At 22, Mr. Vines has emerged as an unlikely advocate (and lightning rod) for those straddling one of the most volatile fault lines in America’s culture war: homosexual Christians. As the country rushed to take sides over Chick-fil-A, J. C. Penney, the Boy Scouts and Michele Bachmann, Mr. Vines took a leave of absence from Harvard, where he was studying philosophy, to offer a lesson on the Bible and same-sex relations.... The medium for Mr. Vines’s message is a lecture that he delivered, videotaped and posted to YouTube in March. In it, Mr. Vines tackles the traditional interpretations of all six Bible passages that refer to homosexual acts, arguing that they don’t actually condemn, or even address, the modern understanding of homosexuality. It is a dense and scholarly presentation, drawing from history, theology, hermeneutics and ancient Greek. It is also suffused with emotion, particularly when Mr. Vines pleads with viewers to consider the plight of the modern gay Christian, who is effectively forced into celibacy.
Vines' video was posted here on Slog shortly after he uploaded it to YouTube and Sloggers helped it go viral. Today Vines announced his new project:
"I wanted to let you know that my non-profit, The Reformation Project, has officially launched," Matthew Vines writes me in an email. "We've started a crowdfunding campaign to fund our first leadership training conference for 50 gay and straight Christians in Kansas City this fall, and while we're 10% of the way to our goal so far, we still have a long way to go to make it happen.... You've long justifiably expressed frustration that pro-gay Christians are MIA—they exist, but so much more quietly than the anti-gay ones. The Reformation Project is going to change that in a big way. If you're willing to bring it to your readers' attention during this first campaign, it would be a significant boon to us as we're getting off the ground. More info is here: www.reformationproject.org."
Vines has set an ambitious fundraising goal—$100,000—but his project is worthy and necessary.
I know there are a lot of progressive Christians out there who read Slog. We hear from you whenever we post something about Tony Perkins or Peter LaBarbera or Bryan Fischer. You are rightly embarrassed by the hatred and stupidity of rightwing evangelical haters who claim to speak for all Christians and you write to remind us that you're not all like that. We know, liberal Christians, we know. But here's a good way to prove you're not all like that: help fight the religious right's largely successful effort to paint all Christians everywhere as intolerant assholes by tossing a few bucks at the Reformation Project.