Should Evangelicalism Evolve?

Recently, author Rob Bell announced his support of same-sex “marriage.” This does not necessarily come as a shock to anyone who has been paying attention to the trajectory he has been on ever since his book, Velvet Elvis, he is yet another in the swarm of public figures announcing this support of late.

And while I completely disagree with his position on the matter, my ultimate concern is the manner in which he comes to his conclusion. Regarding Evangelicalism, he says,

”You sort of die or you adapt. And if you adapt, it means you 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.”

Bell argues that Evangelicalism needs to change or die. Culture, he posits, has changed. Christianity, then, must change as well or get left behind. This line of thinking is not new to this subject, or frankly to any other controversial subject that finds Christianity opposed to contemporary culture. This is mere cultural relativism. In Bell’s understanding, what is the anchor – the tether – to which Christianity or Evangelicalism is pictured as being tied to? We must adapt or die. Does that sound as though we are “held captive,” as the Reformer Martin Luther wrote, to the Word of God, or as though we are bound to the culture in which we live?

Have we misunderstood God’s Word for 2,000 years concerning God’s design for marriage? Is the notion of one man and one woman for life simply an archaic design thrust upon the text by Christendom and defended to the death? Or rather, are there many today like Bell who interpret God’s Word through a acceptable, cultural grid in order to determine what is and what is not acceptable teaching? Will culture receive someone who opposes same-sex unions, who maintains that God establishes order in the home and in the church, who believes that those opposed to God will receive eternal punishment for their rebellion?

Bell is not as much a voice crying out from the wilderness as much as from behind a political lectern.

Bell’s “Christianity” is harmless and powerless to confront those apart from Christ. There is no need to change, nor is there power to do so. His Jesus more closely resembles a harmless Ghandi (who is in hell, despite what Bell has argued) than the Nazarene. The scandal of Christianity – authentic Christianity – is not that we are “more loving, compassionate people,” but that we are fallen, sinful people who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

We believe that God’s intended design for marriage is for a husband (male) and wife (female) in covenant with God because that is what the Scriptures demand we believe. Anyone who teaches contrary to that design must redefine and re-interpret the text in order to make it say the exact opposite of what the words say.

In the Garden, when God created a mate for Adam who was, “fit form him,” He created a woman. At the conclusion of this first wedding, the author of Genesis under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24 ESV)

This first marriage is the model to emulate. Otherwise, the author had no reason to include, “a man shall leave his father and mother.” Adam was created from the dust of the earth and had no father or mother. The writer is clearly establishing a model for the reader.

  • Marriage is instituted by God. Marriage cannot be defined by culture because it was not created by culture. It matters very little what culture deems acceptable or unacceptable when culture is not the authority to which one appeals. God’s Word, for the Christian, must be the authority to which we submit.
  • Marriage is designed to be monogamous for life. Marriage involved forsaking and holding fast. Husband and wives must forsake all other suitors and distractions and cleave, to use the KJV term, to their spouse. No one and nothing should separate them, for they are to become “one flesh.”
  • Marriage is designed to be between one man and one woman. They become “one flesh” which depicts ultimate intimacy – sexual, emotional, and otherwise. God has designed even the human anatomy to complete one another and become one. This is only true of “traditional” marriage.

We must not be swayed by popular opinion, political correctness, or those who snarl beneath their sheep’s clothing. If we are not, like Luther, held captive by the Word of God, we can be certain that we will be swayed to conform, perhaps even to evolve, in such a way as to oppose that very Word.

May God give us the resolve to cling to His Word.

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