Rob Bell on Gay Marriage: Why the Church Can’t Follow

Rob Bell is back in the news lately. He has a new book (CaPC review forthcoming!), in which he teaches that there are ways of speaking about God that are going to go the way of the Oldsmobile. Apparently, one of the things that is going to fall by the wayside is the church’s opposition to homosexual marriage. “That ship has sailed,” says Rob Bell recently.

Bell may be correct. At least, he is correct that the evangelical conservative political machine is a sputtering mess right now. If conservative evangelicals are going to have any political clout moving forward, they are going to have to learn how to live in a democracy where everyone gets a voice, not as if they are living in a great big church where appeals to the Bible are able to end the discussion. If they are going to win votes, they are going to have to persuade, not demand, what they want. That means that we have to get better at thinking and articulating our arguments.

Many activists for homosexual marriage do not identify as Christians and don’t care one bit what the Bible says about homosexual marriage. They live in a country that guarantees their right not to be Christians, and we affirm them in that right. Bible arguments, threats of eternal damnation, law-making, and general rudeness are not going to deter them. If Rob Bell had said that, the debate we might have had would look quite different.

But instead, Bell said:

I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.

We cannot be sure what Bell is actually trying to say about homosexual marriage. Rather than making a case for homosexual marriage as a valid lifestyle choice, he might be simply saying that because the culture is embracing the concept, the church should embrace that move of culture or it will come across as unloving. To me, this is the greatest of Bell’s sins. I find it disconcerting for a Christian leader to say that the church should simply get in line with whatever the culture says, but most damning is his reluctance to be absolutely clear. Is he saying that homosexual marriage is moral and should be supported? Is he saying that the church should just get behind the cultural trend and affirm it?

The universal church simply cannot follow Bell where he is going. The church has to be clear, and her leaders ought to be clear about the Bible’s teachings. It is possible to make an argument for the legalization of homosexual marriage from within a conservative, Bible-believing framework. If Christians want to make an argument against homosexual marriage, they are going to have to do a better job of presenting arguments that demonstrate why this is a bad thing from a general stand point, not just from a ‘Biblical’ standpoint if they are going to persuade their fellow Americans. But one thing the Christian cannot do is ask Scripture to take a back seat to cultural whims. That is what Bell is asking of us.

About Brad Williams

Brad is the pastor of a Baptist church in a small town in Alabama. Brad has a lovely wife, two children, two dogs, a cat, a turtle, and five bee hives. Besides the incredible fact that he managed to persuade his wife to marry him, he is proud that he served six years in the Army National Guard, managed to graduate college with an English Lit. degree, graduate seminary, and finish the original Bard's Tale as a youngster by making maps on graph paper.

  • http://blog.rrchapman.us/ Bob Chapman

    Actually, conservative Evangelical Christians are going to have to realize that the argument called for in this post has already been made from the context of Scripture. It is about time the conservative Evangelicals realize that they are not the only people to take Scripture seriously, and start listening to the rest of the Christian community.

  • Adam

    “If Christians want to make an argument against homosexual marriage, they are going to have to do a better job of presenting arguments that demonstrate why this is a bad thing from a general stand point, not just from a ‘Biblical’ standpoint if they are going to persuade their fellow Americans.”

    It seems to me that compelling arguments against the ethicality of homosexuality can’t be made outside of a Christian theological framework, though. Research has generally shown that the negative social effects of gay marriage and gay adoption are negligible; my guess is that basing arguments in non-religious discourses isn’t likely to convince anybody.

    But that’s sort of the point, isn’t it. What’s good for the world isn’t always what’s good for the Church, because the Church is guided by an addition set of principles. In addition to the dictates of conscience and human decency, we also exist to bear witness to God’s glory and truth. A part of that truth is the sacrament of marriage, which we see as going beyond love and committment to reflect something of God’s love for his people. That’s the starting point for most Christian arguments against gay marriage…I can’t imagine anything else actually leading to a compelling case. What do you think…am I missing something?

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    You mean like the Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, majority-world churches, and 19 centuries of Christians who have come before us? Okay, we will.

