It’s been a compelling road for Matthew Vines. The 22-year-old was reared in a Christian church that was conservative. He accepted the teaching of his elders, especially on gay sexuality.
However, Vines is now earning praise, and censure, for his YouTube videos that call into question anti-gay interpretations of Scripture.
The young scholar was profiled by the New York Times. His words, and theories, have found a receptive audience with gay and lesbian Christians.
This past March Vines started posting on YouTube, taking the professorial route to debunk many ideas concerning gays and Christian theology. The Harvard University student, presently he’s on a leave of absence, is used to defending LGBT Christians; in 2009, when he discovered he was gay, he examined the research before coming out to his family.
According to the Times, he studied Martti Nissinen, professor of Old Testament studies at the University of Helsinki; Dale Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale; and John Boswell, author of ‘Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality.’ A friend suggested Vines turn the research into a paper, and his father helped him present the work to the governing body of his childhood church.
‘It was not well received,’ Vines said to the newspaper. ‘So then I added six more pages to address some of their concerns and criticisms.’
The extra material didn’t change many minds, and the Vines family eventually left the church.
What is surprising about the young man’s work is that it’s not breaking new ground.
‘I think Matt’s arguments are unlikely to change many minds, especially among the leadership in the conservative Christian communities to which they are addressed,’ Terry Todd, associate professor of American religious studies at Drew University, said to the newspaper. ‘These same arguments, largely taken from a generation of biblical scholarship from mainstream academics, have circulated for decades in those communities.’