Rick Warren is Being Disingenuous

14 Dec


I like Rick Warren a lot.

I have a ton of respect for his ministry, integrity and character.

I have learned a ton from him, consider him a mentor-from-a-distance, and will usually defend him against critics.  

My experiences with him have demonstrated that he is genuine, loving, passionate, compassionate, and simply put — the real deal.

That said, in this recent interview about homosexuality and gay marriage, Rick is being disingenuous. In the interview, Warren is quoted as saying:

“I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society”

in response to a question about his opposition to gay marriage.

It is no surprise and nothing new that Warren believes all homosexual behavior is sinful and that gay marriage is wrong.  While I disagree with Warren on these issues — and believe he is both on the wrong side of history as well as faithful exegesis — I respect him enough to not dismiss him because of this disagreement.

But here is where is gets disingenuous: he implies that his position is the only one that God would approve and that anyone who disagrees or has a different position (a) is outside the bounds of God’s approval and (b) hold their position because they value societal approval more than Gods.

The truth of the matter is that there are faithful, committed, intelligent Christ followers on both sides of this issue — and Rick Warren knows it.  Those who disagree with him do so out of conviction and from their understanding of scripture and Jesus. We can disagree on how to read and apply the scriptures without having to lower ourselves to imply that those who disagree with us are less faithful and less committed to the scriptures and to following Jesus than we are.

The right answer for Warren would be: “I believe X. Many of my brothers and sisters believe -X. As I hope they respect me, I respect them. This is an issue of hermeneutics and exegesis. We all agree that God’s love is for all people and all people are created in the image of God. That is the important stuff…”

I have heard Warren plea for more civility in these kinds of conversations, especially within the church. That cannot and will not happen until leaders like Warren stop mis-characterizing anyone who disagrees with their particular interpretation of a passage as being “less faithful”.  As a church community at-large, we must be humble enough to listen first, seek common ground, and always lead with respect and civility.  

Most of the time, Warren models and leads in this area well.  This time, he failed.


Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


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10 responses to “Rick Warren is Being Disingenuous

  1. Brian Verteifeuille

    December 14, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Saw your blog on a friends news feed on facebook… I know we don’t know each other but I just have to comment on this… I am not a Warren fan at all and think he doesn’t stay true to the Gospel not to mention his involvement with council on foreign relations (but that is another whole discussion) But disingenuous? On the wrong side of history as well as faithful exegesis? I don’t think I can say this any other way than what it truly is…possible one of the most perverse things in regards to what the Bible says clearly I have every seen. Friend forget about what Warren thinks. I implore with everything in me to please get back to Biblical Christianity and Bible interpretation, as it is clear that you have strayed very far from it… You may call it hateful or unloving or whatever other rhetoric that you use. But friend, I will lovingly tell you that these things are not areas that the Bible is not clear on or leaves room for throwing your own ideas into the Bible trying to make it support your view instead of just taking it for what it says. And I would suggest you revisit history in terms of how the church has viewed this and interpreted this from the Scriptures.


    • Ben Dubow

      December 14, 2013 at 5:40 am

      Brian, thanks for stopping by and commenting … always appreciate it, even when I disagree.

      First, is it your contention that no faithful Christians can disagree with you on this issue? That is, by definition, anyone who disagrees is not a Christ-follower? Again, factually, that simply isn’t true — and I think it does nothing to help the Church (big “C”) navigate through these issues when we insist on demonizing anyone who interprets and applies the scriptures differently.

      Second, I would encourage you to read my series on hermeneutics and also my series on what my best sense of the key “7 passages” really mean… then happy to have a discussion…


      • Brian Verteifeuille

        December 14, 2013 at 5:44 am

        I will read your series on it and am open for dialog for sure. And of course people can disagree with me on things who are Christian. It happens all the time. But there are just some things that are very clear man. I have some gay friends and I certainly try to lovingly share Jesus with them, and do not elevate their sin above anyone elses, mine included, but if they ask me what the Bible said about homosexuality and those who practice it as a lifestyle it would be so wrong and unloving for me to not tell them the clear truth.


