I wept the full of a Tuesday, and part of a Wednesday.
No matter what I did to cheer my soul - it was useless and
quickly it became unmistakable.
I was grieving.
At one point I stopped, and I turned my weeping inward and
upward asking questions like: “What’s the deal? Why am I so upset? What is it
that is tearing my heart into shreds like this? I feel sick and angry and am so
I didn’t read the books. I knew they were about some twisted
love story with a man obsessed with abusive sexual practices. Sounded like
garbage to me, and a slap in the face (literally) for women's progress. I
thought for sure women wouldn’t accept popularizing a story that romanticizes such
blatant disrespect for a woman’s body or sexual intimacy – not in a generation
where human trafficking is in the social justice spotlight.
When over 100 million copies sold, I counted it as just
another test positive. A temperature reading showing our culture has a fever
and indeed moral infection has set in deep. The humorous light banter about it on
national news as “Mommy Porn” and a “secret vice” or “indulgence” only confirmed
the infection was working its way. The viral consumption of this storyline was
likened to eating bon bons in the middle of the afternoon. So funny, so
trivial, so innocent – even helpful really to take the edge off a stressful day.
Women have and will flock in droves to read and watch this
story classified as “erotica” (can I just
say, I never imagined I would type such words in my life). This shouldn’t
surprise us, our culture’s obsession with sexual perversion isn’t new or even
shocking anymore. What surprised me was how many women have ingested this and
other erotica works, yet identify
themselves as Christians (which tends to
suggest they know God’s thoughts on such matters and care about his feelings
generally enough to make life decisions that don’t break his heart.)
Since women of Christian faith were also “indulging” in this
series, and now with the movie version of Fifty
Shades of Grey almost released, I thought it wise to read the carefully
researched book, Pulling Back the Shades, written by well-known
Christian psychologist Dr. JuliSlattery and best-selling author and speaker for teen girls especially, Dannah Gresh, to see what impact the film’s
content could have on the women in my
When I worked as a lawyer and tracked legislation, I often
considered research on the effects of certain policies on families and
communities. I knew in my mind how various policies served to either ultimately
help or harm women. But since I stepped away from law and politics a few years
ago, and entered ministry vocationally, I have heard more-than-I-can-count testimonies
of women in bondage, and even teens, addicted to pornography, engaging in all
kinds of destructive sexual relationships, substance abuse issues related to
sexual hurts, and so on. On multiple occasions these experiences had driven the
girls or women to attempt taking their lives, and I know because I have visited
them in clinics in these darkest hours. Marriages where husbands demanded
multiple partners or pornography, cryptic messages from women in abusive
relationships afraid they will be found reaching out for help, and of course,
stories of women who commit adultery themselves.
Sexual fantasy and imagery is not only a male struggle, far
from it. I knew first-hand how destructive sexual material or exposure could be
to a soul, I was exposed to pornography at a family friend’s house only at age
5, and the repercussions for me lasted decades.
Our culture’s anthem is “doing what you want, when you want
is the path to freedom and happiness.” But what my professional experience,
personal eyewitness, and yes faith
proves is that the opposite is actually true: living lawless without boundaries
ultimately leads to bondage and destruction.
To best prepare for conversations coming, I chose to read
another book, one that addresses Fifty
Shades of Grey and the greater genre of erotica now available with one
Reading Pulling Back the Shades was, in my
mind, me simply doing my job as a women’s ministry director. The struggle with
erotica would surely be for other women – mostly women who have no relationship
with Jesus, or have shaky marriages, or broken pasts, or are longing with
doubts in singleness.
I watched the movie trailers online. I started reading more
about the plot (Dr. Juli Slattery read
the series in preparation for writing with Dannah, and did so entirely on her
knees as others prayed for her, though even still she confesses she did not
come through it unscathed). I poured through their book, Pulling Back the Shades, and was left shell-shocked over what
has been and what is about to be broadcasted for all of our generation to
absorb like dry sponges.
happened next in my soul was at the root of what left me grieving the remainder
of Tuesday, and Wednesday, and to be honest…hasn’t quite left me since.
I was actually curious about it. I felt the hook in my own soul - I longed
to sink my teeth into Fifty Shades of
Grey for myself.
After watching the trailers alone, I began to wonder how I
could watch it, but in secret. I wanted to indulge in darkness, and bring dark chocolate
with me. Maybe I could get a sitter and go during the day when no one would
know? I felt stuck with being in women’s ministry – so exposed and accountable.
I knew my closest friends would never encourage it, afterall, this is why they
are my closest friends!
It is God’s grace friends, present and active in my life,
that this moment of hidden hysteria only lasted a few seconds. After some
minutes and then hours as I plowed through the pages of the book by Dr. Juli
and Dannah, I came to see my own desperate hunger and longing for the very
thing stories like Fifty Shades and
other erotica outlets are designed to hook in women.
In that honest moment when I met my own lust and longing for
dark and secret promises of life – I met my confession. In choking sobs I
confessed my own weakness, and my doubt in God’s ability to fill my deepest longings.
My heart broke for us all, sisters, because we run to the
world’s dark and secret promises of life because we long deeply, don’t we? And we don’t think God gets us.
A longing to
I live a dream life, my dream even. And I know it. I’m even
grateful for it and sometimes I record my gratitude in lists. I have a husband
who adores me, a daughter who looks and acts like a cherub seriously, a home
that allows me to nest beautifully, a community that accepts me fully and a
vocation that releases my soul.
And, yet. I long.
I get bored doing the same laundry, the same way, with the
same clothes using the same detergent. I pick up the same toys every 10
minutes, struggle against the same negative thoughts I’ve had since I was 10
years old, and tweeze the same bushy eyebrows I’ve shaped since high school. I
make about 17 lists an hour of the same things I keep forgetting that I wrote
on earlier lists I’ve misplaced. Again. And that’s all by 8am. Then I realize
I’m acting ungrateful and I’m consumed by shame for complaining over 1st
world problems my friends in Peru, or even down the street, would be grateful
to have if only they were as blessed. But guilt doesn’t help me accept my
boredom with joy, it only increases my desperation to escape my reality.
If I would allow myself room to long, room to desire and
dream about amazing adventure and deep purpose with long-lasting impact – and
give myself room to feel bored in my moment…perhaps I wouldn’t be so desperate
to run to fantasy. If I would share my boredom with the Creator of time and
space, I may discover he has another way yet that allows me to be honest, not
escape, and yet not simply accept boredom either.
Other longings identified in this book include, but are not
limited to: to be cherished by a man (to be chosen above all others); to be
protected by a strong man; to rescue a man; and, to be sexually alive.I have deep longings, and God made me – and you – this way.
Often we don’t feel safe admitting we long, especially when
we are Christians, blessed or leading with influence. We feel we should have
this stuff under control, or perhaps not “feel” anything when temptations
arise. Friends, burying these longings is what is truly dangerous! Keeping
secrets and hiding indulgences will not last for long – whether we run to
erotica or chocolate. We need honest community – I need it! If we are going to
leave an influence on a generation that offers hope, life, light for darkness…we
won’t do it with secrets and hidden indulgences. We will only do it when we
bring our heart into the light and trust God with our deepest unmet longings.
Posted on Wed, February 11, 2015
by Heather Yates