Rob Bell: A Church That Denies Gay Marriage Will Be “Irrelevant”

Rob Bell: A Church That Denies Gay Marriage Will Be “Irrelevant” February 23, 2015

Wishful thinking.

Here’s a bit of the article from Huffington Post (original embedded links removed):

Rob Bell, the widely popular and controversial former megachurch pastor, is now convinced that a church doesn’t support same-sex marriage will “continue to be even more irrelevant.”

Bell made the comments on an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday, where he appeared with his wife Kristen to talk about religion and spirituality.

“One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness,” Bell said. “Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

Bell notes that Christianity is evolving and that many Christians have already opened their hearts to the idea that two people of the same sex would choose to journey together.

In fact, he says the church’s acceptance of gay marriage is “inevitable.”

“I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life,” he said.

Bell’s convinced that a church that doesn’t support same-sex marriage will “continue to be even more irrelevant.”  More irrelevant? In other words, churches are already irrelevant, and rejecting same-sex marriage will make them more irrelevant. That’s kinda like saying “Standing in the rain makes you wet. If you dive into the pool, you will be more wet.” Or maybe even: “Being a former megachurch pastor makes you irrelevant. Appearing on Oprah’s network makes you more irrelevant.”

Right off the bat, Bell tells us churches are no longer relevant. Forget any formal institution – just be spiritual. This way, you won’t expose yourself to hearing something that might challenge you. This is the guy, if you recall, who wrote “Love Wins” back in 2011, in which he basically denied the existence of Hell. He’s on a tangent moving farther and farther away from traditional Christianity.

He goes on to say: “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world.” Hmmm. Sounds a bit like Genesis, where God said: “It is not good for man to be alone.” So what did He do? HE MADE A WOMAN! And between the two of them – Adam and Eve, that is – besides ushering in sin and all that junk, also brought about the human race. One man, one woman, complimentarity, fecundity, sex, pregnancy, babies, peoples… Even if you don’t buy into the creation story, there’s plenty of evidence in nature that species propagation requires a dude and a dudette.

So I get the “being alone” thing. God understood the “being alone” thing. But being alone isn’t loneliness. I know plenty of married folks who endure loneliness, even when their spouse is sitting next to them on the couch – I’m sure you do, too. And I know plenty of single people who aren’t lonely. Loneliness isn’t merely a physical state of being. It’s metaphysical, borne from not being in a right relationship with the God who created us, with the Savior who redeemed us, with the Holy Spirit who renews us.

Where Bell says “Loneliness is not good for the world”, he’s right. It isn’t good. Except he has the wrong solution. Marriage isn’t about curing loneliness. If the cure for loneliness is marriage, then why is there divorce? Or porn? Or adultery? Or ’50 Shades of Grey’? ’50 Shades of Grey’, imho, shows that loneliness really does exist in marriage, but that’s a discussion for another time. Marriage isn’t about having “someone to go on the journey with”. That’s Hallmark card romanticism, a chick-flick pick-up line, sappy sentimentality that ignores the hard reality about marriage. Marriage isn’t a journey; it’s a freaking battle. Every.single.day. A married couple can be nose to nose – or back to back – just as much as they can be shoulder to shoulder.

Overcoming loneliness is a rotten reason to get married. At its very core, Christianity holds that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, to bring forth children and raise them. At its very best, Christ lives in the center of that marriage. He is the cornerstone that sustains it, and renews it.

Yeah, so what, says Bell. Christianity is evolving. Christians are becoming comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage, so that those couples can journey together and live in a land where no one judges them, and where churches will accept them, affirm them, and tell them God is okay with their decision. Christians are devolving to a point where feelings are the highest good, where the greatest sin is not being permitted to act on those feelings, or made to feel guilty when they do act. Even if said actions are wrong. Objectively wrong. In-the-eyes-of-God wrong. Cos judgmental.

That’s not the Christianity I know. Christianity is hard, full of hard truths. Where we are called to die to self, carry our cross, and follow the way of the Lord. It’s also full of mercy and forgiveness, charity and justice. Where we will be judged upon our deaths. Where we love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. Where we admonish the sinner. In other words, Christianity is a paradox, and it reaches Full Paradox within the Catholic Church. Every teaching, each truth – firm and enduring, yet held in delicate balance. Like a stone arch – each block relying upon the others for strength and support, and each one important in its own right, each one wholly necessary. Remove one, and the entire structure weakens. Remove too many…well, you could end up writing a book about the ZimZum of Love and Marriage, which is rather far afield from the Christian idea of marriage. It’s the Church who affirms the dignity of the person, even when the person is immersed in sin. It’s the Church who accepts the worst of sinners into her arms – as she has done for 2,000 years – and loves them into full communion by saying, Repent and believe in the Gospel! Yes, people already in the Church can be asshats and be bigoted and such – because guess what? The Church accepts the worst of sinners, like asshats and bigots, and loves them into full communion too, and they too are called to Repent! And believe in the Gospel!

