Another celebrity who claims to be a follower of Jesus has come out in support of same-sex marriage.
His name is Rob Bell, an enigmatic purveyor of what has been euphemistically called the “emergent church” movement. For what it’s worth, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011.
He has written a number of books and founded Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., though his teachings there had little to do with the Bible, except in their twisted distortions of the actual text. He left his church in 2011 to pursue a career in television that has yet to get off the ground. He has described the high concept behind his dream show this way: “[W]e are working to create a space, a funny subversive, welcoming, interesting space somewhere between my ‘Noomas’ (a series of his short films that are a poisonous staple of youth and young adult church groups) and sermons and interviews like this. Throw in a TED talk, ‘Letterman,’ ‘Ellen’ and a little bit ‘Lost’ and put in in a blender. That’s sort of what we’re working on.” Make of that what you will.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the career of Rob Bell that he would publicly embrace same-sex marriage. In fact, my only question is why it took so long.
Bell is a classic moral relativist who decides what’s right and wrong for him based on “feelings” – and counsels other confused spiritual seekers to do the same.
But let’s start with his latest proclamation: “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.”
Is that what Jesus taught? Is that what the Bible teaches?
The answer to both rhetorical questions is an emphatic “no.”
Jesus provided definitive and unequivocal answers as to the meaning of life. So does the Bible. You may not like their answers. But they are clear and unambiguous. In fact, without those teachings, right and wrong cease to have meaning. Morality becomes a matter of opinion.
That has been Bell’s stock and trade since he became a public figure in the church world. He mostly asks questions, seldom providing answers, always raising doubts about eternal truths and frequently offering his opinions based, again, on his own “feelings.”
That’s exactly what he has done with the institution of marriage.
Jesus and the Bible call for the world to conform to their standards. Bell calls for the church to conform to the world’s standards.
In addition to his opinion that marriage is for everyone and anyone regardless of sex, he also asserts there is no hell – except possibly for the here and now, which is somewhat incongruous given his opinion that we should adapt to the ways of the here and now. He is also a universalist who, despite the clear teachings of Jesus and the Bible, believes everyone winds up in heaven – from Adolf Hitler to Josef Stalin to the latest serial killer.
Yet, here’s what Jesus said about who would not be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 5:17-20: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Right after Jesus reiterates “the Golden Rule” in Matthew 7:12, He goes on to dispel any notion of universalism in Matthew 7:13-20 in a teaching that seems to warn about the Rob Bells of the world: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Now Bell’s “feeling” is that since the world has lost its moral bearings, even on a matter once so clear to everyone, that marriage is an institution created for men and women, that the church should throw in the towel and lose its moral bearings, too.
Using Rob Bell’s own infamous “teaching” technique, I will conclude with this: How do you “feel” about all that?