why Rob Bell’s short response to homosexuality is good and reusable

This is why I think Rob Bell’s one minute affirmation of homosexuality makes sense, and why I think you can use this to answer similar questions regarding similar issues:

  1. He doesn’t theorize in a vacuum: In this video at least, he is answering this difficult question in the “epicenter of gay culture”, among gays, answering a gay man face to face. Plus the fact that he mentions his gay friend lends weight to it.
  2. He doesn’t invoke scripture: I believe relying on scripture to refute or affirm homosexuality is a dead end street. It is moot. The bible is a collection of documents spread over a thousand years that itself is over 2,000 years old from an ancient culture no longer extant, and therefore should not be solely relied upon for a rule book for modern ethics.
  3. He expresses his personal support and love: Rather than keeping the discussion in the realm of semantics and apologetics, he immediately pulls it into the very real world of love and relationship.
  4. He values personal encounter: One of the biggest turning points in my life was when my wife and I and another couple, friends of ours, shared a hot tub in a motel with a group of gay men. We had a long conversation with them that altered my life. Hearing their stories changed my mind.
  5. He reminds us of our unity: At a fundamental level we are all connected. That we are separate from one another is an illusion. We are all brothers and sisters, and once we see that then issues such as sexuality fall into a healthier and more holistic perspective.
  6. He turns our attention to more urgent matters: Rather than fighting one another on issues of sexuality and gender, there are far more urgent issues to pay attention to in the world such as war, poverty, hunger, racism, and the environment.

The only light critique of his response I would offer is that by saying “we love you”, it still echoes the presumption that straight white males are those in power but might be willing to include gays into the system. It can be argued that this is certainly the case. But I think Bell’s message would be more powerful if he jettisoned this antique presumption embedded in his language and led the way to a new language beyond the one of inclusion to one of presumed equality.

But in one short response that just took a minute, Bell provided an affirming answer as well as a template that can be used to respond to questions concerning sexuality, gender and other important issues.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Mike Morrell

    “Apostate Rob Bell” – that’s hilarious. I wonder how *I* can get that prefix attached to my name!

  • Matthew Parker

    While I definitely agree that his response is great in many circumstances and (without knowing the context of that conversation) may have been the perfect thing to say at that moment, I think calling this statement “a template that can be used to respond to questions concerning sexuality, gender and other important issues” reduces a very complex issue down to a very simple response that doesn’t really answer any questions for anyone. As I said, in some situations, this is a great response, but at some point, we need to go deeper and talk about the underlying facts.

  • vovsupporter

    And how many times have you and your wife shared a hot tub with a group of exhomosexual men and women and heard their stories? How do you make informed decisions based on 50% ancedotal stories?

  • Guest

    The point is that he listened to their stories and when you do that, it makes issues that people argue about more human. Hearing stories have profound effects on us-sermons, testimonies all have that impact, right? You listen to one person talk about being saved and everyone is supposed to be like “Wow!”

    When I worked in insurance, I spoke to a gentleman who needed a liver transplant. His partner got on the phone and his concern was a genuine as any other couple going through a medical crisis. I wondered if they made arrangements to speak for one another if the other couldn’t, did they have the support of family, would the healthy partner be able to visit the sick. Although I am a long-time ally, it was another step in really seeing that the issues surrounding gay marriage and equality affect the day to day lives of many people.

    Are all gay couples that loving and committed? Are all straight couples that loving and committed? the answer to both is probably not. But what you find is the human experience is similar and we often have the same dreams, hopes, fears and faults. And when we get to know people who are different from us, we can find that out. Even if it is one or 10,000 stories.

  • klhayes

    Fundamentalists and certain political groups love simple responses and it has worked very well for them. People often do not want to go deeper, which is sad, but true.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Hopefully one day saying that you are gay will raise no more eyebrows than saying that you are left-handed.

  • ccws

    When I count my blessings, lgbt Christians are high on my list – especially the pastor who was there for me in a crisis 25 years ago, but also the many lgbt couples I’ve known who could teach all us straights a thing or two about dedication and commitment. I’m in awe of a love that says “I love you so much, I’m willing to risk having the whole world hate me for loving you.”

  • ccws

    Just grab it and run with it. I tell anyone and everyone I’m a Heretic!

  • Dennis Irwin

    ” I believe relying on scripture to refute or affirm homosexuality is a dead end street. It is moot. The bible is a collection of documents spread over a thousand years that itself is over 2,000 years old from an ancient culture no longer extant, and therefore should not be solely relied upon for a rule book for modern ethics.”

