Rob Bell and Andrew Wilson Discuss Homosexuality and the Bible

Rob BellOr perhaps I should have titled that “Rob Bell Discusses Homosexuality and Andrew Wilson Discusses the Bible,” because there was a disturbing lack of Bible in Rob Bell’s answers and arguments. Instead, Rob argued along these lines (and I’m paraphrasing):

  • People don’t like Christianity. Therefore, we should change the parts they don’t like.
  • The modern world affirms homosexuality. Therefore, we should too.
  • Monogamous homosexuals aren’t hurting anyone. Therefore, they’re not sinful.
  • Monogamy is better than promiscuity because the latter is dangerous and destructive.
  • Because homosexuals want to share their lives with each other, they should be able to.

I wasn’t familiar with Andrew Wilson prior to watching this video, but I appreciate the way he interacted with Rob. He was direct, logical, kind, persistent, and uncompromising.

Watch it for yourself.

This issue is not going away anytime soon. So it’s important that we understand it and be prepared to engage in the discussion.

Here’s another great video worth watching. Andrew Sullivan and Douglas Wilson debate the question “Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?” (HT: Mark Ward).

Finally, in case you missed it, last week Jason Collins, an NBA player with a Christian upbringing, announced that he’s a homosexual; and Christian sports analyst Chris Broussard (among others) responded. Here are several posts that address those events:

See also:

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20 Responses to Rob Bell and Andrew Wilson Discuss Homosexuality and the Bible

  1. Gabe Martini May 7, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    “That’s how the world is, and we should affirm that.”

    Wait, what? Did he really just say that?

    • Phil Gons May 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      Yes. Disturbing.

  2. Robert Campbell May 12, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    Actually, I thought Bell was quite composed. He is clearly annoyed (rightfully so), and is articulate enough/vague enough to not truly try to answer questions as dumb as “Is God okay with two guys doing it?” He is correct in his answer on why the Church is losing members.

    • Phil Gons May 12, 2013 at 1:24 am #

      Why do you consider that a dumb question?

      Why do you think he is right to be annoyed?

      Redefining the church isn’t the solution to the supposed problem.

      • Robert Campbell May 15, 2013 at 1:05 am #

        I didn’t mean to be flip, that was my first reaction to the video.

        I belong to a church where we have a female pastor, gay people hold prominent positions, and this conversation is alien to my worship experience. Maybe it’s my age, or where I grew up, or something, but I feel the work and wonder of Christ is only hindered by the “Church” preoccupied with gender and sexuality roles.

        • Robert Campbell May 15, 2013 at 1:27 am #

          It would be really cool if you joined us one Sunday. Garden Street Methodist, downtown. Anne and I would love it if you came down and witnessed a service.

          • Phil Gons May 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

            I appreciate the invitation, Robert. That’s kind of you. I have no doubt that your church has a lot of great people in it. But there seems to be veiled in your response (and Rob’s) something of a reverse set of priorities: what we think about the Bible is subordinate to what we experience. The thought process seems to go something like this: If you spend time with homosexual Christians, you’ll realize that they’re just like heterosexual Christians. You’ll then realize that the Bible can’t really be condemning homosexuality. As a result, we should come up with new ways to interpret the portions of the Bible that speak negatively of homosexuality.

            I’m compelled by Scripture to start with its teachings and to subordinate my experiences to it. So even if I met a lot of nice people at your church, I’d still be left with the same stance on homosexuality based on the teaching of Scripture. For me to take a different view, I’d need to be compelled based on exegesis of biblical texts.

        • Phil Gons May 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

          On what basis do you feel the work and wonder of Christ is hindered by trying to get gender and sexuality right? On the basis of Scripture’s teaching? Today’s cultural values? Something else? If you start with Scripture, you have to be compelled to give gender and sexuality the place that Scripture gives them—and land where it lands. If the culture considers Scriptural views outdated, the answer isn’t to bend and modify Scripture to be palatable to the unbeliever’s sensibilities. Remember, we’re told in Scripture that the world will hate us, persecute us, consider our message foolish, suppress the truth, love darkness rather than light, etc., etc. That’s an important theme of Scripture that much of the modern church has lost sight of. The proper way to bridge the gap between the Bible and the world is through the preaching of the gospel accompanied by the regenerating grace of the Spirit.

