Dear Rob Bell: The Church Isn’t Giving an Inch on Gay Marriage

Christians have often, for the good of the world, had to stand against the world. In America, for a brief and shining moment, we—and many others—have enjoyed spectacular amounts of religious liberty. But that may yet change. If so, we will only be walking in ancient paths. But here is the remarkable thing, Rob. Unlike the culture, we don’t hate and silence those who oppose us. We take ideas seriously, of course. But if we are hated for the truth, we react with love.

Gays, lesbians, transgender people, heterosexual adulterers, atheists, white-lie tellers, good-churchgoers-without-a-shred-of-grace—any and all people who have issue with the hard words of Scripture—these are not our enemies. We love such people. We have a foundation for human dignity, the imago dei (Gen. 1:26-27). We see beauty in every person. We see potential, infinite potential, in every sinner born evil just like us.

We do not offer them, however, a harmless gospel. This is what the culture demands of us, but we cannot acquiesce. The message of Jesus Christ is not a self-affirming message. It is a call to death. It is a summons to submission. It means that we lose all our sin and gain all of Christ. We open the Bible, and we see a cross on every page. That’s the emblem of Holy Scripture. Crucifixion. Suffering. Death. But then, and only then: Life. Resurrection. Eternity.

Rob, I hope that you will return to these things. I know you still sometimes celebrate communion with your friends. The old imagery still speaks. The body and blood are for sinners like you and me. They ever will be, even if church buildings go vacant, the nurseries go silent, and the pulpit lies empty. The body and blood remain, even if the jails swell with preachers and the unemployment lines teem with convictional Christians. No matter.

At the end of the day, when it comes to marriage and biblical ethics, the church is not giving an inch. We laugh at Satan and his attempts to intimidate us. He does not realize that we do not even love our own lives. Should all the world turn against us, we gladly give up all that we have for Christ.

No, the church will not give an inch. But know this: God is giving everything, even the overflow of Trinitarian love, to sinners just like you and me.

Best,

Owen Strachan

This article originally appeared on Patheos.
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Owen Strachan
Owen Strachan is Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College in Louisville, KY. Owen is the author of the forthcoming book on Chuck Colson: The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living With Faith in a Hostile World.

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