Approximately 50 Christians from around the nation have come to Kansas for a conference on the Bible and same-sex relationships, prompted by a Wichita man’s Internet lectures about the same. The discussion garnered a significant amount of attention and he now wants to explain his belief that the Scriptures don’t denounce homosexuality.
In March 2012, Vines lectured for one hour about the issue at a Wichita church and posted the lecture to YouTube. Since its upload, the video has had over 600,000 views and over 15,000 comments. The video has made such an impact in its English version that it has since been translated into other languages as well.
The non-profit organization called The Reformation Project, held its first conference last week. Their mission is to advance equality by training Christians in positions of leadership to be reformers for equality and inclusion of lesbian, gay, and transgender Christians.
Wichita resident Matthew Vines, 23, has attended a conservative Evangelical Presbyterian church most of his life and heavily relied on his learning of the Bible for his demonstrations. According to Vines, moderate and liberal Christian churches have become gay-friendly, while conservative congregations are adamant to stay against homosexuality.
Vines said his message is to bring change, saying the Bible never says, one way or another, that homosexuality is a sin. 50 applicants out of 100 conservative churchgoers were chosen to take part in the three-day conference last week in Prairie Village, KS.
Vines said the conference is significant because of its representation on the next move of the LGBT movement – trying to alter conservative Christians’ minds about gay unions. Vines said he is a gay Christian that attended a conservative church, with a lot of family and friends still attending conservative churches. He said his goal is “to empower people to be able to stay in their churches that are not yet supportive.”
Vines said conservative Christians don’t mind listening to someone who is well-versed on the Scripture. He has begun The Reformation Project and authored a book about the topic, God and the Gay Christian, to be published in March 2014.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Assistant Professor of Ethics Evan Lenow wrote a long rebuttal to Vines Internet lecture on his own blog, saying that Vines’ Bible take isn’t a realistic reading of the text.
Lenow said Vines is trying to read the Scriptures through his assumptions that gay unions aren’t a sin. But, he said, that’s just not true.
Jane Clementi was among the participants at the address. In 2010, Clementi’s son Tyler killed himself after his Rutgers University roommate filmed and broadcast him kissing another man. The family has begun a foundation to boost the acceptance of gays in their communities – schools and churches.
The family, before Tyler’s death, were members of a non-affirming conservative Christian church. After his death, Clementi stopped beingmembers but does have friends who still go and are quite supportive.
Clementi said there was some dissonance about the message being preached, even if a lot of time wasn’t spent on preaching. She said the message that was preached was clear. Clementi said the straight kids are listening to the message about how gays are worthless and that straight people have power over them. She said it’s a form of bullying.