Preacher and author Rob Bell has publicly come out in support of marriage equality and gay rights.
In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, seminary professor Greg Carey relates that he recently reached out to Rob Bell, the sometimes-controversial founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan on the topic of marriage equality.
Carey says that he encouraged Bell to reach out to mainline Christians who follow his theological musings and encourage them to embrace marriage equality, which he did for the first time on Sunday.
Speaking at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral over the weekend, Bell openly endorsed the right of homosexual couples to wed under the law. When asked about same-sex marriage, Bell replied:
"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."
Bell admitted that evangelicals have long been tied to socially conservative causes, but argued that this assumption is no longer true.
"I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn't work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, Evangelical subculture that was told 'we're gonna change the thing' and they haven't. And they actually have turned away lots of people. And I think that when you're in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it's very painful. You sort of die or you adapt. And if you adapt, it means you have to come face to face with some of the ways we've talked about God, which don't actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we've done it in the name of God and we need to repent."
Reverend Jane Shaw attempted to re-direct Bell into taking a firm position on whether or not Christians "know" the truth in an absolute sense, but Bell balked the question.
"I would say that the powerful, revolutionary thing about Jesus' message is that he says, 'What do you do with the people that aren't like you? What do you do with the Other? What do you do with the person that's hardest to love?' . . . That's the measure of a good religion, is - you can love the people who are just like you; that's kind of easy. So what Jesus does is takes the question and talks about fruit. He's interested in what you actually produce. And that's a different discussion. How do we love the people in the world that are least like us?"
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