    Very convenient. I’ve been reading and commenting on your blog for about a month now. And I’ve wondered how “progressives” were able to balance the ideology of progressivism and the authority of the Word. As I’ve stated before, I believe the ideology of progressivism/liberalism is based on atheism. It seems all of the questions progressivism answers are based on the idea that there’s no God. Progressive Christian seems like an oxymoron to me. Now I understand. You’ve decided what God says. You’ve decided how the Creator of the world communicates. You’ve decided whether God can communicate with the modern world. He can create you, me, the world and universe…..but I guess He can’t make sure we have a record of who and what He is.

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Tim – 3:16…..Unless you decide differently, I guess.

    There’s another scripture in James…..”Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Because influence carries responsibility. What are you doing? Can you be a Believer, a Christian, and not believe the bible is God-breathed? Seems like a dangerous place to be in.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    Actually Dennis you are the one who decided how God speaks before I did: through the bible. And then you quote the bible who claims that it is itself true. And then you use scripture that says that those who don’t agree with this are atheists. That’s pretty convenient don’t you think?

  • Gary

    Actually Dennis you have chosen a book over the Spirit of Truth. Maybe it is really YOU who is the true atheist? LOL

  • Gary

    And of course I just love the circular logic of qouting the bible to prove the bible…LOL.

  • Dennis Irwin

    “The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.
    Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

    Actually, Christ decided how God speaks before I did.

  • Dennis Irwin

    I learned it from Jesus.

  • Dennis Irwin

    I learned that from Jesus.

  • Gary

    Bullshit. You didn’t learn anything “from Jesus” as He said nothing about what you call scripture because it didn’t exist (NT) yet. And He was pretty quick to point out the flaws in that which did exist in His day.

  • Gary

    NOPE…Jesus said He was sending the Spirit of Truth. He said nothing about believing “in” a book. Your little box you are trying to squeeze God into is full of holes and circular reasoning.

  • Dennis Irwin

    I learned to read an quote scripture like He did. Scripture isn’t just the NT…..it’s all of it. Jesus quoted a bunch of it. And the disciple he called “the rock” said this………..2Peter 3:15-16 “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother PAUL also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all HIS LETTERS, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other SCRIPTURES, to their own destruction.”

    Caps are mine. This scripture could really help you, Gary.

    I do have a question for you Gary…..are you against Paul having his letters included in scripture? What some would describe as Pauline Christianity.

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    It’s interesting to me Dennis how someone’s confidence in their own knowledge of scripture can replace personality in an exchange. I’m sure a computer would do better than you, as is actually being proven.

    And I’m not sure if you realize this, but sitting in on and involving yourself in a forum just for the sake of using it as a negative example in your own forum is ultimately rude behavior. Where’d you learn your manners?

  • Dennis Irwin

    To be honest Dave, I have no idea what that first paragraph means. I know you’re dogging me, but it seems out of sorts.

    Bad manners? So all the people in here swearing and demeaning and you pick me out for bad manners? hmm.

    I don’t sit on and involve myself just for the sake of using it as a negative example. As a teacher, everything I learn comes out in my teaching. It always has….and I believe it’s biblical. I don’t have it at the top of my head where….something about what goes in comes out. You know what I’m talking about. But I come here for a multitude of reasons which I’ve mentioned before…..learning what people of opposite opinion think, examining why I believe what I believe, being pushed to know what I believe, defending against false teaching that is influencing too many people, learning to communicate better in type and more. I’ve said before, I don’t always come across in type as I wish. A couple times I wish I wouldn’t get baited into being sassy, but some in here are just as confident David, and even more rude.

    As far as using it in my class, how is using a public publication in a class setting rude? If it was a private letter, than yes that would be rude. I use public opinion often, as do you. You just linked to a blog you disagreed with today…..what’s the difference? My class is made up of people from age 16-65 and they love to learn. They’re adults. I don’t tell them what to think. If I bring something to the table they don’t understand or like, they will debate me in class with as much passion as some do here. But without the demeaning condescension. Plus….you’ll probably get more traffic!
    Don’t you want competing thoughts to challenge you? I do. That’s why I’m here.

  • Gary

    Why? So I can believe the universe is 6000 years old like you do? LMFAO The question of scriptural infallibility is way bigger than Paul.

