Why are Christian women reading Fifty Shades of Grey?

 

Many years ago I cross-stitched a sampler for a dear friend, its words resonating with both of us as we found our way through our parallel lives as homeschooling moms. It simply said “the heart of the mother is the schoolroom of the child.” Over the years I have come to realize just how true those words are, for good or for bad.  It is especially something to consider in this postmodern world of ours where absolute truth is mocked and often altogether absent.  It is heartbreaking when demonstrated through the overflow of a professing Christian heart that mingles statements of faith with an affinity for filth and corruption.

I had never heard of the book series Fifty Shades of Grey until a month or so ago when a friend had posted a warning about these books on her Facebook page. Billed as a “love story,” all reviews both favorable and not, are acknowledging that it is a story of a man, interestingly enough, named Christian, and his bizarre lust for perverted sexuality, female bondage, and masochism; it is graphic eroticism at its worst (or best).  Dubbed “mommy porn,” it appears to be the equivalent of handing your husband an X-rated video to watch.

I am absolutely in awe at the number of Christians who see no problem with reading this series or encouraging their friends to do so.  “You will have to reorient your thinking to accept the naughty,” one woman told a mutual friend.

Maybe or maybe not.

You see, women are hearing ludicrous teachings in “conservative evangelicalism” that may have already “reoriented” them.  Women may be willing to accept the physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse from their lovers (in the case of Christian women, their husbands) because they are already getting these messages from within Christian circles:

  • women are the weaker vessels, interpreted as a weakness of character and fortitude
  • “help meet” is reinvented as the equivalent of a plumber’s helper who stands by her man rather than the actual meaning from the Hebrew word “ezer,” which is most often used to describe God in the sense of one who comes alongside in battle (spiritual warfare, I believe)
  • submission is only a one way street and not for men
  • women are more easily deceived
  • a woman’s worth is found in her sexuality (militant fecundity, obsession with calling young girls “maidens,” and betrothal scenarios where a dad brokers away his daughters with their virginity being part of the deal)
  • women have no callings of their own and are never to be considered leaders
  • Christianity should have a “masculine feel”
  • fundamentalists like Jack Schaap and young, restless, and reformed sexpert, Mark Driscoll, zero in on the outward appearance and physical value of women

How tragic is this! In 1 Peter 2 our value before the Lord is proclaimed in no uncertain terms: “As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Women are a royal priesthood, created for the purpose of proclaiming the excellencies of our Lord!!!

There are other reasons Christian women are reading and recommending this series of books without thought to how they are opening the door wide open for husbands to look at porn and children to allow “naughtiness,” ie, fornication and perversion, into their own lives. In a sex saturated culture where commercials for hamburgers and back to school clothing at Penny’s threaten the purity of the marriage bed, lust is never satisfied. Perhaps the simple beauty of a married and committed one man, one woman relationship seems boring if not antiquated but we are foolish to think so.

Solomon, the king who pursued lust to his own folly warned “above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) And Jesus admonished us that “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19) reminding us that “the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 9:45)

You may have a great stack of curriculum planned for your children this year but what will they be learning from the schoolroom of your heart?

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Ooh, I LOVED this post! You are right on. I wrote about the appeal of 50 Shades of Grey in a recent blog post, but didn’t quite have the chutzpa to dive into the spiritual aspect: http://www.jennyraearmstrong.com/2012/06/18/50-shades-of-broken-why-do-women-fantasize-about-abuse/ Good on ya!

    I don’t believe I have ever commented on your blog, but I’ve visited many times, and cited your work in some of my own writing. Thanks so much for all that you do, and the way that you advocate for women and children. 🙂

  2. Pressing On says

    I’m glad that you have addressed this so boldly and clearly. I had no clue about this book when a friend recommended it. Thankfully I looked at it on Amazon before going any further and realized that I needed to stay far, far away. I have been horrified at how many times since I’ve heard moms I know talking about it. Even the dental assistant brought it up when I had an appointment not long ago, but thankfully the dentist (who works part-time and is a homeschooling mom herself) put an end to the discussion by saying, “That’s not appropriate here, please don’t bring that book up again.”

