For those who had any questions, Rob Bell has now made himself totally clear: He is willing to trash parts of the Bible as "letters from 2,000 years ago" when God's Word contradicts his views on same-sex "marriage."
Bell appeared on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday program together with his wife, Kristen, to promote their new book The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. In an interview last December, Bell explained that on page 16 of the book, he and Kristen give their "whole hearted affirmation" to same-sex "marriage."
That was no surprise in light of his announcement in 2013 that he supported redefining marriage. In fact, that had been his position for years, although he had not proclaimed it publicly prior to 2013.
But on Oprah's show, he and Kristen went much further, dismissing the words of Scripture and criticizing churches that were determined to be faithful to God.
Explaining to Oprah why they included "gay marriage" in their book, Rob said, "One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. 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."
Of course, he's absolutely right in terms of the importance of intimate personal relationships.
God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.
And Paul's solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband" (1 Cor. 7:2).
He didn't say, "Each person should have his or her own companion," because that was never God's intent for His creation.
In contrast, what the Bells want to do is take God's very specific, beautiful blueprint, and radically redesign it in the name of "love."
To be sure, the church needs to take on the burden of those who struggle with same-sex attraction, helping them in every way possible find personal and relational wholeness in Jesus. But we are hurting them rather than helping them when we think we know better than God.
Rob Bell was then asked by Oprah when the church was going to embrace same-sex "marriage," to which he responded, "We're close," with Kristen adding, "I think it's evolving."
Rob then explained, "Lots of people are already there. We think it's inevitable, and we're moments ... ," at which point Oprah chimed in, "Moments away from the church accepting it?"
Rob's answer said it all: "Absolutely ... 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 they just want to go through life with someone."
So, according to Rob Bell, the church of Jesus should follow worldly culture and deny the plain teaching of God's Word in order to be "relevant." (For my thoughts on the idolatry of "relevance," click here.)
And according to Bell, human feelings trump God's Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.
I guess what's trending on Twitter trumps the timeless wisdom of the living Word of the living God.
I guess an emotional appeal carries far more weight than transcendent truth.
That's similar to what Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer told me on my radio broadcast last year, explaining that he had to revise his views on the Bible and same-sex "marriage" after his son came out as gay but would "absolutely" have to restudy the issue if his son reversed his position about homosexuality.
Talk about loving your son or daughter (or father or mother) more than Jesus (see Matt. 10:37)
But that is exactly what Rob Bell is calling for: Go with the culture, stay "relevant," dismiss the outdated biblical evidence and listen to your emotions.
Kristen, for her part, explained that some churches are just not getting with the program: "There are churches who are moving forward," she said, "and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle."
How antiquated! How backwards! How embarrassing!
How dare these churches entrench themselves against the onslaught of worldly culture.
How dare they continue to resist the redefining of marriage and the rewriting of the sacred Scriptures.
How dare they hold fast to their position that God's ways are best.
How dare they not get with the program of liberal progressivism.
The bad news is that many professing Christians are capitulating to culture and abandoning the holy and wholesome ways of the Lord.
The good news is that the Word of God stands forever (Is. 40:7-8; Matt. 24:35), and one day, Oprah Winfrey, with all her massive influence, and Rob and Kristen Bell, with their substantial influence as well, will be mere footnotes in this age of compromise and apostasy, marked as eternally irrelevant by the only One whose opinion matters.
That's why I pray for their repentance today.
Michael Brown is the author of 25 books, including Can You Be Gay and Christian? and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show "The Line of Fire." He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience.
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