  • Scott

    This topic always manages to draw me out. Two thoughts:

    1) I think there may, potentially, be a line drawn between “historic” or “Patristic” Christianity that unambiguously condemns homosexuality (for the most part) and “Bible-believing Christianity.” This won’t make any difference for Catholics or the Orthodox, but for most Protestants, the very miniscule evidence against homosexuality (two OT commandments that make male-male sex as unkosher as holding hands with a menstrating woman, one highly ambivalent New Testament term (arsenokoitai), and Romans 1, which seems to clearly establish a Natural Law argument against homosexuality but which has come under debate by contemporary scholars (including many who see the Bible as the inspired and authoritative word of God). So it is quite possible that in many areas the condemnation of homosexuality–even in one passage of the New Testament–will fade into the background in the broader, Bible-believing world, to be shelved alongside the requirement of women to wear head-gear when teaching as a cultural anachronism.

    2) Even if one stands with historic Christianity with (1), there are difficulties. It is hard to think of many times when human identity–both inside and outside the church–was more sexualized. It is also hard to think of more times in which singleness was more criticized by the Protestant Church. (Pastors and elders, for instance, are commonly required to be married–a dramatic break with the tendency of most Western church history, at least.) The result is that at the same time the world is insisting that one’s identity is primarily sexual in nature–tied to family, romance, &c.–the Church is agreeing with the world wholeheartedly, while purposefully excluding homosexuals. Sure, Romans 1 is going to be offensive to any homosexual who considers it to apply to modern homosexuality–but the rank hypocrisy is worse when this development coincides with a triumphant heterosexual narrative that separates itself from Christianity’s traditionally bipolar (if not at times downright hostile) views on sex and instead implies that married love is the single dominant path to Christian development.

    Rob Bell may be stuck in the middle of this strange dynamic–he began his career explicating rather traditional Christian views in terms of sex and interpersonal fulfillment (as opposed, I suppose, to penace and the sorts of mature relationships that involve too much pain and sacrifice to make for bestsellers). So it seems like the easy path is to enfold homosexual desire into this expansive version of Christianity, rather than revisiting some aspects of Christianity that, unlike the condemnation of sexuality, are truly out of sync with our present ways of understanding the world.

  • Nancy

    It is not what Christian say about homosexuality, it is what God says and does not say about it that matters. There is no need to make any type of arguments about it. Simply put, love the sinner, agree with God on the sin, no matter what sin that is, lying, cheating, stealing, or anything else that God has told us in His Word that is sin to a Holy God. The Church should do nothing except love those who are put in our path, and accept them all a creatures that God created…. then allow the Holy Spirit to convict when necessary on God’s time table. All we need to do as a Church is direct them to scripture and allow them to listen to God telling them what is right. We are not called to fight, we are called to love and accept them, telling them what God thinks and let the results be His>

  • Nick O.

    “It seems to me that compelling arguments against the ethicality (sic) of homosexuality can’t be made outside of a Christian theological framework, though.”

    I get the point being made here, but I also think it suspect at best.

    Here’s one example: “The liberal case against gay marriage” by Susan Shell. http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20080710_20041561theliberalcaseagainstgaymarriagesusanmshell.pdf

  • S. L. Whitesell

    The case can and has been made without any reference to theology, perhaps most notably by people who lived before Jesus’s earthly ministry. But also since then.

  • Jeff Miller

    I’m in general agreement with this post. The day was always going to come when a prominent Evangelical (or quasi-Evangelical, for those who don’t recognize him as such) leader would be the first to come out in favor of gay marriage, but I was hoping they would defend it hermeneutically and missionally, rather than straight up capitulation by saying, “This is the way the world is now, and the church needs to get on board.” His statement appears to be an endorsement of carte blanche affirmation for whatever the surrounding culture says is right. I’d like to think that that was a slip of the tongue, but I think that Rob Bell is smart enough to know this would be a significant moment, as the first Evangelical-ish leader to come out for gay marriage, and I doubt he was completely winging it.

  • http://7mfitz@gmail.com Mark

    But Christians don’t follow everything in the Bible. As the years have passed we got rid of things that didn’t fit into society anymore and that we thought were ridiculous.

    Old Testament said you could not wear clothing of mixed fiber. I bet no Christian today has a problem of wearing clothing that is a cotton/poly blend. You might think that was small but read what it says in the Bible. Sounded kinda serious.

    New Testament – Paul said a woman should not cut her hair and always wear a head covering to show her submission to man. The Catholics and Anglicans finally got rid of the requirement for woman to cover their heads at Church services in the 60s.

    I think it is time we realize some people are gay and if they want to marry and some church, synagogue or temple will do the trick for em, we need to let them. If you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex….don’t.

