SPIRITUALITY & SEX: Part 3
The God of Sex versus Sex God
Bell first begins by establishing the balance between our understanding of sexuality and our understanding of our relationship with God. In his estimation, our sexuality is far more than the simple biological functions that sex-ed courses teach or science relies upon. We are more than animals, he contends, made in the image of God with a divine spark within and our sexuality is an indicator of such. In fact, he states that our sexuality, our urges and desires, when boiled down to their base nature, are truly indicators of that "God-shaped hole" Sartre spoke of.
At this juncture, I return to the statement made by Emergent pastor Rob Bell: “Sex carries within it the power of Life itself. . . . Something given by the creator of the universe. Something divine.” (Sex God, 197.) Personally, I wonder why he accentuates “Life” with an upper case “L” and “creator” with a lower case “c.” As has already been pointed out, New Age author Neale Donald Walsh repeatedly spells “Life” with an idolatrous capital “L” because in one conversation God told him, “The words ‘Life’ and ‘God’ are interchangeable.” In taking a cue from New Age/New Spirituality now rooted in our host culture, did Bell get the idea of spelling “Life” with a capital “L” from some New Age spiritualist?
Though disclaiming that men and women are, or possess the potential to become, gods, Bell does state that,
[I]n some distinct, intentional way, something of God has been placed in them. We reflect what God is like and who God is. A divine spark resides in every single human being.” (Sex God, 19)
To what does the “divine spark” refer? Does the “spark” refer to the soul-spirit of a person, or to sex?
Because of Adam’s fall into sin, and consequently, because people are born spiritually dead, mysteriously, this spiritual deadness is seminally passed on in procreation. Biblically and theologically, the “spark” therefore cannot refer to every person’s soul-spirit (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:1-5; Romans 8:9). To believe that it does evidences a Pelagian or mystical worldview which believes that all persons are not quite spiritually dead, or that something divine lives in every human being. Thus, Bell’s scheme suggests the “divine spark” is sex for as he states, “Sex carries within it the power of Life . . . Something divine.” (Sex God, 197)
Is Bell saying that God placed a divine “sex-spark” in His creatures? Is the “sex-spark” something God created? Or, from His being, did He pass it on to humanity? As with spirituality, is sexuality a divine attribute which partially defines God? In that Bell calls sex “divine,” states that our sexuality reflects “what God is like and who God is,” and modifies God with the attributive adjective “sex” in the title of his book Sex God, he seems to suggest that sexuality helps to define God’s being and that sexuality is something humanity shares in common with Him. Thus he creates a fertile ground for goddess-ism.
I also question whether labeling it “divine” refers to the process of sex, as Bell makes it to, or to the product of sex, males and females reproduced in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). In the Genesis record, the persons God created are distinct from the process by which they are to propagate (“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth . . .”). Calling sex divine introduces eroticism into the nature of God, which becomes an interesting make-over for God, especially in light of the fact that most theologians believe He is Spirit and therefore asexual (John 4:24). But eroticism is an essential component of the goddess-ism endemic to the ancient Near Eastern religious worldview.
Thus, one must wonder whether Bell’s sex construct elevates or degrades the image of God in man, and whether it affirms or denies the transcendence and separateness of the Creator from His creation. I myself look at it like this: If it degrades God, then it degrades man. I shudder to think of the perversity that might result from thinking that sex and God belong to the same cosmic and monistic whole—as below, so above. In pagan belief, sex is the spark that ignites and perpetuates “Life” with a capital “L,” and taps into the cosmic Energy with a capital “E.” So if it is divine, why not spell “sex” with a capital “S”?
We would do well to remember that when practiced in the commitment of a monogamous and heterosexual marriage, sex is the gift of its Creator to His creatures (Proverbs 5:18). Sex draws committed couples into transpersonal oneness with each other and allows two individuals to better know one another. While in this context sex is good, it is not God, nor even a part Him. As such, we dare not to spell it with a capital “S”!
Will and Ariel Durant, a husband and wife team who were among the greatest historians of all time, state in their book, The Lessons of History:
“[S]ex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.”
One must wonder, with all the discussion going on about sex nowadays in the New Age/New Spiritual culture, and among Christians who take their cue from that “spirituality,” whether such prurient interests don’t indicate something deeper is going on that is devastating true spirituality in the church. Because of the idolatrous state of their hearts, is God giving people over (i.e., reprobating them) “to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Romans 1:24)? Like the culture, is the church now too being consumed by sexual chaos? Are we amidst the process of being given over by God to lusts?
"Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness,..." (Ephesians 4:19a)
36. Walsh, Tomorrow’s God, 69.
37. Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968) 35-36.
Read Part 1 and Part 2.
Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor. This article used with permission. Pastor DeBruyn will be a speaker at the upcoming Discernment Ministries conference Oct. 10-11, 2008 in Niles, Michigan.