Let me back up a little bit though, before I tell you what I think of the book.
When I was about 10 or 11, I discovered a stash of romance novels. I was already an avid reader - literally reading everything I could get my hands on. These books were different. I found that I was less interested in the story line and more interested in the last 3 pages of each chapter (or every third or fourth chapter in the more exasperating ones!)
When I was about 12, I started babysitting for a family that had Cinnemax. (or "Sin-o-max" as we always called it) They had one toddler, who went to bed early and they stayed out late. It was there that I watched my first porno. I didn't know what it was, initially, but I was instantly hooked. I couldn't wait to babysit for them again and get that kid to bed!
When I was 16 I started working for a Christian book store. I had been raised in church, had made a profession of faith, had committed to "saving myself for marriage" - but I had questions! I had all this imagery in my mind of "romance". I knew how to seduce a man (or at least I thought I did) and I knew that sex was a very powerful thing. What I didn't know was "how far is too far?"
I read every book there was on dating, purity, Christian living... you name it. None of them answered my question in exact terms. Ironically the best advice (at the time) came from an older friend who was sleeping with a married man (sorry mom - you are probably just finding this out!) in random fields "under the stars, it is so romantic" (which in retrospect really reads "he is too cheap to pay for a hotel and I still live with my parents, so what other choice is there?")
Her advice? If any piece of clothing is removed or adjusted, you've gone too far.
Enter first boyfriend ever. I was 17 (barely) and he was 24. It wasn't very long before her advice was tossed out the window and I was back to my own struggle of how far is too far? I'll spare you the details, because I want to keep my blog family friendly (and my mom is probably reading, and one day my kids might too!) but suffice it to say that I emerged from that relationship nearly 2 years later with my virginity barely in tact.
Because my mind was so fixated on romance, seduction, foreplay, and other sexually charged imagery from film and book, it was very, VERY hard to abstain. When I met my husband a year later at Bible college, we married quickly (" 'tis better to marry than to burn" we often joked!) and a few years into our marriage I discovered his secret struggle with pornography.
What a relief! He did it too, that made it ok - right? Not at all. I felt violated, cheated on, betrayed. All I could think of is that my precious husband, who I shared myself with, had shared his mind and thoughts with some nameless women! Fortunately we have a very open and honest relationship (that being the only secret up to that point, and once it was shared, we were truly one) and I was able to tell him of my own struggles. we recommitted to keeping "clean" and did pretty well, until...
I discovered this little thing on the internet called "erotica". Wooo - that was a real surprise! I would never go to a bookstore and purchase "adult materials" but I could read amateur and professional writer's stories of "romantic" encounters online, for free. I quickly became hooked on reading the latest stories - and that continued until I read some things that literally turned my stomach. If I dwell too long, I can still recall the details of stories that glorified incest, abuse, bondage and orgies.
So - I decided to stop reading it. I didn't want to accidentally come across anything disgusting. And as I began to clear my mind of it, and replace the desire with other things, I realized just how much of my mental real estate had been "tied up" (pardon the pun) in erotica. I've done pretty well, I've not searched for stories in years. I've still battled the mental part though - it is true what they say that once something goes in, it is nearly impossible to get it out!
And then along comes Fifty Shades of Grey. I've ignored the pins. I've avoided the articles. I've even ardently agreed with a friend who warned me against it. And then a few Christian friends posted that they are reading it. "It can't be that bad" I thought. I went to Amazon and pondered purchasing it. I read the preview. I knew where it was going. And I bought it anyway.
I shouldn't have. I was trying to figure out if it would be better hidden from my kids and husband on my phone or my computer.
(HINT: if you have to hide it, you probably shouldn't have it) I decided on my computer. Then I spent the next 2 hours reading, and reading, and reading. I found myself skimming, waiting for those deliciously juicy "good parts".
I have to admit, as erotica goes, this one is good. The problem is that I (and lots of other people) skipped the first questions: "Is it good FOR me?"
See, I knew it wasn't and I did it anyway. My knowledge was confirmed with a fantastic song on the radio - that I've always enjoyed but was especially poignant given my recent "read"
Especially the part about "black and white are turned to GREY"
Which reminded me of the following scriptures:
Ephesians 5:2 "For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret"To tell you the truth - I envy those who "don't know what they're missing". They do not have to struggle against the lust of the flesh that pulls at me from every angle. They don't have to read a pin on Pinterest and get the inside joke from the book and be reminded of the plot. They don't have to fight back memories of story lines and phrases from movies, they don't have to ask for forgiveness for THIS same sin over and over.
Psalm 101:2-3 "I will be careful to lead a blameless life; when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with a blameless heart; I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me."
Matthew 5:28 "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustily has already committed adultery with her in his heart"
I wish I could tell you that I have found the moral high-ground and that I am no longer tempted by this. Perhaps one day I will be able to. For now I am being careful, lest I think I stand and am actually sinking, as the song says.
I will not condemn you for reading the book (and I'm hoping that you won't condemn me either!) If you feel a twinge (or avalanche) of conviction - that is the Voice of Truth. It tells you that there is a better way - that there are better, higher thoughts! That a temporary "high" of erotic sensual material will not fill that empty place inside of you. Or me.
I'm very thankful for grace and mercy today.
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