I wasn’t planning to announce this, but I can’t help myself. I told my husband, Bob, that I didn’t really want to get involved. But then, I found out my girlfriend’s 70-year-old mom has her name on a long wait list at the library to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey. And then my mom told me that a relative I love and respect for her strong faith had already devoured the book. She regretfully “can’t get the images out of her head.” So, here I am. In an attempt to keep the images out of yours, I’d like to explain to you why I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
Let’s start with the facts. Fifty Shades of Grey is classified as erotic fiction. According to one online dictionary, this genre of literature is defined as that which has “no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” I’ve been studying what God says about sexuality for fifteen years. According to Him, there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in me: my husband. Since that’s God’s plan for my sexual desire, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention. (Translation: it is sin.) Jesus said it this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man. Reason #1? I believe reading erotica is sinful.
I guess I could stop there, but it won’t be enough for some of you. So let’s go to reason number two.
The Bible has said for thousands of years that lust is hurtful and harmful. Guess what? Biopsychologists and others are studying the effects of lust, pornography, and erotica on the brain and the body. They are finding that the Bible was, in fact, right. Over time your body becomes conditioned to self-stimulation and gratification. It’s not just a preference. It’s physiological. The lust cuts a literal pathway in your brain tissue that’s kinda like a rut. A rut you better be prepared to get stuck in. While at first a little bit of erotica might give you a taste for your spouse, overtime that rut reminds you how great you are at self-stimulation and how powerful your imagination can be. You’ll become less interested in real sex with your husband. (Both SELF magazine and The New Yorker ran articles on this phenomenon in recent years. They both suggested that if you want to have a great sex life, you better push pause on porn!) The fact is, erotica robs you of real sex. It’s not good for your marriage or future marriage.
OK, we’re girls. And, sadly, a few of our guys have looked at porn. How’d that work for ya? How’d it make you feel? Did it cross your mind that you could never compare to the perfection created by lights, camera, and Photoshop? Well, he can’t compare to a plasticized, vanilla interpretation of manhood either.
Do you know what BDSM is? Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. If you don’t know what those words mean, be glad. If you do know, you should understand that the most damaging part of Fifty Shades of Grey is that God created sex to be a partnership that’s fueled by love and self-giving, not pain and humiliation. It’s not just that this book misuses sex, it redefines it into something evil and transgressive as the lead character dominates in a hurtful manner. How woman can enjoy that, I can’t understand! But I do have a theory. It seems to me that in our emasculating culture there is a hunger so great for strong men that women will stoop to Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism for just a taste. Do yourself a favor, don’t!
You might be wondering if I’ve read the book. I haven’t. I don’t need to. There are many things in this world I need not partake in to discern that they are going to be harmful to me. God has given me more than fifty shades of truth in His Word and when just one of them is in conflict with my entertainment choices, I choose to pass! To be clear: I wouldn’t drive my Envoy into the front of an oncoming semi-truck any more than I would open the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey. I love my marriage, my God, and myself too much.
If your heart resonates with mine, please take a moment today to post these words on Facebook or twitter: “I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.” If you have friends who need help understanding why, send them to this blog. I’d be happy to explain!
Since I originally wrote this post, I wrote a book on the topic with Dr Juli Slattery entitled Pulling Back the Shades. If you’ve read the series, I encourage you to read my book, too. Or if you’d like to help those who have.