Earlier this week I went off on a friend in an unplanned rant, going on and on in a verbal vomit of opinions that I could not seem to stop. Sure it was about something in which I feel passionately and sure it was somewhat warranted. Luckily this friend did not take offense to it, or at least I pray she didn’t.
We were talking about a book that I had just finished reading, one she too had read. And I made a comment of how scandalous I found parts of it to be, and that at times I thought I wouldn’t finish it. But my love for literature, and my desire to force myself outside of my literary comfort zone, compelled me to see it to the end. She asked if I planned to watch the movie that was based on this particular book and I replied that I had considered renting it so that I could fast-forward through parts that I didn’t care to see. She then made the light-hearted joke, “So I guess you’re not planning to go see 50 Shades of Grey.”
And it all went downhill from there.
Granted, I am very “prudish” (as the world might call it) towards what sorts of entertainment I allow my eyes to see. But no. Absolutely not. I don't watch porn. Or ridiculously crude humor. Generally speaking, I try not to watch rated R movies. I have made a few exceptions, but I have also walked right out of the theater and demanded refunds.
Back to this 50 Shades of Grey nonsense. I remember a couple of years ago when everyone was reading it. Luckily my desire to hate everything popular kept my interest at bay. But what I remember even more was hearing from people who read it what the book was like. And then thinking, “So it’s literary porn?” Now, my convictions on pornography are my own – and I don’t expect the world to have my same ideals. I also have the conviction that men and women shouldn’t have sex before marriage, and look at how few share that same opinion.
pornography (noun): printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.
But women, can we say, “Double standard?” If you don’t condone your husband going to strip clubs and watching/reading pornography, then you too need to abstain from it. For women, it takes the deceptive approach of descriptive sexual and emotional interactions. Our fragile and delicate hearts allow discontentment and yearning to seep in and create holes of dissatisfaction in our marriages. We read about fictional characters that are represented to have an excitement and passion that our own relationships seem to fail in measuring up. Fantasy is dangerous. And when fictional fantasy crafts disappointment and frustration in our real lives, we begin playing with fire. And maybe it doesn’t have this extreme of an effect on you; maybe you just find reading about others’ sex lives to be entertaining. But if you are a Christ follower, I would urge you to step with great caution.
John Piper wrote an article in response to this issue. I would encourage you to read it. He lays out twelve questions to ask yourself before watching a film with nudity. But I think the same principles apply towards the books that we read. The difficulty I find myself facing is that books lack the rating system that movies have, sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re getting yourself into until you’re halfway through the book. But even some of the few rated R (restricted) movies I have seen should have been rated NC-17 (adults only). But then again I think some PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned) films should be restricted. There I go being prude again.
In closing, I want to thank you for being patient enough to read this post. I realize people have as varying opinions on what is appropriate as they do how to raise children. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, coming from different pasts and upbringings. I grew up watching my parents’ unfaithfulness to one another, so I am very sensitive to this issue. But one thing is universally true since the beginning of time: humans have difficulty keeping their hearts pure. We have difficulty with monogamy and faithfulness. We have difficulty being selfish and we like to justify our actions. We are in control of so little we see and experience in life, let’s be wise with the things we can.