Pastor Tim Keller, a theologian and the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City — arguably among the most well-known and respected faith leaders of the day — recently tackled the ongoing debate over the "relationship of homosexuality to Christianity," comprehensively detailing his perspective in a piece published on the church's website.
Pastor Tim Keller (Image via Twitter @TimKellerNYC)
Keller, who reviewed two books last year that advocated for the traditional view of marriage, decided to do the same for Matthew Vines' "God and the Gay Christian" and Ken Wilson's "A Letter to My Congregation," two texts that embrace the opposing perspective.
The pastor made it no secret throughout his review that he disagrees with the conclusions made by Vines and Wilson, writing that he believes the two missed "the biblical vision" on sexuality and marriage in crafting their works.
"The saddest thing for me as a reader was how, in books on the Bible and sex, Vines and Wilson concentrated almost wholly on the biblical negatives, the prohibitions against homosexual practice, instead of giving sustained attention to the high, (yes) glorious Scriptural vision of sexuality," Keller wrote. "Both authors rightly say that the Bible calls for mutual loving relationships in marriage, but it points to far more than that."
From there, he began to draw parallels from Genesis 1 that he said affirm the traditional understanding of sexuality, particularly the notion that two "complementary pairs" are seen being brought together in the literature to affirm one another, proceeding to cite theologian N.T. Wright in claiming that the uniting of male and female in Genesis 2 is "the climax" of this paradigm.
"In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity," Keller wrote. "It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships."
He continued, "That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each see and do things that the other cannot. Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life long-covenant of marriage."
Keller wrote in the review that it is the institution of marriage in which this union most intensely takes place, adding that there is a biblical and God-ordained vision that sustains humanity.
"Without understanding this vision, the sexual prohibitions in the Bible make no sense. Homosexuality does not honor the need for this rich diversity of perspective and gendered humanity in sexual relationships," Keller continued. "Same-sex relationships not only cannot provide this for each spouse, they can’t provide children with a deep connection to each half of humanity through a parent of each gender."
Despite his disagreement, Keller applauded Vines and Wilson for their civil and well-thought out works and dove deep into the arguments that he believes both individuals made, while also providing his assessment of each contention.
From attempting to debunk the claim that the Bible only condemns certain forms of exploitative gay relationships, and that traditional opposition to homosexuality should be compared to slavery — an institution that some Christians claimed was Biblical, but that was later eradicated.
"Historians such as Mark Noll ... have shown the 19th century position some people took that the Bible condoned race-based chattel slavery was highly controversial and never a consensus," Keller wrote. "Most Protestants in Canada and Britain (and many in the northern U.S. states) condemned it as being wholly against the Scripture."
Read Keller's compressive analysis here.