      • Ben Dubow

        December 14, 2013 at 5:55 am

        “but if they ask me what the Bible said about homosexuality and those who practice it as a lifestyle it would be so wrong and unloving for me to not tell them the clear truth.”

        I am only suggesting you be humble enough to acknowledge that “to read is to interpret” and that other faithful people have come to different conclusions. Yes, you should say “based on my reading and study of the passages, I believe X”. But let us not pretend that we are gods — the scriptures are inerrant, infallible and the final word on both faith and practice. However, you and I are very fallible, very capable or errancy, and but one word in a broad conversation about faith and practice.

        There is no harm nor heresy in a humble heart… and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and direct. We must fight the tendency and desire to shut down the conversation before it has even begun. Too many have been hurt, alienated and chased away from Christ and the Gospel by this approach. And unless you are willing to say that all the people who disagree with you are not faithful Christians, it is in fact disingenuous to say what Warren said. What would have been the harm in him saying “I believe this 100%… but I know that many smart, faithful brothers and sisters in Christ disagree with me…” ?

        Here is the thing… having never met you, I will take you at your word that you are a follower of Jesus and a brother in Christ. That said, I think you are 100% incorrect in your reading, interpretation and application of the passages in the Bible about homosexuality. On fact, I think your mistaken reading grieves Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Father. But I recognize that you are still a fellow brother in Christ.

        Why is that such a difficult thing for people to understand, acknowledge and practice?

        A little civility will go a long way in presenting a bonified witness to the Risen Christ!


  2. Brian Verteifeuille

    December 14, 2013 at 5:40 am

    So, Warren should have done exactly what he did – Declare the truth of the Bible for what it is. This is not about gifts of the Holy Spirit, free will or sovereignty here. It is about some perfectly clear. Anything less than responding the way Warren did would have not only sent a message of uncertainty to a world that doesn’t know Jesus, but would have been unfaithful, unloving, untruthful and completely unbiblical. Not to mention cowardice. This blog post truly saddens me so much tonight I am not sure I am going to sleep. I cannot believe someone professing Jesus would even try to argue about this in such a way. Maybe I should make an argument for sleeping around with multiple women and get upset when someone gets on TV and says it is clearly wrong in the Bible and then say that is a matter of interpretation and there are varying views…It is not so clear. They should have answered “I believe X. Many of my brothers and sisters believe -X. As I hope they respect me, I respect them.” Just totally wowed by this mentality. It truly sits on the fence of nearing heresy.


  3. Clare Flourish

    December 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

    It raises Warren’s doctrine on Homosexuality to the most important doctrine in the Church.

    I am a pacifist, because I am Christian, and there are chaplains in the army. I do not believe in transubstantiation, but recognise there are Biblical arguments for it, and for Purgatory. Yet here one side says that the Bible is “perfectly clear” on homosexuality where it clearly isn’t, a sibboleth to define Christians.

    Thank God they are on the wrong side of history.


  4. Johnny S.

    December 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I’m always concerned when i hear Christians blame God for their own biases and issues… “Oh no, it’s not that I am against women in leadership… if it were up to me, I’d be all for it… it’s just God who is being a prick about it…” for example… yeah, doesn’t work. Same with the gay issue. “If it were up to me, I would be ok with the gays… it’s just God who doesn’t like them… don’t blame me… your issue is with Him…” — stop blaming God for your own BS!


  5. Susan Lally

    December 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Hmm. Here we go again. When I became a Christian forty one years ago, I was convinced to let go and believe in the love of Jesus Christ. That night after I had encountered the Risen Christ I had one prayer request: “Help me love everyone as You love”. Everything else is His problem.
    Why do we have these discussions as Christians? When there are so many people out there who need our unconditional love?

    Jesus said there are two commandments to sum up the law and the prophets. I am still working on these.


    • Ben D.

      December 14, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks Susan… well said! Praying you are having a wonderful Advent season! I can’t wait to be back in CT and catch up with you and Kevin the the New Year!



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