Rob Bell takes a holistic view of sexuality, understanding it primarily as the longing and expression of connection, rather than merely physical sexual drives and acts. He writes:" Our sexuality is all of the ways we strive for connection with our world, with each other, and with God" (p 42) Seeing marriage as a beautiful and healthy, but temporary and unnecessary manifestation of this connection and a special picture the ultimate union between people and God, Bell emphasizes the importance of regarding whole persons, both with their spiritual and physical dimensions with respect and value as precious human beings worth dying; persons we need to honor with self-giving love rather than degrading with self-gratifying, anti-human consumption. There are so many places we can take this discussion, and I hope the conversation opens up into many areas. Here are a few quotes and questions to kick us off.
1. Rob quotes his wife's definition of sexy as this: "Sexy is when it feels good to be in your own skin. Your body feels right. It feels comfortable. Sexy is when you love being you." (p 46)
What is your reaction to this definition? How is it different than the beliefs about "sexy" you grew up with? How is it different from what our culture conveys about being sexy?
2. On page 76, Bell writes, "Addictions rob people of their appreciation of things." How have you experienced this phenomenon in your own life? What is your current relationship with addiction?
3. On page 79 Bell has an excellent list of questions to ask oneself in the face of temptation. Choose an area of temptation, or addiction and apply this list to yourself, inviting God into the journey. If you feel comfortable, share your experience of the process.
4. Bell notes the source of lust as a lack of gratitude and contentment leading to the lie that, "If I just..." Bell goes on, "The 'if' means we have become attached to the idea that we are missing something and that we can be satisfied by whatever it is we have in our sights. There's a hole, a space, a gap, and we're on the search. And we may not even realize it. When we are in the right place, the right space -- content and at peace -- we aren't on the search, and our radar gets turned off." (p 73)
How can we cultivate contentment, joy and peace in our lives just as they are? How can believers help on another let go of comparing and and start loving and enjoying the lives and gifts we have?
5. Rob often applies gender stereotypes to the book, titled one chapter, "She ran to the bathroom," and referring repeatedly to "She's worth dying for," or presuming the reader is a female, as in, "But you don't have to give yourself away to earn a man's love" (P 124) in the chapter titled, "worth dying for." Bell's understanding of marriage as complementarian/egalitarian also seems a little fuzzy. Did you think Bell came across as sexist or right on?
6. Bell stresses that one can be celibate and be a deeply sexual person, practicing, "universal love," (p 45) and that if anything, Jesus tilt is for being single over being married (p 164) How do you feel about single people (yourself included if applicable)?
7. On page 167 Bell asks, "What happens when everything we need from each other we have in God? What happens in the presence of God when we are everything we were originally created to be?"
What are your thoughts on these questions in light of passages in genesis that state that "male and female he made them in his image" and "it was not good that man was alone" even before there was a rupture in God-human relationship in the biblical narrative?
Labels: Book Discussions, Gender Issues, Sexuality