Rob Bell came out, in a casual way, for same-sex marriage on Sunday in a forum at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Here's an excerpt of his comments from the Out of Ur blog:
"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."
You can listen to the complete talk from Grace Cathedral here. *The same-sex discussion begins at 42:30.
Now, for many this will not come as a surprise; for others it will confirm what they've been thinking about Rob Bell, and for others there will be a lingering question about the validity of Bell's leadership and voice for the church today.
When Rob Bell built his platform, he did so largely as a mainline evangelical pastor. One of the largest platforms for Bell was comprised of young, mainline evangelical Christians. Bell's provocative — yet mainline, to start — teaching invited in many who were tired of the boring, consumer-centered church messages they were hearing. They wanted something more impassioned. This group found Bell refreshing, creative — full of energy and wonder. The only problem: His teaching gradually moved toward classic liberalism.
Bell's theological foundation shifted over time — not overnight, not with one event, but slowly, over a number of years. If you followed his sermons and books, you could see it coming long before Love Wins. Bell started to play the role of provocateur and instigator over shepherd. Instead of bringing the declarative truth of a preacher, he delivered questions with unspoken but often liberal answers.
I say all of that because the biggest problem for the church is not that Rob Bell came out for same-sex marriage, but that there's a throng of young Christians who will likely be influenced by his viewpoint.
There's no doubt, we need to address the issue of same-sex marriage. In fact, we need to approach the whole LGBT movement in a way that communicates our love for all people and the truth of the Word of God at the same time. However, for me, the ship has not sailed.
Don't overlook the importance of the discussion. You might not put much weight on Bell's view, but it's likely that there are many young evangelicals within your ministry who still care about what Bell says. They might not make the leap to the same conclusion about same-sex marriage today, but it could be the beginning of a slow fade in that direction — one that, like Bell's progressive conversion, could take years to complete.
What's your reaction to Rob Bell's statement on same-sex marriage?
How can you measure the success of an idea? Whether or not it spreads.
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