I just finished reading SexGod by Rob Bell. Bell explores (from a Christian perspective) the links between sexuality and spirituality, his main thesis being that the unity of sex and marriage are the most potent earthly example of the unity that we are supposed to be in with God.
Reading this book is part of a recent foray I’ve been making into reading Christian books once again – now that I am becoming more comfortable with my unorthodox faith, I can appreciate more orthodox scholars, and consider them in the framework within which they are operating.
Generally, I appreciate what Bell is doing with his book – he is honest and compassionate and pays a lot of attention to the cultural context of the Biblical passages he’s talking about. He also makes a valiant effort of examining the passage about husbands being the head of a marriage and wives submitting to their husbands, and situating it in the context of the passage as a whole, saying that really everyone is supposed to submit to everyone, and the husband is supposed to be willing to die for the wife, so really it’s about equality.
I still came out of the book feeling like women are getting the raw end of the stick, though. Despite Bell’s assertions that Paul is talking about equal submission, the overall message in the book is that a marriage is like the church’s relationship to God. God is always the groom and the church is always the bride in these situations. . . . and, well, God is God and the church is people, so I don’t see how that is supposed to be an equal relationship. Therefore, if the analogy is reversed (instead of saying that our relationship with God is like a marriage, but saying that marriage is like our relationship with God) – women are somewhat infantilized (God is, after all, also understood as being the benevolent parent). And that doesn’t match up with my understanding of what or who God is. Which leads me back to my mistrust of the Bible as the Word of God . . .