  3. says

    “…the dentist (who works part-time and is a homeschooling mom herself) put an end to the discussion by saying, ‘That’s not appropriate here, please don’t bring that book up again.'”

    Awesome!

    Years ago when “Bridges of Madison County” came out, Oprah or somebody was pushing it as a romantic love story and my mother bought a copy for herself and a copy for me. I read it, she asked me what I thought, and I said I thought it was about a woman with a perfectly good husband who committed adultery with a complete stranger. The romance passed me by completely. She said that was about her take on it too.

    Yes, when my daughter was growing up I found out what was in my heart a few times when she asked me a question out of the blue, or something suddenly came up, and I blurted out my thoughts without having a chance to review them. Fortunately, most of the time it was all good. But you are right, you do have to watch what’s in there for your kids’ sake if not for your own. The footsteps they follow in are the ones you thought you’d covered up, and so forth.

  4. David says

    You say you heard about the books from a friend, but never indicate that you actually read them… did you?

  5. says

    Thank you for posting. Very well written, and very concerning that Christian women love to live “on the razor’s moral edge.” We should be running from this trash, not defending our right to read it. If my non-Christian friends read it, that’s understandable. But, when Christian sisters (especially those who are married) allow their imaginations to be titillated by the filth that secular authors feed the masses, it’s time to stand up and say, “Hey, watch where you’re going! Be careful! Please don’t go that route.” Surely there are enough books out there that we could read about a slew of different subjects. If Christian women who read this smut are honest with themselves, there’s probably some part of them that really enjoys the lust, the feelings, the emotion that wells up. Perhaps they are not satisfied with the husband that they have and must fantasize about someone like this. Perhaps the enemy has a hold on a part of them from the past. Or, perhaps the temptation to flutter around the flame is just so darn delicious. Sometimes books are more effective at conjuring up those images than are tv shows/movies. I think the verses you listed sum up your point well. Aren’t we told in Scripture to FLEE temptation and not dip our toes into the water just to see how hot/cold it is?

  6. says

    Thank you for posting. Very well written, and very concerning that Christian women love to live “on the razor’s moral edge.” We should be running from this trash, not defending our right to read it. If my non-Christian friends read it, that’s understandable. But, when Christian sisters (especially those who are married) allow their imaginations to be titillated by the filth that secular authors feed the masses, it’s time to stand up and say, “Hey, watch where you’re going! Be careful! Please don’t go that route.” Surely there are enough books out there that we could read about a slew of different subjects. If Christian women who read this smut are honest with themselves, there’s probably some part of them that really enjoys the lust, the feelings, the emotion that wells up. Perhaps they are not satisfied with the husband that they have and must fantasize about someone like this. Perhaps the enemy has a hold on a part of them from the past. Or, perhaps the temptation to flutter around the flame is just so darn delicious. Sometimes books are more effective at conjuring up those images than are tv shows/movies. I think the verses you listed sum up your point well. Aren’t we told in Scripture to FLEE temptation and not dip our toes into the water just to see how hot/cold it is?

  7. says

    Laura, I had forgotten about the Bridges mania. It is another film I purposely didn’t watch because of the glorification of adultery. (That and the fact that I loathe Clint Eastwood entirely, but that’s another story.) However, I remember the wife of an elder in my church waxing eloquent about her love for that story and how much respect I lost for both of them because of that.

  8. says

    David, welcome to my blog….glad to have you and I welcome any thoughts you might have, too.

    You know, I know where you are coming from about reviewing a book without reading it (assuming that is at the heart of what you are asking!) One of my pet peeves, actually! In this case, I am not sharing a review of the book because I have absolutely no intention of reading it or any other work of pornography! I am,however, offering a great concern I have about Christians opening their minds and hearts to those things that can do such gross harm, in this case sexual fantasy, particularly as it involves the abuse of women. World wide plague that it is (see Half the Sky) what travesty it is for women to become even further desensitized to such gross atrocities and under the guise of romantic love! As Ruthie says, Scripture commands that we FLEE lust rather than accommodate it!

