(Please do not read this if you are easily offended by talking about sex. This is not an explicit post but I want to warn you that I’m not mincing words here.)
So, so much I hear about this Fifty Shades of Grey. I have not read it and don’t plan to. But it does bring up some interesting issues. There are blog posts and news articles that run the gamut from highly in favor to vehemently against this erotic novel series. A post here suggests that people are literally taking matters into their own hands and using this sensational novel to ramp up their love lives. This blog post brings up other points about why we shouldn’t read these novels in order to protect our marriages. I do not endorse either of these people nor do I appreciate the latter author’s egregious lack of proper punctuation when writing the title of a book. My point is that there is a lot out there about these books.
I do, however, want to throw in my two cents on this topic. You may not agree or support what I will say, but this is my blog and I can write what I want.
I started to think about this issue back when I read Twilight. Along with most people I knew at the time, I got sucked (hehe) into the series. I never saw the films because by that time I was over it, but I did enjoy reading the books at the time. But you see, the thing about me when I read a good book is that I become completely engulfed in the story. As a somewhat quiet and “loner” child, I lived in my imagination and in a lot of ways still do today. Maybe that’s why I’m good at what I do. But reading is and has always been the way I escape from reality. My point is, and I’m going to be totally frank here: I could not get Twilight’s characters and story out of my mind. I dreamt about it even. Then once the series was over, and after some detox time, I recovered and went back to life as normal. This is just one example of the many times I have let this happen to me.
When I had time to step back and consider what didn’t feel right about the whole Twilight experience, I formed my opinions on this issue and I think the same applies to Fifty Shades.
I feel that many women, and I’m sure some men, are unaware of but strongly drawn by the power of emotional pornography. And I believe that addiction to emotional pornography can be just as if not more damaging to a marriage than visual pornography. That’s a strong statement, but hear me out.
The power of emotional porn is so very strong because of its vanilla exterior. It can come in the form of an erotic novel where there is a dominant male and an inexperienced female and the whole beautiful world of sex is opened up to the female because of his guidance. Or, all you holier-than-thou ladies who would NEVER even side eye the cover of Fifty Shades lest it burn your eyes, it can come in the form of a Jane Austen or Karen Kingsbury novel. In the latter books, there are strong men who do good and manly things and when they don’t, they apologize and make up for their actions in beautiful ways. These men work around the home or they fight their lady’s battles or they are strong, godly Christians who lead their families in the way of Christ.
BUT, and here is the catch, these men are not real. They are not our husbands or boyfriends. They are fictional characters.
OK, so many people can read about a fictional character and that’s all it is: entertainment. I don’t read Pride and Prejudice and then pout for hours that my husband isn’t as deliciously aloof as Fitzwilliam Darcy. I didn’t finish The Notebook and then wish Marc owned a private, waterfront home where we could hide for days and listen to waves crashing and not come up for air.
But I have a line, and I know where that is. There is a point when I get so engrossed in a male character in a book (or movie, for that matter) that I find myself wishing my husband was more like this man. It is THE SAME as befriending another fantastic couple in real life and secretly being disappointed I don’t have a man like so-and-so’s husband who does _________ like that. In both situations I am taking my focus off of the man I have vowed my heart and body to and being discontent with who he is. And if you are a Christian and believe God ordains and blesses marriage – basically I’m telling God He didn’t know what He was doing when He gave my husband to me.
Now, don’t confuse this issue with sitting down with your significant other and bringing up something that you need to work on as a couple or something that you see in his life that is sinful or harmful to you, him, or others. That is different. That is how a relationship grows healthily when we graciously encourage our partners to grow and change according to what is best for them and our families.
Also, don’t confuse this with a couple taking real steps to improve their, ahem, love lives. Sex is an extremely important part of marriage and one of the best things God has made for us. There are a lot of mental and physical ways to enhance or increase our mutual pleasure in the bedroom and within the parameters of that couple, in my opinion, they can go for it without judgment from me. I also believe the Bible has a lot to say about that issue and that God is in favor of us enjoying sex. Taking the time and energy to improve and enjoy this beautiful expression of love is worth every second and can only help your relationship.
What I’m saying is that we need to take a step back from wand consider how what we do with our minds affects our relationships and us personally. Are you so into Nicholas Sparks’ novels that you become impatient and critical of your husband? Are you on your third time through Fifty Shades and haven’t even told your partner you’re reading it because you’d be “embarrassed?” Do you look up from People or US Weekly and realize with dismay your husband or boyfriend doesn’t have Ryan Gosling’s abs?
Where does what you read and look at for entertainment lead your affections and emotions? If you can read romance novels and never transfer any of the fantasy over to your relationship, go ahead. If you think Fifty Shades is just a novel with some sexual content and can read it as such, go ahead. If you know your own mind and heart and understand that you can’t even watch a romantic comedy without wistfully longing for a Ryan Reynolds of your own, then STOP it. Protect your heart. Protect your relationships.
I am not telling you not to read Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not going to look down on you if you enjoy Christian romance novels. One problem I have with many of these blog posts is that they tell every one to do what they do because of X amount of reasons and Bible verses they’ve thought about and proof-texted. If you are a Christian, go to the Bible yourself and ask God for guidance about what you should put into your head and what can hurt and help your marriage. Relax your defensive stance (in either direction) and think about what occupies your mind that could potentially hurt you or your husband. Are you not even enjoying sex with your husband because all you can think about is how much you want a baby (or how much he doesn't)? Can you not even have a pleasant date night because you realize your husband doesn’t hold the door for you or your hand when you walk?
Think about what your emotional pornography is. All of us have it somewhere and none of it is healthy or helpful.