Rob Bell, the widely popular and controversial former megachurch pastor, is now convinced that a church doesn’t support same-sex marriage will "continue to be even more irrelevant."
Bell made the comments on an episode of Oprah Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday," where he appeared with his wife Kristen to talk about religion and spirituality.
"One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness," Bell said. "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."
Bell notes that Christianity is evolving and that many Christians have already opened their hearts to the idea that two people of the same sex would choose to journey together.
In fact, he says the church’s acceptance of gay marriage is “inevitable."
"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," he said.
Bell was founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in western Michigan. He raised eyebrows in 2011 with his book “Love Wins,” which questioned the existence of hell. Since then, he’s slowly drifted away from his evangelical roots. He’s now a spiritual adviser for Oprah Winfrey, appearing on the “Rob Bell Show” on Winfrey’s OWN television network.
His delves into his new ideas about love in a book he co-wrote with his wife, “The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage.”
But conservative Christian critics aren’t happy with Bell's message.
Author Michael Brown accused Bell of trashing the Bible as an outdated text.
“The bad news is that many professing Christians are capitulating to culture and abandoning the holy and wholesome ways of the Lord,” Brown wrote on Charisma News.
Matt Moore, a Christian blogger who identifies as ex-gay, pledged to pray for the Bells.
“Let's pray that God would so radically transform them that their influence could be used for God-exalting truth and not man-exalting evils,” Moore wrote.