Dear Rob Bell: The Church Isn’t Giving an Inch on Gay Marriage

by Owen Strachan

Dear Rob Bell,

I recently read your comments, made to Oprah, about the church being “moments away” from affirming gay marriage. Here are your remarks as reported on one website:

That statement prompted a question from Oprah: “When is the church going to get that?”

“We’re moments away,” Rob Bell said. “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 with someone.”

Rob, you’re a gifted communicator. You drew many folks to your church in Michigan, and now you have a show on Oprah’s network. It’s clear that you’re charismatic, funny, and adept at making complex realities simple to understand.

But—excuse my own attempt at brevity—you’re dead wrong on the church and gay marriage. The church isn’t giving an inch on this issue. Sure, there are scattered congregations who are moving in this direction. But in terms of tens and tens of thousands of local churches from a wide array of denominations filled with people of all races and backgrounds who simply love God’s inerrant Word, we aren’t moving an inch. We’re not scared; we’re not intimidated; we’re not even impressed. We’ve seen this all before.

As you note, the culture has moved with great swiftness on this issue. There appears to be no moral check to this momentum in broader cultural life. It is not so with the church. The church has a mighty backstop, an iron wall, a living Lord. It has a foundation for its ethics and morals. The church has a moral imagination inspired by the holy prophets and the blood-dripping apostles and a crucified Lord. The church is a counter-culture that speaks truth.

The culture has no such foundation. It chases such virtues as liberty and equality, but without warrant, and without guidance. It speaks of rights, but it has no grounding for them. It hungers for justice, but has no buttress for it. This is not a new movement; it’s an old and tired one. Ask the Jacobins how their Revolution played out. Even Napoleon realized that went poorly. Ask the Russians under statism how freedom fared. You don’t need to write The Gulag Archipelago to see that secularism of varying kinds fails to make good on its promises…

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Dear Rob Bell: The Church Isn’t Giving an Inch on Gay Marriage