Is The Argument of Matthew Vines Biblically Sound?

untitledPop Christian culture today has introduced the community to a new approach to progressing the acceptance of homosexuality in Christian churches and denominations. This new approach has been introduced by a young man named Matthew Vines, and to say the least his approach was not expected. He uses the “biblical approach” to approve same sex relationships. Let me preface by saying I have not read his book that is currently in circulation, but I have listened extensively to his hour long speech that recently went viral. Is Matthew Vines accurate in his claims that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior, or is his plea an emotional one? Today, I’d like to take a look at his claim, as all claims should be examined thoroughly using the Word of God for discernment. Also to preface, the purpose of this article is not to offer support or opposition to Matthew Vines- rather the purpose of this article is to examine whether his argument is biblically sound.

I begin with a question- is it the role of the “church” to determine what is sin and what is not sin? That seems to be where the heat of this controversy lies. The churches are trying to determine if homosexuality is a sin or not. This is not the role of the church…..men deciding what sin is as if they are gods! It is the role of the Word of God to determine what sin is and what sin is not. By biblical definition, sin means to disobey the commandments of GOD. Sin does not mean to disobey the commandments of men. This argument for or against whether homosexuality is a sin or not, is not the role of the church, it is the role of the Word of God. For this reason we are going to examine it closely, along with the testimony of Matthew Vines. I encourage you to read to the end of this article no matter what your view is. We will touch on some of Matthew’s points, but in the interest of time cannot address every single point from his hour long speech in this article.

“It Is Not Good For Man To Be Forced To Be Alone”

To begin, in Matthew Vine’s testimony he makes the claim that God’s own word says “it is not good for man to be forced to be alone,” and he uses the creation story to back this claim. Is this quote synonymous with the creation account of Adam? What does the Bible actually say on this issue?

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18

imagesHere lies the root of this claim. God did say- “it is not good that the man should be alone.” God did not say “it is not good for a man to be forced to be alone.” This is an emotional twist to the actual statement made in Genesis 2. There is no force spoken of. Saying ‘It is not good that man should be alone’, is very different than saying ‘it is not good for man to be forced to be alone.’ This use of the word “force” in this speech implies that an outside source (the Christian Church) prevents a homosexual Christian from having a homosexual partner legally, in turn forcing them to be alone if they are to be right with God. Force implies the absence of free will, a gift that every human being has been given by God. There is no “force” present in this statement in Genesis 2. This scriptural example is simply telling the story of creation, giving a play by play of what happened. God created man, but man was alone. God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, so he took of the rib of Adam, and created the woman, a partner that was “meet for him.” This term “meet for him” in the original Hebrew “ke-neg-dow”, comes from the root word “neged,” which has several translations and uses. In most cases- this is translated as “opposite, other side, against” and only twice is it translated as “suitable.” We can see that God was creating a partner for man that had “opposite” characteristics to that of the man. By nature, we can see that the woman is very different from the man in many ways. This is the way it was as Jesus would say “from the beginning (Matt. 19:8)” just as Jesus indicates that “divorce” was NOT from the beginning either- rather it came due to the hardness of hearts of men. So we have testimony of what creation looked like from the beginning. The bible does not substantiate this particular statement of Vines: “it is not good for man to be forced to be alone.” We all continue to exercise free will.

Good Fruit & Bad Fruit

untitledMatthew Vines in his speech mentions the passage from Christ at the Sermon on the mount were he said:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” ~ Matthew 7:15-20

He uses this passage to indicate that Christian teachings against homosexuality have caused pain, suffering, suicide, depression, severe loneliness, etc., also labeling these things as “bad fruits.” He then makes the connection that only bad trees (implicating Christians and Christian doctrines that hold that Homosexuality is a sin) can produce bad fruit (pain, suffering, suicide, depression, severe loneliness) in the Gay Christian. This is a fair claim to examine, and definitely an emotional one. We find here the issue of “carnal” verses “spiritual.” In looking to the text referenced above that speaks of good “fruit” and bad “fruit,” what does Jesus mean when he speaks of fruits? The term “fruit” comes from the Greek word “karpos” meaning “fruit, generally vegetable, sometimes animal, deed, action, result, profit, gain.” Elsewhere Jesus indicates HE is the vine and WE are the branches. Further definitions of “Karpos” explain “everything done in true partnership with Christ, i.e. a believer (a branch) lives in union with Christ (the vine). Karpos results in two life streams- the Lord living His life through ours to yield what is eternal (1 John 4:17).” The same water that flows through Christ, “the vine”, also flows through the reborn believer in Christ, “the branch.” This water produces fruit that is “eternal,” deeds and actions that are in obedience to the laws and ways of God (righteousness), in accord with love. In the same sense, if someone is in the world (carnal), Satan would be their vine and those of the world are the branches. The same water that flows through the vine, flows through the branch, and its fruits are death- not eternal. They are bad fruits, carnal things that in the end will be burned up in the fire.

