As my new book releases this week, I’ve cringed a few times at the comments that get posted. I know we’re not supposed to use porn or erotica, but sometimes in our criticism of it we forget that our Christian sisters are struggling. Our condemnation, if not carefully worded, can fuel shame or create distance rather than bringing struggling women closer to Jesus. That’s why every word we wrote had to be just right! Few times have I felt more dependent on God than when Dr Juli Slattery and I decided to write a response to the “mommy porn” craze that’s overtaken the Church. Yep, I do mean the Church—there’s no statistical difference in the percentage of Christian vs overall women who’ve read the Fifty Shades of Grey series. We knew the problem was big, but we didn’t know where to begin.
I flew to Colorado Springs (where Juli lives) to seek the Lord’s direction. On the first morning, we sat at Juli’s kitchen table to unite ourselves in prayer. The first few moments went like this:
Dannah: “Lord, thanks for opening my heart so dramatically as I read the book of Nehemiah this morning . . .”
Juli, interrupting my prayer: “What? Wait! God brought me to Nehemiah this morning, too!”
Nehemiah! Not a common book like John or one appropriately full of sex and romance like Song of Solomon. God led both of us to abandon our current reading plans to get to this Old Testament book of history. We knew that God was uniting our hearts through this historical account of dramatic revival.
The book of Nehemiah begins with rubble. The wall of Jerusalem had been broken down in an assault pressing the people of God into exile. Over fifty years later, the Jewish people were scattered. Slowly, they returned. (Oh, how like our own lives and testimonies to be distant from God and come back slowly, tentatively!) By the time they returned, the walls were mere rubble, the gates had been burned with fire, and the people were “in great trouble and disgrace” (Nehemiah 1:3). It’s difficult for us to appreciate why a wall was so critical to the holy city. In Nehemiah’s day, the wall was important for two reasons. First, a wall was a boundary that set apart the Israelite territory. Second, it served as the people’s primary protection. Without the wall intact, nothing would physically distinguish the Israelites as God’s distinct people, and they were open to constant attack and plunder.
We, as God’s people, no longer have the physical security of a wall around us. However, we are still called to be set apart—for our protection. We believe there is to be an invisible wall of holiness around us today, too. It should let everyone know that we don’t belong to this world. But it seems that today, as in Nehemiah’s day, the wall has come down. There is very little spiritual discernment that sets apart Christian women from the world. As a result, there is rubble of ruin in the lives of so many. Just yesterday a woman posted this to my blog:
I read the [Fifty Shades of Grey] books and like many who read them, I couldn’t put them down. At the same time I was ashamed to be seen with them because I knew they were not a reflection of the moral character that I profess to have. Anything that draws you away from God is not good in any way, shape or form. What I wasn’t doing when I read those books was reading my bible because I was too engrossed in filth.
Since Juli and I started writing this book, I have met with or heard from countless women who were addicted to erotica or porn, watched their marriages fall part because of it, or walked away from their faith as a result of the shame. We are standing in rubble and we are in trouble and greatly disgraced. Someone has to DO something. Could that someone be you?
While we should speak out against erotica, that is not the most important thing we can do to help women who have fallen. We can follow Nehemiah’s lead and muster up a much more humble approach. We outline our thoughts on this in the book but here’s a sneak peak.
When Nehemiah heard the bad news about Jerusalem, he was comfortably positioned in a prestigious role, living about a thousand miles away in Susa. Although it would be natural for him to feel badly about what was happening to his countrymen, he certainly could have viewed it as a “distant problem.” After all, it didn’t affect him personally.
Instead of just including the plight of his people in a passing prayer, Nehemiah allowed the bad news to absolutely devastate him. “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven”
Even if erotica and other sexual sin hasn’t touched your home, they are destroying your brothers and sisters, rotting the integrity of God’s people from the inside out. Today I’d like to ask you to stop pointing a finger at what’s wrong with erotica and to start crying.
Take just five minutes and sit in silence, asking God to pierce your heart with the brokenness of the Church. Just imagine what could happen to our wall of moral integrity if we all just started listening to God and doing what he asks! I’d love to know what he speaks to you during this brief time of quiet. Write it below.
I am willing to buy this time from you. If you’ll pray for five minutes and then post a comment below telling me what God put on your heart, I’ll enter you into a contest to win one of ten FREE BOOKS each worth $12.
Ten winners will be randomly selected at 5pm EST 3/5/14.
Ready. Set. …Let’s get on our knees.
This post is an edited excerpt from my new book, Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart, co-written with Dr. Juli Slattery.