          • Robert Campbell May 22, 2013 at 12:22 am #

            “The proper way to bridge the gap between the Bible and the world is through the preaching of the gospel accompanied by the regenerating grace of the Spirit.”


            And our different interpretations of what that means and how that is done.

  3. Chris May 17, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    I don’t think Rob Bell realized what he was getting into here and it was clear he was uncomfortable at times until he ran off with the red herrings toward the end there. Unbelievable? is a Christian program that largely deals with Christian philosophy and apologetics so it only makes sense that Andrew is able to articulate the issue and problems with Rob Bell’s ideas along with the fact that they simply are not grounded in biblical Christianity.

    • Robert Campbell May 20, 2013 at 2:38 am #


      “… not grounded in biblical Christianity.” That is part of the problem with this discussion. That’s a serious charge that Bell is clearly exasperated with.

      Go back to the Reformation, and look at the arguments from the Reformers against the celibacy of priests. Interesting parallels there now.

      Where Phil and I live, it’s not up to debate if gays can or should marry. They can. And it won’t be long before this is a fact across the U.S., as well as most of Europe. Minnesota and France just legalized it this week.

      Phil states above that “Redefining the church isn’t the solution to the supposed problem.” I’ve never been to Phil’s church, but I am pretty sure that it has already been redefined in a lot ways. I’m sure they let interracial couples worship there, in fact, I bet they let people of color sit in the same pews as the white people! I’m sure they let divorced people join, and they probably have worship music that includes instruments.

      I’m glad that Phil wrote “supposed problem.” Because it really isn’t a problem. The gay people in my church aren’t any different then us straight people. They love Jesus just the same.

      As a straight, white guy, I won’t ever know what it’s like to feel like a pariah in the church, or judged as an outsider. To me, that should be the “problem” that gets addressed by you, me, and everyone else that follows Christ.

      • Phil Gons May 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

        I’m not sure I follow the parallel with the celibacy of priests. That’s not an issue that’s rooted in biblical exegesis like homosexuality it.

        It’s not up for debate if it’s legal, but it is up for debate if it’s biblical. And that’s the key issue: does Scripture forbid same-sex sexual relationships, or does it approve of them?

        When I talk about redefining the church, I’m talking about redefining how the Bible defines the church, not how any particular church has defined itself. I don’t see any prohibitions in the biblical definition of the church against interracial couples, interracial worship (or pew sharing), or divorced people. I wouldn’t call any of those redefinitions of the biblical definition of church.

        The biblical way for handling unrepentant sin in the church is precisely to treat the unrepentant sinners as outsiders (1 Cor 5; cf. 2 Thes 3:14f). That’s not popular these days, but it’s what Scripture calls for. I was in a church in Greenville that did this in profoundly loving ways, and it was often the tool God used to bring them to repentance.

        There are ways to love sinning homosexuals (and sinners of all kinds) that don’t necessitate ignoring or redefining their sin. is a good example.

        • Robert Campbell May 22, 2013 at 12:17 am #

          Phil, thanks for the in-depth replies. I will read the links you provided and think about it some before I reply!

          Also, just a quick note: there was nothing veiled in my invite, I just thought you might want to come check out a reconciling church service in person. It’s an open invitation, and you might just hear some hymns that I put in CP (humblebrag).

          Thanks for making this a safe space to air some disagreements.

  4. Robert Campbell May 24, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    I think we are going to have to agree to disagree.

    In reading your responses, they delve into many of our differences in interpretation of the Bible–we could go back and forth forever over sin, the literalness of the Bible, if fundamentalism is a good or bad thing, etc., but that doesn’t do any good. So, my final thoughts on the subject:

    There is no mention of homosexuality in the Gospels.

    To quote Peter Gomes, whom I generally agree with on most things:
    “The moral teachings of Jesus are not concerned with the subject. Three references from St. Paul are frequently cited (Romans 1:26-2:1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and Timothy 1:10). But St. Paul was concerned with homosexuality only because in Greco-Roman culture it represented a secular sensuality that was contrary to his Jewish-Christian spiritual idealism. He was against lust and sensuality in anyone, including heterosexuals.”

    He then asks this: “The questions are: by what principle of interpretation do we proceed, and by what means do we reconcile ‘what it meant then’ to ‘what it means now?'” A basic set of questions for Bible study, one that preceded this blog conversation.