  • C.J.W.

    Rob Bell’s statement seems to highlight what is wrong with so many presentations of the Gospel from Evangelicals today, namely the emphasis on the love of God through Christ without an emphasis on the equal importance of those who accept such love to follow God’s commandments. Bell is disregarding the best interpretation of the whole scriptural witness concernAs ing the issue of homosexuality, namely that there is no exception given for the acceptance of homosexual practice by God. I encourage everyone who wants to dive into this issue, read anything by Robert A. J. Gagnon. He offers the best and most indepth interpretation of Scripture on the issue. Go to http://www.robgagon.net for a lot of information.

    Bell’s, like McLaren’s, view on the issue of homosexual practice and marriage seem biblically uninformed. I have found nothing yet that has suggested to me that they have really researched this issue in depth but have simply come out in support of the issue. I am saddened by Bell’s statement and I can only come to one of two conclusions. First, he is unaware of what the biblical witness says about homosexuality, or, second, he does not care. Either way, he should know better and at least look at the best interpretations of Scripture from both sides before saying anything about it.

  • S. L. Whitesell

    Mark – I don’t know if you are a Christian, but the kind of Christianity I have always encountered isn’t so flat as you describe. We believe Jesus’ work on the cross fulfilled the ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the law completely. Thus, it would be sheer insanity for us to try to follow them. Some of the law reflected objective moral truths, so it would be just as wrong for us to throw away the whole thing.

    It is hard to discern from the outside which is which, and it often looks like we are picking and choosing the easy things and rejecting the inconvenient ones. Finding a “principled hermeneutic” is the subject of many an internecine debate.

    But this issue isn’t really susceptible to that. No one (well, no serious person) builds the case for marriage on one verse in Leviticus. Anyone who tries would be as bad as you make Christians sound. Christian sexual ethics are based on the comprehensive teachings of the Bible, from Genesis to Jesus to the Apostles.

    I’m not sure on what basis we could reject all of that teaching, a pretty consistent theme throughout the entirety of Scripture, especially if the only reasons being offered are versions of “lots of people in the world feel differently.”

  • Nicole

    What I’m most concerned with about this issue is the fact that homosexuality is mentioned in the bible a total of about 6 times, twice in leviticus, which says it is an abomination right alongside having sex with a woman while she is on her period. I guess it’s possible that people against same-sex marriage never do that either, or they are only going by the few verses in the new testament. This pastor also talks about the commonly quoted passage in Romans 1 about same-sex relationships and explains that the point of the whole passage is about idolatry. Personally, I have to wonder why if this is clearly such a huge issue today affecting countless individuals and the church and society as the whole, why is there not even a single passage in the bible devoted to making it very clear that God despises committed same-sex relationships, if he does as conservative christians seem to think he does? Why are we not more concerned with the sins that are made abundantly clear and covered extensively in the bible through hundreds of verses, such as idolatry? It just seems like the bible isn’t as clear on the issue as the modern church is, and it is very possible that the commonly held christian view is a misinterpretation of an issue that has just recently become relevant.

  • Nicole
  • Nicole

    Not to mention, does anyone else find it ironic that this article basically turns Rob Bell’s quote promoting love and marraige into basically “Rob Bell conforms to society instead of following the Bible” in a nutshell, while anyone who has actually read his books would know that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • S. L. Whitesell

    Nicole, I can understand what you mean if you encounter Christianity on only a really superficial level. But once you start to understand it better, you realize that there’s no good way for a Christian to think homosexual behavior is a good thing.

    One reason why it isn’t addressed more often is because there was no proposal to reorganize society to include same-sex pairs as a basic unit. Certainly some of the pagan societies celebrated homosexuality, but in the two most prominent instances (Sodom and Gomorroah, and the Greek-culture Roman world of the New Testament) we have explicit denunciations of it.

    But we also think that the way God ordered creation is meaningful, and Jesus (who is the Creator, after all) reaffirms the order of creation (Matthew 19:4, for example). No one, not even those who supported homosexual behavior between men and boys, would have misunderstood “one flesh” as including those kinds of acts.

    If our approach to the Bible was “only those things on which it is explicitly declarative” we wouldn’t have a lot of doctrines (the Trinity is one example). Maybe some will say that would be fine, that we would be better off believing fewer things in general. But as Christians, we should not feel consigned to uncertainty on really important questions just because the Bible isn’t a bulleted list of hot social topics.

