Saturday, July 7, 2012
"Fifty Shades" of Concern
I'm probably going to lose more friends over writing this. I mean, who wants a friend who is a "prude" and "no fun", right? And as one friend's husband quoted to me once, "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, sinners are much more fun..." (-Billy Joel)
Well, I'd like to quote what I read on a bumper sticker once, "Sin Kills. Friends Don't Let Friends Sin."
One thing I'm passionate about is trying to educate people about the deterioration of our culture's views of sex and "love". I use to be so blind to it myself, until I started having my own children which opened my eyes to viewing things very differently. I'm sad that I, myself, fell under pop-culture's spell as a young teen, and throughout my young adulthood, and I'm trying to help others, especially my own children, to not fall under the same spell.
This is how it began...
In their defense, unbeknownst to them, my parents where clueless about how society and pop-culture (what I was reading, watching, listening to) was molding my values, my views, and my character. My parents didn't talk to me about what's appropriate and not-appropriate regarding so many topics, I think they just assumed I knew. Parents: Don't assume your kids know how you feel about things, you MUST TALK about it... they NEED to HEAR YOU. Instead, I was bought countless fashion & women's magazines, joined in with my parents watching shows like Dallas and Knots Landing, cable television, secular music, and daytime soap-operas. I was molded into thinking what a person wore was very important in attracting a boyfriend or spouse, I learned it was ok to have sex before marriage as long as I "loved that person", I learned that one should live with the person you think you want to marry BEFORE marriage to "see if it will work", and basically that our time on earth is for pure enjoyment of anything we want (within the law) as long as we're not hurting anyone.
The molding began in my pre-teens, and then I acted upon those ideals starting in college, and lasting nearly a decade until I married my husband. I do take responsibility for my actions as well, because I probably should've known better from my early years of Sunday School (at about the age of 13-14, our mom stopped taking us to church because we didn't "like" it and we pleaded with her to stop taking us). It upsets me now that I wasn't guided better, but I don't blame my parents because I don't think they knew any better -they were pretty clueless- and a lot of it was because of their own subconscious pursuits of self-satisfaction and "happiness" (I believe because they both lacked some forms of good parenting and love in their own childhoods, combined with the lack of faith in God, and coming-of-age during the sexual revolution). This can go on and be passed down from generation to generation with people really being clueless to it... but the buck stops HERE with me! I can only attribute it to the grace of God that I came to figure these things out for myself, for it's definitely not from any authority figures, role models, or loved-ones in my life who are generally the ones we learn from and mold our lives from, and who have the most impact on us. Without a good foundation and good role models, children WILL search and learn from other sources all around them.
In college, the guy I fell for (to the outside world) was a wonderfully sweet, very clean-cut, young-man; a boy-next-door, from a good family kind-of-guy. (He told me once that although we hung out with the same friends, he didn't actually notice me until I showed up at a party wearing a skin-tight, red sweater. Well, isn't that nice?! He didn't even notice me until then! And hearing him say that didn't even bother me! Pathetic! It's no wonder where our relationship sadly headed.)
I allowed him to seduce me into a sex life that didn't represent what God intended for intercourse. (I'm so sorry to my husband and his family for all this. Although God is graciously merciful, the repercussions of my behaviors and choices will haunt me forever because there is no guarantee, until we meet our maker, what is in store for our souls.) One thing we participated in was fantasy brought about by a couple of very provocative books introduced to my boyfriend by some friends of ours who also "enjoyed" the books. Being introduced to the things I was participating in did nothing but skew my perception of love and intercourse, which lead to years of immoral and destructive choices regarding relationships and behaviors (and all while naively thinking I was "a good person", because heck, "I wasn't hurting anyone", and I loved and believed in God -so I thought!). I'm revealing all of this because it's leading up to me expressing my concern for those "enjoying" the Fifty Shades of Grey book series on the NY Times Best-Seller List. I'm revealing all this because I feel my experiences give me valid concern for my friends, Christian sisters, and any woman who reads these book.