Bell saying churches will be “irrelevant” is akin to saying  “They are on the wrong side of history”. 2,000 year old letters are on the wrong side of history (except for parts he agrees with. Funny that), and churches that rely on them for their best defense will be irrelevant. Which is interesting, because the best defenses for one man+one woman marriage aren’t scriptural and religious, but basic common sense.

Though I do have a question about Bell’s remark: at what point did those 2,000 year old letters stop being the inspired word of God? Before or after Oprah called? Just asking, you know?

The Church has always had flesh-and-blood people in front of them who “just want to love one another”. Divorce and remarriage (without annulment) has a similar history  – and the Church continues to grapple with it today, within and without. Think Synod of the Family. King Henry VIII had his closest friend St Thomas More executed over it. Was More irrelevant? Not at all – he saw the problem through the eyes of the Church, who observes trends and times with her gaze solidly fixed upon eternity. The here now is important, yes, but not nearly as important as the hereafter. Again, that paradox thing. That delicate balance.

The battle over same-sex marriage is here to stay, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules this summer, regardless of how many denominations approve of it.

And the Catholic Church, regardless of how “irrelevant” it is to Rob Bell and those who think like him, will continue to teach the truths of marriage, and will always be here, even if she’s the last one standing. And as the storms rage and the sands shift and the battles rage, many will be glad that the Church, guided by and protected by the Holy Spirit, didn’t waver.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • friendly_hedgehog

    Absolutely. Why can’t people accept that biblical marriage should be just like in Genesis? One man, and one female clone of the man. And no priests.

    • Dan F.

      -1 for attempting a literalist critique of a tradition that depends on historical interpretation and living authority for it’s belief structure.

      • hyhybt

        It’s not a good response, but it’s one this article deserves.

      • ThoughtExpo

        Dan F. You want a historical interpretation? What do you think the historical interpretation and living authority for Catholic or Christian understandings of marriage might be?

        Jerome? Who prized celibacy, and whose feelings of marriage might best be encapsulated by the statement … “I guess it’s OK if you have to”?

        Tertullian, who argued that celibacy was the cure to marital “bondage” and that marriages almost always had the taint of misery about them?

        Catholicism has a formidable history of sexual ethics, but to excavate its meaning and structure, you have to understand first that it is extremely suspicious of the sexual bond that takes place within marriage. Marriage is not something to be “celebrated.” Marriage between a man and woman was necessary, Paul argues, because it is difficult to suppress our sexual natures.

        So, let’s give you a -1 for telling friendly hedgehog to attempt a historical interpretation without actually knowing the historical interpretation, and call it a day.

        • Dan F.

          Proof texts from church fathers do not equal the whole historical tradition. It’s not like JPII’S Theology of the Body was made up out of thin air and that’s quite affirming of the sexual relationship between spouses (among other things).

          • Confused666

            This is a good example of how to pretend you are saying something when you don’t have anything substantive to say.

          • Dan F.

            Cool story bro….

  • ahermit

    I’ve been married (faithfully, happily and heterosexually) for more than thirty years.I think I can speak about marriage with some authority as a husband and father of now-adult children. Marriage is about sharing your life with another person, it is about being there for each other, being strong when your strength is needed and accepting that you must sometimes rely on your partner’s strength. Marriage is the most intimate fulfilling and challenging of human relationships and it is best entered into with the person you love and trust the most in the world.

    Even if that person is the same gender as you are.

    I live in Canada where same sex marriages have been legally recognized for a decade now. None of the fear-mongering, chicken-little sky-is-falling predictions offered by opponents of same sex marriage has come to pass here. Th eChurch can preach and practice whatever it pleases, but it needs to get out of the way of those who believe and practice otherwise and let them have the same legal rights and obligations as the rest of us.

    • BTP

      One wonders what we think about a case where the person one loves and trusts most in the world is one’s mother.

      To be clear, I am simply suggesting that your observation about with whom one ought to be married is not particularly well-considered. I feel like I’m always going to be able to trump your open-mindedness with some hoary taboo about which you simply haven’t become enlightened enough to separate yourself. I hope that suggests the matter is quitet a bit more complex than you have allowed.

      • Kofender

        Really? Which “slippery slope” issue are you going to go for next? The mother is an interesting twist, but unless your name is Oedipus, you can’t marry your mother (or your father or sibling, and in most states a first cousin). Your dog, cat, or goat? Sorry, they can’t give consent. Some child? Again, not legal for them to give consent.

        Here’s the reality. Marriage equality has had ZERO impact on your life or anyone else’s life (except the couple getting married). So why get so upset about it? Oh, your bible? Sorry, but it doesn’t matter. We live in a constitutional republic and not a theocracy. Your bible has no bearing in civil law (nor should it). Your religion stops at your house; you have no right to impose it on others who aren’t interested in whatever your cult teaches (I’m assuming your membership in some sort of cult here).

        Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. Oh there will be an answer, let it be.

        • BTP

          The ban on incestuous marriage is, I was trying to suggest, analogous to the ban on homosexual marriage. If the claim to support gay marriage is that one should be allowed to marry whomever one loves and trusts the most… Well, surely you see where I’m going.

          As for the idea such laws don’t affect me: sure, I guess. But I don’t suppose they affect you, either. And yet you seem to have an opinion. Maybe we are both allowed to have opinions about public policy?

          • friendly_hedgehog

            I don’t think Kofender was making the point that “the law doesn’t affect you, so you shouldn’t care about it”. Rather, it seems to me more like they are saying “gay people being able to marry does not in any way negatively affect the lives or rights of anyone else, so there’s no reason to legislate against it (if we ignore Because The Bible Says So as a legal justification)” – although I might be projecting my own interpretations a little bit. 🙂

            Personally I think restrictions on incest are justified more by the power dynamics that are implied by such a relationship than by being “grossed out” by it (and I’m willing to consider the possibility of non-abusive incestuous relationships) – but such a discussion is rather beside the point here, don’t you think?

          • BTP

            It is perhaps beside the point to note that, as the laws are being enforced, some rights and lives are indeed being harmed. The interpretation of florist and photography services being a public accommodation, for example, among these. But let’s set that aside.

            I think the conversation about incest is quite apt; the great majority of pro-gay marriage types holding this ancient and mysterious taboo even as they mock others as holding to a different ancient and mysterious taboo. You, on ther other hand, are willing to place the legitimacy of these relationships within the context of consent, which shows where the honest disagreement lies: I’d place more requirements on a marriage.

            If I can be permitted to argue from the Christian perspective here (and if you could spare me an argumentum ad Leviticum),I’d point out that the Christian perspective is that there is a person you are meant to be, that the grace helping you to be this person is often delivered through relationships with other people, and that one specific relationship is particularly important. For this reason and others, society should support this relationship; supporting it means precisely to make it uniquely favored among all relationships.

          • hyhybt

            Nothing in your description of “the Christian perspective here” says that the relationship must be with someone of the opposite sex. Was that intentional, or accidental?
            (I don’t trust anyone who says things like “THE Christian perspective,” because on just about any topic there will be multiple perspectives held by Christians and wording it that way is so frequently an attempt either to delegitimize disagreement or to pretend it does not exist.)

          • friendly_hedgehog

            If you could be more specific, what are the other requirements you would place upon a marriage, and what are the justifications for them (preferably outside of the Bible)? It seems to me that you’ve written a lot of nice sentiments here (“marriage is an important relationship which can help you to become a better person”), but I’m not sure why they would be limited to only opposite-sex couples.

            I think the “ordinary” Catholic viewpoint on marriage restrictions that I tend to hear is less about marriage as “a specific important relationship with another person that helps you become the person you are ‘meant’ to be”*, and more about marriage as “a relationship which can produce children” (but with an exception for infertile couples, for Reasons?). I think I like your way of thinking more than this, but I can’t see a reason why same-sex couples should be excluded!

            *(which I think is a nice way of describing what marriage can be for people, but a rather more difficult thing to describe or enforce in terms of who we should allow to get married to whom)

          • BTP

            I think, Hedge, that they would be the standard ones: two non-related and opposite sex people, both of whom are able to complete the marital act, both of whom are able to consciously affirm the relationship. I don’t have a justification for these outside of the Christian thinking; I can think of civilizations that have kept themselves running with reproductive rules quite at odds with this set. Herodotus has quite a list of them.

            I am hardly the first person to observe the family is an icon of the Trinity and that it is designed(!) to share in that creative work. Thus, a man leaves his father and mother and becomes one flesh with another: the creative work of building civilization happens when one leaves the family (thus, not incestuous) and create another person from the two who are really one. Not to be s scripture bore, but the idea is that we are the image of God specifically within this male-and female-ness.

            It’s not to suggest that gay couples don’t have genuine love for each other, or for that matter, to suggest polygamous families are not also loving. It certainly isn’t to say that love for another person is not, of itself, ennobling. It is merely to say that those activities are not this specific activity, not a marriage. It is the creativity of the heterosexual marriage that makes it unique; in it, everyone joins in making the culture, which is who we are supposed to be.

          • Confused666

            BTP, I think there are two classes of questions here. The first is: What does the Bible say about marriage? The second is: Are there good reasons to expect everyone else who does not share your religion to opt into this definition of marriage in the public sphere?

            If, as you concede, there are no good reasons that can be found outside the Bible for your vision of marriage, why should Americans – Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons – of all religious faith be forced to accept a vision of marriage that is counter to their religious faith? Don’t they have First Amendment rights too? Or do only Christians have them?

