Shades of Grey: Why Erotica Books like Fifty Shades of Grey Aren’t the Real Issue



Since the big debut of Fifty Shades of Grey, I have tried to wait it out in the background, wishing and hoping the moral debate and boycott of such books and films would just go away. I didn’t want to even talk about it or write about it because that would make me have to examine where I stand on the topic. I did not want to be branded as a hypocrite because so  many of my friends and I read romance novels; maybe not Fifty Shades, but I’ve been known to read some pretty spicy reading material.

My decision to write about this heated topic had little to do with the actual book, but an incident at my home the other day with my young preteen daughter. She got my kindle and was scrolling through my downloaded books. I was re-reading (like for the fourth time) one of the young adult romance novels I had purchased and it just so happened to be on the page of some heated sexual scene. From the kitchen, I heard my daughter ask, “Why are you reading this stuff? It’s gross!”  I was so embarrassed that she had read it and if I can admit, I was ashamed that she had “caught me.”

My husband and I try so hard to teach our children about staying pure, both in mind and body. Yet, if you look on my kindle, you would find novels that were based closely on the story line of Fifty Shades. I am drawn to books where the lead characters are troubled beautiful souls that need to be saved by a strong female figure. Sprinkle some drama to the story line and a whole lot of passionate love-making, and you have hooked me. How is that pure of mind?

So before I even get started, please let me start off by confessing something. I have never read Fifty Shades of Grey and I have justified that decision based on some loose moral perimeter I created to excuse my other reading choices.

In fact, if I had to guess, many of you have to do the same thing. [This] book or movie is “bad” but [this] book or movie is “okay.” For whatever reason, like many other women, I have excused my choice of books and movies because I don’t see them as the porn it is, but as innocent fantasy that allows me to escape what can be a very mundane life.

Fifty Shades of Grey is not the issue but the indicator of a bigger problem. The numbers don’t lie. When there are millions of women reading erotica books, it is proof that there is a blatant need women are not having fulfilled. Instead of demonizing the book and their authors and even the men in our lives, maybe we need to look within and see what’s missing.

To the Stay-at-home mom, it is time to look within and figure out why you feel the need to pull the escape latch from reality.

To the Single lady, it is time to look at what you are replacing in your life until the next chapter begins.

To the woman who has been married over two decades and is longing for a renewed sense of passion, it’s time to look at what‘s missing in your marriage.

To the Christian woman, it is time to look at what has become a potential stumbling block in your spiritual walk.

It is time, ladies, for ALL of us to look at the desire of our hearts. Eventually, Fifty Shades of Grey will be just another book that will collect dust on the shelf. In its place, another dozen or so books and movies will be published and advertised to women everywhere that desire passion, love and escape in their lives.

Demonizing Fifty Shades of Grey won’t change the real issue, but it will distract from the main problem, your heart.

I looked deep down on this and have come up with three reasons women (myself included) use romance novels to spice up their lives.  Have you struggled with any of these? I’d like to hear from you.

The 3 Shades of a Women’s heart:

  1. We all want to be desired and pursued.

Rather you are single, dating or married, all of us want to know that someone desires us. In the books or movies we are helplessly glued to, we usually see a character that is so consumed with the heroine that it is intoxicating. Who wouldn’t want that? Where we go wrong is that we don’t understand that being desired does not always constitute love. But if physical desire is all there is, it will eventually fade and you will be left trying to refill your emotional fuel tank. It took me a long time to realize that there is only one Man in my life that pursues me daily because He desires a relationship with me. In fact, He pursued me to the cross and died so that we could be together for eternity. That, ladies, is true love.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

2.  We all want to be needed.

Romance novels have capitalized on this particular desire of women. There is a reason good girls go for the bad boys. I use to tell people that if there was a loser in a 50 mile radius of me, I was attracted to them. I felt that it was my “duty” to save them from themselves. What usually started as a passionate relationship, turned to drama and heartache. Ladies, you can’t be their  one and all. It just doesn’t work that way. True change takes place from within a person’s heart with the help of a Savior, everything else up until that is just behavior modification.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

3.  We all want to escape.

Sometimes, our fantasies seem much better than our realities. My life is not full of romance and impromptu trips to exotic lands. I wish it were, but my husband and I have responsibilities and they come in the mail like clockwork! To say that romance can get dull when you have young children or a busy work schedule is an understatement. So when life isn’t making beautiful music, we tend to hit the escape latch and go into the world of fantasy. If it can help you rekindle some of your passion in the bedroom, is it really that bad? I’ll answer the question with another question. How would you like it if you found your husband looking at porn and his reasoning was because it helped him get out of his head? #1 on the list is probably flashing like the neon sign at Krispy Crème right about now! Do you feel desired?  When he is with you intimately, will you wonder who he is fantasying about?

Harvard (yes, the Harvard) did a study on the three reasons couples stay together and avoid divorce. Only 1 of 1,246 couples got a divorce if they did just three simple things together. I am extending the list to any woman, in any stage of life because honestly, regardless of what season we are in, what we seek in our heart is what we will seek in our everyday. The Harvard study concluded that praying together, discussing the Bible together and attending church together were the three essentials of all healthy relationships. Reading Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t make Harvard’s list. Sorry

Next time, when you are looking to feel desired, needed or to remember what is important, talk to God, seek fellowship with His people or open His word and read the sweetest love letters you will ever read.

You don’t need to feel ashamed about your struggle because it’s a real struggle that real women face. Let’s start talking about it and stop pointing the finger.



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