When I wrote I Sold My Soul on eBay, Rob Bell was the one pastor my publishers were hoping would write the foreword to the book. He was young, popular, on the rise, and someone who (they figured) would understand me. Rob not only spoke with me during the writing of the book, he ended up writing a really nice (and very Christian-y) introduction for it. He didn’t have to do it, so I really appreciated the gesture (and still do).
Last year, Bell ignited a firestorm when, in his book Love Wins, he suggested that it was “misguided and toxic” for Christians to believe that only those who accepted Jesus would go to heaven while everyone else burned in hell. Traditional pastors basically called him a heretic — though it’s not like they were all that enamored with him in the first place — while Bell’s younger audience smiled and nodded along with him.
And now, it’s happening again.
Over the weekend, during a talk at Grace Cathedral church in San Francisco, Bell answered a question (around the 42:27 mark) about whether he supports gay marriage this way:
I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. And I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs to just — this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.
Without explicitly saying it, that’s about as supportive of gay marriage as most popular Christians will ever get.
(Meanwhile, the rest of us are wondering when we get our cookie for supporting marriage equality long before it was merely trendy.)
I’m glad he’s saying what many younger Christians already know — that gay marriage is good for the institution of marriage that they claim to care about so deeply and not the bogeyman “traditional” Christians make it out to be. It’s not a formal statement (or even a tweet), but it’s a public answer that’ll no doubt piss off older Christians. So yay for that.
Stay tuned for the whines from True ChristiansTM claiming that Bell, with his message of love, is soooo not like them.
Which, for what it’s worth, I think he already knows and accepts.