For the last week, I have had these thoughts burning in my spirit. Words, pictures and various scriptures have been resonating in my mind today about a certain topic. It’s bothered me for a while now, and I have held back against writing about it. But today, I sensed an urgency to address it. So I have been praying, thinking, sitting, and waiting. Last week, I went to prayer/worship service and in the last few minutes, the Pastor gets up to close out the service in a huddle at the front, and basically preaches most of what’s been in my heart. I was practically cheering!! I love when God confirms that He is speaking to numerous people about the same thing. To me, that means it’s on HIS heart too. And I believe, His daughters are most certainly on His heart.
These words are said from the heart of a concerned wife, mom, and sister. This is meant to join the conversation about a really dangerous trend happening right now. I know several other moms, counselors, and ministers are addressing this topic, but I would like to participate by adding my own perspective. I firmly believe the more we talk about it, the more chance we have of making a difference. I ask you to prayerfully consider these words, and the question I pose at the end.
50 Shades of Grey… What started as a book, and was eventually expanded into a trilogy has many people talking right now. It’s been nicknamed “mommy porn”. That name alone says so much about where our culture has gone today. Thousands are planning to see the movie coming out this week. I can honestly say I have been dreading this day. I have not read the book, nor do I plan to. I will definitely not be seeing the movie. Honestly, I can’t even stomach the ads. That said, one does not need to read the book cover to cover to know what is in it.
However, I do want to tell you my personal experience with it. One day (a couple of years ago) as I was shopping in Costco with my youngest daughter, I was browsing through the book area. I happened to catch a glimpse of the first book. I had heard about it, but honestly had no idea what it was about. SO I picked it up off the pile and just opened it up to a random page in the middle of the book. In a matter of seconds, I had a wide range of thoughts surge through my brain. Among them, shock, awe, and disgust. That said, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you there was a brief moment of curiosity as well. It was uncharted waters for me. What I read in those few seconds detailed a very explicit and very graphic sex scene in the book. My next thought was this: Surely I had happened to open to the ONE page where this sort of thing occurs. What are the odds? Well…apparently pretty good because I flipped to a couple more pages, and found two more. In those few seconds, I felt confused, slightly violated, riveted, and extremely concerned; all at the same time.
Over the next few months, I watched as it became a rising “hit” and it was being talked about everywhere. But this is where it hits home for me. Several people who are Bible Believing Christians were getting sucked into this craze, and are now overwhelmed by a fictional character named Christian Grey. Those were just the ones that were willing to admit it on social media. I would guess there were a ton more. But this character, a supposedly handsome, dark billionaire who has his way with multiple women has captivated the hearts and minds of Christian women everywhere.
It gets worse. He has a room. With whips, chains, blindfolds, and an assortment of other things. Again, I haven’t read it, but from what I have heard, the basic plot is about a young college girl (who happens to be a virgin). She is not the stereotypical girl in that she is rather plain, and even more unexperienced. She becomes involved with Christian, and the story goes on to tell of how he “enlightens” her to the possibilities of sex, which for him include sexual humiliation, extreme submission, and control among other things.
That small, seemingly innocent portion of time has left a particular imagery in my mind that I still cannot forget to this day. I don’t want it there, but it remains.
On that day in Costco, I practically threw the book down on the pile and just walked away scratching my head at the fact this book was so popular. Ok people, let’s be real, I’m married, and not from outer space. I know WHY it’s popular. But there is still a deeper question of why? Are women everywhere that vulnerable to this particular story line? The sad answer to that is a resounding YES. Let’s take a closer look at why? We have to ask ourselves; what is the allure here?
Who was 50 Shades of Grey written for? Anyone who has read The Hunger Games, Twilight or even Divergent, could tell you the exact demographic those books were intended for. Teens and young adults. The main characters in those movies are all in the age range of 12-18. It’s relatable to them. All of these stories have similar themes throughout them. Themes of individuality, freedom; even empowerment over the things or institutions who have the potential to keep them down. These stories have the potential to change cultures and mindsets. It is the power of the written word.
Who then, is 50 Shades of Grey aimed at?
