By Shawn Harrison
Yesterday, another high-profile Christian leader came out in support of gay marriage. When Rob Bell was asked during an interview if he was in favor of marriage equality, Bell responded, “Yes, 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 that the church needs to just … this is the world that we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”
Christians shouldn’t be surprised by Bell’s comments; after all he’s known for speaking against certain traditional beliefs of the evangelical church. And in a way, Rob Bell has a point in what he’s said. As the Body of Christ, we should be for marriages and for fidelity. We do live within a changing culture that is heavily influencing the church rather than vice versa.
The gay community has a right to be furious with the church in regards to marriage equality. The way they see things, the church stands in protest against gay marriage, while many Christian couples end up in divorce court or enter into co-habitation agreements. We willingly point out their sin, and willingly ignore our own. Therefore, the gay community has every right to protest against our hypocrisy.
In order for the church to be heard again, our message, attitude, and hearts need to change. We need to stand for biblical marriage and fidelity, despite what culture sails towards. However, this stand needs to be done within our own lives first. In centering our life, marriage, and family around the core of Jesus Christ, the world will begin to take seriously the message professed by the church. As long as we act like the world, and continue to overlook our own fidelity in marriage, the gay community will only see that we care more about oppressing them with debate than being ambassadors of Christ and ministers of reconciliation.
In my book, Ministering to Gay Teenagers, I point out that “while society is trying to be proactive, it seems that the church spends more time being reactive. As the vessel of God’s message, however, the body of Christ needs to be at the forefront of proactively ministering to and loving [the gay community]. This needs to be done regardless
of their response and regardless of other factors. The church is long overdue in stepping out of its comfort zone and embracing a group of people who need to experience the love of Jesus like never before.”
If Jesus came back today and dealt with this issue, I don’t think He would marry same-sex partners, but He would certainly visit and dine with them. Further, I believe that Jesus would stand in opposition to our un-biblical divorces and infidelities. While “we need to affirm people wherever they are,” as Bell noted, we also need to speak and live as authentic examples of Jesus Christ in our own lives first, so that our actions speak louder than our words to those around us.
Shawn Harrison is a contributor to GROUP Magazine, serves on the speaker team at our Simply Youth Ministry Conference, and is author of Ministering to Gay Teenagers (Group/SYM). Read his blog at: http://six11.wordpress.com | Six:11 Ministries