Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rob Bell: Sex God

You've got to wonder about the ego of a man who can write a book called 'Sex God' - knowing full well it will be listed as "Sex God: Rob Bell" or "Rob Bell: Sex God" in most book listings. But, thankfully, the book is not about the sexual prowess of the author - you buy the thing in Wesley Owen or Eden.co.uk (or your favourite local Christian bookshop) after all...

Just in case you don't know, Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, USA. He is also the man behind the NOOMA videos (someone in your church has watched these already, I bet). This is his second book (I haven't read the first, 'Velvet Elvis', yet).

It says on the cover that it is "exploring the endless connections between sexuality and spirituality". Huh? What endless connections?

As everyone who has ever attended a Christian youth fellowship or youth camp will tell you, the 'sex talk' is always the most eagerly awaited part of the programme or the talk series. Yet it always turns out to be about 'relationships' and not actually about sex; teenagers are always disappointed (primarily because the youth pastor (or whoever) generally doesn't tell folk that it is OK to do what their hormones are telling them too...). For the most part, this is true here too. This is a book about relationships which occasionally strays into 'sex' territory.

But I can't knock it too much. It is well written and exhibits a fair amount of wisdom on the part of Rob Bell. Although, I got the feeling that much of the first half of the book was 'Christianised' common sense rather than original biblical teaching in many ways.

Theologically, Rob Bell seems to hold a few views that are closer to some of my doubts on this web page than to the orthodox 'the bible says it, I believe it' view. Yet (unlike this blog) he doesn't openly question these things, he subtly and carefully avoids the issues. For example rather than addressing the creation story and asking 'did it happen like this?' he frequently refers to it as a 'poem' and leaves it at that. Likewise, he refers to 'the author of the epistle to the [whoevers]' rather than claiming it was Paul who wrote it, and so on. Indeed, have a look at the 'directions' section on the Mars Hill website and you will see that their basis of faith contains very few statements about who God is, how accurate the bible is, etc. It is a pretty woolly basis of faith (but I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing).

I get the impression that 'Velvet Elvis' may challenge some beliefs of orthodox Christians (how're you getting on with it San?). 'Sex God' doesn't. Its more of an 'oh, I'd never thought of it that way before' kind of book. Some bits are interesting, some you've heard before, but it is always well thought through. I guess that this is kind of the sermon notes for a series of talks that Rob Bell delivered some time. It feels like that.

The bit that struck me the most when reading it was the bit talking about Jesus saying "in my father's house there are many rooms..." (John 14v2) - here it is claimed that Jesus is actually quoting from the traditional Hebrew wedding ceremony and this is one of the things that the groom says to the bride - basically, "everything is now ready for you to leave your home and come and live with me..." - I found that very interesting.

Another interesting thought (although RB doesn't claim this as biblical or necessarily true, he just speculates) is what does 'married in the sight of God' mean? As far as God is concerned, when are people married? RB suggests that maybe the act of sexual union is that moment, not saying 'I do' in front of a preist, but the physical union of two people. Maybe we place too much empahsis on the ceremony and miss the point entirely? Or maybe not.

Anyway, its a good read (if a bit 'lite'), and I recommend it.

1 comment:

simo said...

Hey as a youth worker, when it comes to doing sessions on sex we do talk about sex, the disappointment is from when I refuse to talk about technique etc.