I Know Why You Read Fifty Shades Of Grey

PullingBackShadesCVR-1 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.

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  • In my own life, as a wife and mom, I have a desire to experience that feeling of “being lost in my lover’s arms”. My everyday life is so full of taking care of my responsibilities and meeting the needs of my family that making time for the intimacy that is necessary to be emotionnally connected to my spouse is hard. Another problem is having an atmosphere where really honest and important discussions can happen.
    Answering your question about which longing is undermet in the Church, I must say that it is “escaping reality” and being “sexually alive”. Growing up, many are taught that sex is “bad”, and not much else. It is a subject that is uncomfortable and awkward to speak about because of it’s sensitive nature.
    My first experience with the 50 Shades book was at a women’s meeting. Some ladies said they were reading it and I had no idea what it was really, except hearing the title mentioned a lot on tv interviews and elsewhere. I knew it was a kind of romance novel, but that is all. Yes, out of curiosity I went to Amazon to see if there was an excerpt to read to see what all the hype was about….WOW, I do wish I had not done that.
    I was in a very “winterlike” season in my marriage when this occurred, so in a way, I thought, “maybe this is what we need….a little “excitement” in the bedroom.” One click led to another as I searched for “ideas” . I ended up viewing some things I have never had the desire to look at before. Thankfully I was not intrigued by it. That one time was it. My desire is for my husband. I did catch him by surprise with my unusual “persuit” of him.
    Recently I confessed the inappropriate viewing to a friend after being at a conference where the speaker encouraged us to confess to one another. Of course, my friend was gracious. I am expecting to be able to move forward in doing His will in my life because of my willingness to obey the Word in this way and not having to hold any secrets. The Lord has given me a grace to be able to have some awkward, yet necessary conversations with people about life issues and relationships.
    I am looking forward to reading this book and seeing what the Lord would have me do in helping women be open and honest and healed from “secrets” and shame. Thank you for allowing God to use you in this way. This is DIVINE timing and I really believe lives and marriages will be saved and renewed because of the conversation that book will allow us to facilitate! Blessings!!!!!

    • It is for married women and single women. Let me be honest, I think some of the content in the book would be inappropriate for a single woman who is satisfied in her singleness and is not acting out sexually. We deal very bluntly with sexual issues and I’d caution some single women from reading it. (How’s that for killing sales? Well, with me you’ll always get an honest answer!)

    • Hi Diana. There’s a whole chapter in Pulling Back the Shades that details each of the longings. Juli and I share how God did create these as pointers to our true selves. For example, escaping reality might be a pointer that there’s more to this life than this earthly world. Rescuing a man might be a pointer to the fact that we were created for goodness, kindness, strength, etc. Of course, I’m oversimplifying. But the point is that these are all longings that are easily distracted by earthly answers rather than God’s plan.

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