imagesCAOH0N9FReturning to the claim of Matthew Vines, are pain, suffering, suicide, depression, or severe loneliness “bad fruits” produced by “bad trees” i.e. Christians that believe that homosexuality is sin? Or are these same things bad fruits produced by disobedience to God, being rooted in the vine of the world? Determining what the bad tree is, will be crucial. Determining the source of the water that leads to death is important. Sexuality is a carnal topic, and something that is meaningless in the grand scheme (eternity) of things. Those that live according to the carnal seem to be bound to carnal thinking, and we can see evidence of this when many asked Jesus in scripture- paraphrased “if I die and my wife is given to my younger brother, and he dies and she is given to the next younger brother, and he dies and she is giving to the next younger brother- in the resurrection, who’s wife will she be?” They thought that these carnal things translated to the spiritual. Jesus’ answer:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” ~ Matthew 22:29-30

There is no marriage in the resurrection! Heterosexual relationships and marriage are carnal, not spiritual! Homosexual relationships and marriage are also carnal! Homosexuality is one of many other carnal issues of today. Pornography is a huge carnal issue in the Christian church today. Coveting riches, new things, new clothes, fashion, etc, the lust of the eyes, the worship of things that we have made with our own hands, lying and deception, witchcraft, sorcery, consulting with mediums, contacting the dead, drunkenness, drug use, partying, gossip, stealing, killing, affairs, idolatry, ALL of these things remain to be carnal issues in the church today. These will ALL be burned up in the fire in the end. Every human being is tasked with “self denial,” or in other words, everyone must deny their flesh, the carnal, in order to learn to walk according to the Holy Spirit. Every person’s battle is DIFFERENT. One person’s battle is no greater or lesser than another’s, and one carnal issue isn’t greater or lesser than another. They are all hard, difficult to break, a struggle to overcome. If there was less judgment in the church accompanied by more love, teaching and edification using the WORD OF GOD- we’d all be on the fast track to walking according to the Holy Spirit together. In the resurrection, all of this “stuff” goes away, sexuality included. The Christian body has blurred the lines between the carnal and the spiritual to the point where few can discern the difference. Maintaining our identity in the carnal, or in anything other than “Christ in us,” is death. If our identity is in sin, we receive the wages of sin. If our identity is in Christ which results in obedience to God (good fruit)- our wage is life eternal. This example of Christians who believe homosexuality is sin, as being bad trees bearing bad fruit is forced, without a deep understanding of what the eternal fruits of righteousness really are. The ultimate condemnation would be to declare any individual a “bad tree.” We are all as believers on the course of learning how to walk in the Spirit, at different speeds according to God’s will.

Sodom & Gomorrah

imagesCAHN05XBIn Matthew Vines explanation of Sodom & Gomorrah, he makes a point that taken at face value, the greater issue was gang rape perpetuated by the town’s people. There was a clear threat of violence, sexually in this case, but the sexual aspect isn’t accented in the testimony, rather it is just mentioned. At the same time, gang rape isn’t accented either, rather it is just mentioned. This begs the question, is one sin greater or lesser than the other? We know from the testimony of the bible that both of these acts would have been considered “sin.” Then Vines accents the sin of gang rape over and above the sin of male lying with male. He sites several examples where the sins of Sodom are described as (Ez 16:49) overfed, arrogance, failure to help the poor and needy, (Matt 10 & Luke 10) inhospitably treatment to his disciples, etc. He then mentions in Jude where it is written:

