For so long it’s been unacceptable in the Christian community for a spiritual woman to talk openly about issues of sexual pleasure and need. There are all these unwritten "Christian" rules that govern how openly we talk about sex. Then along came Fifty Shades of Grey—a book offering a bounty of explicit, erotic sex scenes all wrapped up in a love story. The book and its follow-ups provided a place for women to explore their longings and fantasies and promised to revive sexual passion in marriage or channel sexual desire for singles.
When the book was first released I naively thought not that many Christian women would read it. I was wrong. Over 100 million women have read it according to new counts just this week, making it the fastest selling book of all time other than the Bible. (Only God has outsold E.L. James!) And there is no difference between the percentage of Christians who have read Fifty Shades of Grey and the percentage of all Americans who have read the book that introduced us to the term "mommy porn."
If you are one of the Christian women who devoured the book, Dr. Juli Slattery and I want you to know you’re not alone. And, along with a growing number of increasingly transparent Christian leaders, we intend to approach this topic quite differently. Why? Because Jesus did.
Jesus met a woman at a well who was never going to be satisfied drinking at the well of sexual expression to satisfy her emotional thirst. When He approached her, He broke racial, religious, and sexual traditions. Those customs were not as important to Him as rescuing the woman with Living Water.
In the pages of our new book, Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longing of a Woman's Heart we may break a few unwritten, man-made, but none-the-less “Christian rules” of the past in the pages of this book. No conversation will be taboo if it can rescue your heart and bring you to the Living Water.
And one thing that make ruffle some feathers is the fact that we know why you read it and think the reasons reveal some very legitimate longings. As I dug into research a whole new world of writing, I identified five characteristics of successful erotica, based on interviews of those who read it and the writing guidelines given to authors in the industry (known as “sexperts”). "Good" erotica:
- Focuses on female fantasy
- Presents and innocent female protagonist who makes a man forget any other women on the planet even exist
- Present a controlling alpha male who dominates the female
- Presents female as the only one who can meet the needs of the male
- Offers graphic descriptions of sexual acts
Not knowing that I was finding this in my research, Juli felt led of God to write this list of women's longings that she felt were being met by the erotica craze:
- To escape reality
- To be cherished by a man
- To be protected by a strong man
- To rescue a man
- To be sexually alive.
(See how they line up? That's how powerfully God connected our hearts as we worked on this prayer-bathed piece!)
It seems to me that the longings (to which we provide better solutions in the pages of our new book) are legitimate, but are sadly not talked about in the Church. Juli and I plan to do some talking. Maybe you could help us by opening up to share in the conversation.
On the list of the five longings, is there one that you feel strongly undermet that you wish the Church would address?
Listen to Dannah Gresh talk about Jesus meeting the woman at the well and the two things her life teaches anyone who has been lost in sexual sin.
Order Pulling Back the Shades at your favorite place to buy books or at my website.