Well, I have waited a long time to write a post dedicated to the topic of the trio of erotica (FYI--story porn) novels which has taken the world by storm.
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.
While I've not read the novels, I have perused a preview as well as other available excerpts online. I've read enough to believe that the only reason women are reading these novels is for the graphic depiction of the sex scenes because quite frankly the story and writing itself is truly awful.
The main sexual theme in Fifty Shades is BDSM or "Bondge & Discipline", "Domination & Submission", "Sadism & Masochism", a practice which can include various types of restraints, inflicting of various degrees of pain as part of pleasure. There is often use of spanking, whipping, flagellation, and what most consider to be forms of torture. There can be demeaning and humiliation of the submissive partner by the dominant one. Control of one person over another. BDSM includes a whole laundry list of what can only be described as extreme sexual activities.
This is what Fifty Shades of Grey describes.
Which is why I can only assume the reason so many women are captivated by this story is for the porn it provides without the overt guilt. Fifty Shades is "erotica", story porn, which means no graphic pictures just descriptions of sexual acts and therefore it gets an apparent "pass". Guilt is implicit with the viewing of traditional hard or soft core porn but erotica is somehow viewed as different. But make no mistake...
Fifty Shades of Grey is porn.
Here's a bit of background on the book series origin from Wikipedia:
"The Fifty Shades trilogy was developed from a Twilight fan fiction series originally titled Master of the Universe and published episodically on fan-fiction websites under the pen name "Snowqueen's Icedragon". The piece featured characters named after Stephenie Meyer's characters in Twilight, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. After comments concerning the sexual nature of the material, James removed the story from the fan-fiction websites and published it on her own website, FiftyShades.com. Later she rewrote Master of the Universe as an original piece, with the principal characters renamed Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and removed it from her website before publication. Meyer commented on the series, saying "that's really not my genre, not my thing... Good on her—she's doing well. That's great!"
This reworked and extended version of Master of the Universe was split into three parts. The first, titled Fifty Shades of Grey, was released as an e-book and a print on demandpaperback in May 2011 by The Writers' Coffee Shop, a virtual publisher based in Australia. The second volume, Fifty Shades Darker, was released in September 2011; and the third, Fifty Shades Freed, followed in January 2012. The Writers' Coffee Shop had a restricted marketing budget and relied largely on book blogs for early publicity, but sales of the novel were boosted by word-of-mouth recommendation..."
The movie will premiere on Valentines Day 2015.
Now, I am unsurprised that our hyper-sexualized culture has embraced these books or that women outside of the Church are falling all over themselves with barely supressed glee about the newly released, "super steamy", theatrical trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey. This post has nothing to do with these ladies, except to point out the fact that by supporting the twisted idea of "romance" woven into these novels, they are playing into the porn industry's exploitation and degradation of women, as well as feeding into the proliferation of world-wide sexual slavery.
This post is addressed to my sisters in Christ. Christian women who have embraced these stories and are excited by the upcoming movie. Oh friends, I am not here to condemn you if you are reading Fifity Shades of Grey. Rather, I appeal to you as one who has struggled with an addiction to erotica (story porn) in the past, to just release Fifty Shades of Grey (and other books/stories like it) to the Lord:
- Toss out your books.
- Delete the website(s) from your favorite links.
- Enjoy a Valentine's date with your spouse or boyfriend which does not include the Fifty Shades movie (and don't go see it with your girl-friends or by yourself. Don't buy the DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital Download, when it is available).
- Encourage other Christian women to do the same.
Listen, I really do understand the attraction when it comes to books or stories such as Fifty Shades of Grey. My first exposure to erotica was online when my husband and I were separated in 2001. I was lonely and the words seemed to fulfill a longing within me (because the stories were disguised as a kind of romance) but it was never enough.
Erotica is designed to titillate your mind (and stimulate your sexual feelings) which can then culminate in a physical reaction. This is what draws you back for more. It is a chemical/brain reaction to sexual stimulation through imagery and the written word.
What reading erotica (or any form of porn) does is replace God's intention for true, sexual intimacy between a husband and wife with a false picture of sexual arousal and gratification through a worldly, and in the case of BDSM, twisted perception of sex which places lust fulfillment as the top priority of body, mind, and soul.
This is not spiritually or emotionally healthy and certainly doesn't strengthen or help a relationship.
The more you read erotica, the more you want, and the more susceptible you can become to different kinds of erotica (or even branch into more traditional forms of porn---20% of Christian women are struggling with porn addiction right now).
The Fifty Shades of Grey novels encourage emotional and verbal abuse, glamorize stalking behavior, degradation, and control of one partner over another through isolation and manipulation (among other things). But hey, it's okay, because the story is an "epic romance". Christian and Ana get a "happy" married life in the end in spite of all the abuse which occurred beforehand.
As Christian women, do we really want to applaud and romanticize abusize behavior by reading erotica novels such as Fifty Shades of Grey or spending our money on such a movie? Are we really going to give the silver stamp of approval to this distorted version of "romance" or will we call it what it is?
Porn which harms women.
We are called to live by a higher standard and be a witness to this dark world that God has a better way in all things.
Consider what the Bible has to say about sex:
"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body." 1 Corinthians 6:18
1Thessalonians 4:3-5 NLT
" For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault." Ephesians 5:25-27
And about how you and I as Followers of Jesus Christ are meant to be different:
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2 ESV
And if you really want to understand sexual intimacy, sensuality, and sex between a husband and wife as God intends, then read Song of Solomon.
Friends, there is probably more I could say about Fifty Shades of Grey but I shall leave you with this.
I pray the Holy Spirit will stir Christian women to really think about what they are exposing their hearts, souls, and minds to through reading these stories (or other forms of erotica), or the message being sent to those outside of the Church as so many Christian women are giving tacit approval through their interest and recommendations to a series of books and a film which glorifies sex, lust, bondage, domination, manipulation, and control.
Christian women should be able to find more uplifting stories of love and romance (for heaven's sake there are certainly enough novels available which do not depend on erotica sex scenes--I have friend's who have written some of them!) to fulfill any woman's need for some fun reading.
Better yet, go check out Sheila Wray Gregoire's excellent book, The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex (and You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun), and romance your husband.