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Rob Bell’s new egalitarian book on marriage

Rob Bell and his wife Kristen are set to release a book on marriage next month. The work is already being touted as an egalitarian alternative to Mark and Grace Driscoll’s Real Marriage. The title is The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. Zimzum is a doctrine that comes from Kabbalah—a kind of new age Jewish mysticism. The Bells are accessing the teaching as a paradigm for understanding marriage. From the publisher’s description,

In marriage, zimzum is the dynamic energy field between two partners, in which each person contracts to allow the other to flourish. Mastering this field, this give and take of energy, is the secret to what makes marriage flourish.

Bell will be touring with Oprah Winfrey this Fall.


  • Paul Reed

    So what’s supposed to happen when there’s a disagreement between the parents? No compromise can be reached. Who wins? And what does that do for the child discipline, when they know how easily they can play 1 parent off the other.

    • Jane Dunn

      Grownups work through disputes. Otherwise business partnerships would be impossible. Shouldn’t married couples be expected to do even better? Sometimes one compromises and sometimes the other, depending on circumstances, skills, timing, etc. Deciding on who compromises based solely on gender is irrational and not biblical at all.

      • Paul Reed

        Business partnerships have written agreements on how to resolve disputes. Either one person has more voting rights or there are more than 2 people. A more apt analogy for eglitarism would be a corporation with 2 CEOs, each with equal power. What happens when there’s a disagreement (which is completely normal in human affairs). A company can’t stand divided. Would you ever invest with a company with a power-structure like that?

        • Jane Dunn

          Paul – That’s simply incorrect as a matter of law. There are many 2-person partnerships where the partnership agreement gives neither partner more control than the other. If they reach an impasse, they dissolve. Like marriage, though, most of them are able to work things out like grown ups. There doesn’t need to be a rule or a hierarchy for everything.

            • Jane Dunn

              Ledrummer – I’m not talking about serving masters. The discussion is about how two grown ups relate to each other.

              In any event, that scripture is talking about two unrelated masters, not two people united in a marriage or a single business enterprise. Two-person partnerships have employees who don’t hate one or the other partners. Two-person marriages have kids who don’t hate one or the other parent.

              • Brian Darby

                I may be off topic and I apologize if I am wrong, but I do not think parents are “masters” of their children, I have been a witness to the effect of children being brutalized and what it did to them. I know we all have it coming being fallen sinners no matter what happens to us we deserve more for just being children of Adam. I will never get that, but it seems to be the “theology” often put forward. The truth is kids are just that, kids. They are not some evil conspiracy looking to put one over on the mighty cabal they are just kids.

                Denny spend a few years in a developmental center and maybe your “gospel” will be a bit different.

    • James Bradshaw

      Paul writes: “So what’s supposed to happen when there’s a disagreement between the parents?”

      And your solution is what? All disagreements are resolved by going with what the male says?

      It’s called compromise. It’s what grownups do.

  • dr. james willingham

    There is a biblical egalitarianism or otherwise God would have never told Abraham to do what Sarah said (Gen.21:12). Neither would He have ever named Miriam as a leader of Israel along with Moses and Aaron (Micah 6:4). Or it could be that the complementarianism of the Bible is of a functional kind, a kind that is a function of the position and one with checks and balances. After all, we know of cases where complementarianism is a cover, an excuse for abuse. Besides we need to become aware of the rule that the rule and the exceptions constitute the whole truth, the next step in the development of the scientific method or, in other words, a more synthetical methodology.

    • Jonathan Charles


      what about Sarah Obeying Abraham and Abraham quite clearly leading his family everywhere around the middle east.
      Or that none of the 12 were women
      as for Miriam- hehe to think Exodus suggests she or Aaron were on the same level as Moses is ridiculous .

  • Bob Snyder

    Never mind what the Bible, God’s word has to say about marriage, let’s look at the kabbalah for authoritative instruction… Oh, and let’s still call ourselves Christians while teaching universalism to. The liberal theology that is behind this movement is developed when we question the Bible and start looking at it all as allegory. Never mind that Christ and Paul quoted the creation history as just that, history.

  • robert karl

    Kabbalah–wow. Yousure you are a Christian. Denny–why do listen to this crap–What would your friend, the late Fr. Neuhaus say about this .

  • Ted Hansen

    I will have to wait and read it to find out, but I am not sure how Rob Bell could write an “egalitarian” marriage book. From what I understand he embraces same-sex marriage so it would seem he would have to write a marriage book that is “androgynous” or irrespective to genders completely. At best the Bell’s book on marriage will just teach us what the believe it looks like for to humans (or maybe more) to be in relationship with each other. With this incredible ambiguity we are far from anything that could possibly be helpful.

  • Rabbi Michael Bernstein

    Just passing through and saw this discussion. I’m a rabbi and not truly familiar with the specifics of the book. However, Kabbalah is not new age (despite its appeal to those who are). Kabbalah is the trunk of Jewish mysticism encompassing the core doctrines that have held sway since the appearance of the Zohar in thirteenth century provence. Tzimtzum as a teaching stems from the sixteenth century school of Isaac Luria in Safed. I am looking forward to reading the book to see how it plays out.

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