over the past year, i’ve written a couple times about rob bell’s fascinating and unexpected (unprecedented?) tumblr series, what is the bible?. no one knew when it would conclude, but finally yesterday, with part 75, it came to a conclusion. he wraps up the series by answering a number of questions submitted by his blog readers. it was a nice endcap to the series.
rather than being a true “conclusion” to the series, the Q&A was really a way to transition out of tumblr and into his new podcast (appropriate titled, robcast), which launched yesterday. based on the first episode and his overall body of work, it’s safe to say this podcast will be worth following (though i have my doubts that he will regularly update it).
while the final tumblr post was consistently good, the most interesting question, to no one’s surprise, was about rob’s stance on homosexuality. somewhat famously in these circles, rob came out publicly in support of same sex marriage a couple years ago. since that time, he’s said relatively little about. he’s made some blanket statements about fidelity and acceptance, but unsurprisingly, there’s been no real specifics. rob tends to live above the fray and digging into the nuts and bolts is something i assume he’s been largely uninterested in doing.
but in this case, his longest response (in a very lengthy overall post) is about homosexuality. no doubt, his response will leave many wanting, as it was especially rob-bellian in nature. the question that was posed was,
You seem to support homosexuality on the basis that God is for love and fidelity. But what do you do with all the places in the Bible that seem to clearly denounce it? I want to be okay with it, but can’t find the support for it. Help?
in essence, he provides a three-part response:
1. some people are gay:
When someone is told that who or how they are is wrong or deviant, it creates massive dissonance in the depth of their being. Especially if they are told that God is opposed to who they are. This is why suicide rates among gay teens are so tragically high. Sexuality is one of the most mysterious dimensions of our humanity, and to tell a young man or woman in their most formative years that there is something deeply wrong with them at the core of their being and if they are true to who they are they will bring the wrath and condemnation of the creator of universe upon them is a crushing weight no one should have to carry.
2. it is normal and natural and healthy to want to spend your life with someone:
Loneliness is one of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity. We want someone to share the journey with, someone to witness to our life, someone who will be there for us. We should not deny anyone the joy of sharing their life with a partner simply because they want to be with someone of the same gender. It is extremely important that we acknowledge gay marriage as a reflection of the natural, normal, healthy human desire to spend your life with someone. The world needs more-not less-fidelity, sacrifice, love and monogamy.
3. a bit about the way the bible deals with (or doesn’t deal with) homosexuality:
Are the writers of the Bible talking about what we’re talking about?
Because in the ancient world they did not have the categories we do. There simply aren’t Hebrew or Greek or Latin words that correspond to our words. There were pagan temples with male prostitutes. There were gangs of men who wanted to rape male visitors to their village. There was every variation of promiscuity we can imagine. There were men who had coercive, nonconsensual sex with young boys. When the writers of the Bible refer to same gender sex, these are the practices they’re referring to-They aren’t talking about two people who are deeply committed to each other, being faithful to each other in a loving and monogamous relationship.
much like most of rob’s work, his overall response is very pastoral. he deals with how our theologies effect real life people and the dynamics of human relationships, in relation to what it means to follow jesus in community. he offers anecdotes, rather than detached facts.
he concludes with what i think many of us who have a progressive view of homosexuality and the bible think about often:
Women didn’t use to be able to vote, but now they do. There’s used to be two drinking fountains for people with two different colors of skin, but now there’s only one. While this issue continues to be controversial for many, the truth is, it’s just a matter of time until everybody looks back and says Remember when that used to be an issue?
the entire post is really worth your time in reading. read it in its entirety here.