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” ~ Jude 1:7

The term “fornication” is also translated as “sexual immorality.” Matthew Vines indicates that this term is not referring to same sex relationships. This is a bold claim, just as it is a bold claim to say that it does include same sex relationships. How do we know what this means? How did the people during the time of the New Testament know what sexual immorality was? What was the guideline? Jude was the brother of James, and is known to be a Jew by origination. Jude would have gained his understanding of sexual immorality/fornication only from one place- the law of God- Genesis through Deuteronomy. Does it matter what kind of sexual immorality was committed? In this case Vines insists it does not refer to homosexual acts, though the OT account of the story does indicate this kind of behavior. In any event, sin is sin. Vines claims that in times of war, male on male gang rape was used as a humiliation tactic against the enemy, and states this as a possibility in the case of Sodom. Were these two angels, guests of Lot posing as men, that much of a threat that they required such humiliation? If their motivation was humiliation via gang rape rather than pure sexual desire, why would Lot offer them to take his daughters instead? These are all things to think deeply about. This argument is spotty at best. We’ll see in the next section the laws given by God pertaining to sexual immorality, and we’ll discuss a good point that Matthew Vines is making concerning the law.

The Law Of God No Longer Pertains To Christians

imagesCAG7OU5EOf all of the arguments presented by Matthew Vines, his argument about the law holds the most water- but for reasons you probably haven’t thought about. Mr. Vines presents the law condemning homosexuality, bestiality, etc in the Old Testament, where it clearly bans homosexuality for the Israelites. In Leviticus 18-20, we can find what the Jews would define as “sexual immorality,” homosexuality being listed among many other things including incest. Vines admits that homosexuality was not permitted under the Old Covenant law. He argues that Leviticus also includes food laws which define what we can eat (clean) and what we can’t eat (unclean), protocols for disease, sacrificial laws, and other various ceremonial laws, so why do Christians today believe the law banning homosexuality is in effect, while they insist that all of the other laws are not? Why can we find Christians today eating pork, shrimp and other shellfish, etc? Sounds hypocritical doesn’t it? It is!

He argues that Christians seem to be cherry picking which laws are in effect and which laws aren’t. He goes on to argue the age old argument- we aren’t under the law anymore. He references the example where the Judaisers were trying to circumcise new Gentile converts, and Peter along with the Apostles gave them only a few simple rules to follow at the time. One of those rules again is to “abstain from sexual immorality,” a term that Vines claims does not refer to homosexuality, yet knowledge of sexual immorality again would have come from the OT law which includes prohibition of same sex acts. What is interesting is, Matthew Vines is right to point out this hypocrisy in Christianity today! The church has decided it is no longer a sin to eat unclean animals, yet it is a sin to commit homosexual acts? Again it is not the role of the church to decide what sin is, rather it is the role of the Word of God to define sin! Denominational Christianity has basically decided to sit in the seat of God, and redefine what is and what is no longer sin. Any king would be furious at this kind of vigilante stewardship from His servants.

imagesCA2QGV28While Matthew Vines makes a great point about this double standard that truly exists in Christianity today- there is an error in his biblical analysis, that error being that according to a vast amount of biblical testimony as well as evidenced in the early Christian writings (1st and 2nd century AD),  the commandments and the law of God remain until the end. We can find tons of evidence concerning this throughout scripture- even from Jesus himself.

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:18-19(Jesus)

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” ~ Romans 3:31

“For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” ~ Romans 2:11-16

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” ~ Romans 6:1-2

“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” ~ Romans 6:15-18

imagesCAJTBIYM“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” ~ Galatians 2:17-18

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” ~ Hebrews 10:26

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” ~ 1 John 2:3

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” ~ 1 John 5:2-3

“And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” ~ 2 John 1:6

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” ~ Revelation 12:17

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” ~ Revelation 14:12

imagesCA9UN3Z6Matthew Vines then quotes a passage from 1 Corinthians on the circumcision issue in his speech to declare the law void: “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing” ending the quote there, along with a few other points of scripture taken out of context. He concludes that “circumcision and uncircumcision don’t mean anything.” When we examine what the scripture truly says:

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, BUT THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD.” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:19

Paul was stressing that as long as you keep the law/commandments of God, it doesn’t matter whether you are circumcised or uncircumcised. He DID NOT declare the law void in this statement. All of the law, were commandments given by God. The 10 commandments were given by God’s own voice at Mount Sinai. The remainder of the law and commandments were given by God to Moses on the mountain. A close study of scripture reveals that the first Christians, even the Gentiles- were abiding by the laws of God, including the dietary laws, new moons, Sabbaths, holy days, etc. We can find examples of this in Colossians 2. While Matthew Vines makes a great point revealing the hypocrisy in the denominations- the scriptural account reveals that the law still stands until heaven and earth pass away…..all of it. Maybe this will serve to wake up the denominations as well? Jesus even warned in parable:

“Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” ~ Luke 16:29-31

untitledVines uses Hebrews 8:13 to indicate that the Old Covenant is passed away, and now we are under a New Covenant where the law no longer applies. An analysis of scripture goes much deeper than this and actually defines what that new covenant looks like. You can find this by just reading further into Hebrews 8, and you can also find record of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” ~ Hebrews 8:10-11

The New Covenant in scripture is also referred to as a “circumcision of heart.” You can see that the law (Genesis-Deuteronomy) has not disappeared under the New Covenant- rather it has found its way INTO OUR HEARTS and MINDS. Why? So that we can disobey it? Of course not, that would be foolish. So far, Matthew Vines has quoted a significant amount of scripture, but has taken it out of context without diving into the true depth and meaning of these passages, failing to present the fullness of the biblical testimony available. To expound on every single example would make this article extremely long. If Christians today could just understand the biblical testimony concerning this one point that the law has not passed away, and could see that the law is now written in our hearts with obedience coming from the heart, there is no need to even look at all of the other examples.

“Jesus- The Fulfillment Of The Law?”

imagesCAY4QR1XVines is quoted as saying “In the Gospels Jesus describes himself as the fulfillment of the law.” Is this a true statement? I believe he is referring to Matthew 5:17:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” ~ Matthew 5:17

With this statement of Matthew Vines, he uses this text to establish a precept that the law is fulfilled and no longer requires our obedience. This is a giant leap in reasoning. The text given above says “I have not come to destroy (the law), but to fulfill.” Basically, Jesus is saying I am not going to get rid of the law, rather I am here to obey the law, and that He did. He was the only man to ever walk in the flesh without sin (disobedience to the law). Men argue He did sin, but the gospels proclaim that he did not- rather man’s understanding of sin was tainted by the Pharisees overzealous and harsh “added” rules and regulations. Jesus never said “I am the fulfillment of the law.” This implies that the law no longer requires obedience. It is a false statement. What Jesus is saying in this text, and what Matthew Vines is quoting from this text are extremely different.

Colossians 2:13-14

Matthew Vines cites this passage as evidence that the law has passed away:

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; ~ Colossians 2:13-14

imagesCARB35K5Here Vines believes that the meaning of this passage is that the LAW was nailed to the cross. Is that truly what this is saying? Using this understanding, one could say God nailed the law to the cross, and now we are free to sin. A closer look at this passage reveals that this has to do with God’s forgiveness of SIN. What is blotted out? Is it the “handwriting of ordinances?” Or is it the “handwriting of ordinances that was against us and contrary to us?” Here Paul speaks of our trespasses of the law, our SINS. Every time we sin (disobey the law of God), it is recorded against us. By Christ, our SIN is nailed to the cross. He saved us from our sins and trespasses. We can find this explained a little more in Ephesians 2:

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) ~ Ephesians 2:1-5

You can see here that the issue of man was not the law, the issue was sin (disobedience of the law). This is why Christ died. Notice Paul declares that they WERE (past tense) dead in TRESPASSES AND SINS. Then continuing in past tense “IN TIMES PAST” they walked according to the world ruled by the spirit of Satan that NOW STILL works in the CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE. He continues “IN TIMES PAST” they fulfilled lusts and desires of the flesh and of the mind, and WERE (past tense) by nature the children of wrath. He is speaking to reborn believers folks. These people were no longer walking in sin, rather they had been transformed into a new creation in Christ, no longer disobeying the law of God- rather obeying it from the heart. To take Colossians 2 and make it sound like the LAW was nailed to the cross, no longer applicable, no longer binding, allowing us to freely sin- is completely inconsistent with a large volume of scripture.

The Abomination Of Sin

untitledMatthew Vines continues speaking on the point that many sins, including Homosexuality are listed as abominations to God. He then goes on to lighten the meaning of this by referencing Genesis 43:32 which states that the Egyptians would not eat bread with the Hebrews because it was an “abomination” to them. As if this fact translates the meaning of abominable from a “detestable thing,” to a now irrelevant word. The word Abomination comes from the Hebrew root word “toebah” meaning “a detestable thing, detestable act, loathsome, object of loathing.” Why was it detestable for the Egyptian to eat bread with the Hebrew? Because the Kings of Egypt declared it detestable. The king sets the law, and the king decides what is good and what is evil. The king decides what is pleasing, and what is abominable. What is an abomination and what is detestable will always depend on who your king is. You submit to the laws of your king. If your King is Jesus/God, than you submit to his laws and acknowledge those things that are detestable to him. We find that even in Revelation speaking of the very end, not a single “abomination” will be permitted into the Kingdom of God:

