaning.
He then goes deeper, comparing how different English versions of the Bible have translated the text. Sometimes the various Bible translations are consistent, but sometimes there is great variation in translations. He shows the way that some translators have simply followed pre-existing translation conventions, rather than tackling some of the difficult to translate material for themselves. Some Bible translations are more linguistically accurate than others. Lings then goes even further and looks at what many other authors have thought the text means and how this has influenced translators.
You do not need any knowledge of the Biblical languages to understand this book, everything is explained. This book is the answer to anyone who has ever said ‘The Bible clearly says that…’. This is the definitive book on the translation of the biblical material that is often discussed, sometimes wrongly, in the context of the Bible and homosexuality.
Available to purchase at  amazon.co.uk

 

the possibility of difference

 

The possibility of difference
By Marcus Green
Published by Kevin Mayhew
ISBN 978 1 848679726

 

This is one of a new wave of books appearing recently. These affirming books are by conservative evangelicals who are writing for other conservative evangelicals. This welcome development in publishing shows how the debate has moved on in recent times. The affirming debate has been happening within evangelical circles for a long time, but it has now moved to a debate within conservative evangelicalism.
Marcus Green makes an overarching argument for the possibility of evangelicals holding different views on theological matters. He demonstrates how conservative attitudes on the matter of sexuality are inconsistent with the evangelical way of looking at other important matters. He suggests that what has happened is that a test of orthodoxy has developed, which requires adherence to a particular view. He argues that this test of orthodoxy approach is unbiblical. Here, Green shows one of the strengths of his writing, that he understands the conservative evangelical methodology and language and can write very effectively for his target audience.
He looks at some of the ‘clobber texts’ using an evangelical lens. Many writers have written about these texts, but Green brings something new to the discussion. He examines Romans 1, not just verses 26 and 27, in light of Romans 2 and 3 and also Romans 12. In doing this he shows new insights into the text, that allow for different interpretations. Green does not argue that his interpretation is the only one that is correct, rather he argues that his interpretation is possible and should be considered alongside other interpretations.
Green’s approach to scripture throws up other aspects of the texts. He examines Matthew 8.5 – 13, which tells the story of the centurion who comes to ask Jesus to heal his ‘pais’. Many other writers have approached this story from a translation point of view and argued that the nature of the word ‘pais’ implied an affectionate relationship. Green takes a different approach, by comparing the story with Luke’s version (Luke 7.1 – 10), where a different Greek word is used, meaning ‘slave’. He presents the reader with an ethical choice around whether Jesus would heal someone who was just property or whether Jesus would heal someone who was loved. What were the ethical choices, valuable merchandise or a beloved human being?
The book shows a trajectory of hope through the Bible, showing some of the positive texts. It makes a strong argument that all people are seen as equal in the Bible, so a theology that seeks to exclude any category of people from salvation is flawed.
This is a book that adds something new to the literature of LGBTQ+ theology.

Available to purchase at amazon.co.uk