Wednesday, March 20, 2013

To Be Brave...and Fifty Shades of Grey

We need to be brave. 

I need to be brave and write about the things that matter. I'm blogging today because I realize for me not to, at this point, would be slothfulness. I read a post like this, and feel the blood pumping through my veins because I get it. I agree. I'm with Emily Wierenga on this. And  I realize, once again, that writing matters. This is not the content you just write in your journal for no one to see because whether people agree or not, a God-fearing voice in a godless culture matters. In our diluted and distorted reality, Emily's voice matters, your voice matters, my voice matters - and all of the voices spurring each other on in Christ matter.

But it takes being brave.

When the book, Fifty Shades of Grey, became popular everything in me told me it was counterfeit and essentially destructive, not just to our distorted sexual culture, but to our marriages over the long run. And I wanted to write about it and wondered who else was.

Yet, there's that part where we don't want to offend or judge. 

I know countless people who have read this book and I don't condemn them.  But the counterfeit that sweeps so many away into a non-reality and a distorted view of love, sexuality, and ultimately a distortion of Christ Himself is unsettling.

I have chosen not to read Fifty Shades of Grey with the conscience that I believe our marriages and sexuality are meant to point us to Christ and to bring us into a deeper recognition of intimacy with him. Therefore,  there must be something more than the lure of this book.

I want to share with you the journey a small, brave decision has taken a friend of mine and me on over the past six months, and a book I recommend as an alternative.

I have one dear friend, who got swept away by the hoop-la of the trilogy. I knew where she was coming from and I understood how the lure of the book would make her feel that this could be the answer to revive her marriage, yet had the potential to subtly lead her astray. We have such a relationship that I prayerfully and lovingly went to her, knowing her heart for Christ and for her marriage. She fully received my concern, our friendship deepened and within a few months we were reading together, A Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, by Sheila Wray Gregoire - a book which describes God's grand design for our sexuality. It is not only meant to be expressed on a physical level, but a spiritual and emotional level, in order to experience the fullness of an exciting, passionate, luring and intimate sex life within the context of marriage.

Sheila nails many great points, answers countless questions, and her content ignites a passion for a hot and holy marriage!

Sheila speaks to a broad audience of married and unmarried women, so every chapter may not speak to everyone. But with prayer over our marriage and desire for a radical love and deeper intimacy with our spouse, even a few chapters could very well be life changing.

My friend and I both witnessed the intimacy and anticipation in our marriages deepen while reading this book. We both caught a glimpse of how God intended marriage to be an indestructible, exciting adventure that is a power source for him.

We women don't need outside sources to raise our libidos or to revolutionize our sex lives, like some of the claims for Fifty Shades of Grey were making. We actually need to guard our hearts and minds against such things. In her book, Sheila Wray Gregorie addresses the repercussions of this being that it actually hinders intimacy with our spouse, as we begin to depend on those outside images to raise our libido rather than the relationship.

I've found that it just takes thinking about my spouse, praying about our intimacy, reading about sex in a God-honoring way - essentially finding ways to engage my mind and prepare my mind for my husband rather than disengaging. My heart is typically already there. But as Sheila Wray Gregorie writes, sex for women is in the head.

We live in a, "me" world - a fallen one. But in that, there is a perfect design worth seeking out and waiting for. Sheila Wray Gregorie points out that God intentionally created men and women's needs differently. The need for sex leads to intimacy for men and and the need for intimacy leads to sex for women. This is why making sex and intimacy about one self doesn't work:

For women to get our deepest needs for relationship met, we need to focus on our spouses' needs for sex. For men to get their deepest needs for sex met, they need to focus on our need for relationship. It's a give and take. Women learn to think of men, and men learn to think of us.  ~ Sheila Wray Gegorie

And that's when it works. It doesn't work so well in a "me" culture, but God's way always looks beyond our own self to another. Mysteriously, when we start thinking about the needs of our spouse first and it becomes this give and take, this is what begins to revolutionize sex and intimacy within our marriages.

I  don't write this as an expert. I write it as someone who has gotten a small taste of that something more and I say it as someone who realizes that it takes work. There is no easy one-time-fix. It's a life-long process of exploration and discovery. And isn't that the point? A husband and wife, built completely differently, with a lifetime to explore the never-ending mysteries, all the while enjoying the adventure and discovering the beautiful dance of the groom and his bride, Christ and his church.

This dance will surely give us a closer glimpse of heaven - the real thing - what we're all longing for. For everything we seek, to fill that longing, it will always be God who can ultimately fulfill it. Anything else will be the counterfeit, slowly and subtly leading us astray.
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. We are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. ~ C.S. Lewis
It takes being brave to admit we've settled for the slum. 

It takes being brave to imagine something more. 

*You can find Sheila Wray Gregorie at her blog, To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

Sharing with Imperfect Prose


  1. Amen, brave sister! I wish more women would do what you did -- we need to extend ourselves to each other. We need to support one another in what is holy, edifying, and true.

  2. Oh, Theresa, thanks for being BRAVE. The world has messed up the intimacy that God planned for our pure enjoyment in marriage- love your reminder that it's worth the fight to taste what He offers! Blessings, dear friend.

  3. I applaud you for being brave, Theresa. :) I affirm everything in this post. May He bless your faithfulness with His delight today.

  4. while i must confess that i don't know much about the book (either one, really), i love how you've turned our hearts toward a one-man mind. almost every night i am astounded by how my guy loves me just as i am. that realization, in and of itself, makes the physical too hot to handle. ;)
    thanks for being brave, friend.

  5. Amen! It broke my heart to see women, Christian women, reading this book and justifying doing so. I haven't read Shelia's book, though I do follow her blog. Thank you for this brave post.

  6. Ah Theresa, thank you. At the beginning of the Fifty Shades phenomena my neighbor lent me her copy. I didn't know what it was about, just that it was the "latest" hot book. After about 30 mins of reading I was enraged. I couldn't believe women were accepting of the book. I was ready to "battle" any man who came within 5 feet of me. I did not picture romance, I pictured abuse, control, subservience. I thought of Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Duggard, young girls who had their lives ruined by men that are not too far from Christian Grey. I didn't understand how women didn't see what was on the pages in front of them. So I asked, Dr. oz did a show and he asked. The answer was that it was a thrill, a fantasy to be controlled, to be wanted. I think the money and gifts and it being a "hot" guy were making it ok. It saddens me to think of the money this book has made and its eventual movie. What are we telling men? It's ok to tell us what to eat and wear and come to their beckon call. To not kiss or share a bed. That's what the book says is romantic. Ughhh!
    I like your view, if you want romance read a helpful book that is positive to both people. That teaches love is more than sex, it's a partnership. We need to value each other, and remember our vows and the sanctity of marriage. All relationships need work, the work should be done together and with communication. It shouldn't be reading a racy book that in the end is hurting women more than helping. Hope this didn't go too far with my opinion, I just have a BIG one with this book. ;) - Joleen

  7. I have chosen not to read Fifty Shades of Grey with the conscience that I believe our marriages and sexuality are meant to point us to Christ and to bring us into a deeper recognition of intimacy with him.

    Oh friend. Just so, so proud of you. LOVE this post.

  8. i have been thinking about writing on this subject this past months; just that as an Asian blogger in SIngapore, i am not sure how it will be received (not to mention I am a pastor)..lift a prayer for me pls; to know if this is a subject to raise. I feel we are never taught and flounder in choppy waters through media, mother's stories, PMS and more..thank you!

  9. Great post! So happy to "meet" you via Imperfect Prose.

  10. Wow!!!! so nice views....
    I am awaiting for the releasing of 50 shades of grey movie


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