Controversial author and former pastor Rob Bell did a radio interview/discussion about a year ago with Pastor Andrew Wilson over the topic of homosexuality. Bell affirms that homosexual relationships can be blessed by God while Wilson holds to the traditional view. Bell, when pressed on his position and his orthodoxy, gets heated and even curses in his frustration:
I’d recommend watching the whole thing because it is a good example of how people like Bell think. In any case, what he calls “bull****” is the fact that many Christians have come to view the issue of homosexual relationships as a defining sign of orthodoxy. Bell complains that the radio host never asked Andrew Wilson about his orthodoxy or if he had turned “liberal,” but Bell’s own orthodoxy is constantly questioned. Can’t we just agree to disagree? Can’t we just look at those disputed passages in Scripture and say, “You view it this way, and I view it that way” without getting overly combative, like we do for so many other issues? After all, Christians differ on many things: Calvinism vs. Arminianism (and everything in between), paedobaptism vs. believer’s baptism, divorce and remarriage, eschatology, the perpetual virginity of Mary, cessationism vs. continuationism, etc. Normally, even if we feel strongly about such issues, we don’t view them as defining issues for Christians. For example, I may disagree strongly with conservative Presbyterians like Tim Keller in their Calvinism and their practice of paedobaptism, but that does not mean that I consider them outside the umbrella of orthodoxy and examples of dangerous teachers. Why then do so many conservative Christians draw the line at homosexual relationships?
To be sure, Christians differ on many issues, and many texts in the Bible are difficult to understand. However, this does not mean the entirety of Scripture is cryptic, for many passages are also pretty straightforward, and it takes a great deal of effort to try to make them say something different than they do. Particularly when it comes to a variety of ethical issues, Christians from disparate traditions have agreed upon certain principles due to the clarity of the Bible. No conservative Christian who has a high view of Scripture, for example, can read the Bible and then conclude that adultery is permissible. If we were to run into a Christian who believes this, then that would be an obvious sign that this person, no matter how much he says otherwise, really does not have a high view of the Bible at all. Likewise, the scriptural case against homosexual relationships is so clear (as I show here and here) that it is obvious that a person who doubts it is motivated by something else besides obeying the Bible. This is why this issue has become a sort of litmus test for one’s attitude of the Bible. Scripture is so clear in this area that rejecting such commands is a telltale sign that someone is elevating his own experience over the authority of Scripture.