A movie comes out this weekend that women all over the country are talking about: “50 Shades of Grey.” With the popularity of the book on which it’s based, there have been many conversations about whether or not we, as followers of Christ, should read or watch anything that falls within the category of “erotica.” There’s a good chance you’ve been asked about this as a women’s ministry leader.
Today, we share with you a great article that was previously posted on LifeWay Women All Access. We hope this article will help clarify this topic for you as you encourage and lead women to pursue what is honoring to the Lord. We also hope this will provide you with some talking points to communicate with the women you lead as they wrestle with the influence of our culture.
By Michelle Hicks
“What are you talking about?”
“Just this book we are reading.”
“Really? What is the book? You know I’m always reading something! Maybe I’d like it.”
“Uh … no, you probably wouldn’t.” After a pause, “It’s not the kind of book we normally read, but we’ve heard so many people talking about it.”
After a moment of hesitation, my friends went on to tell me about Fifty Shades of Grey, and the story and characters they found so fascinating. They were quick to say they were embarrassed but also curious and intrigued.
I doubt these two friends woke up one morning and said, “Let me go buy a book and learn more about bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism.” (BDSM for short.) The definition of sadism is “enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain, especially sexual enjoyment from hurting or punishing someone … a sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others.” I’m sure that if either of these friends read the definition of that one word in advance they would never buy any book on the topic.
However, like most of us, the walls of defense come down over time and the excuses for not purchasing the book became less. Then one day the reasons against reading the book were overpowered with justification — “it is just fiction” and “it’s just a story and it isn’t abuse when both are consenting adults” and “I’m just reading a book and it doesn’t hurt anyone.”
Let’s face it. Every day we face decisions about what we will and will not do. We choose how we will spend our time, our talents, our finances, and what will fill our day. And every day we really do face the constant battle of the flesh and the spirit (Gal. 5:16-26) and the one that wins is the one we are feeding.
Women everywhere, including Christian women, are reading Fifty Shades of Grey or other erotica. Where the Internet made pornography easily accessible for men, eroticism in book form is the choice of women. And according to recent industry reports, women are ready and eager to watch “Fifty Shades of Grey” in theaters.
When our culture promotes novels, film and music that create a context supporting the normalization of violence and abuse, women in your church will be pulled in and begin thinking that intimate partner violence is normal. But it is not.
Think about it. What are we saying to women and girls when we read and support movies that assault human dignity and the value of females created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27)? How can we, as followers of Jesus, speak up and fight against pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking and then read fiction that romanticizes injustices associated with BDSM?
Do we want love, intimacy, respect, and healthy relationships? Or do we want bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism? It just seems logical that you can’t have both and live with integrity.
So what is your plan to provide some black and white biblical truths to women who are caught up with “Fifty Shades of Grey”? How can you help women in your church and community navigate the influences found in books, movies, or shifts in culture? How can you guide them to Scripture for Truth and Jesus for healing?
Here are some options that might benefit individual women, one-on-one mentoring, or small groups.
Watch episodes of The Chat with Priscilla
These episodes are free online and can be watched individually or with a group. Priscilla hosts Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh as they discuss the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and the implications for women in our culture. For a small group consider meeting together two or three times to watch and discuss the episodes:
Summary: With the popularity of romance novels, and more recently, Fifty Shades of Grey, women’s fictional erotica is becoming more accepted in society. This trend displays a deep dissatisfaction for women in their circumstances today.
When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore examines why devoted followers of Jesus Christ can fall into the traps of Satan. Believers are still subject to Satan’s attacks. He is determined to disrupt the lives of Christians, destroy their ministry, and steal their joy. Sadly, those who have “fallen” may not recognize the devil’s schemes until they have already been caught in a snare of defeat. This six-week study is written in three parts. The first part is a warning to believers, while the second part shows women how to prepare for attacks by the Enemy. The third part is directed to those who have been snared by seduction, and compassionately points the way back to God. Encourage women to do the study with a friend or mentor or in small groups.
Women Reaching Women in Crisis compiled by Chris Adams includes eight chapters of content dealing with crisis issues women face in ministering to women in their church and community. Often in difficult situations and circumstances we don’t know what to do. However, God wants to use women to help other women dealing with crisis. He also desires to redeem our own experiences to walk in understanding with other women dealing with similar experiences we have had. Women Reaching Women in Crisis is designed to help leaders (or any woman) know how to assist women in pain or how to refer them to others if they don’t have the ability to help. Read and review the chapter 6 focused on Sexual Addiction and Pornography individually or with others to develop a plan to minister to those women in need in your church and community.
Children of the Day (Session 5 ) by Beth Moore dives into a counter-culture segment of Scripture on sexual ethics as it focuses on 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. This can be watched with a group as part of the Bible study or individually. Encourage women to take the 28-day Challenge, which is introduced in this session.
Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart by Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah K. Gresh addresses your desire to be both sexual and spiritual. With solid biblical teaching and transparent stories, these trusted authors offer an unflinching look at the most personal questions women ask. Visit their websites for more information: Juli: AuthenticIntimacy.com and Dannah: PureFreedom.org.
The Quick-Reference Guide to Sexuality and Relationship Counseling by Dr. Tim Clinton and Mark Laaser provides the answers to those who are faced with such challenging concerns can readily use expert help with the problems that people bring to them. This guide gives pastors, counselors, and everyday believers the information they need to help congregants, clients, and friends with their most intimate issues, including
- sexual expectations and satisfaction
- infidelity, forgiveness, and trust
- sexual addictions
- gender identity issues
- raising sexually healthy kids
Each of the 40 topics covered follows a helpful eight-part outline and identifies typical symptoms and patterns, definitions and key thoughts, questions to ask, directions for the conversation, action steps, biblical insights, prayer starters, and recommended resources.
What are additional resources or Scripture you would suggest to help women in your church and community battle the influences of erotica in our culture? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.