Now, I'm not one who believes we shouldn't read any fiction, just not this sexually-elicit type of fiction that is being coined as "mommy porn". My warning and concern is for how these fantasies can affect one's desires, one's views about sex and our spouses or the opposite sex, our body's (which I believe are temples for God), our relationships, our views on love, and actually, many other underlying psycho-social issues that are often subconscious in people (and as parents, can then unknowingly be passed on as views our children accept and live by also. And not to mention how anti-feminist I think these types of books and movies are - but that's a whole other topic!). These things can damage a person's soul... something that, as a Christian, I believe can live on for eternity in true happiness with our Creator if we live according to His plan for us as humans. And most importantly, for my Christian friends, this type of literature, and movies like the recently released "Magic Mike", fall under breaking the Commandment of "Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery". In the Catholic faith, it's taught that if any spouse looks or thinks lustfully of any other person other than their own spouse, then that is a form of adultery. Matthew 5:28, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." The same is true for women with their husbands. Oh, and by the way, masturbation is a sin too. I'm not going to win any "Friend of the Year" award here because I'm talking about all this, but I really don't care because it's about saving souls.
I found this terrific article (and I'll be posting more as I find them) that I feel needs shared about the topic of the Fifty Shades books. I posted the text here as oppose to just giving a link. I don't want to link directly to the site it's from because of some of the garbage on the site. It's from buzzfeed.com.
The Christian Backlash Against "50 Shades Of Grey"
by Anna North,
"I wouldn’t drive my Envoy into the front of an oncoming semi-truck any more than I would open the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey," writes Christian author Dannah Gresh. She's urging her readers to avoid E.L. James's bestselling erotic novel, and she's not alone. While secular critics have focused on the book's questionable literary merit (or what it says about women's fantasies), in recent weeks there's been something of a movement among female Christian bloggers who say the book is sinful, twisted, and even dangerous.
Gresh says reading the novel is a form of adultery: "anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention." She also argues that over time, reading 50 Shades and books like it will render women unable to enjoy sex with their husbands, because "erotica robs you of real sex."
This is much the same argument many have used against Internet pornography — and indeed, Crystal Renaud, who founded Dirty Girls Ministries and has made something of a name for herself advocating that Christian women stay away from porn, has also spoken out against 50 Shades. She told BuzzFeed Shift she believes Christian and non-Christian women seek out the book for the same reason: they want "the passion that exudes from the pages to happen in their real lives, especially if their emotional needs and even sexual needs are not being met in their real life relationships." But she says women should turn to God instead: "without a genuine relationship with Christ, it's our belief that women will continue to seek satisfaction for their emotional needs in places that just won't ever fully satisfy."
But its similarities to more conventional porn aren't the only complaint against the book — there's also the BDSM element. Christian blogger and professor Mary Kassian writes that "the relationship between a man and wife is to mirror Christ’s relationship to His Bride" and "Christ is not into domination, control, abuse, and humiliation." She also objects to heroine Anastasia Steele's submissive role: "the Lord doesn’t want His daughters to be wilting, weak-willed, wimpy women who welcome and enjoy abuse."
Julia Stronks, a professor of political science at Whitworth University who has written about Fifty Shades of Grey, says the backlash is no surprise: writers who have criticized the book tend to come from "denominations that believe that faith impacts all of life," and when anything becomes as popular as Fifty Shades, members of these denominations tend to examine what it might have to do with their religion. She likens the book not just to porn but to romance novels, which she says normalize relationships in which "women resist and men overcome" and thus can contribute to sexual violence.
Not everyone agrees that Christian women must avoid Fifty Shades. Christian blogger Jonalyn Fincher says what really matters is why they read it — if they're doing so to escape their marriages, that may be "unhealthy." But she also believes the book can help women think about important issues, like sexual abuse. She adds that she read the book as a "cultural exploration" into something that's extremely popular, which she says is also a valid reason: "it's like walking in the shoes of your neighbor."
Kassian might take a dim view of such exploration — she writes, "'curiosity' has led to the downfall of multitudes who have been trapped in the destructive, downward vortex of sexual sin." Numerous commenters on her post agree and pledge to spread her anti-Shades message. Says one, "my heart breaks that young women can get so engrossed in such horrible entertainment. I will certainly forward this on to many many others."
Some Christian women, though, don't need special prodding to avoid Fifty Shades. Writes one of Gresh's readers, "A few years ago, God asked me to give up all fiction reading. To this day I have had no regrets."
Lord, fill us with what we're missing in our hearts, minds, and souls. Rid us of the voids which lead us to temptations that provoke things other than your will for us. Amen.
at 8:12 PM