Thursday, March 5, 2009


Scholars believe that the word sex is related to the Latin word 'secare', which means "to sever, to amputate, or to disconnect from the whole." This is where we get words like sect, section, dissect, bisect.

Our sexuality, then, has two dimensions. First, our sexuality is our awareness of how profoundly we're severed and cut off and disconnected. Second, our sexuality is all of the ways we go about trying to reconnect.
Rob Bell, sex god, p. 40

If we take this understanding of our natural state seriously, we have to rethink what sexuality is. For many, sexuality is simply what happens between two people invovling 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 out world, with each other, and with God.
p. 42

This redefining of 'sex' seems rather problematic to me. For one, to define 'sexuality' so broadly as to make it mean 'all of the ways we go about trying to reconnect' is to in essence say that everything is sexuality.

By that definition, then, two men shaking hands in greeting each other is a sexual act, or a group of women meeting for coffee at a local bookstore, or children playing baseball in the park, or a father reading a child a bedtime story, or friends exchanging e-mails, or a vehicle driver honking a horn at another driver, or a person at a computer writing an entry blog.

All are, after all, examples of ways those people are trying to 'connect' with one another.

Trying to say all of that is 'sex' or 'sexual' threatens to make it rather icky. Sex is very right within it's own realm, but outside of that it threatens to get sordid very quickly.

So, yes, I am not happy with his attempt to make "sex" mean any attempt we may make to connect with another person. I'd like to think that I can play a game of checkers with a friend or a stranger without someone else trying to soil it by saying it's 'sexual'. I'd like to think that I can have a casual conversation at a coffee shop without someone saying it's a 'sex' thing.

I can't help but feel that there's something...dirty...about this redefinition. At least, it makes me feel soiled.

1 comment:

Tim Bertolet said...

I'll have to look at Bell more in detail here, but this strikes me as a classic word fallacy. He takes the root of the word and then expands its meaning into all possible ranges on meaning then imputes those meanings into current usage. (or at least imputes those meanings into a full concept based on the root).

This strikes me as the kind of thing Silva and Carson get at. Seems Hermeneutics 101 would resolve this line of argumentation.

You can't take the root of a word and then build a theology/sociology/philosophy of sexuality.

It seems there is a sense he equivocates on sexuality and relationship whereas it used to be that sexuality was a subset of relationship. Biblically speaking the latter seems more faithful to the text. So that relationships are associated with things like 'covenant', 'fellowship' and even authority and submission (depending on the kind of relationship). Sexuality is only a narrow part of it.

How much of this is just using the modern fascination and obsession with sexuality to titillate and talk about deeper issues? Of course there is 'connectivity' in human life... but there is a special level of 'connectivity' and 'knowing' reserved from covenant marriage and part of that is the union of flesh in sexuality. Expanding 'sexual connectivity' to all of life loses the sacredness of sex.

It would be interesting to see what this does for how one actually defines adultery.

Thanks though, I enjoyed your thoughts. (I seem to keep blogging in your com box).