For those who don’t know, Rob Bell is a former Christian pastor recently featured on Oprah who wrote a book with his wife called The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage.
It’s a bit jaded of me, but generally if you are being supported and promoted by the popular culture and praised by all the big Hollywood media moguls, and on the NY Times bestseller list, there’s probably something wrong. John 15:18 says, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. Hopefully those of us in the Western world don’t have to experience too much hatred, but it is simply a fact of life that those who speak the truth will not always be popular.
So Rob Bell’s claim to fame at the moment is his support and advocacy for gay marriage in which he claims the church will soon come around and start embracing it. People are praising him and admiring him for his bravery and the alleged suffering he is enduring for taking this radical stance. Uh, call me crazy, but I just don’t see the suffering to be found in being praised and admired by Oprah, HuffnPuff, being flown all over to promote yourself, and enjoying huge book sales.
I mean, I think he’s misguided, but I hardly count myself as evidence of one’s suffering. I suppose he could read my unfavorable blog review and feel tormented by my endless words, but beyond that, I sure don’t see him suffering for his “radical views.”
Anyway, there are numerous problems with the things Rob Bell is promoting. First of all he says, “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.”
One of the biggest problems in the world is that people go seeking fulfillment in other people, in the idea of marriage. We also tend to seek fulfillment in material things, in shopping, in drugs, in pornography, in status, etc etc. That is just pouring things into the abyss of your soul, often with tragic consequences. From the perspective of marriage, so many of our relationship troubles come from expecting someone else to make you happy, from expecting them to relieve you of your loneliness, from trying to burden another person with all your emotional wants, needs, and desires.
It’s a bit depressing to listen to a Christian act as if loneliness is not an internal problem that resists an external solution. Seek ye first the kingdom of God! Matthew 6:23. Single, married, widowed, housebound, it does not matter, you have a savior that wants you to fall in love with Him, that wants you to be so filled with His presence, that you aren’t lonely, you’re over flowing with abundance and peace. It is from that overflow that relationships can happen…or not. People are only the earthly frosting on the cake, they are not the substance. It’s lovely to have companionship, love, a soul mate, but if you are deeply lonely outside of marriage, you may well be deeply lonely within a marriage too, and deeply disappointed that your spouse has now failed you. There is nothing worse than being with somebody and feeling so terribly lonely and abandoned. That is worse than just being alone in the first place.
“Loneliness is not good for the world” Yes, but often I wonder if that ache wasn’t Divinely placed there, with deliberate intent, so we would know to seek our Source. There are so many distractions in the world to lead us in a different direction, but none of them will ever fill you up quite like a relationship with God. He is enough. Add yourself into that equation and it will be more than you can even handle.
The second thing that Rob does is say, “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.”
Ai yi yi. I just want to wail in despair over this one and me wailing away is not a pretty sight. Those beautiful love letters, scripture, the word, the wisdom of those who came before us, not good enough as far as Rob is concerned. Irrelevant. And what of our redeemer, our savior, who died for us 2000 years ago. Is He also now to be deemed irrelevant, relegated to the dustbin of history, no longer cool?
I’m sorry Rob Bell, but it is you who have no defense. Always when there is something in scripture, something about the nature of God that we do not understand, the error is going to be on our end. Always. This is just common sense. Here’s the Creator of the universe and His ways……and here is you and what you want to perceive as true. Nearly always if you are willing to examine yourself and to take it to God, He’ll explain it all to you, He’ll teach you, He’ll show you, with great patience and mercy.
Also, “the relevancy of the church” does not take precedence over scripture. Christ is the relevancy of the church, not the number of people you appeal too. Some may think I jest about this, but the most popular church in my area, the church with the most members in it, has completely removed Christ’s name from everything so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. How can you have a body of Christ with no head? That’s almost creepy.
****The word Rob Bell is looking for is tzimtzum. It comes from Issac Luria to explain his doctrine, the Lurianic Kaballah. The cargo ship that sunk in the book, “The Life of Pi” was also named the Tsimtsum. So, the “Zimzum of love,” it all sounds very spiritual, very intellectual, like some ancient form of wisdom and Rob Bell is a NY Times bestseller along with other awesome pieces of literature like…. 50 shades of Grey, which was an “electronic bestseller” for obvious reasons.