            If the creativity of heterosexual marriage is what makes marriage unique, do you mean to suggest that infertile Christian couples have marriages that are less meaningful? If through no fault of their own, a Christian man cannot have kids, is his marital bond any less? If not, how can you sustain the fiction that “creativity” or “procreation” is what matters?

            Funnily enough, procreation is not the official position of the Catholic church anyway, so the theology you espouse is more than a little wonky. The Catholic Church’s defense of marriage has always been two-fold. Biblically, that it is a way of controlling sexual desire, as with the vision in Corinthians on marriage. From tradition, that it is about the complementary natures of men and women.

            I’ll write more about the Biblical nature of marriage in a separate post, but for now, I am curious to hear your answer to the second question. Even if you are right about what Biblical marriage is – and I don’t think you are – why should Muslims, Jews, Tibetan Buddhists (who don’t have a problem with gay marriage, incidentally) be forced to embrace your definition in the civil sphere?

          • Confused666

            I’ve always found Christians a bit funny that way. Because you guys are such loving people, you are forever concerned about the two florists who are being harmed by the LGBT community instead of the 27,000 gay kids who are being called faggot by Christian kids at school, by the 11,500 gay families who are currently unprotected by the umbrella of health insurance through spousal coverage, or by the untold numbers of gay and lesbian folk who can be arbitrarily fired in places like Alabama and Arizona if, God forbid, someone realized they were gay.

            In this topsy-turvy Christian world, gays are the ones who, in spite of being beaten, bullied, called a faggot, are the ones who are the “persecutors” And Christians are the victims.

            If you want to know why Catholicism is becoming such a dirty word, it’s precisely because of this kind of thinking.

            I recommend the blog posts of a Catholic guy called “Trip” on some of the other blogs. His tone was very refreshing, very genuine. Although he keeps to a very traditional understanding of marriage, and he defends it as being only between one man and one woman, he makes none of the mistakes that the original poster and so many people make.

            I think these conversations should be informed by the understanding that gay people, historically and presently, have suffered very significant harms. They are not trying to “steal” an abstract definition of marriage from you for giggles. They want the same civil protections that you take for granted. Is that so hard to understand?

          • ThoughtExpo

            I can’t say that it hasn’t affected me. I don’t care if people agree with me. I care that the discussion is an intelligent one.

            As such, your comments have caused much emotional distress.

      • ahermit

        Oh please, we’re talking about relationships between non-related consenting adults. There’s no need to bring incest into it; incest implies previously existing relationships and power differentials and all kinds of things that aren’t issues at all when it comes to same sex marriage.

        Why can’t you bigots ever have an honest conversation?

      • ThoughtExpo

        BTP, assuming your nick is not an acronym for Bullshit-Trumps-Preparation, what are your learned thoughts about the instances in the Bible in which marriages were contracted among: (1) slaves raped through the course of warfare, which resulted in binding marital arrangements, (2) polygamous unions in the Old Testament, (3) mandatory Levirate wedlock of the widows of deceased relatives in the Old Testament.

        Pop Quiz: Are Levirate marriages incestuous if a child by the deceased brother has already been birthed?

        Eww… Christian incest!?!?

        In a world where Bullshit does not Trump Preparation, might you present your exegetical commentaries on these relevant biblical passages?

        Much love, but not respect, ThoughtExpo.

        • CatholicusRidiculus

          Erm, $100 bucks that BTP is not going to touch this with a ten-foot pole. Way above his pay grade. LOL.

    • ThoughtExpo

      I would take a different approach. I think gay marriage does fundamentally change society. How so?

      It confirms a centuries-old precedent that no one religious community should have a monopoly on defining any set of civil laws or codes that impinge on so intimate an aspect of our personal lives.

      It builds upon the gradual removal of the same gender stereotypes (read; Catholic complementarism) that contributed to the economic, social and psychological inequality of women in homes and in the workplace.

      It establishes a much more persuasive and democratic ideal of marriage consistent with what people already believe in and know. No one enters into a marriage in order to procreate. People don’t attend weddings to celebrate an impending procreation but to witness the love and intimacy between a committed couple. Maybe BTP does, but the great thing is that he is free to contine doing so in a free society.

  • BTP

    Protestant mega church pastor, whose entire church concept involved finding ways to be relevant to shallow suburban salarymen and their second wives, finds bible talk about the moral work required to be the man you are meant to be a downer.

    • ThoughtExpo

      Anonymous forum blogger, whose entire religious worldview entailed finding ways to be relevant to shallow Christian exegetical traditions and their reformed corollaries, finds civil rights discussions about the morality required of a decent human being a downer.

      By the way, I can recommend a primer that will help you learn the distinction between a verb and adverb. Promise it wil be helpful. Much love, ThoughtExpo

  • Trance Blinker

    The institutional Catholic Church is already irrelevant to most Catholics. They lose nothing standing against marriage equality. You can’t lose what you don’t have.

    • ThoughtExpo

      The integral kinship between spirituality and organized religion was what prevented many Catholics from leaving the Church when they ought to have done so during the height of the sex abuses scandals in the opening years of this century.

