Answering Matthew Vines: Is Being Alone a Sin?

In the heated rhetoric of this political season, one issue that continues to be at the forefront of discussion is homosexuality. While much of the discussion has focused on rights and the definition of marriage, one young man has garnered national attention for making a different argument. Matthew Vines, a 22-year-old Harvard University student, has set out to defend homosexuality from a biblical perspective. Unfortunately, Vines has made grave errors in his attempt to defend what Scripture clearly condemns as sin. As part of an interview with The Christian Post, I was asked to respond to several of the arguments Vines has made. In order to provide the full context of the statements made by Vines, this series of posts will offer quotations from Vines and then my responses.

Is Being Alone a Sin?

One of the first biblical arguments that Matthew Vines makes in his defense of homosexuality is that traditionalists require homosexuals to live in celibacy for their entire lives. Vines argues that a life of forced celibacy is a violation of Genesis 2:18. Vines claims:

In the first two chapters of Genesis, God creates the heavens and the earth, plants, animals, man, and everything in the earth. And He declares everything in creation to be either good or very good – except for one thing. In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And yes, the suitable helper or partner that God makes for Adam is Eve, a woman. And a woman is a suitable partner for the vast majority of men—for straight men. But for gay men, that isn’t the case. For them, a woman is not a suitable partner. And in all of the ways that a woman is a suitable partner for straight men—for gay men, it’s another gay man who is a suitable partner. And the same is true for lesbian women. For them, it is another lesbian woman who is a suitable partner. But the necessary consequence of the traditional teaching on homosexuality is that, even though gay people have suitable partners, they must reject them, and they must live alone for their whole lives, without a spouse or a family of their own. We are now declaring good the very first thing in Scripture that God declared not good: for the man to be forced to be alone. And the fruit that this teaching has borne has been deeply wounding and destructive.

This is a major problem. By holding to the traditional interpretation, we are now contradicting the Bible’s own teachings: the Bible teaches that it is not good for the man to be forced to be alone, and yet now, we are teaching that it is.

Related to the Genesis 2 text, Mr. Vines is missing the point of the text. Prior to the creation of Eve, Adam was naming the animals. Part of the creation mandate in Genesis 1 is that the animals would reproduce after their kind. This is explicitly stated in Gen 1:22 regarding the sea creatures and birds and implied regarding the beasts of the earth in the language of “after their kind” in Gen 1:24-25. Adam surely noticed that each of the animals had a “partner” by which they could reproduce. Thus, part of the idea that it was not good for man to be alone was that he could not reproduce “after his kind” without a suitable partner. Therefore, as part of the first marriage in Genesis 2, God intended for procreation to be a part of this union.

In addition, we need to look at Adam not only as a historical figure but also as the representative of all mankind. Scripture itself views Adam in this way in Romans 5 as Paul speaks to sin entering the world through one man—Adam. Therefore, in this context, we see Adam representing all of mankind. God’s design for man is that he could enter into a complementary relationship with a woman, who is like him yet still different. At a very basic level, the complementary biological differences between man and woman make this clear. Thus, homosexual intercourse cannot be the union of a man and his suitable helper since the complementary biological differences do not exist.

Related to this, if God viewed marriage as the means for mankind to reproduce after his kind, then homosexual marriage and intercourse violates God’s command in Gen 1:28. It is biologically impossible for two men or two women to have their own biological offspring. A third individual of the opposite sex must enter the picture by way of either intercourse or the introduction of genetic material.

Finally, Mr. Vines implies that a command exists in Gen 2:18 for all individuals. At that point in the creation narrative, Adam is the only human. Of course it is not good for him to be alone because the human race could never multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Turning this into a command for all individuals reads something into the text that does not exist. As Mr. Vines acknowledges, Paul commends singleness and celibacy in 1 Cor 7:7. Mr. Vines has taken a description in Gen 2:18 and made it a prescription. In using this as an argument in favor of homosexuality, he then ignores the clear command of Gen 1:28 to be fruitful and multiply.

Evan Lenow

Evan Lenow

Assistant Professor of Ethics, Director of the Center for Biblical Stewardship, and Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Dr. Lenow is an Assistant Professor of Ethics and teaches in the School of Theology. He is married to Melanie and has four children - Molly, Elizabeth, William, and Laurel.
Twitter: @evanlenow
Evan Lenow

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