Rob Bell, Marriage Equality, and The Church

The news came out a few days ago that Rob Bell spoke out for marriage equality recently during his time in San Francisco. Among other things, here’s what Bell had to say regarding gay marriage:

“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.”

I don’t really want to speak directly to marriage equality/gay marriage here (the web is the least productive way to proceed). David Fitch, CMA pastor and professor at Northern Seminary, stated the following on his Facebook page yesterday which shaped the way I am approaching this:

“Who is Rob Bell speaking for/to in affirming gay marriage? His (former) church? Christians at large? The press? Culture observers? Gay Christians (in Grace Church SF)? Why or who should be paying attention to him? and Why? More and more I’m seeing Christian leaders who have no congregation/people they’re accountable to (who yet carry media/publishing driven leadership) create division with pronouncements. This results in damage to the church’s wherewithal for witness in a world that sees all this. I don’t know if Rob Bell is to blame (for the media) but I do think we Christians should not encourage this nonsense. (On the other hand, I can listen to the Pope differently because he stands within 2000 years of a tradition so that he cannot make statements without being accountable to it). When we listen to a Christian leader we should first and foremost look at place of ministry/accountability from which he/she speaks. What say you? agree?”

I think I’m leaning toward agreement with Fitch on this one. A pastor flying solo and taking a stance on a politically sensitive topic without accountability to a local body or denomination is detrimental to the life of the Church. I have been a supporter of Bell, in that, I think we’ve come down on him way too hard in the past (and I don’t expect anything to change here). But I think I’m with Fitch on this one.

Do you agree with Fitch too? Why?

[Tony Jones writes a response to Fitch]

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