It’s aimed at ME. A wife, and mom. That age range could probably span anywhere between the age of 20-40 (give or take a few years). There is a significant reason it is called “mommy porn.” The realization of this actually really frustrates and offends me, but it also makes a lot of sense. It makes sense that the author of this book was a middle aged women; a wife and mother who had admitted in T.V interviews that she dabbled in erotica. Through a stroke of genius, this author thought she could use the framework of a series like Twilight and insert erotica into it. The sales of this book, and the upcoming movie have proven this theory to be hugely successful. This author is most likely similar to a lot of moms I know, or even like me in some aspects. She may be tired, sometimes lonely, and maybe sometimes feeling unappreciated by either her spouse, or kids, or both. Maybe she feels like she has given up on her dreams and resents herself. Or maybe… she is just bored with the everyday aspects of life. What woman would not want to escape that reality from time to time? What woman wouldn’t want to enter into a fantasy world where she, however homely, or poor could attract a man who would shower her with gifts, and affection. Sure, there is a price. She has to be willing to endure humiliation, and abusive control. But what are those when you consider all the bonuses?
While I don’t believe 5o Shades of Grey was originally aimed at teens and young adults, I am discouraged to see and hear of young girls (in their teen years)who are now being influenced by it. As a mom of 3 beautiful girls myself, I actually shudder at the thought of any of them being caught up in this mindset. They are precious, and innocent. The enemy is cunning. He knows the ripple effect this will cause. If he can get the mom to think it’s ok; it’s not a far stretch that our daughters will think it’s ok too. Do you see where I am going with this? This book and movie have the potential to influence multiple generations of woman to be casualties in a war.
Now, we’re getting somewhere.
The war on women… We hear that term constantly these days.
There is a real war on women, but it didn’t start on Capitol Hill, or at Hobby Lobby. And it has nothing to do with contraceptives.
No, the real war on women, started thousands of years ago, in a garden, with a woman named Eve. Her mate, Adam actually gave her the name Eve. It means “life”. Eve, was the other half of God’s image being expressed through humans.
Eve is significant for many reasons, but I feel that the issues we as women deal with today stem from the original assault on Eve. Eve had it all. Physical beauty, innocence, intimacy with God, and her mate, Adam. As a friend recently pointed out to me; Eve was the ONLY woman ever to have the “perfectly designed” man before sin came into the picture. That realization blew my mind. With all of that, the enemy’s main objective was to convince her that what God had already provided was not enough for her, and that God was withholding something. He was able to convince her that her mind needed to be opened. He also knew that once that happened, her eyes WOULD be opened. He knew she would feel shame. And she did. As soon as their eyes were opened, they hid, because they knew there naked.
From that day on, the only way of restoration, was through the cross.
Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at a marriage retreat with my hubby. I addressed this very topic. I talked about how the enemy has always gone after our identity and through various ways. He has convinced us that we are not enough, or that we don’t have enough. When we come into agreement with that lie, we search to fill a void with counterfeit things. Things that fill us up for the moment, but are not lasting. Things as innocent as an extra scoop of ice cream, or getting our affirmation and validation from things like social media. Or maybe even the clothes we wear, or the social circles we are in. Sometimes, we can look to things like romance novels that fill our mind with fantasies about men who do not exist.
I personally believe that romance novels are the female version of pornography. They usually aren’t visual, but they tug on the heart strings of women and create unrealistic expectations of men. I can’t speak for all women, but I would be willing to bet that most women are offended if or when their husbands engage in pornography. They should be. Pornography creates unrealistic expectations of women and it reduces them to objects instead of the beautiful woman that they are. Am I prescribing blame on married women for wanting to “spice up” their sex life? Absolutely not. I want to challenge you; this is not the avenue to do it. This movie is opening up the door of pornography to women by appealing to the female appetite in the same way that visual pornography appeals to men.
What I shared with our retreat group was a story about my own journey as a wife and trying to find my identity. I gave an example of a tough time in my marriage where I was not convinced that my husband really loved me. All I could see during this season was where I lacked. I was in a deep pool of self loathing, struggling to get out. Ironically, I expected him to be able to fill that hole inside. He tried to tell me in all sorts of ways that he loved me, but I wouldn’t believe it. At that moment, I threw out this half hearted and hesitant prayer. I asked God why I couldn’t believe my husband. I was totally caught off guard when I heard this in my spirit, “because you think you are un-loveable….if you don’t think you are worthy of love, how can you accept it from anyone when it’s given?” It was a wake up call for me. The revelation hit me then, that until I could accept my God given identity as someone who was dearly loved(by HIM first) and created for a purpose; then I would never be able to accept love, even in it’s purest form. Furthermore, I would never feel fulfilled, and complete. That friends, puts a HUGE target on my back. One that the enemy would prey on and use to seduce me into unwanted territory of believing that God has short changed me.