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoeverworketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” ~ Revelation 21:27

Jesus also declares:

“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. ~ Luke 16:15-17

Vines tries to allude that these laws were for ancient Israel only, to differentiate them from the Gentiles. However we find in the New Testament in the book of Romans, Chapter 11, how the “olive tree” of Israel remains, and many Jews (branches) of the olive tree were severed because of their disobedience, yet now the GENTILES who are from what is termed a “wild olive tree” are grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel. We are warned to not follow the example of unbelief exhibited by the Jews that were cut off, as we too remain in danger of being cut off. We are advised as Gentiles NOT TO BOAST against the tree of Israel. Israel still exists, and those that believe in Christ and obey the commands of God belong to it. The Kingdom of God still has a King, and as evidenced, His law remains until heaven and earth pass away. This point in Vines’ speech didn’t make much sense?

The Harshness Of The OT Law

imagesCAXAR9I2Matthew Vines speaks on the harshness of the OT law- where a priest’s daughter would have sex and be burned at the stake, you’d be stoned for using the Lord’s name in vain or disobeying your parents, or you’d receive the death penalty for working on the Sabbath or charging usury to another Israelite. He uses this to indicate that this kind of harsh rule seems uncivilized, a bit excessive, definitely outdated, along with the law itself. Is there merit to his argument here. While when you look at the OT law it seems harsh- it begs the question- was the law really that harsh? Or were the men that were enforcing the law consistently getting it wrong? In the time period in Israel leading up to the Babylonian invasion, they were not harsh at all in their judgments- rather extremely lenient as evidenced in the sin that was rampant in Jerusalem. Sin was everywhere in God’s city, and because of the failure of the leaders of the time to judge properly, God took judgment into his own hands by allowing Babylon to overthrow them. We find in examples during Jesus’ life, that the men given authority to enforce the law of God were unrighteous in their judgment as well to the other extreme, and very harsh. Over and over again, men were missing the point and role of the law of God. They weren’t getting it right. In the case of Jesus’ time, He corrected them:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” ~ Matthew 23:23

These weightier matters of the law were judgment, MERCY and faith. The Pharisees were very harsh in their judgments- as proven in the example where they crucified Christ. The law wasn’t meant to terrorize God’s people. That being said, when God set up his people in Israel, they had law, and they had a justice system to handle situations where one would disobey the law- just as we have justice systems today. The duty to judge others was given originally to the 12 subsequent judges following the death of Moses, after that the Kings (beginning with Saul, David, Solomon), and after the Babylonian invasion of Israel this duty fell upon the Pharisees and the High Priest who answered to untitledthe World Empires (Medes, Persia, Rome), or regional Gentile governors/kings. During Jesus’ time, the High Priest answered to Gentile Roman Governor Pilate, and Gentile King Herod. Cases involving the breaking of God’s law were brought before the judges/kings/High Priest and Religious leaders, just as in the case of Jesus being accused. They would then hear the case- both sides, for and against. Upon hearing all of the testimony, they would then make a judgment according to God’s law. Many offenses did warrant the death penalty, but that doesn’t mean someone would get the death penalty. Just as today, murder is a capital offense warranting the death penalty, yet depending on the circumstances surrounding the murder, a judge decides whether they serve time, are set free, or are put to death. Today- repentance and disposition of the accused always plays a major role in sentencing. Don’t you think it did back then as well? If one considers what the LAW says about judgment- in Deut. 13:5, it instructs that a witness must be examined thoroughly. In Ex. 23:1 it explains not to hear one of the parties to a suit in the absence of the other party. In Ex. 23:2, the law explains not to decide in capital cases according to the view of the majority, when those who are for condemnation exceed by one only, those who are for acquittal. In Lev. 19:15, the law tells us not to favor a ‘great man’ when trying a case. Numbers 35:30 explains that a witness who testifies in a capital case shall not lay down a judgment in that particular case. There is even a provision in Numbers 35:25 that calls for  the exile (not death) of one who committed accidental homicide. The biblical list of provisions in judgment go on and on, fairness being key. King Solomon was famous for his God given wisdom in judging difficult cases. We can see though, that the leaders were too harsh in their judgments as evidenced by Jesus’ correction- He desires MERCY and not sacrifice. This is a weighty matter of the law! It makes sense how men today see the harshness seen in some of the judgments of the Bible, and blame God. However, a deeper look reveals that the error was with men misusing and abusing the judgments of the law- as seen in the case of Jesus’ innocent crucifixion. Using this argument as a reason for declaring the law uncivilized and old hat, is problematic. One can merely look around the world today at the various legal systems and justice systems to find similar establishments (of course modeled after the Bible, just with different laws and penalties). Without law, penalties for breaking the law, and wise judgment in these cases, what would society become?

