Dear Rob Bell: Welcome to the struggle for marriage equality

Rob Bell, the very popular evangelical Christian pastor and author, just came out for marriage equality (listen here around 42:40). … Continued

Rob Bell, the very popular evangelical Christian pastor and author, just came out for marriage equality (listen here around 42:40).

Welcome to the struggle, Rob. I have been a joyous ally of the movement for full equality for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender people for many years, and it has been fully a gift of grace in my life to participate in what I believe is a crucial civil rights movement in our time.

I was particularly struck by the fact that when you spoke this past Sunday, you talked about how your support for marriage equality requires a theological shift, and also repentance for those who have uncritically equated evangelical Christianity and social conservatism. That, you said, has been “destructive.”

You put it this way: “[Y]ou have to come face to face with some of the ways we’ve talked about God, which don’t actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”

This is exactly right. Religious prejudice against LGBT people is a theological error. It is sinful to reject a child of God as God created them to be, and those who have held those views (or continue to hold them) should repent of them.

Instead, we must preach and teach a loving God. Faith in a loving God will always lead us to advocate for the full human dignity and worth of every human being.

God’s love is freely given for all of us, and is the root of human integrity.

In my view, few have said this better than the Rev. Peter J. Gomes of blessed memory who was longtime pastor of The Memorial Church at Harvard.

Rev. Gomes came out in 1991, saying “I am a Christian who happens as well to be gay. Those realities, which are irreconcilable to some, are reconciled in me by a loving God.”



Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is Professor of Theology and immediate past President of Chicago Theological Seminary. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Her most recent books are "#OccupytheBible: What Jesus Really Said (and Did) About Money and Power" and, as contributor and editor, "Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War."
  • Openletter2004

    For thse of you who REALLY are “christians”, meaning people that follow the teachings of the man named Jesus, this ‘reconcilation” should not be hard.

    Jesus seperated chruch from state. So the demands of the christacrats, the evangelical taliban, are a direct violation of the teachings of Jesus.

    There are 4 times in the “christian holy book” where Jesus specifically rejected the use of force to achieve the spread of his teachings.

    Even the Sodom and Gomohora story is misinterpeted if you start at the begining of it. The towns people tried to FORCE the angles to participate in the sexual activities. That was what teed “god” off. The type of sex cannot have been the issue since “god” didn’t get teed off when the concubine had sex with the women. He didn’t get teed off when Lot offered his daughters to the crowd. He didn’t get upset when Lot eventually had sex with and impregnated both of his daughters.

    “GOD” was upset at the use of FORCE to make someone do something they didn’t want to do.

    The greatest gift “god” supposedly gave man was “FREE WILL’. Jesus only wants VOLUNTEERS.

    So, as long as those wanting to get “married” are doing it voluntarialy, no matter what the make-up of that marriage is, government cannot be used to stop it. Nor can government be used to force anyone to enter into anykind of marriage even though the “christian” holy book still incorporates tha old Jewish LAWS of Moses that are used to justify forcing the victimes of rape to marry their rapist.

  • WmarkW

    On Faith doesn’t even try to pretend to present a balanced discussion on this issue, does it?

    Its editorial position is that gay marriage is the civil rights issue of the 21st century, and the only barrier to it is outmoded thinking that needs correction through education.

  • globalone

    This is so far removed from the teachings in the Bible that a response would be meaningless. I suggest you look deeper into the weddings included in the Bible and how God joined Adam and Eve. (Probably wouldn’t hurt to look at how Eve was created as well).

    Rich blessings.

Read More Articles

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.

How Passover Makes the Impossible Possible

When we place ourselves within the story, we can imagine new realities.

This Passover, We’re Standing at an Unparted Red Sea

We need to ask ourselves: What will be the future of the State of Israel — and what will it require of us?

Just As I Am

My childhood conversion to Christianity was only the first of many.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Hey Bart Ehrman, I’m Obsessed with Jesus, Too — But You’ve Got Him All Wrong

Why the debate over Jesus’ divinity matters.

shutterstock_127731035 (1)
Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church?

In an age of rising singlehood, many churches are still focused on being family ministry centers.

Mysterious Tremors

People like me who have mystical experiences may be encountering some unknown Other. What can we learn about what that Other is?

Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing

That verse you keep quoting? It may not mean what you think it means.

What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Why “welcome and wanted” is a biblical response to gay and lesbian couples in evangelical churches.

How to Resolve Conflict: A Bible Lesson for Foreign Policy Leaders

The biblical story of Abigail shows how visible vulnerability can create a path toward peace.