  • Jessica

    Great article, thank you for writing this! Homosexuality is not a new sin, it has been a hot topic since Sodom and was prevalent during the early church era. The values of this world will always conflict with God’s truth, the only real truth. The challenge facing the Church is to honor Him by graciously loving others without compromising His call to pursue holiness and stand up for what is right. That means Christians do have speak with reason, integrity and compassion to reach a culture that has been deceived in so many ways.

  • Jeff Turner

    I could really care less about the “evangelical conservative political machine.” What I find so offensive about Bell’s and others views on Christianity is that we are being told that society is leaving the church behind, on the gay marriage issue, as well as others. Keeping in step with the culture around me is NOT my highest priority, in fact if I find myself walking in the truth of Scripture then I can expect to be crossways with those around me who are living in the flesh. Christians need to quit wringing their hands over the fact that politically, socially, and ethically the world does not think much of their Christian Worldview, especially when it crosses their antinomian lifestyle. We can communicate the truth in love, but don’t be surprised if they hate you, it comes with the territory

  • Dean Ohlman

    I would say that the argument that best puts this in perspective is to understand that the motivating principle of Christian (biblical/and Jewish as well) ethics is life affirmation. What makes this planet different from all others is the existence of life, the gift of the triune God. The tree of life in the first paradise to be a part of the final paradise is our prime life symbol. Homosexual “marriage” is not only an impossibility, it is a latent death wish: it cannot survive one generation. I believe the following completely “pro-life” manner of living is in part what the Author of Life would desire for us to have:

    The Way of Truth, Life & Light:

    1. Worshiping and obeying God, Who is the eternal and supernatural source of life
    2. Acting as attendant and steward of the creation, which is the temporal and natural source of life
    3. Working heartily to gain sustenance for life and glorifying God through the expression of creative activity
    4. Confining sexual intercourse to the nurturing bounds of marriage (male and female) for life’s procreation and conjugal fulfillment
    5. Recognizing that sexual intercourse in the bounds of holy matrimony is an intimate sacrament of unity exclusively between male and female (no procreation of life outside of God’s creative order).
    6. Nurturing human life from conception to adulthood
    7. Avoiding murder, torture, violence, carrying out terrorism and unjust warfare, and causing unnecessary animal suffering and death
    8. Practicing behavior that is healthful (life-perpetuating) and attending to the healing of those who suffer
    9. Sharing of the earth’s resources among all people, attending to the poor and disenfranchised, and practicing sacrificial giving
    10. Depending upon God and the Body of Christ (church) for life’s security
    11. Avoiding sinful, life-threatening behavior and lovingly admonishing those who sin
    12. Affirming, proclaiming, and celebrating the life-giving truth found in both the special and general revelations of God (God’s Word and God’s works)

  • Nicole

    Whitesell, I can understand and respect your opinion if that is your personal view, that homosexuality is a sin. I do see how that is one very plausible and perhaps likely explanation of those few verses. However, what I don’t understand is the treatment of the issue by too many Christians today. Some are radicals who are hateful, judgemental, and don’t think gays should be allowed in church. I am aware that to label all Christians as having this type of behavior is a huge stereotype, but it’s not very often that I see Christians acting in the way that I believe Jesus would have called us to towards homosexuals– loving them, in spite of their sins, welcoming them into the church, not judging them for something they cannot control, even if it is a sin that they have to battle through with the help of their Christian community. How did Jesus treat the poor, the sinful, those who the churchgoers condemned? What did he come to accomplish? My whole point is that I personally don’t believe it is a sin based on the bible; if you do, I can very much respect that, but it’s the hypocrisy by too many Christians and churches that angers me.

    Romans 14:1-4 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

    There are 6 verses in the Bible that mention homosexuality. Some may be relevant today. There are hundreds of verses about not judging others.

    Dean, I don’t completely follow your “pro-life” argument against gay marraige, unless you believe that gays should procreate in spite of their natural sexuality? Or do you believe that being gay is a “choice”? Or should they just not have the privilege of the basic legal rights that straight humans have through marraige, because they are unable to procreate or because it is somehow unnatural, even though they were naturally born that way? If they shouldn’t marry or have relations because they can’t procreate, then what about both men and women who are unable to have children? Is it wrong for a man who is unable to have children to marry a woman because that’s not “pro-life” and it won’t survive? I am fairly certain that the earth’s population is in no immediate danger of becoming extinct considering its exponential growth; if anything, we are running out of resources to support the population we already have. I don’t understand how you can use a “pro-life” argument against allowing individuals who are not going to procreate regardless to have the basic legal rights that straight couples enjoy with their loved ones.

