Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rob Bell Response

In the wake of the ever-controversial Rob Bell's "coming out" in favor of gay marriage, I've seen enough responses reminding orthodox Christians of God's plan for marriage, mourning his now-complete fall from sound doctrine, or even--dare I say it--gloating over his heresies becoming plain for all to see. When I clicked on this article on by Michael Kimpan, I was expecting more of the same. Happily, I was wrong.

RIP, Rob Bell

After a quick summary of some recent developments in the perennial "gay marriage" debate, Kimpan reminds us of Christians' role as bridge-builders, ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), which is easily forgotten as cultural battle lines are drawn and Christians take up arms to defend the truth and "take every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5) for Christ.

Tangent: I found it interesting how I just cited two different verses in the same book to support two different "Christian" stances toward gay marriage. Do we participate in Christ's ministry of reconciliation or take every thought captive? Yes. Trying to justify choosing one (presumably the one we like) over the other simply by proof-texting means that, to some extent, we are twisting God's word to suit our own desires and agenda. Of course, I was seemingly just doing this kind of proof-texting by implying that Christians should apply 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 but not 10:5 to the gay marriage debate. How does a Christian follow both of these verses at once in this situation? Should they? I don't think so. Sensitive issues between the church and the world like this are simply not the time to apply Paul's militaristic metaphor for the truth. (The section in 2 Corinthians 10 this passage is situated in is addressing discipline and doctrine within the church, not outside it, an important distinction)

Anyway, in two of his last paragraphs Kimpan hits the nail right on the head (emphasis the author's):
The litmus test of our faith in Christ is not whether or not we’re able to agree on political, cultural or religious secondary issues, nor (dare I say) even what it is our position is on such issues; rather, it is in our ability to love, even those with whom we may not agree. 
As the cultural shift happens (and it is happening) regarding LGBT issues right in front of us, I wonder how well we’ll do in elevating the conversation above the yes/no || right/wrong || win/lose || in/out || us/them || polarizing rhetoric that has so often shaped this conversation, and respond in a more thoughtful, Christ-like way?
I don't think most Christian who argue against gay marriage are being intentionally unloving; they are intentionally trying to love God and love their neighbors by defending "God's plan" for marriage and holding it high in a corrupt world. But defending the truth does not have to (should not) equate to the kind of "us-versus-them" dichotomy Kimpan describes above, let alone metaphorically beating people over the head with the truth and expecting them to embrace it. Christlike humility means walking the narrow path of holding on to what you believe while loving and building bridges with those you disagree with. It's not easy, but in our modern, pluralistic society it's more important than ever.

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