      Approximately 60% of US Catholics actually back gay marriage. And nearly 75% of them back contraception. Well, when you hear the Catholic Conference of Bishops pass a resolution proposing a tax or ban on condoms, let me know.

      I’m not holding my breath.

  • Harry Fox

    Well-written article. +10 for standing true to the faith.
    Rob Bell is well off the rails now, but the signs were there some years ago.
    My book, Crosscurrents: Making sense of the Christian Life, had a lot to say about Rob Bell that is even more relevant now. http://tinyurl.com/mo9vxam
    This is totally about re-defining what marriage is, not deciding who can be married. Same-sex “marriages” are simply not marriages. This is about catering to some who want the name but not the institution.

    • ThoughtExpo

      No one is redefining marriage for Christians. Muslims believe in polygamous marriages under sharia law. Do Christian’s conceptualization of marriage force a “redefinition” of Muslim conceptions of marriage?

      The state is defining what CIVIL marriage is.

      Moreover, the tone is fairly important, don’t you think? Harry Fox, if the redefinition of marriage separate from civil liberties was what concerned you, then, Harry Fox, why don’t you begin the conversation by clarifying that you are all for the civil liberties (property rights, visitation rights, health insurance via civil partnerships) that gay people SHOULD possess, BEFORE talking about a vague, non civil-liberty based conception of sacramental marriage that even non Bible-believing folks should embrace?

      The U Unitarians believe in same sex marriage. Significant amounts of the Anglican Communion have come out in favor of same sex marriage. So, this is an intra-religious conversation. A conversation, that is, among groups of people, all of whom worship their own God, and all of whom have their own interpretations of a particularly sacred Book.

      -10 for failing to take a broad panoramic view of the religious landscape. -10 for failing Linguistics 101 by attempting to occupy the rhetorical space of “redefinition” and in doing so falling into a category problem.
      -10 for, well, not being very intelligent.

      Score: -30.

      • Harry Fox

        No. This is about taking a “brand,” i.e. marriage, and rebranding it to change its very definition. This is why the “civil unions” as an alternative to redefining marriage were not acceptable to many. It is all about wanting to reject the essence, but still wanting a nice-sounding name.
        I know that truth is a hard thing to bear, sometimes. Though I have often been wrong, I am pretty sure I am right about the essence of this issue.
        I agree that others have tried to do the same thing, but as Mom always said, “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

        • hyhybt

          Nonsense. The essence of marriage is the relationship. Not what body parts the people IN the relationship happen to have.

          • Harry Fox

            Not nonsense. The essence of marriage is the institution itself. One man, one woman, for life. Change that and it is not marriage.

      • The original Mr. X

        I wasn’t really convinced by this whole “same-sex marriage” idea, but your judicious use of the Caps Lock key has completely won me over.

      • Rob_Drury

        So, religious sects well-known for self-serving “interpretations” of scripture are increasing accepting of same-sex marriage. What a shock!

        Unfortunately (fortunately, actually), God is not accepting of same-sex marriage.

        Case closed.

        • hyhybt

          So you say.

          • Rob_Drury

            Of course I do. To say otherwise would be a lie, plus I realize that it would be futile at best to disagree with God.

          • hyhybt

            Disagreeing with what YOU claim God wants is not the same thing as disagreeing with God. That remains true no matter what you say about how the Bible should be understood.

          • Rob_Drury

            Point taken. When I inject my personal beliefs into a discussion, I clearly identify them as such. I have limited my statements to only confirmed fact.

          • hyhybt

            Since we’ve established that your understanding of how the Bible should be understood is opinion, and since the opinion of other people, no matter who they are, is also opinion, what basis remains for such a claim of “confirmed fact?”

          • Rob_Drury

            We’ve established no such thing. Nice try, though.

            These discussions are pointless if empirical knowledge of these things isn’t available. Fortunately, it is. Yes; “confirmed fact.”

            If your spiritual knowledge is only opinion, then it’s not knowledge, is it? You have eternity riding on this; you’d better get it right.

          • hyhybt

            You agreed with my statement about opinion, then lie about having done so.

          • Rob_Drury

            Where did I present my statements as opinion?

          • hyhybt

            Unreasonable way to put the question. You said “point taken.”

            How is it NOT opinion how you should read and understand the bible, given the wide variety of opinions that exist in the subject? (Any answer claiming opinion to become “confirmed fact” merely because it happens to be held by a particular human or group of humans is only a demonstration of either total ignorance of, or else total disregard for, what those words mean.)

          • Rob_Drury

            You’re missing it. Again, I fully agree that if we’re referring to something that is not first-hand knowledge, we’re limited to opinion and mere perception. When my understanding of a topic is so limited, I identify it as my opinion. That’s not the case in my remarks thus far. I have limited my statements to only those things that are the confirmed will of God.

