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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.