Rob Bell and “Marriage Equality”

The Huffington Post is my new source for all things religiously controversial.  Folks keep sending me links to articles they find there and I will say that after reading some of the stuff I’m left feeling challenged.  This is also the case with the recent bit featuring Rob Bell.  As I wrote at the beginning of the year, one of the things I plan to talk about here is my view of sexuality and more specifically, homosexuality.

After spending some time with folks in the gay community, hearing their stories, and trying as hard as I can to love them as Christ first loved me, I have a confession to make.  When I allow myself to be shaped by many of the prevailing conservative evangelical voices on the issue of homosexuality, I find myself thinking about gay people as if they aren’t….people.  Much of the rhetoric leads one to think of homosexuals as if they are non-human, perhaps even alien (so to speak).  This is a problem, and in as much as we are guilty of  de-humanizing the gay community we should, as Bell suggests, repent.

That being said, evangelicals are in a tough spot on the issue, and could use a little re-write with their prevailing script.  What I mean is this, the prevailing discussion must leave an ideological conversation and relocate to a biblical conversation.  Ideologies are almost always volatile and divisive from the get-go. because they are personal to the individual supporting them.  With the conversation relocating to a biblical framework, the evangelical is forced to think and speak biblically on the matter at hand.  For me, my stance on homosexual activity is directly connected to exegetical conclusions following a close reading of the Scriptures.  My feelings about the topic and my related ideologies are not to be what shape my conversation, instead I want to speak biblically about the issue.  In doing this I relocate the argument, which doesn’t mean this will get everyone to agree, but it does clarify the issues that are really at-stake while not confusing people with personal attacks and inflated rhetoric.

I think Bell falls into the “ideology trap” all to often.  He does not speak about the textual issues, but rather about matters of “love, fidelity, etc.”  as if to say that those who differ from him are against those values.  When the conversation is framed this way, how can any helpful dialogue follow?


2 thoughts on “Rob Bell and “Marriage Equality”

  1. Unfortunately, I am not sure everyone wants to “relocate the argument”. Sometimes people want to win an argument. It is interesting how you noted that many have a mindset of dehumanizing homosexuals. I think that is true. A friend and I were recently discussing the philosophy of “love the sinner, hate the sin” and how that isn’t even that applicable or appropriate because many people find so much identity in their sexuality. What I mean to say is, it is difficult to separate something that is so personal. Seems like you have some good beginning thoughts here. What are the textual issues you think Bell neglects?

    • The textual issues could include: 1) Does scripture express overt approval of homosexual behavior…anywhere? If not, then it seems that to approve of this behavior while using the Bible as a basis for one’s argument would require one to argue from silence, i.e. it approves by NOT saying anything. In the philosophical world such an argument doesn’t hold water. 2) Paul’s specific and intentional use of the constructed Greek word, arsenokoitēs which literally means, “male penetrator” (see 1Cr. 6:9; 1Tim. 1:10). Paul coins this word so that there can be little confusion as to what he is referring to. I really want to hear someone like Bell intelligently work through his solution to what the Bible says on the page…I want to see an interpretive process, not ideological banter.

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