“Mr. Grey will see you now,” touts the posters and trailers leading up to what promises to be a block buster movie. I probably don’t need to tell you the name (unless you’ve been living under a rock).
Maybe you’ve already decided you will not see it. But maybe you stopped by my blog post today because you are wondering. Let me tell you how I made my decision.
I was introduced to this conversation by my husband. (Relax. It’s not like that!) He’d been hearing about it in the media buzz. One night he couldn’t take it anymore, and the conversation we had changed the way I responded to this whole tidal wave of erotica.
“You’ve got to blog about this book,” Bob said incredulously. He plopped a laptop in front of me and pushed play. A Saturday Night Live commercial spoof for amazon.com began. It was advertising a book I’d never heard of before: Fifty Shades of Grey.
A woman was reading the book in a bathtub and masturbating, when her husband and son walked in on her. She hollered and acted ashamed. Another woman was reading the book while she used her clothes washer as a vibrator, when her husband walked in on her. She hollered and acted ashamed. Another woman was reading the book and using a vibrator in bed, when her husband and kids came in with breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. She hollered and acted ashamed.
I pushed the computer away and told my husband matter-of-factly, “Oh, honey, I’m not going to write about that. I don’t think Christian women will be attracted to it.”
The next day my mom told me a friend of hers had read it.
The next week a friend of mine told me her seventy-year-old mother had her name on a very long list at the library to get it.
Shortly after that I was speaking at a conference when Priscilla Shirer came up to me and Dr Juli Slattery and asked me what we were going to do about it because everywhere she turned women were reading it.
The conversation had begun and it seemed everywhere I turned, a friend, family member, or acquaintance was either reading the books or asking if they should. Some of them specifically mentioned that they were excited that people were finally talking about topics like…spanking.
Christian women. All of them. 100 million women have read Fifty Shades of Grey. Barna research reports no statistical difference in the percentage of Christian vs non-Christian women who have read it.
Based on what I’d already seen and heard, I chose not to read the book. I would have been happy to have left it at that. Recently, I urged an editor of a prominent women’s theology blog to write about the movie release. She told me that she didn’t want to add to the hype or give marketing attention to it. I so wish I had the luxury of such complacency. I do not.
And I don’t think you do either.
Our Christian sisters are starving.
There are two existing hungers that may send you to the box office to buy tickets to see Mr. Grey. But they’re also the very reasons you shouldn’t go.
Women Are Starved For Real Romance
Have you ever shopped for groceries when you are hungry? I have a really hard time staying in the produce aisle. The lemon poppy seed scones call to me, practically force me to buy them, and I am devouring them before I leave the parking lot. You shouldn’t grocery shop when you are starving.
God created us to be romantic, sexual beings but our culture is starving us. Women who are hungry for real romance will eat anything.
In a culture that constantly celebrates women’s independence and freedom, a movie about bondage is breaking Fandango ticket pre-sales. Words like “submission,” “master,” and “obedience” are not only acceptable, but sexy. This seems to have come out of left field. But it hasn’t really. The mantra that “you don’t need a man” has created a culture of strong women and weak men.
Now we secretly yearn for the very thing our independence has destroyed—strong, confident men. But since when did Prince Charming carry handcuffs?
The fact is….Christian women are hungry for what God created them to experience in romantic relationships. God created us to be strong, yes! But does that strength have to be at the expense of men as our emasculating culture claims? I don’t think so. I like my man strong and safe. Most women do. But today men have been made weak. That’s why we’re reading erotica. We’re starved for strong men and some women will devour sick counterfeits of strength because their souls are emaciated by the emasculation. The problem isn’t erotica, it’s the hunger.
So starved are women that while they carry signs to picket sex trafficking and violence against women, they pack their Kindles with erotica that glorifies bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. Can you say double minded? And make no mistake, this will lead to more violence against women. A recent Michigan State University survey found that young women who had read Fifty Shades of Grey were more likely to be in abusive relationships.
There’s nothing grey about it.
Violence against women is a black and white issue.
The romance you’re hungry for requires a strong man, but not one with whips and chains. So pass up Christian Grey and find a man who is so strong that he’d have the guts to lay his life down for you.
Women Are Starved For Intimacy
If I hear one more Christian woman defend her choice to read Fifty Shades of Grey based on the fact that it “awakened her sexual desire” I promise you will hear me scream! The road to great sex is not physical and/or mental titillation.
Evil’s primary attack on sexuality is to simplify it—to separate the physical act of sex from human love and divine design. Every time sex is abused or distorted as it is in erotica, the physical act is split off from the relational and spiritual elements of sex. Erotica is aimed at awakening your physical sexual desire without any connection to emotional, relational, or spiritual reality.
God designed sex as a powerful symbol and celebration of covenant love. It is a physical and emotional expression of the deepest commitment two people can make to each other. The Hebrew word for sexual intimacy, yada, means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.” It is a word that transcended the physical act to speak of a deep emotional connection. The same word God ordained to describe the emotional and physical intimacy we can have with one man is also the word he uses to describe the connection of intimacy and satisfaction we can have with him. In a beautiful expression of His desire to know us, God inspired that this same word be used in the Scriptures to express a deep knowing and longing for God. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know (yada) me” (Psalm 139:1).
The word yada is so deeply rooted in the emotional and spiritual intimacy that it is impossible to withdraw those elements and still have an authentic sexual experience. A physical exchange of body fluids maybe, but not sexual intimacy.
A University of Illinois study considered to be one of the most credible surveys of American sexual behavior found that those reporting the most satisfying and more frequent sex were middle-aged people in mutually life-time monogamous partnerships, and that the hottest sex was reported by “religiously active women.” These are women who run from impurity and race to live lives of holiness. And they are sexually satisfied in ways others are not.
This isn’t really a statement of sexual satisfaction, but of emotional and spiritual intimacy. Intimacy with both God and humanity. That’s what your soul is hungry for. Don’t settle for the counterfeit of erotica that limits the act of sex to something merely physical, do the hard work of seeking out the authentic intimacy that your soul truly hungers to taste.
Will I see Mr. Grey?
I treasure the true gift of sex far too much to settle for such a cheap counterfeit.
For more on this topic, visit pullingbacktheshades.com, the landing page of a book called Pulling Back The Shades which I co-wrote with Dr. Juli Slattery to help women discover what they’re truly longing for when they reach for erotica.