          • hyhybt

            You have no possible way of confirming your opinion of what God wants in this matter as fact. That’s simply not what either “confirm” or “fact” mean. What method do you claim to have, given the GENUINE fact that people’s opinions on how the Bible should be read and understood vary widely, and the GENUINE fact that all humans have the capacity to be wrong, no matter what their position?

          • Rob_Drury

            So, you deny revelation and prophecy. Pity.

          • hyhybt

            I did no such thing. And you know that; you just want to keep responding without answering the question in any meaningful way. Otherwise, you’d have done it several posts ago.

          • Rob_Drury

            Oh, but you did. I saw nothing in your posts in the form of a question except one wrapped in incorrect assumptions. I’ve told you repeatedly that my statements are based on direct revelation from God. They are not opinion.

          • hyhybt

            You claim they are direct revelation, but anyone could claim to have recieved direct revelation, so saying you have is not confirming anything whatsoever as fact. (Alternately, if you mean it eas directly revealed to someone else, the reasonable thing would be to say who that was and, especially if it’s commonly available such as contents of the Bible, how you’ve also had direct revelation that your way of reading it is correct.)

          • Rob_Drury

            1 John 4:1 says not to believe all testimony, but to test the spirits according to the Word. You have every right, perhaps a responsibility, to properly scrutinize my statements; but it’s clear that you’re viewing this from a purely carnal perspective rather than earnestly seeking God’s will, perhaps even to achieve a preconceived verdict. My words are the Word of the Lord. It matters little to me whether or not you accept them; it only matters that I speak the truth. God will hold each of us accountable.

          • hyhybt

            In other words, you’re going to avoid answering YET AGAIN and add insults based in groundless (and, by the way, false) assumptions.

          • Rob_Drury

            Guess so.

            God bless!

  • walk23

    3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; butafter their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim. 4:3

  • wanderingwanderor

    The odd thing is conservative Christians are much more legally concern about gay marriage than the militant atheists’ direct unapologetic attack on their religion, belief, and God. Since it is perfectly legal in this free country to blaspheme (the epitome of anti-Christianity), why shouldn’t gay marriage be legal? (Since we do live in a free country with a variety of religious/spiritual beliefs.) If the U.S is to become a Christian nation with Christian’s law, blasphemy would be the first to go (since both liberal and conservative denominations would definitely agree on this issue…maybe copy the radical Muslim and kill anyone who does so), but when it comes to gay marriage, there are liberal Christian denominations that do support it so it would still be a contention in a Christian’s nation: which denomination is the “true” Christianity and which should hold the power over ALL other denominations. Though, one must ask how the non-Christians will be treated in this Christian’s nation.

    • Anthony Zarrella

      You’re using the term “legal” equivocally. Blasphemy is “legal” in the sense that the government permits it to exist without penalty (as it should – we don’t want to become Pakistan or Iran). Some people want gay “marriage” to be “legal” in the sense that the government actively sanctions it and provides benefits.

      In the first sense, gay “marriage” is perfectly legal – no one is going to be penalized under law for undergoing (or performing) a gay “marriage” ceremony, as long as they do not fraudulently attempt to claim the benefits granted to legally endorsed marriages.

      This is the same as polygamy – no one is legally barred from living with 5 women and considering himself to be religiously married to all of them, but if he claims the legal benefits of marriage for more than one of them, he is in violation of the law.

      In other words, we don’t try to legislate against absolutely anything we consider morally illicit – but we’re not going to agree to legal endorsement of sin.

      • wanderingwanderor

        Who decide “sin”? What defines “sin”? From a secular standpoints that span all religions or lack of religion, the most common generalized denominator is “do no harm”: no killing, stealing, cheating, abusing, etc. Who or what do gay marriages hurt or harm? Why are they not entitled to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”?

        “legal” is what allowed by the law. A “legal” marriage has all the backing of the law. “Legal” straight marriage and “legal” gay marriage should have the same backing under the law. And that’s the current battle.

        • Anthony Zarrella

          Who decide “sin”? What defines “sin”? From a secular standpoints that span all religions or lack of religion, the most common generalized denominator is “do no harm”: no killing, stealing, cheating, abusing, etc. Who or what do gay marriages hurt or harm? Why are they not entitled to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”?

          I reject your core premise. Specifically, I reject the notion that we must reduce our concept of sin to the lowest common denominator – the most broadly agreed upon definition.

          Who defines sin? God defines sin. What defines sin? Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church.

          If you come at it from a merely secular standpoint, then I’m not even convinced you can get to the “harm principle” (not without recourse to natural law reasoning, at least, and once you get to natural law, there’s sound basis for rejecting redefinition of marriage).

          Either way, I reject the harm principle in both directions – I think it is possible for something that does no “harm” (in the sense you mean it) to still be morally wrong, and I think it is possible for something “harmful” to be morally right.

          “legal” is what allowed by the law. A “legal” marriage has all the backing of the law. “Legal” straight marriage and “legal” gay marriage should have the same backing under the law. And that’s the current battle.

