Sex God: Exploring the Endless Questions Between Spirituality and Sexuality. Rob Bell

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      SEX GOD

      Exploring the Endless Connections

      Between Spirituality and Sexuality

      ROB BELL

      Contents

       Cover

       Title Page

       Chapter Four: Leather, Whips, and Fruit

       Chapter Five: She Ran into the Girls’ Bathroom

       Chapter Six: Worth Dying For

       Chapter Seven: Under the Chuppah

       Chapter Eight: Johnny and June

       Chapter Nine: Whoopee Forever

       Epilogue: More Balloons, Please

      Acknowledgments

      About the Author

      Endnotes

      Credits

      Copyright

      About the Publisher

      Once there were two brothers.

      Jacob had smooth skin. But his older brother, Esau, was “a hairy man.”

      And not only was Esau follicly well-endowed, he loved to be outdoors. He was a skillful hunter—picture Ted Nugent in sandals. His smooth-skinned brother? Jacob stayed inside and cooked and hung out with their mother.

      You can smell the conflict coming.

      Which it does. Their father, Isaac, was dying, and the custom in the ancient Near East at that time was for the father to give his blessing to his firstborn son before he passed away. This was a symbolic gesture loaded with significance. Isaac sends Esau out to kill an animal they can eat as part of the blessing ceremony. But Jacob, at his mother’s prodding, covers himself in goat skins and goes to his ailing blind father, pretending to be Esau. When Isaac hears him, he asks who it is, and Jacob responds, “I am Esau your firstborn.”1

      Jacob insists he’s someone else.

      Isaac falls for the deception and gives Jacob the blessing he intended to give Esau. Jacob’s lie is a serious offense against the family, against Isaac, and ultimately against Esau. And when Esau finds out, he’s furious and makes it clear that when their father dies, he is going to kill Jacob.

      Which Jacob takes as a subtle hint that it’s time to leave town.

      So Jacob is on the move, running for his life, when he stops to sleep for the night. The Bible describes the spot where he rests as “a certain place.”2 This detail is significant because this is not a religious site; it isn’t the top of a mountain or the edge of the sea, there isn’t a temple nearby. Jacob falls asleep in a random place by the side of the road. That night, he has a dream. An intense dream in which God speaks to him and says, among other things, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”3

      What God does here is astounding. People at that time believed the gods resided in religious places, places where gods are expected to be—temples and holy sites and shrines and altars.4 But this God is different.

      This God appears at rest areas.

      This God speaks to people at “certain places” along the way.

      This God doesn’t need temples and holy sites and rituals.

      This God will speak to anybody, anywhere, anytime.

      Jacob then takes a stone and sets it up as a pillar to mark the spot, making a vow: “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God.”5

      Years pass. Jacob marries, starts a family, and eventually reconciles with Esau. He stops pretending to be someone he’s not. And then one day he returns to the spot where he made his vow to God. The book of Genesis says, “He built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.”6

      Bet is the Hebrew word for house. El is one of the names for God. Bethel, the “House of God.”

      Imagine you’re one of Jacob’s kids: you have just arrived in this new land, and there’s a stone pillar there that your dad can’t stop talking about. He’s telling anyone who will listen this story about something that happened to him years ago, and he’s stacking rocks on top of rocks. He’s stacking them so high, he turns the whole thing into an altar. And he keeps talking about a vow he made to God, and you have no idea what the point of this is. It seems a bit much. And then he starts calling this pile of rocks the House of God.

      What if you asked, “Dad, what’s the big deal? They’re just rocks.”7

      I imagine Jacob would respond, “Yes, you’re right, they’re rocks, but they’re more than rocks. You have to understand, I was on the run and thought my brother was going to kill me. My life was over. And God saved me. And God brought me to a new home. And I had food to eat and a place to sleep and eventually God gave me a family. These aren’t just rocks. These are a symbol of life for me. God came through for me.”

      They’re rocks, but they’re more than rocks.

      We do this all the time.

      If we were to go through your garage or storage shelves or sock drawer, I guarantee we would find the strangest things. I have a trophy from when I was fourteen. The little man on the top fell off sometime in the ’90s, the lettering that says what it’s for has faded, and the years have revealed that, shockingly, that isn’t real marble. But I’ve kept it. I haven’t thrown it away because it’s more than a trophy to me. That trophy is the first time I actually won something on my own. It represents a certain period of my life and the struggles of being fourteen and finding my identity and wondering if I’d ever be good at anything.

      It’s a trophy, but it’s more than a trophy.

      Jewelry,