"I have something to confess."
Those are the words a very dear friend spoke to me through tears (the ugly kind, with snot and all) a few years ago. I admit, I wondered what on earth could be so bad? She must be having an affair.
"I'm addicted to pornography."
My mind turned to Playgirl, Hustler, and generalized "erotica" (that can sometimes go beyond the simply erotic to the downright vulgar).
My friend went on to tell me that it was romance novels that were the culprit of her addiction.
Romance novels? Not pictures, stories of S&M, bondage, and the like? Surely that doesn't qualify as "porn".....does it?
To my friend, and many women around the world, it does. Pornography, according to dictionary.com, is defined as "obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit."
In case you are wondering what defines "obscene" the answer is: "offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved."
So yes, I can see how some romance novels can cross the line from "romance" to porn. A few salacious scenes can lead the mind to places that aren't exactly, well, helpful or edifying to our minds or our souls.
Not only is it dangerous, it is sin.
Matthew 5:27-28 says "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Lust begins by a single glance. Then it moves into the heart. And then, occasionally, we act on it. (Remember David and Bathsheba? The roof, the roof, the roof was on fi-yah!) As Christians, we have to guard against engaging mentally in any act of unfaithfulness.
Women have a very strong tendency to become emotionally attached to characters and ideas that can lead to a dissatisfaction with what we have in reality. Pornography in all forms causes marital discord. If my husband is looking at erotic pictures or reading about how a woman responds to a man in a story, he could potentially look at me with disappointment. But let's face it, men are visual. Women are much more verbal. Which is why most women don't look at pornography...they read it.
Which brings me to the current fads of the year.
Fifty Shades of Grey.
Remember the last line of the dictionary.com definition of porn? "Having little or no artistic merit" --- and that sums up these not-so-artistic offerings in a nutshell. For starters, the book is the worst writing in the history of writing.
Nothing disturbs me more than poor writing. It is without excuse. Really.
I am honestly horrified for my fellow women out there who love the book series and the characters. It is psychologically disturbing, sexually repugnant, and emotionally draining. The movie is nothing but filth. I mean, obviously Matthew McConnaughey is the utter definition of "eye candy" -- but does watching Matt teach newcomer Channing Tatum how to strip, party, and pick up women do anything at all to enrich my life? Teach me a lesson? Have any redeeming message? Does it even really entertain me?
And I dare say it doesn't entertain the majority of thinking women out there either.
And I read once that MM doesn't use deodorant. How sexy can that be?
While the movie is totally mindless, the book is not.
There is nothing sexy about humiliation and controlling behavior. (Women who love the series are quick to say "but he gives her 'safe' words to use when she feels uncomfortable!" -- which makes me cringe. If there is a potential for being or feeling unsafe in my relationship, I don't need a safe word. I need out).
My personal feelings aside, the one recurring thing I hear from women is this: "I wish Christian Grey were real" or "I wish my husband were like him".
Statements like this are the reason that pornography is so detrimental to relationships. Your partner is never like the person you saw or read about. Studies have shown that pornography causes actual damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. Psychologists the world over can testify that it causes relationship damage...every.single.time. Even with casual use. Even when used by a couple to "enhance" things a bit.
Perhaps what I find most disturbing about the whole "mommy porn" fad is the fact that many women posting about their new genre of entertainment are self-professed Christians. These women post silly, giggly posts and pictures about the books and the movie, urging others to read or watch.
"Temptations are sure to come; woe to the one through who they come. It is better to be thrown into the sea than to cause another to sin." (my paraphrase of Luke 17:1-2)
"...decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." (Romans 14:13)
As Franck in "Father of the Bride" would say, "Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you....."
Yes, I'm a party pooper. But *I* didn't say it.
I dare you to call Him a party pooper.
"...live for the rest of the time no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1 Peter 4:2-6, emphases mine)
So what if you are the only one of your co-workers or the only team mom that doesn't indulge in the sin of the summer? No matter how hard it is to be the party pooper in the crowd, we are called for more, ladies.
"God has not called us for impurity, but holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God." (1 Thess 4:7-8)
"Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called." (Eph 4:1)
"Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'. " (1 Peter 1:14-16)
I mean, seriously girls. Where does it say that we can take a break, get off the hook, and just watch a "silly little movie"? Where does it say that it is ok with our Saviour to indulge our minds in sin?
You're right. It doesn't.
And here's another thing, while I'm on the subject.
What kind of example are we setting for our children? What does it tell my daughter if she sees a book hidden in my nightstand (or on my Kindle) that I would absolutely d-i-e if she read? I want so much more for her. I want her to have respect for herself and for men. I want her to know that no matter what the other girls are reading/watching/wearing, we are to live in a manner worthy of our calling! We have to guard what comes into our eyes and ears. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to do just that.
A youth pastor from years ago said something that I will never forget (some 30 year later, it still is in my mind when I make entertainment choices for myself): imagine reading, watching, or listening with Jesus sitting right next to you. Would He approve? Would He find it of value?
I believe that God finds great value in the arts. In the beauty of a painting. In the written word that makes you pause and re-read a sentence because it was *that* good. In the song well sung, or the instrument played with skill.
There is so much beauty around us. So many good books, excellent movies, and soul moving songs. So many beautiful works of art. God has not deprived the Christian of art and film. He has blessed us generously.
We only need to use discretion in our choosing.
"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion." (Proverbs 11:22)
That is totally one of my favorite verses. It just says it all, doesn't it?
So back to my friend that I told you about. It has been a long season of praying and staying accountable, but she is doing so good. I love her for her courage and her honesty.
And I'm pleased to report that the last time I saw her, there was no evidence of a gold ring anywhere near a pig's snout.