If we as women are not able to believe the truth of WHO and WHY God made us, then we will fall prey to these counterfeit forms of identity. Inevitably, when we realize that things are not what they are presented to be, we feel loss, and shame. There begins the vicious and unmerciful cycle for us to keep searching for things to make us feel better about who we are. But if we don’t find it in God first, we will be searching for the rest of our lives, and miss out on the things God has in store for us.
To bring it back around, I will say this. I feel this movie will only accelerate what is already so wrong in women when it comes to sex and the human soul. It is a blatant, perverse, and disgusting portrayal of something that God created to be an amazing gift to committed couples. This industry is desensitizing people to the abuse and the demeaning of women. I believe the porn industry is the gateway drug for many other things inflicting our culture today.
When media outlets like The Today Show, Superbowl ads, or even commecrials on Hulu celebrate movies like this; it sends a clear message that we (as a gender, and as a nation)are basically saying “it’s ok” to treat women as just sexual objects. This could not be further from the truth, and it literally makes my heart sick. It also devastates the heart of our Father.
Like I said before, I have not read the book. What I have read is God’s word which says we were made in His image and likeness. Eve was our blueprint. What is portrayed in this visual narrative is NOT His design or His heart for intimacy. All humans were created for relationship and love, not to be reduced to sexual fantasy. Sex was HIS idea! God designed this expression of love to be shared in a unique way that creates life; not just physically, but spiritually. He wants MORE for us than what the world has to offer or what the human mind can conjure up.
Sex is not just a physical act. It also engages our spirit and our soul. Sex was created to be within the context of marriage. Marriage is the only earthly example of God’s covenant love for us which says, “to my death, I will love you and will never leave you.” It’s that type of relationship we were created for.
This isn’t just a war on women. It’s a war on men too. It’s also a war on marriage. The same lie the enemy whispered to Eve is being reinforced in men as well. The lie is that what God created this gift for, somehow isn’t ENOUGH. It’s telling us that loving and giving our life to someone over decades is not exciting. It says that to have a “thrilling” sexual experience; we must engage in pornography or different partners to be happy. It’s an empty promise. I have listened to several pastors and Christian authors say that when the marriage is healthy; sex is actually more fulfilling as we get older. As a woman who has been married almost 14 years, I can vouch for that truth! I fully expect it to keep getting better! That said, anything great takes effort and intention. If your marriage is failing, intimacy will suffer too. The kind of sexual intimacy God created us for will not look like a hollywood movie or sound like a steamy romance novel; because those are totally fake. I have watched interviews where the actors talk about those scenes. They are mechanical, and awkward; anything but romantic.
Sisters, please hear me. YOU deserve better!!
Here is a thought… If Christian Grey were a middle aged, low income, regular joe; he would be considered a pervert and a sexual predator. This author wrote a character to appeal to the masses, because anything less than a rich young guy would have ZERO appeal. She has probably made millions feeding the lie that women are only as valuable as what we will allow men to do to us. That is not what God has in mind for you, or your daughters, or sisters, etc. Your value is so far above this. You were meant to cherish and be cherished. You were made to love and to be loved, tenderly and sacrificially. God meant for you to have a satisfying and joyful intimacy with ONE person that would be willing to give their life for you. REAL love is giving all of yourself to your best friend, lover, and partner for life. (hint, those are all the same person). We do not have to buy into the lie that we are missing out. We actually have the potential to share in an intimacy similar to the one described in the Song of Solomon. Solomon’s wife, his beloved, became famous for her ability to thrill her husband by her devotion and her physical act of love. There is a reason this book is in the Bible. It gives us a glimpse into the creativity God had when He designed this amazing gift. It also showcases the level to which He designed for us to enjoy it WITHOUT shame. What God created for beauty and life; the enemy has distorted and perverted.
To close, I will end with this. Look at Jesus and the example He has set. Compare it to what is being offered in this movie. Then, you get to decide if you still want what this movie represents or what Jesus offers us instead.
Jesus doesn’t put you in chains or anything that binds you.
He BROKE them.
Jesus doesn’t blindfold you.
He said, “you are the apple of my eye.”
Jesus doesn’t remove your clothes to shame you.
He gave us a robe of righteousness.
Jesus doesn’t wish to control or dominate you.
He gave you a free will to choose.
Jesus doesn’t whip you or humiliate you.
HE took the whipping and humiliation FOR YOU.
We don’t need 50 Shades of Grey. We were given two.
The crimson blood that covered us and made us white as snow.