My favorite excerpt from the book “Sex God” by Rob Bell:
RETHINKING OUR DEFINITION
If we take this understanding or our natural state seriously, we have to rethink what sexuality is. For many, sexuality is simply what happens between two people involving physical pleasure. But that’s only a small percentage of what sexuality is. Our sexuality is all of the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God.
A friend of mind has given his life to standing with those who have been forgotten and oppressed the most. He’s in his early thirties, he’s single, and he talks openly about his celibacy. What makes his life so powerful is that he’s a very sexual person, but he has focused his sexuality, his “energies for connection,” on a specific group of people.
Some of the most sexual people I know are celibate.
They sleep alone.
They have chosen to give themselves to lots of people, to serve and give and connect their lives with beautiful worthy causes. They friends help me understand why the Red Light District in Amsterdam is so sexually repressed. If you’ve ever walked through this part of the city, where prostitution is legal, you know that it can be a bit jarring to have the women in the windows gesturing to you, inviting you to come in and have “sex” with them.
What is so striking is how unsexual that whole section of the city is. There are lots of people “having sex” night and day, but that’s all it is. There’s no connection. That’s, actually, the only way it works. They agree to a certain fee for certain acts performed, she performs them, he pays her, and then they part ways. The only way they would ever see each other again is on the slim probability that he would return and they would repeat this transaction. There’s no connection whatsoever. If she for a moment connected with him in any other way than the strictly physical, it would put her job, and therefore her financial security, in jeopardy.
And so in the Red Light District there’s lots of physical sex—for some it’s their job—and yet it’s not a very sexual place at all.
There’s even a phrase that people use with a straight face—“casual sex.” The rationale is often, “It’s just sex.”
Exactly. When it’s just sex, then that’s all it is. It leaves the person deeply unconnected.
You can be having sex with many, and yet you’re alone. And the more sex you have, the more alone you are.
And it’s possible to be sleeping alone, and celibate, and to be very sexual. Connected with many.
It’s also possible to be married to somebody and sharing the same bed and be very disconnected. It’s possible to be married to somebody and sharing the same bed and even having sex regularly and still be profoundly disconnected.
There’s a saying in the recovery movement: “You are only as sick as your secrets.” This is true for relationships as well. If there are secrets that haven’t been shared, topics that can’t be discussed, things from the past that are forbidden to be brought up, it can cripple a marriage.
And so they’re sleeping together, but they’re really sleeping alone.
THE COMMUNAL DIMENSION:
This has huge implications for what it means to be a part of a community. How many people do you know who aren’t a part of a church, company, or community because of the way they were treated?
When we hurt each other,
When we gossip about each other,
When we fail to forgive each other,
When we don’t do the work of making peace with each other,
We get severed from each other, cut off, divided.
I often meet people who aren’t part of a church and don’t want anything to do with God because of “all those religious hypocrites.” Often they have great pain that they blame on “the church.” But it’s not possible for an institution, whether it’s a church or a school or a business or even the government, to hurt somebody.
Institutions are made up of people.
People hurt people.
Somebody in this group hurt somebody in that group. And they haven’t done the work to apologize and make amends and work through it. When I meet someone who has been burned by an institution, my first question is, “what was the person’s name?”
We’ll never heal until we can identify who did what when. Only then can we begin the process of being set free.
People who move from relationship to relationship, church to church, group of friends to group of friends, may do this because they have a hard time connecting and committing. Some people refuse to humble themselves and do the difficult work of learning how to forgive and reconcile, and so whenever a relationship hits a bump or turns sour, they leave it. They move on to the next one.
Perhaps we should call this what it is: sexual dysfunction.
A friend of mine who is celibate makes it very clear that her vow of celibacy is not to go without love, but it’s a vow to what she calls “universal love.” I’ve realized over time that she is a deeply connected person. There is a certain potency to her presence that is hard to describe. She owns no property and she gave everything she had to making the world the kind of place God dreams it could be. It is a joy to be with her because everything matters in her life. Nothing is shallow or trite or superficial. She’s very funny and smart and compassionate-a magnificent human. Because she’s exploring her own soul for so long, she knows herself inside and out. She’s at peace, and it’s contagious.
You can’t be connected with God until you’re at peace with who you are. If you’re still upset that God gave you this body or this life or this family or these circumstances, you will never be able to connect with God in a healthy, thriving, sustainable sort of way. You’ll be at odds with your maker. And if you can’t come to terms with the life you’ve been given, you’ll never be able to accept others and how they were made and the lives they’ve been give. And until you’re at peace with God and those around you, you will continue to struggle with your role on the planet, your part to play in the ongoing creation of the universe. You will continue to struggle and resist and fail to connect.
The other day my five-year-old son asked my wife, ‘Mom, what does sexy mean?’
She thought about it for a second and then replied, ‘Sexy is when it feels good to be in your own skin. Your own body feels right, it feels comfortable. Sexy is when you love being you.’
Because it all starts with being sexy on the inside.”
-Rob Bell, “Sex God” pages 42-46