Rob Bell in a video for his book “Love Wins.” (Courtesy of Rob Bell)

Rob Bell, the very popular evangelical Christian pastor and author, just came out for marriage equality (listen here around 42:40).

Welcome to the struggle, Rob. I have been a joyous ally of the movement for full equality for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender people for many years, and it has been fully a gift of grace in my life to participate in what I believe is a crucial civil rights movement in our time.

I was particularly struck by the fact that when you spoke this past Sunday, you talked about how your support for marriage equality requires a theological shift, and also repentance for those who have uncritically equated evangelical Christianity and social conservatism. That, you said, has been “destructive.”

You put it this way: “[Y]ou 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. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”

This is exactly right. Religious prejudice against LGBT people is a theological error. It is sinful to reject a child of God as God created them to be, and those who have held those views (or continue to hold them) should repent of them.

Instead, we must preach and teach a loving God. Faith in a loving God will always lead us to advocate for the full human dignity and worth of every human being.

God’s love is freely given for all of us, and is the root of human integrity.

In my view, few have said this better than the Rev. Peter J. Gomes of blessed memory who was longtime pastor of The Memorial Church at Harvard.

Rev. Gomes came out in 1991, saying “I am a Christian who happens as well to be gay. Those realities, which are irreconcilable to some, are reconciled in me by a loving God.”

Amen.