On Sunday, former pastor and author Rob Bell expressed his support for gay “marriage” during a forum at Grace Cathedral, the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California.
"I am for marriage,” he said. “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 … we need to affirm people wherever they are."
He criticized the evangelical perspective as, “narrow, politically intertwined, [and] culturally ghettoized.” He suggested evangelicals reject concepts about God that “don’t actually shape people into more loving … people,” and cease supporting “destructive” policies.
“We've done it in the name of God and we need to repent,” he said. He also warned that evangelicals would have to either “die or adapt.”
But John Stonestreet, a cultural analyst from The Colson Center for Christian Worldview, pointed out that Christians have no philosophical basis for moral adaptation, since biblical morality does not evolve or change with time: “The cultural narrative is that accepting gay marriage is inevitable. But that isn’t true. If more people say no, it isn’t inevitable.”
Stonestreet warned against Bell’s advice for evangelicals to adapt, suggesting cultural conformity could lead to the end of evangelicalism. Alternatively, he urged evangelicals to define themselves.
“For so long, evangelicalism has been such a squishy term, no one knows what it means,” he said. “What’s the point of your existence if you’re not distinctive?”
Bell’s view on marriage might not come as a surprise, given his controversial theology. Last year, he released Love Wins, a book in which he challenged the biblical teaching on hell. This year, he released What We Talk About When We Talk About God, in which he urged readers to pursue an experience with God that transcends traditional dogma.
His public support of same-sex marriage is one in a recent line-up of pro gay “marriage” announcements. Last month, British evangelical Rev. Steve Chalke argued the church should “consider nurturing positive models for permanent and monogamous homosexual relationships and allow gay couples to have stable and loving relationships.”
In the political arena, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her support today. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Charles Murray, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, expressed the same view last week.