I’ve very kindly been leant an audio copy of Sex God by Rob Bell. I’m two chapters in, and I’m hooked…
I have a copy of Sex God on my wish list, because Jude blogged to say it was brilliant, and a recommendation like that is enough for it to get me interested. But as I’ve said before, what hits the wish list and what actually gets read are two very different things, and I confess that this was a book that didn’t exactly attract me… ‘Sex God’? Too smart-alecky by half… It was destined to be one of those books that would take at least another 4 glowing recommendations before it ever made it from wish list to reading list.
But Andrea’s best friend Eve leant her the CDs, and now they’ve been passed on to me in a “you have to listen to this and do it now!” kind of fashion. So it goes on to my PDA, and the headphones finally come out on my way home from work last night…
…and by the end of chapter one I’m weeping. Weeping!
It’s hard to describe this book especially as, only two chapters in, I have no idea where Rob is going with it. Its basic premise so far is that this is so often really about that; which in this case translates to our obsession with sex and sexuality being really about our connectedness (or lack of) with the world, each other and, ultimately, God.
In chapter two, which was my walk in to work this morning, Rob talks about our sexuality being about connectedness. We are meant to have profound connections with the people around us; with the earth itself; with God. Our sexuality is our sense of disconnection, our profound dis-ease at not being connected; at being alone. Sexy, Rob says, is being comfortable in your own skin; being fully OK with who you are.
And because our sexuality is a longing to connect, it is fulfilled not necessarily out of physical union but through genuine connection with others. Rob talks about how some of the ‘sexiest’ people he knows are actually celibate. They choose not to share that physical intimacy with anyone, but instead live in a deliberate desire to form profound emotional and spiritual connections with those around them. [This reminded me of Shane Claiborne in Irresistible Revolution, another celibate individual, talking about how he often writes his job title as ‘lover’]
I’ve recently been going through a period of self-assessment, and a growing self-awareness. One of the things I’ve been realising is that I’m not ‘sexy’ (in the Rob Bell definition of the word); I’m not that comfortable in my own skin. I seem to spend a lot of my life, mostly unconsciously, living in a place of profound dissatisfaction with who I am. My job, my church, my marriage, my friendships, my relationship with God, my character, my nature; in all these areas I have caught myself thinking, wishing, hoping that somehow things would be different. That I would, essentially, change to be someone other that me.
I guess I’m beginning to understand now just how screwed up that is.
[I’m stuck now as to how to finish this section, so I’m going to leave it hanging… This might be one that needs a whole separate post.]
So what left me crying at the end of chapter 1? Rob had been talking about the brokenness of the world; the hurt, the pain; but also about what makes us human. At the end of the chapter he used two examples to talk about how the things of God can reach in and change the mess of the world; and it was those two examples that floored me.
Rob talked about a hero of his: a woman who, along with her husband decided that they wanted to adopt a child; someone to share their love with. As they looked into the issue of adoption this couple found out that there were children in the adoption system in their city who were completely unwanted. Children that, because of disabilities, or behavioural problems or whatever were never found a home. So this couple went to the adoption agency and said “we want to adopt a child who no one else wants; give us the most rejected, most disabled, most ‘issued’ child you have”.
And they adopted, and loved, not one of these children, but over 20 of them. They chose to see not what made these children different, awkward, ‘unlovable’, but what made them the same. Children, abandoned, in need of love and care and connectedness, just the same as us, as our birth children.
The other example Rob used was of prisoners in a concentration camp, dying from malnutrition and mistreatment, being given lipstick, and suddenly feeing human again…
Rob called these examples of Heaven invading Earth. They are explosions of light in a dark place; hope being given to the hopeless. And they are wonderful.
I’m spending a lot of my time wondering what ‘real’ Christianity looks like: what is the faith that Jesus instituted? How does that look in the 21st century? It seems to me that so often I can describe what real faith isn’t, but so rarely describe what it is….
But you know it when you see it. I still can’t find a frame of words, a picture or a parable that I can use to say “this is what my faith, my life, should look like”. But every now and then you see something, hear something, that you know is Godly. It just has those thumbprints all over it… and that one lady and her husband, adopting children who were unwanted, some of whom would be dependent on them for the rest of their lives… it looks like that.
You know it when you see it.
I want to see it more.