One final note on this. To explain the leeway that men were given in judging the law- find the example of Jesus healing on the Sabbath. When accused, he uses the example that not one of them if their sheep fell into a ditch on the Sabbath, wouldn’t go to help get the sheep out. This act of retrieving a sheep from a ditch on the Sabbath according to “man’s” interpretation is punishable by death according to the OT code, yet we can see that it was common for these people if an animal was in trouble, they would help the animal. The law wasn’t about executing harsh judgment, it WAS about learning to judge righteously, with mercy.

Closing

imagesMatthew Vines has stuck his neck out for what he believes and has received quite a large audience for it. Because of this of course he will be subject to some criticism and scrutiny. While his arguments are appealing to many, his biblical support is incomplete, misleading and lacking. In speaking about those that uphold the biblical principle that homosexuality is sin, Matthew says “you are taking a few verses in the bible out of context, and extracting from them an absolute condemnation that was never intended, and you are also striking to the very core of another human being.” If this is the case, such behavior isn’t right. It isn’t good to verbally strike anyone no matter what condition they are in. While investigating his claims though, he does prove guilty of the very thing he accuses his adversaries of: “taking a few verses in the bible out of context and extracting from them.” He in turn also indirectly condemns those with the opposing viewpoint. His speech is riddled with quotes from scripture taken completely out of context. One can only know this by examining the scripture deeply for themselves. Examining the entire testimony of the Bible is key to discerning everything in this age that we live in. As for the Homosexuality Debate, I refer you to the linked article addressing the discord that this has brought on the Christian community.

It appears that Vine’s speech is an emotional appeal for acceptance as a Gay Christian, as well as a calling upon of denominational leaders to re-examine and maybe even re-define their definition of sin, and he makes some good points. While he attempted to use scriptural support, it is lacking significantly for reasons explained in this article, and others that we did not get to in order to keep this article as brief as possible. He expresses the same desire as anyone to be accepted for who he is. It probably took great courage for him to take on such a task. This presentation by Matthew Vines is significant, in that it is going to bring denominational Christians to an ultimate decision point. They will have to choose whether the law of God stands (ALL OF IT), or whether the law of God is gone (ALL OF IT). He exposes the hypocrisy in Christendom effectively. Vines brings this argument to a head, and for Christians to condemn one sin (homosexuality) while they indulge in a long list of other sins (eating unclean foods, violating sex laws, pre-marital sex, sex while a woman is on her menstrual cycle, Pagan celebrations and holidays, Sabbath laws- long list etc) as defined by the Bible, will only magnify their hypocrisy. Some will say nothing, some will revoke the law of God and allow all kinds of sins, and yet others will come to the realization that the law of God is entirely in tact, and always was. Hopefully in the process everyone can realize their own sin whatever it is, repent, and seek redemption through the blood of Christ. The Bible testifies of God’s law which remains until heaven and earth passes away. We still live on earth. The inheritance is spiritual, not carnal. YFT USA believes it is not the role of the church to determine what sin is, and as long as the churches claim the authority to do this, they attempt to sit in the seat of God in an apostate way. Again, this is not the role of the church and we pray that denominational churches will turn back to the authority of the biblical testimony, the very Word of God! There will be division among Christians…..between those that stand by the authority of the Bible, and those that stand by the authority of the denominational church and its rulings. Where will you stand? YFT USA in no way judges those that have chosen a homosexual lifestyle, rather we love all souls. That being said, we stand for truth in the Word of God, we proclaim it, and encourage others to search it out. The Word of God introduces ALL to the opportunity for a NEW LIFE in Christ! Seek spiritual things, the things of God, the things above! Repent of ALL things that GOD defines as sin! We applaud Matthew for bringing this inconsistency to light in the main stream, and look forward to seeing where the conversation goes. If you desire to know what sin is- examine the Word of God. It hasn’t changed and will not change until heaven and earth passes away.

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