  9. says

    Ruthie, I thought of this passage as I read your comment:

    “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “ I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” (James 1:12-18)

    Lust leads to sin and sin leads to death. It could not be more clear. And we are warned to not be deceived! I love, then, how James includes the fact that every good and perfect gift comes from God, in this case, the gift of sex. When enjoyed as God planned, between one man and one woman in marriage where they are committed only to each other for life, it IS a good and perfect gift. Outside of that, it is only lust! Difficult words to hear, especially in our lust-saturated culture, but God’s word is true.

  10. says

    I love this post. I myself got very hung up in some dark reading (vampire genre) many years ago. It fostered feelings of discontent, and was an enormous waste of time and intellect. (At the time my children were in school and I didn’t have the mental challenge of homeschooling!) Now when I see young women entranced in the Twilight series, I try to gently encourage other choices.

    As far as movies about infidelity – it’s amazing how women will enjoy these movies never imagining themselves in the role of the jilted one. My marriage struggled through the fall out of an affair and separation shortly after the birth of my eldest child, I can’t stomach any movie or book that promotes infidelity – no matter how romantic or evocative it is.

  11. Keri says

    I have to agree with you here.I have been pretty disgusted at the amount of married woman who I know have read this.

  12. Anthea says

    Hello Karen

    I cannot believe Xian women are reading anything like this — if they are home educating, surely they don’t have TIME!! I vacuumed yesterday, mopped today and I’m dusting tomorrow ( I know, dusting should come first…). I don’t even have time to clean my diddy little English house, let alone read Mommytrash chick lit …

    Seriously, did they cut Phil 4:8 out of the Bible. I must have missed that memo

  13. Anthea says

    Hello again

    I have been thinking about this overnight. Although I may seem to be making a jocular point, there is a serious side to this. If you are busy running the home, there is little time, so there must be a priority. If there is little time, it’s either the latest Xian blockbuster OR the Bible.

    If someone tells me some patriocentric (or feminist) ideas, if the ideas don’t match the Bible, then my nonsense meter goes off. So women are falling for nonsense because they don’t read the Bible enough. Some women make excuses about deferring to their husbands and letting him “lead”, being too busy, or even blaming it on the KJV or the PCV or whichever version (lots of pentecostal churches use the KJV and they don’t all run to Vision forum conventions, do they?).

    There’s a big fashion for looking for Xian ideas in X or Y book or film…How about we look for Christian ideas in the Bible?

  14. says

    Anthea, to be clear, this book is NOT being marketed to Christian women in particular….it is absolutely a secular book series…all three topping the NY Times bestseller list at once. I expect unbelievers to gravitate toward theses books. I expect better of born again women, married or single. Moral purity and the sanctity of marriage are to be preserved by all believers, not only in their own marriages but all marriages.

  15. says

    Sara, thank you for your honesty and transparency in sharing your testimony. I think we don’t realize how easily we can fall into temptation and how quickly can become ensnared. I appreciate so much your willingness to be honest with us.

  16. says

    Karen, I definitely agree with you on how vile this book is and the fact that those who are supposed to be set apart by Christ are reading it.

    However. I believe that sexual sin is not a one-gender issue. It has always been declared something only men struggle with (and I am not saying that *you* are saying this, just speaking in general terms). Sin is non-gender. More women than we know struggle with sexual sin in all forms because women are sexual. For how many centuries have women been told that they aren’t supposed to enjoy sex, that they only do it to keep peace in the marriage and keep their man happy? So, now, when women start realizing that they enjoy sex and then they fall prey to sexual sins, they are too embarrassed because “nice girls don’t like sex.”

    I am more upset that people are really, when it comes down to it, more irate by the book because *women* are reading it. I am noticing that, while I believe this book is a result of living in a sinful world, this incident is bringing to the forefront that generalizations of men-only sins are not truth and hopefully more help will be available to women who struggle in sexual sin.