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting what your view is or leaving something out, but if so please correct me. Just trying to understand which of those views you have or if there’s something I’m not thinking of.

  • Dean Ohlman

    Thanks for asking that question, Nicole. Virtually all human sexual behavior is covered in the Scriptures. Many of the foundational statements are found in the first 5 books of the Bible–the most basic being the foundation of marriage in Genesis chapter 2: the joining of man and woman to form “one flesh.” This is obviously reference to the meeting of male and female GAMetes (a word carries over to terms like monoGAMY, biGAMY, and so forth) to perpetuate the race: to “be fruitful and increase in number”–to have children. It likely also relates to the physical union that helps form the marriage bond. Even the word “marriage” primarily refers to male and female in union. That is one reason why in recent centuries marriage partners are licensed, have blood tests, and receive the sanction of the courts and the church. The spousal vows have virtually always related to the potential of having offspring and protecting them within a loving family. True marriage presupposes procreation, without which the race would end. Obviously not all marriages produce children. And certainly far too many non-marriages have produced pregnancies and children, exposing infants (pre-birth and post-birth) to danger and/or death. Hence, sadly, millions of couples who cannot have children and would love them never have the chance to give such virtual orphans life and happiness.

    To fully answer your questions would take a major essay! But let me say that I am not at all opposed to homosexual unions–be they state sanctioned or not. Fidelity is better than promiscuity for sure. And I do not believe the state should in any way concern itself with how people have sex–unless, of course, disease is spread by such practices to those who are “innocent.” But to call the union of homosexuals “marriage” is to malign married parents who sacrifice time, money, mental and physical health, and “freedom” in order to perpetuate the race and prepare children for responsible adulthood.

    Why it appears that the Creator of life gave us both the revelation of His Word and His Works is that He loves life and desires that life be for as many as possible be lived in blessed shalom. Considering all of the Scriptures and understanding biology, homosexual behavior is and always has been considered “against nature.” It is the opposite of life-affirmation because it is a literal dead end. And it is just one of many behaviors (as listed in my previous post) that defy or deny the affirmation of life.

    All of that being said, I nonetheless believe that unkindness and hatred toward those who practice homosexual behavior is contrary to the teaching and example of Jesus. I have homosexual relatives, and I love them dearly. In fact, my lesbian sister, in her late seventies, is in a nursing home with congestive heart failure and none of her former partners care or even know of her plight. My wife and I are the only ones who love and care for her. She was snatched from our family shortly after reaching puberty by a women’s professional baseball team (mentioned in “A League of Their Own”) and made into a consort. By the time she was in her twenties, she was a miserable, “gay” alcoholic 2000 mile from her home. For five decades she was denied by her own choice a relationship with her family. I believe that only in these past few years as an invalid has she really had a relatively “good” life. Except for my wife and I, she is friendless. And she is childless. I don’t for a minute believe that such a life was God’s “original plan” for her (tipping my hand as not being a predestinarian!). Her story is likely multiplied by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, around the globe. I have neither “phobia” nor anger toward those who choose such a life. I grieve for them.

    Unless one is being raped, all sexual acts are a matter of choice.

  • Bill

    Nicole, the number of times an activity is condemned has no bearing on the rightness or wrongness of it. Rape, incest and bestiality, for example, are condemned only a handful of times. And we have no recorded instance of Jesus speaking about any if these sins.

  • Pingback: What Rob Bell Talks About At the Areopagus

  • http://www.xgaygregbride.wix.com/free xgaygreg

    I used to be addicted to men, but 7 years ago Jesus set me FREE! (YouTube video) I made the switch from being married to my first wife by ditching her and our 2 sons to go into the gay life-choice. Today I am FREE, DELIVERED and married to a beautiful woman of God. I won’t go back! ALL HAIL KING JESUS!!!