          You’re still equivocating.

          A woman in Europe (I think it was Europe) recently made news by “marrying” herself, and another “married” the Eiffel Tower. Those marriages were “legal” in the sense that they were “allowed by law” – they didn’t break any laws. But they were not “legal” in the sense that they would be recognized and endorsed by law.

          That’s the difference between blasphemy and gay “marriage”. Of course both of the above should be “legal” in the sense that they don’t break any laws or trigger any punishments. But neither one should be “legal” in the sense that the law will formally recognize and endorse them (in the way that it recognizes and endorses true marriages).

          Obviously, you disagree, but that’s a different discussion. You asked why we’re willing to put up with blasphemy, but not legal endorsement of gay marriage – the answer is that no one is asking for the government to confer positive benefits and special legal status on blasphemers as an affirmation of their blasphemy (and if they were, we’d oppose that, too).

        • Michael Jones

          noun
          1.
          transgression of divine law:
          the sin of Adam.
          2.
          any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful ordeliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
          3.
          any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; greatfault or offense:

          Sin really has no meaning in a secular sense see number 3.
          What just listed as sin for you would not be sin for another because it would have to have been regrettable or rather they would have to care. So murder rape theft etc. All of this is ok as long as you personally are Ok with it.

          This however is not so with number 1 and number 2. Something to think about.

          • hyhybt

            1 and 2 cannot have any significance to the laws of a country which promises freedom of religion.

          • Michael Jones

            when in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation

            You might have noticed they don’t mention a specific god just that law and order is beyond man so man alone can not tamper with fundamental rights which are not given by man but by our creator.

  • hyhybt

    So, instead of addressing his clear and obvious point, you’re taking a simple grammatical technicality and pretending that’s the meaning behind the quoted article?

  • HypocriticalCatholics

    I think there’s actually a very strong freedom of religion argument FOR gay marriage. There are many traditions in the United States (Unitarian Universalists for instance) that embrace gay marriage, and others that are open to it but which do not have specific religious ceremonies for it (Theravada Buddhism considers consensual gay adult relationships legitimate and healthy).

    Since Christianity (and Catholicism specifically) is not the only religious group in the public sphere, there is no reason to burden other religious groups in the civil sphere by exporting a particular sacramental definition of marriage that secular folks AND many religious folks don’t agree with. A new wave of lawsuits has already begun, in North Carolina and elsewhere, where religious groups are launching First Amendment complaints that bans against same-sex marriage violate their religious rights. For instance, in North Carolina, it is a misdemeanor for Unitarian priests to issue same-sex blessings. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the irony.

    Religion does not equal Christianity. And Christians often forget that many religions find same-sex marriage pretty cool.

    Catholics don’t seek to criminalize idol-worshipping even though it is part of the Ten Commandments (prohibitions on homosexuality are not), and even though the worship of idols (false gods) tears away at the fabric of a society like no other scourge (even if one believes that homosexuality is wrong.)

    Isn’t there a lot of hypocrisy going on here? How come Catholics recognize a civil-sacramental divide in just about everything (it accepts civil permittance of no-fault divorce! HELLO?) except gay marriage?

    So, say it with me. Give me a H,Y.P.O.C.R.I.T.E. What do you get? HYPOCRITE! What do you get? HYPOCRITE? What do you get? HYPOCRITE!

    • ThoughtExpo

      Brilliant, and very much on point.

      I don’t necessarily think Catholics are hypocritical or malicious. Most people I’ve met have just not thought through this issue fully. There’s a little bit of residual homophobia, but many are opened to reasoned discourse and will change their minds. So there’s hope yet.

      But yes,very much on point about why the Church has not attempted to prohibit idol-worship or no-fault divorce. I mean, this is an institution that waited until 2002 to mandate compulsory reporting of sex abusers to civil authorities. Does anyone seriously think we should listen to the Pope or the Church on this?

      Priests were the ones fondling the genitals of young boys, so we don’t even have to guess to know that they have been worse guardians of children than the plenty of loving gay men and women who do not force young children to perform fellatio on bended knee.

      • The original Mr. X

        Well, if we’re going to blame the Catholic Church for abusing young boys, why not blame gays as well? A priest fondling a boy’s genitals is, after all, partaking in same-sex sexual activity…

  • AFan

    ThoughtExpo, what is your background? It’s really gratifying to read some of your comments, because you are responding to these commentators with an amazing grasp of Christian theology and history. I suspect most secular liberal commentators won’t have this ability.

    Please write more. I will create a Disqus account just to follow you if that’s what it takes 🙂

    • Priestly7

      AFan, I consider myself a Catholic who supports same-sex marriage. I detest superficial readings of the Bible, and even that description is overly generous for what we got here.