    I am one of those women who is very very very visual (many women are, whether they want to come out and say it is another thing). I could see myself succumbing to pornography addiction and reading books like 50-shades very easily if I did not purpose in my heart to keep sexuality within my marriage. It is so hard to keep my heart pure when half naked men are everywhere (movies, the beach, swimming pools, posters at the mall, etc).

    “In 1 Peter 2 our value before the Lord is proclaimed in no uncertain terms: “As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Women are a royal priesthood, created for the purpose of proclaiming the excellencies of our Lord!!!”

    I could not have said this better myself, Karen. And to all my sisters in Christ who are struggling with sexual sin, I hope that their is good that comes from this disgusting book in that women will be more courageous in coming forward and receiving the help they need. We ARE a royal priesthood, and not a priesthood made by men but one from God Himself! What a blessing and yet what a hard and noble thing to be.

  17. says

    Karen, I do a rather poor job of communicating on controversial subjects in writing. I wanted to make sure that my previous comment did not seem as if I was accusing *you* of seeing sexual sin as a one-gender issue. I only brought it up in order to get to the heart of some issues from this book but it was not in any way an attack on your post. I love your heart and the things you are doing for God’s kingdom and so I do not desire to cause you any grief!

  18. says

    No, Kelly, I totally get where you are coming from. I remember one time hearing a woman openly share her own struggles as a very visual person, only to be shot down by a patrio wife who declared only feminism has made it acceptable for women to think such a thing! How naive!

    A couple weeks ago I began to notice that some of the younger homeschooling girls I know were posting pictures of half dressed attractive guys on the Pinterest boards and said something about it to one of my sons. His response really made me laugh. He said “Mom, “Guy’s Fashions” is homeschool girl code for “guys I think are hot.” Girls and women need to have the very same instruction regarding moral purity as the guys. In fact, married women need it every bit as much as single gals! And given the number of women in their golden years who are reading this trash, grannies obviously need it, too! 😉 So thankful you are sharing real thoughts here, Kelly!

  19. Nicole says

    My aunt works on the labor and delivery floor at an older Catholic hospital in California. Most of the nurses with whom she works claim to be Christians and give a good deal of lip-service to attending Sunday services and weekly Bible studies. However, the words and actions of many of these women reveal much about their true faith, or lack thereof.

    Recently a patient with whom my aunt had grown close (she was expecting twins and had to come to the hospital regularly for testing and observation) finally delivered two beautiful girls. My aunt had a card for her and wanted to include the verse from James about every good and perfect gift. As she sat at her desk she asked aloud if anyone remembered where to find that verse. Not one of those nurses had even heard it before. Remembering that another nurse kept a Bible in her desk, my aunt retrieved it, opening it before everyone as she searched. She looked up to see a room full of shocked expressions–how dare she open a Bible? It’s totally un-PC. She said she glared back at them, briefly letting her eyes deliberately move to one of the many copies of “50 Shades…” laying about the nursing station.

    She purposefully left the Bible open on her desk, silently daring one of these Christian women to challenge her as they sat reading their pornographic books. No one did. How sad is it that the Bible is considered offensive and such worthless trash is not? Praise God for women like my aunt who fearlessly stand up for the truth. The world is watching and the reality of our faith will be shown by the choices we make.

  20. says

    I absolutely agree with what you say! I am horrified that any Christian woman would want to read this book. I read an excerpt in a magazine and it made my flesh crawl. We mustn’t give room to the devil. If we give him a foothold he’ll take over. Two recent converts in my church, age 16, had read the book -according to them only because it was a best seller. It filled their minds with lewd pictures that needed prayer to get out of their minds.
    I have just published a book on Amazon Kindle called Fifty Shades of the Holy Spirit. This wasn’t the original title but I decided to fight back -the devil can’t have a hold on the number fifty.

  21. says

    I absolutely agree with you that it shocked me to learn Christians were reading books like 50 Shades. But I thought perhaps the best answer was to capture their hearts with an alternative. I wrote a collection (based on 35 years of marriage) of short stories about fidelity and overcoming marriage and relationship problems. Have had two great reviews from an abuse survivor and counselor in training. I pray God uses it.

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