Rob Bell's Definitive Statement on Gay Marriage

Controversial Christian speaker Rob Bell, formerly of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is probably best known for asking questions… without answering them.

Whether it be his position on hell, or other theological positions, Bell rarely makes a definitive statement, preferring to answer questions with a question, which tends to anger people… until now. At a recent event in San Francisco, Bell was asked about his position on marriage, to which he responded:

“I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and a 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.”

In this edition of Ministry Briefing, we discuss the importance of Bell’s statement, what this means for him, and for the church as a whole.

Does Bell’s statement change the way YOU think about him?


  • Gary Ellis March 19, 2013 Reply

    Well, shoot…I think I have (at least to me) a perspective that’s worth considering, but again may come off as contrariness here. So, no Bell’s statement doesn’t change the way I think about him, although in his effort to challenge thinking I believe he may be going further off the path than is healthy or helpful.

    As far as the opening statement about him typically asking questions he doesn’t answer: I believe that the typical characteristic of the evangelical church (that I actually consider myself a part of) is that they do the courtroom, “asked and answered” method. And, “I object.” That frustrates me because it doesn’t move people toward learning how to think for themselves. Francis Shaffer has written about how “weakening” that has been to the Body of Christ.

    I know (I think I know) what Rob Bell was – at least originally – doing. Throwing “hang grenades” into the middle of the room. Not to destroy, but to shake up people’s belief systems they’ve been told is true without actually coming to the conclusions from their own thoughts. I don’t see that as bad.

    On Gay marriage, I don’t affirm that male/male female/female love is alright. I don’t believe it is. However, I do want people to “feel safe” to “come out” in my church. I firmly believe that there is a God shaped void in the human heart. Many people are hungry for Jesus and just don’t know it, yet. But, I want to catch the fish so that the power of God can clean them. To me many evangelicals have treated the Bible like a “position paper” rather than an invitation to experience God’s transforming love.

  • No surprises here. In the past Rob Bell has not only denied hell, but also substitutionary atonement – the idea that Jesus died for our sins ( That’s kind of a big deal. Once someone has denied the central message of the Christian gospel it’s no longer meaningful to continue to call them “Christian”.

    And if someone isn’t a Christian then we should hardly be shocked that they reject Christian teaching.

    I’m not trying to be mean about this. If someone no-longer believes that Mohammed was a prophet then they are no-longer a Muslim. If they reject the teachings of Buddha then they aren’t a Buddhist. Once someone starts to believe in God, then we should probably stop calling them an atheist.

    It’s really no different with Rob – once he lost faith in the Christian Gospel he no longer fits any meaningful definition of a Christian. Is he still a fan of his private version of Jesus? Absolutely. But there are many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Deists, etc. who are also fans of their version of Jesus, but that doesn’t make them Christians either.

    There’s a good reason why we accept members of other denominations and traditions as fellow believers, but we don’t look at the Mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses in the same way. Our fellow Christians believe in the historic Christian gospel – Mormons don’t.

    It’s now the same with Rob Bell. He has publically denied that God sent Jesus to die for our sins and deliberately constructed a theological position that lies outside of the historic Christian faith. Because of this it should be expected that as a non-Christian that he now holds non-Christian beliefs.

  • steve miller March 19, 2013 Reply

    I think Rob’s opinions still matter even though most orthodox evangelicals have written him off. To the unbelieving World he presents a “softer” form of Christianity. An unsaved person doesn’t really see a difference between a Rob Bell, a Mark Driscoll, a John Piper, a Rick Warren, a Andy Stanley, A Bill Hybels, a T.D. Jakes, Billy Graham, etc. They see them as all different flavors of Christianity and they can choose the one they like best-if they have to choose one at all. Plus it gives non-believers an excuse to stay away from the Church; it shows a non-unified Universal Church. Why should they have to make up their minds about who Jesus is if those inside Christianity can’t even agree.

    The biggest problem is Rob does not preach a coming judgment to be feared, if sin is not a massive threat then a powerful Savior is not a pressing concern. Rob also distorts the meaning of love and fidelity, lowering the concepts to inter-human relations rather than a first concern of God to man. Love God, and practice fidelity to Him first.

    I fear Rob’s teachings are what the church looks like when the world’s values are dressed up in “Christian” lingo; the same words and concepts are paid lip service, but the methods, message, and motivations are totally distorted.

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