    Actually Dennis I love the bible exactly for what it is. Unfortunately your views on the “scripture” have totally polluted your mind. You have become a mindless spoon fed fundamentalist incapable of thinking for yourself.

  • Gary

    I use profanity on purpose Dennis. There are many reasons why a good swear word fits when talking to a fundamentalist. And I confront your abusive and condescending teaching directly because of all the damage your kind of thinking has done to so many people. And it is funny as hell to me that you think you have a handle on what falls into the “false teaching” category. LOL

  • http://nakedpastor.com/ nakedpastor

    To be honest Dennis, I have nothing against you as a person, but your thinking is faulty to the point where to you the cracks are made to appear as part of the structure. You agree with nothing I post. You are either a wolf among sheep or a sheep among wolves. Therefore, you are either a predator or a fool. There’s no other explanation for why you are here.

  • Dennis Irwin

    How old is the earth Gary? Or the Universe?

  • Gary

    Don’t go there Dennis. You truly do reveal yourself the fool when you do.

  • Dennis Irwin

    Hey wait a minute….I agreed on the Benny Hinn post. And I agreed on another one just recently………

    oh….the pet Jesus one!

  • Dennis Irwin

    I’m a fool…..because you assume I know the earth is 6000 years old, but you won’t tell me how old it actually is? Nice.

  • Gary

    No…you’re a fool for continuing to defend a clear fraud pretending to be a scientist. This type of willful ignorance is the only way to support your views. THAT is what makes you the fool.

  • Dennis Irwin

    B S, University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture – 1968, M S, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science – 1972, D D, School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia – 1996, D Litt, Mid-Continent University, Mayfield, Kentucky – 2011, Past Regent of the School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia. Adjunct Professor, School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia, Florida Christian College, Guest Lecturer, 10 Years a Teacher of Evolution, 1 1/2 Years a Theistic Evolutionist, 38 Years a Biblical Scientific Creationist Ordained Minister.
    Yeah…..he has a looonggg way to go to catch up to you, Gary.
    But come on man, we both know we use people that agree with us as sources of info. I think the guys you use suck, but that’s not the point. I’m debating you, not them. The fact you keep dwelling on a source I mentioned once (and have met and liked!) and not debating me on issues……makes it seem like your dodging.

    So, how old is the earth, Gary?

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    As an alternative to your one-stop shopping creationist preacher man scientist, you can check out the following big world video.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/david_christian_big_history.html

  • Gary

    No Dennis…nice try. You use a fraud and a liar.

    None of the education listed above has ANYTHING to do the kind of science he claims expertise in. His degrees are in forestry management. His pretend doctorate (In theology) is from a FAKE university which is nothing but a pretend church school teaching nothing but bullshit fundamentalism based dogma. Try to find the school why don’t you. He NEVER taught evolution in any genuine science capacity because he was never trained in any of the sciences. . That is simply one of his lies. (unless he is referring to teaching it to his kids or something) He was never trained in any form of evolutionary or any other kind of science. He is not a guest lecturer at ANY real university having anything at all to do with science. This is another of his lies. He preaches his pretend science at a church that claims to be a school because they, like you, are willfully ignorant. He is the worst kind of scam artist and you keep supporting him.

    My undergraduate and graduate “science” degrees in business technically make me as qualified in “science” as he is. The difference is I don’t go around challenging the entire scope of the REAL scientific community making a fortune deceiving the willfully ignorant pretending I know more than they do about THEIR fields of research and study.

    Unlike you Dennis, I don’t use sources of info that agree with me. I seek out those with REAL expertise in whatever discipline I am exploring. This is exactly the reason why you continue to embrace frauds and fraudulent beliefs, because you seek out opinions to confirm what you want to hear. I am glad that you have chosen to reveal that you are a fraud with a complete lack of objectivity. This is really quite funny. The funniest part of it all is that there are NO actual members of the scientific community, actually doing REAL science, that support the young earth nonsense. (Obviously why you have to resort to liars and frauds) We have been down this road already when you pasted a nonsense collection of frauds and non-scientists you falsely proclaimed supported your view. I already pointed out the list was composed of nothing but non-scientist quacks commenting on areas OUTSIDE their expertise, liars, or men who said something that was taken badly out of context to imply they supported a view which they clearly did not. This is the young earth creationist schtick. Lies, pretend science, false quotes, literally scam artists.

