Former megachurch pastor Rob Bell recently told TV host Oprah Winfrey that the Christian church is "moments away" from accepting homosexuality, arguing that the body of Christ will become irrelevant if it continues to hold to traditional marriage.
Bell's comments were made during a Valentine's weekend episode of Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday" television show where he appeared with his wife, Kristen, to discuss marriage and their new book, The ZimZum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage.
When asked why the couple chose to address gay marriage specifically in the book, Bell, who former pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, MI, said: "One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It's central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with."
In response to Winfrey asking when the Church will understand this, Bell responded, "Lots of people are already there. We think it's inevitable and we're moments away from the church accepting it."
He added: "I think culture is already there and the Church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life with someone."
Bell's wife, Kristen, said, "I think there are a lot of people who as they see culture moving, their response is to dig in deeper and hold their ground."
The "Love Wins" author, who stepped down as senior pastor of Mars Hill after coming under fire for his controversial views on heaven, hell and salvation, announced his support for gay marriage last year.
""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," he explained in a video titled "Why Rob Bell Supports Gay Marriage."
At the time, Brad Williams, an Alabama-based Baptist pastor, denounced Bell's comments, calling it "disconcerting for a Christian leader to say that the church should simply get in line with whatever the culture says."
"... one thing the Christian cannot do is ask Scripture to take a back seat to cultural whims. That is what Bell is asking of us," Williams wrote for Patheos.
"The universal church simply cannot follow Bell where he is going. The church has to be clear, and her leaders ought to be clear about the Bible's teachings."