  • Matt Purdum

    Allowing gays to live their lives freely and to marry is precisely what the church must do. Gay people are sinners but I’ve never seen any Christians walk on water. Accepting actual reality in no way means the church has to promote or sponsor or perform gay marriages. The church “got on board” with divorce almost a century ago even though a conservative reading of scripture absolutely forbids it. Even conservative denominations now have divorced and remarried pastors. Doesn’t mean we think divorce is okay, just means we accept reality.

  • Nicole

    Dean, I think it would be too much to get into for me to fully understand your view haha, but I can respect the fact that you respect them. All that really angers me is the hypocrisy and hatred that some Christians give towards homosexuals, but I can understand where you are coming from and wish more Christians would treat the issue this way even if they believe it’s a sin. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so turned off by the church today.

    Bill, raping someone is pretty clearly commiting a lot of other sins besides those strictly regarded as rape. It’s the total opposite of loving another human being, it’s treating them as if they were an animal, it’s one of the most selfish things a person can do. Incest and Bestiality are similar in that they are extremely selfish because no thought is given towards the potential unborn child. These are all things that are causing harm to others. So I don’t see that as a very good argument. Two adults of the same gender having consentual sex in no way harms another human being, so the ONLY thing you have to go by in the Bible is the verses I mentioned, so read my previous post on that. That’s not the case with the sins you mentioned. If you interpret those specific verses that way, then fine, but my argument still stands that it doesn’t seem very significant or clear.

    Matt, I totally agree. Allowing them to get married, just as legally allowing divorce, has nothing to do with whether or not those things are allowed by the bible. It has nothing to do with getting on board with society and leaving the bible behind. All it has to do with is legislating morality, and if that’s what the church wants to do, then we might as well make laws against commiting every other sin that the bible condemns. That’s the hypocrisy I see.

  • Frank

    Just 3 thoughts

    1. I feel that many who criticize Rob Bell have never read his books, which leads many people to slander him.

    2. I’m tired of people referring to Sodom as an example of God’s anger against homosexuality. It makes Christians look so ignorant and I for one think it’s hateful. You are basically saying you think gays and lesbians are rapists.

    Ezekiel 16:49 – Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

    So they were proud, lazy, and fat. And they neglected the poor. Hmmm.

    3. Beware of “thinking biblically.”

    http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/03/05/thinking-biblically/

  • pedantic pete

    I am rather shocked by many of the patronising comments made in this thread, about ‘shallow’ understanding of the Bible etc., especially when directed against Rob Bell and Brian McLaren (and I think Nicola should also be offended, although I don’t know her from Eve). From what I’ve seen and read (not much from Bell yet – just ‘Love Wins’ which is a great book btw – but a lot from McLaren), they are grappling very deeply with how we apply God’s revelation of Himself through Scripture to our lives today and to our culture. The shallowness comes in taking simplistic interpretations based on (often poor) English translations of Hebrew and Greek original texts without any consideration of the cultural contexts to which they were addressed and stitching it together into simplistic statements about what God is for or against. And drawing simplistic distinctions between ceremonial, hygiene and moral laws just doesn’t work – the distinctions aren’t clear-cut. We all (conservative evangelicals included) pick and choose all the time based on cultural pre-suppositions and prejudices. And comparing attempted gang rape with loving, monogamous, same-sex relationships as though they are the same sort of thing is just homophobia dressed up as Bible teaching. Christian people, we need to get back to a Christ-centred approach to these things, to speak as He spoke, to do as He did, to understand as He understood. That is what McLaren and Bell and many others are trying to challenge us to do.

  • http://johnhughmorgan.com John Morgan

    Brad – The SBC doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to sexual ethics. Any of their seminary professors will tell you that marriage and family are to be worshiped as idols today. See Albert Mohler, Russell D. Moore, etc. Christian singles are not even included in their Faith and Message Statement. They don’t even recognize the spiritual gift of celibacy.

  • Todd Collier

    “two OT commandments that make male-male sex as unkosher as holding hands with a menstrating woman,”

    What??? Read the passages in question. Lev. 15 – To be with a woman on her period is to be ritually unclean and easily dealt with by bathing and a small sacrifice. Lev. 20 – To lie with a man as with a woman is a death sentence. Big difference! They are not treated as anywhere near the same offense. Also note that when Paul lists sins that keep one out of the Kingdom he does not list sleeping with menstrating women. He does list homoexuality however and other forms sexual behavior outside of the confines of marrige.

    This attempt to water down the Word to change its meanings is very dangerous. If you wish to disregard God’s commands that is your business, but do not move the stones He has clearly estabished within His Word.