    I think these are the questions me and you have asked ourselves, and followed two different paths of study. I find nothing sinful about homosexual love. There are lots of scholars that agree. There are lots of theologians that agree. And there are many of both who do not.

    So, we’ll see how this unfolds, but I am confident this is going to go the way of slavery, and women’s suffrage, and civil rights, and every other growth the church has been split on.

    • John Allen February 21, 2014 at 1:52 pm #


      What the church does in its reaction to cultural phenomena or trends and how God reacts can be completely different as I’m sure you’re aware. God does not depend on the church to make His decisions. The Hebrew Bible is full of situaltions where God’s chosen people chose against God. There are several issues in the NT where people who were serious about their faith commitment chose incorrectly (e.g. circumcision for the gentiles, marital relations between a woman and her stepson). The consequences that followed are meant to serve as a warning, I believe. Human society will always find something for which to make emotional appeals. As Phil stated earlier, that is why we have God’s word to keep us from making poor decisions in favor of emotion.

    • David July 22, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      On this issue, we cannot agree to disagree. Scripture is clear. Those who refuse to accept it as it was written cannot in good conscience and with all consistency embrace any other part of the Scripture. If it is all up for debate about literalness and meaning, the foundations of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ and His cross crumble. I stumbled onto this site today and read the thread of responses to this article. I appreciated the dialogue, but this issue is rooted in creation, the law of God, the words of Jesus Christ affirming the law (and intensifying many of its demands) and creation account, and the character of God. None of that has changed since our world has begun to embrace what it has regarding this issue. To answer the quotation above from Gomes that deals with Paul’s sensitives to homosexuality because of his “spiritual idealism,” one must ask concerning the source of Paul’s idealism. If his spiritual idealism is rooted in anything other than the Word and character of God, his idealism is simply that – personal ideals. But, if his idealism is rooted in the Word and character of God, his idealism becomes normative and binding for any culture that exists under the dominion of God (ie: the entire world throughout its entire history). The question of “by what principle of interpretation do we proceed, and by what means do we reconcile ‘what it meant then’ to ‘what it means now?” is no longer relevant. God is unchanging and therefore, His standard is unchanging. What it meant then is what it means now. To deny the sinfulness of homosexuality requires a denial of the creation account, a questioning of the character of God, denial of the immutability of God, and a denial of the veracity of Jesus Christ.

  5. John Allen February 21, 2014 at 1:34 pm #


    To say that Jesus never dealt with this subject I believe is incorrect. I’m coming late to the discussion because I just found Phil’s site. In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus refers to God’s original plan for committed relationships involving physical intimacy. He is quite clear, I think.

    Also, to say that Paul was only concerned with homosexuality in regards to Greco-Roman sensuality would seem to be a bit off the mark. While it can be argued that in Romans chapter 1 Paul, in mentioning “Greek and non-Greek”, is not including Jews as a people group (like Philo and Josephus), he goes on to deal with the Jewish people in chapters 2 and 3, quoting the OT in asserting that all have failed God’s standard. Paul would have certainly been aware of OT history and the presence of male prostitutes at times in the temple. Even if he were only speaking to Greco-Roman practices, the argument still needs to answer the assertion that Paul didn’t feel the need to direct himself to the Jewish people because they already knew what the Torah required.

    I’ve seen it argued that homosexuality is only condemned in the Torah because of it’s use in pagan cultic practices. However, this doesn’t seem to hold up when reading passages where it is mentioned, as the other practices condemned in those passages are clearly being dealt with in general, and not due to solely religious implications.

  6. Tony Vance May 22, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    I’m sorry, but Rob Bell has the most non-biblical responses to Biblical questions every time I’ve heard (or read) his responses.

  7. Michael R Shannon June 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Much of the argument in favor of condoning homosexuality in the church falls into the ‘this is the way Jesus would believe if he just had all the facts.’

    Jesus quite specifically addressed marriage as one man and one woman and he was not big on the idea of divorce. A place where Christians continue to fall short of the mark. And I believe Paul was an apostle and not a sociologist, so his thoughts on homosexuality are perfectly in line with the Old Testament.

    The earlier post that mentioned the Bible is full of instances where the people choose against God is spot on. This happens to be another one of them. Our idols aren’t of gold. We make idols out of sex and self.

    Michael R. Shannon
    Author of: Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)
    Available at:


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