Former Mars Hill Bible Church pastor and best-selling author Rob Bell told media mogul Oprah Winfrey on Sunday that the American church is "moments away" from embracing gay marriage and thinks "it's inevitable."
Bell made the statement during a Valentine's weekend episode of Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday" television show where he appeared with his wife, Kristen, to discuss marriage and their new book, The ZimZum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage.
The same-sex marriage discussion portion of the episode, which can be viewed below, starts at around the 29-minute mark where Kristen begins reading an excerpt from the book.
"Marriage, gay and straight, is a gift to the world because the world needs more not less love, fidelity, commitment, devotion and sacrifice," she noted.
Winfrey then tells the couple that she thought it was great that they made a conscious choice to include gay marriage in the book, and asked them why?
"One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness," replied Rob Bell. "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."
His response then prompted Winfrey to ask: "When is the church going to get that?"
"We're close," he began, answering slowly before his wife interjected "I think it's evolving."
He then added: "Lots of people are already there. We think it's inevitable and we're moments away from the church accepting it."
Bell warned that if the church keeps resisting same-sex marriage it would "continue to be even more irrelevant."
"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.
"There are churches who are moving forward and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle," added his wife.