  • Nicole

    Okay, now I really wish one of you would answer this, because I’ve never understood it. So you don’t want gays and lesbians to be able to legally get married because the bible forbids it. Fine. The bible also forbids false worship, idolatry, misusing God’s name, violating the Sabbath, dishonoring parents, adultery, lying/libel, coveting, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. Not to mention Jesus says if you even look at a woman lustfully you are committing adultery in your heart.

    But wait— these things are legally allowed today in the US. You can commit any of the seven deadly sins and no law forbids it. In fact, when Bloomberg wanted to pass a law that regulated portion sizes in restaurants and fast food places to prevent gluttony, many Christians were outraged! Should divorce be illegal too?

    If you are under the belief that biblical laws must translate into modern societal laws , then stop being a hypocrite, get your story straight and do that with everything, not just the sins that you never have to worry about because you happen to be born straight.

  • Nicole

    Pedantic Pete – Exactly. I wish more people understood this. It’s shallow enough to judge a book by its cover, but to make such statements about Rob Bell (not familiar enough with McLaren) is just sad and ironic because when you actually read his books with an open mind, you realize that that is always one of his major points– exactly as you described. Love Wins isn’t his only book that addresses the issue; many (if not all) of his books do. What it boils down to is people need to stop taking simplistic statements that fit in their line of thinking or are just what they’ve always been taught (not to mention when they’re afraid of alternatives, i.e. homophobia) and declaring them as truth and anything against them as blasphemy. Actually read the books you’re making statements about. Understand the contexts. Study the languages. Do some research. Pray for spiritual guidance through it. THEN maybe you can form a valid opinion. And if you actually read Rob Bell’s books, you’ll find that that is precisely what he asks you to do– even if you do disagree with what his beliefs might be.

  • http://louisianachurch.org JEREL

    Rob,
    You are off your rocker bud. How can a man say what you have said, and understand the Bible that is supposed to be the framework for his position on everything. We are not to hate anyone but we are also not to back down from what the Lord has posted and told us to continue preaching. The Lord confronted every sin with every person He met. How is it that you would rather want popularity with the world than to suffer with your Christ for the truth?
    Pastor Keene

  • Anne Byers

    I don’t believe that Christians should be trying to write beliefs only supported in the Bible into public law. Do we really want to force Christianity onto people, through a stroke of the pen like this? This is not the way to change hearts and minds. We should not impose religious controls on the public, because that would be tyrannical. And it is not a compromise of convictions any more than saying people should have a right to smoke two packs a day even though you strongly believe they shouldn’t.

    When the prodigal son wanted his inheritance – by the way, if that’s not basically telling your parent to their face you’d wish they’d just drop dead, I don’t know what is – against all normal and reasonable parenting reactions, the dad financially did “drop dead” and let him go! This is an amazing biblical depiction of our freedom of choice, so lavishly and lovingly gifted to us.

    Christians should be defending the free will, for better or worse, of our non-believing brothers.

  • Ian Collins

    there is a difference of being gay and having sexual relations with someone of the same sex. The bible talks about that. I think Love speaks way louder and that is what Jesus’ ministry is all about. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Have the Holy spirit convict. I think that is the point that Rob is trying to make here. That while yes we don’t agree with the life style we can’t just
    shun people out or scare them into being a Christian. It has to be a gradual thing and God has to be the one to do it. I am A follower of Christ and struggled with the sexuality issue for most of my life. I have learned that God loves everyone and that we don’t have to agree but being supportive and showing love is the best way. Have God direct it and we need to get out of the way.

  • http://pastorjamesmiller.com/ Jim Miller

    Really well put. I reviewed his latest book on my site, and I’m pretty sure it does more harm than good, despite whatever good ideas someone might extract from it.

  • Dan Allison

    Right to what I think the point is. The Bible condemns divorce. There’s no away around it. Mark 10:9 “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Those who approach Scripture with a law hermeneutic MUST oppose divorce. Yet the church has accepted divorce, and many pastors are not only divorced but remarried, some several times. Because we must put love above law, and because spouse abuse and adultery became rampant, we accommodate divorce. We will do the same with gay marriage, and I’m thinking that’s what Rob is getting at. He certainly makes a lot more sense than the serial adulterers like Newt Gingrich, now on his 3rd marriage, running around proclaiming the “sanctity” of marriage.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X