      Most Catholics are not homophobic. Some are well-intentioned, some not so much. Most who oppose same-sex marriage have not been capable of intelligent commentary, cherry-picking verses without a knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, extracting allegorical lessons from passages that have not been read that way in Christian exegesis for 1600 years.

      If I sound harsh, it is because commentaries like those written here represent for me a good example of why contemporary Catholicism is going down the toilet bowl. LarryD keeps talking about “2000 year old letters” without citing any specific letter. Well, that’s silly. If he had read even one of those 2000-year old letters, or bothered to dissect a specific argument in one of those ancient books, the discussion would have been better.

      I wish I could say I was surprised, but I am not.

  • ThoughtExpo

    LarryD, the next time you write an article about marriage, I suggest laying low on the rhetoric, and piling on the substance instead.

    There are actually some fairly strong arguments in favor of the Christian conception of heterosexual unions, and some limited ones in favor of extending its application into the civil sphere in spite of the establishment clause, but your article is not it.

    “The Bible is full of hard truths.” Vague and repetitive feints to “irrelevancy.” Oh Gawd, you should have had a career as a mega preacher. Oh wait, that’s Rob Bell.

    For instance, you could have responded to Rob Bell’s comments on loneliness by noting that in fact, Christianity (and the patristic Fathers in particular) prized spiritual loneliness (or desolation). Historically, the growth of monastic rules and communities like the Carthusians was based on the idea that a believer’s path is best described as an endless wandering in a spiritual desert, the ascent of the soul, as with Jacob’s mystical ladder, into a union with God that could be accomplished only by withdrawing from the world, as Jesus told his disciples to do when he asked them to follow him.

    You could have noted, but somehow did not, that celibacy in the Pauline Epistles is what is prized, so “loneliness” within the marital context is actually the ideal. Dear LarryD … Augustine, Jerome, Tertullian, Chrysostom would have said that your wife and two sons were distractions to your role of praising and serving God, but that it was better to burn with passion with your wife (who, incidentally, the Bible says cannot refuse you sex – go tell her that) than fornicate outside of marriage. Now, Augustine and Jerome would not have said that the odious stench emanating from silly Christian commentary was due to your not having any theology degrees. (That would be me who’s saying that). But perhaps your cat, who Saint Francis thought was very capable of sentience, agrees, which is why he’s close to killing you?

    Much love, ThoughtExpo.

  • LarryicusIdioticus

    Yes, we should take moral advice from an institution that, when faced with an epidemic of priests molesting young boys, simply moved the priests to a different parish so that they could molest even more young boys.

    I have a question for you, LarryD. How can you even, morally, be part of such a morally bankrupt institution? Gay marriage is the least of your problems. Why don’t you clean your own house before attempting to clean the house of others?

    Judge not, lest ye be judged. Well, you have been judged, and found severely wanting.

    • LarryD

      I’m under no obligation to answer a question from a duplicitous commenter who has left comments under 7 different names: CatholicusRidiculous, ThoughtExpo, AFan, Priestly7, HypocriticalCatholics, ConcreteRights, and this one.

      I know this because all your comments have the same IP address.

      You have a choice. Stop playing games, or get the ban hammer.

      • ruthsdaughter

        wow that’s a person with a lot of time on his hands…..and unresolved issues.

        • ME

          if he was so happy in his beliefs, you’d think he could just let it go and let others come to believe his way is right through his actions… Oh wait, we don’t do that anymore, we are not free people anymore. We’re all slaves to ideologies.

      • Marco Polo

        Good catch Larry. I’ve seen him on other blogs.

        Give him the Hammer. He won’t quit. God bless.

  • kendallpeak

    Wonderful article. Sad that the comment section has been invaded by the atheist crowd. They disbelieve in the Lord and His Word so much they spend their days cruising religious pages.

  • RMC1171

    This is rare. A Christian, Rob Bell, actually thinks the people practicing the religion are more important than the religion itself. Most of the time its the other way around.

    • Rob_Drury

      Well, your point may have been relevant were we discussing a religion. Christianity is solely about one’s relationship with and worship of Jesus Christ. There is no place for “religion” as part of this. Christ and Christ alone is the only importance in Christianity. Also, it’s incredibly unlikely that Bell is a Christian, as he does not accept the basic, irrefutable reality that only those who accept Christ will enter Heaven.

    • Scott W.

      A little late response if you will pardon me, but for a while now people have been making false dichotomies all over the place. Such as “Jesus vs. religion” expressed in that ridiculous rap song “I hate religion, but love Jesus.” My quip to that is that is no different than saying “I hate aerodynamics, but love airplanes.” Of course people are important, but lying to people isn’t showing genuine concern for them. Same-sex “marriage” is as much a legalized lie as the Fugitive Slave Act.

  • Rob_Drury

    Churches who remain faithful to the Word and will of God are increasingly “irrelevant” in a world where same-sex marriage is accepted.

    Who knew?

  • Scott W.

    The Catholic Church: Irrelevant and disappearing since 33AD. 🙂