I am sure that you have heard of it by now. The summer reading sensation entitled "50 Shades of Grey". I first heard about the over-hyped phenom in Macleans - an article that discussed the issue of this book and a young adult book called Between Shades of Grey coming out at about the same time. If you need a book to read, I recommend the later, as it exposes the cruelty of Stalin and his Siberian exiles. It has also been nominated for the Carnegie medal for juvenile fiction. I have not read it yet but it is on my list of to read books.
But I digress. My next big reading foray into the 50 Shades Hype was through one of my new favourite websites maintained by Relevant Magazine. First I read this article entitled "When Sex Goes Grey: How 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is turning the clock back on a Humanitarian Crisis". I agreed with most of what the author said about how the glorification of BDSM dulls our conscience against violence against women and domestic abuse. I am a comment reader and what got to me were some of the comments written by others who had read this article and who are followers of Christ. I am going to edit the ones I post so that they are not too graphic and my response is in italics.
"Not that I completely disagree with you, but to really know what you're talking about, you should read all 3 books. Ana fights back & doesn't allow herself to be abused."
So we want to promote the idea that we should put up with violence in the hope of changing our partner?
"Genuine power dynamics in a sexual relationship and sexual violence have nothing to do with each other. A man acting in a dominant role to a woman's submission has nothing whatsoever to do with domestic violence. Real kink is not violence. . .
If you want to pull "Fifty Shades" you have to pull every romance novel ever written -- almost all of which present a far more genuinely chauvinist view of female sexuality. "Pulling every romance book off the shelf - probably not a bad idea.
"What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own relationship and in their own bedroom is their business. The keyword here is "consenting". "
So everything is permissible as long as both parties consent? I have had questions about this for years and years actually. As a Christian, what is sexually acceptable after marriage? Since I am not married, I have not had to find the answers yet but I have wondered.
"Though it is not the work of a literary genius, it does display how a woman can confidently take control of her sexuality without shame. .. So often women are marginalized for expressing their eroticism while men are celebrated. Women, in both Christian and secular communities are taught to be ashamed of their sexuality and ..." Anastasia's character demonstrates how a woman can express herself in a non-mainstream, sexual way and still maintain her femininity. How many women are afraid and ashamed of the desires that are inside of them; why must they feel that there is something wrong with them?
I kind of agree with what is being said here. As a single Christian women, I feel that sometimes I have buried my sexuality as I am afraid of it. But do I need to turn to secular stories to reclaim it? How can I reclaim it in a Scriptural manner?
So I spent a few days contemplating these questions. Christ transforms us and as our sexuality is part of who we are, he must transform that as well. So how does Christian sex and sexuality look different before, during and after marriage? I know that before marriage we are supposed to abstain and remain pure, but then what?
Then Relevant had another article asking "Is There Room For Erotica in Christianity?" It discusses how erotica often addresses a need in our lives - maybe to fan the embers of sexual desire within a marriage or to promote sexual conversations. Then they ask the questions that had been burning in the back of my mind: "But since when does what a person uses to meet a need necessarily equate to what a person actually needs?" The article discusses how the church at large has dropped the ball on teaching about sex and how Christian sex is different than the world's version. Even for myself, it wasn't a Christian comment that spurred me to think about what Christ's desires in my sexuality, but rather a popular secular novel that I will not read. I am afraid that without proper teaching, 'Saving sex for marriage' [will become] 'waiting until marriage to objectify my partner.'
I was relieved that I was not the only one asking these questions about how Christ's sacrifice redeems sex (back to what it was meant to be) and how Christian sex is different than worldly sex (other than remaining pure before marriage). And yet the article did not answer all of my queries and wonderings. So I feel like I have started on a journey of questioning and discovery. And I have invited my friends to come along with me. Yes some of the same friends mentioned in my previous post. In fact one of them has practically emptied her church library of all books pertaining to sex. So as step one of my journey I have resurrected a book club tradition among friends and recommended that we read "Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity" by Lauren F. Winner. Use the link; don't google it. You may get results that you are not so happy with.
With porn in the mainstream, I think that it is time for Christians to reclaim true sex, true marriage, true sexuality. For in Christ is where truth ultimately lies.