    I am amused that you keep asking me how old the earth and universe are. This type of questioning is nothing more than a lame attempt at diversion. I am pretty sure you know the scientific community agrees on an age of the earth that is approximately 4.54 billion years and of the universe of approximately 13.77 billion years. These ages continue to be refined as scientific progress enhances our ability to calculate them. The evidence for these approximate ages comes from the entire scope of REAL sciences independently supporting the others.

    Dennis if I were you I would simply walk away in shame with my tail between my legs. You long ago lost all credibility and your continued goofiness only makes more the fool with every post.

  • Dennis Irwin

    Hey genius, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry is a top 40 public university in the nation with departments in chemistry, environmental science and environmental and forest biology among others. Sounds like that might have something more to do with the theory of evolution than business. You see, evolutionist use what’s in and of the environment to help theorise evolution. Like ecosystems. But what do I know, I’m just a plumbing contractor.

    Of course he’s just one guy I like because he’s local (Orlando), I’ve met him and read his stuff. But he’s not the only creation scientist out there. Something tells me no matter who I list it wouldn’t matter: Dr. John Baumgardner, Dr. Don Batten, Dr. A.E. Wilder-Smith, Dr. Robert Gentry and I’ll even through in Dr. Carl Wieland even though his degree is “only” in medicine. Or even Isaac Newton….but clearly you know more than all of these.

    I don’t walk away from wrong. And besides, you don’t need to be a scientist to know evolution is made up. It’s a theory, with no proof.

    I asked how old the earth is, not as a diversion, but to prove a point. I knew you were going to say 4.54 billion years as the age of the earth. It’s a pretty impressive number. I like the .54 part…so accurate! Of course NO scientific method can prove the age of the earth and the universe. You have faith that it is. As a matter of fact, they’ve changed that number a few times haven’t they? That’s why I don’t say how old the earth….nobody knows. But I do know one thing, after 4+ billion years…..that would be one salty ocean.

    In reference to an earlier post about fundamentalism causing harm to so many people……”the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” has been much worse.
    Oh….I don’t have the exact text….but I don’t believe I said he “taught” evolution. I believe I said he worked as an evolutionist. Which is what he told me.

  • Gary

    You’re really NOT GETTING this are you Dennis. His doctorate is pretend…it is a sham that is not recognized by the educational community. And his real education is in FORESTRY MANAGEMENT. Try to pay attention…he has no qualifications whatsoever in the sciences for which he sets himself up as an expert.

    And this choice statement of your…”And besides, you don’t need to be a scientist to know evolution is made up. It’s a theory, with no proof.”…is perhaps the most ignorant thing you have said yet. I don’t believe anything could reveal your profound blindness more than this.

  • Gary

    And your goofiness about changing the age of the universe as scientific knowledge increases (well duh!!) and the saltiness of the ocean are once again references to PRETEND SCIENCE, which have been completely refuted as false and nothing more than challenges by the profoundly ignorant who have never really studied the sciences.

    Give it up Dennis…your continued defense of this quackery only makes you more of a laughing stock.

  • Martina Cassidy

    2 Timothy 4:3 It grieves me to see people here dishonour God’s Word. God bless you Dennis – you appear to be the only one here who is honouring the Truth

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    It is also possible to view yours and Dennis’s interpretation of scripture (or scripture itself) as a turning away from Truth and turning towards myths. Any time someone writes something down and proclaims that it is the word of God (whether written now or 2000 years ago), the words should be viewed with some degree of caution.

  • 2TrakMind

    There are a few things that, I feel, need to be brought to light. First, we should never make the Bible say anything that it doesn’t say, itself. Second, the Bible never calls itself the Word, but calls Jesus the Word. Third, while the Bible can be a helpful tool, Jesus (The Word), Himself said that He was sending the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide. He said nothing of a book that would combine the old covenant scriptures with the account of His life on earth and letters that were written to people who lived under the law, that people who have never lived under the law would have to try to discern and apply to their lives until He returned, or they died.

  • dcsloan

    The Bible was not written in English. Consequently, any English translation – at best – can only approximate the language, meaning, and connotation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. For those who do not read ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, we must study the research and opinions of biblical scholars who do and who have access to the biblical source documents. The hundreds of biblical source documents exist in forms from complete scrolls to fingernail-sized fragments, were written over a span of several centuries, and copies of the same text can have significant differences. The books included in the Bible varies throughout the world – there is no single universal authoritative version of the Bible. Additionally, since the source documents span a lengthy time, they clearly document that the text itself changed over time. Most importantly, there are no original documents and there is no way to verify how closely the source documents are copies of the original documents.


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