Rob Bell's book, Sex God

I read Bell's book today, and I must say, it was quite a disappointment. I picked it up hoping to find some helpful views on theology of sexuality and sexual ethics for Christians. What I found instead was a hodgepodge of Bell's thoughts on relationships. Even then, most of what Bell has to say is shallow and only marginally helpful for someone looking for concrete help in the realm of romantic relationships.

For instance, at one point Bell discusses submission in marriage. He emphasizes mutual submission between husband and wife ("submit to one another out of reverence for Christ", Eph 5:21). There is nothing shallow about mutual submission. However, Bell entertains the hypothetical question of what a married couple should do when they face a tough decision and they aren't on the same page. Bell sidesteps this situation by pointing out that a really healthy marriage won't get into such a situation. Maybe so, but what about the rest of us whose marriages are rarely in that state of perfect mutual submission?

The book is not really about sex, unless you define it the way Bell does. For him, sexuality has to do with "all the ways" we set out to connect with each other. He points to the example of Shane Claiborne, who is celibate but (as Bell describes it) exercises his sexuality by demonstrating compassionate solidarity with marginalized people. So care and compassions are expressions of our sexuality? Could we then say that Claiborne is sexually involved with marginalized groups? To use a different example, is a man being sexual when he calls his mother on the phone to say hi? I hope not.

Bell is known for his position that everything is spiritual. That is, nothing in human life is devoid of spiritual dimensions and implications. I agree with him there. However, it appears that he is also sliding toward a position that everything is sexual. If you stretch the word "sexuality" so far that it encompasses "all the ways" we try to connect with each other, including social compassion or calling one's mother on the phone, then you have stretched it to absurd lengths.

Sorry, for this reason and others, I give this book thumbs down.


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