Vines grew up in Wichita, Kansas, having interests in performing arts, speaking and writing. While in high school, he created a popular fan website dedicated to the Harry Potter film series. The website, Veritaserum.com, drew more than 50,000 hits per day, and became a source of employment for him as he maintained the site and sold space within it to advertisers. Growing up, he attended an evangelical Presbyterian church with his family. Upon graduation from high school, he was accepted into Harvard, where he studied for two years during 2008-2010, focusing on philosophy. He then quit Harvard in order to pursue a full-time study of the Bible's statements on homosexuality in response to widespread belief that homosexual expression is disapproved by God - a belief held at the time by his own parents and their family church. He was unable to convince the leadership of his family church that they misunderstood what the Bible states about homosexuality, and this led to both himself and other family members leaving that church.
In March 2012, Vines delivered a speech in front of a congregation at College Hill United Methodist Church, detailing his belief that "the Bible never directly addresses and certainly does not condemn, loving, committed same-sex relationships". The presentation was recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube, where it went viral through its sharing on social networks. The clip included a detailed treatment of the Bible verses that are generally translated to refer to homosexuality, and in it Vines says that once original languages and context are taken into consideration, some Bible references are more ambiguous than many people realize. Some scholars pointed out that the material of the video was largely not new, but the format made the formerly 'fringe' material more accessible to the general public. In the first six months since it was uploaded, the video of the speech had been seen more than 350,000 times on YouTube.
Writing for the conservative magazine First Things, doctoral student Joshua Gonnerman called Vines' hermeneutical approach deeply flawed. Robert Gagnon said that he and other scholars had previously refuted the arguments that Vines raised.
Vines is the author of the book God and the Gay Christian (2014 Convergent Books), in which he provided a backdrop to his speech and responds to the main themes of the controversy.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiEf2UOYIAE The Abomination of Gay Christians (Matthew Vines Interview)
- "Wichita teen hits the red carpet with Harry Potter". McClatchy Newspapers. June 24, 2007. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Quenqua, Douglas (Sep 14, 2012). "Turned Away, He Turned to the Bible". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- "The Bible and Homosexuality | A Biblical Presentation with Matthew Vines |". Canyonwalkerconnections.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
- Vines, Matthew (May 5, 2013). "The Reformation Project: Training Christians to Eradicate Homophobia From the Church (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- Vines, Matthew. "The Gay Debate; The Bible and Homosexuality". Youtube. Retrieved August 2013.
- "Gay Christian's Video Draws Praise, Scorn". The Wichita Eagle. May 19, 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Douglas Quenqua (14 September 2012). "Turned Away, He Turned to the Bible". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
- Joshua Gonnerman. "Why Matthew Vines Is Wrong About the Bible and Homosexuality". First Things. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
- "Theologians Find Vines' 'Homosexuality Is Not a Sin' Thesis Not Persuasive". The Christian Post. September 28, 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "Matthew Vines Announces 'God and the Gay Christian;'". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
- "God and the Gay Christian: What the Bible Says-and Doesn't Say-About Homosexuality: Matthew Vines: 9781601425164: Amazon.com: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-08-16.