Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels did not make it to the top of the Amazon best-seller list without the help of Christian women.
A book does not become number one unless a bunch of Christian women are reading it, along with their secular counterparts.
For years, as Christian women, we have lamented the fall of our menfolk into the bondage of pornography. We have talked about the disservice their viewing of porn has done to us as women. We have cried over our broken relationships and the loss of trust. We have come to find that viewing pornography is never a victimless sport. It involves the real emotions and brokenness of the actors and actresses who are involved and for whom Christ died. It brings us unrealistic expectations of what a man and a woman should be. It may harm the self-image of a spouse who feels completely inadequate, never able to match up to the manufactured "perfection" on the screen.
Paul said it best: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify" (I Corinthians 10:23, NKJV). We are not called, as Christians, to pull ourselves completely out of culture. I personally do not feel called to stop watching TV or movies or reading books that are part of the secular market. Though I sometimes encounter content such as bad language, sexuality, or the like in my media consumption (some of which I fast-forward or in Christian nerd fashion cover my eyes for!), I also often find meaning and edification in my viewing or reading. Once I start to realize that a show, for instance, is not edifying me in any way, but is wasting my time, I find myself eliminating it from my viewing. This is not legalism. It is what I might call Christian pragmatism. Is my media "diet" building me up or tearing me down? I also believe that for every Christian, media choices will probably be different. Romans 14 is helpful here as we make media choices in the midst of Christian liberty.
However, liberty does not mean license. We do always need to be on guard that we are "in the world, but not of the world." And pornography is something which has no "grey area" (contrary to the best seller's title). Do Christian women rationalize their consumption of erotic literature such as Fifty Shades of Grey (or any number of paperback romance novels) by telling themselves that "nobody is getting hurt" by their "harmless little fantasy"?
What if your child picks up one of these novels? Reading something like this could damage their view of sex for a long time to come. What if you begin to be so entranced by your fantasy life that real life no longer hold vigor for you? What if your husband begins to become boring and unsatisfying to you because he just doesn't match up to the ripped muscle hunks on the cover of your erotic novels? What about the example you are setting for your husband? If erotic lit is ok for you, why isn't internet porn ok for him? What if you start being drawn toward visual pornography and thereby using the lives and bodies of real and broken people who Jesus loves for your own pleasure. Research has shown that a high number of those who are involved in making pornography have suffered sexual abuse. Will you re-victimize them?
I don't mean to be angrily stern. I have made mistakes in my life, just as you have. None of us is flawless as we stand at the foot of the cross, particularly when it comes to sexuality. The good news is that there is forgiveness for us. There is hope. There is healing. There is a new relationship to be had with our spouse in which we love them for them, not for an idealized idea of what they should be. There is companionship with our God when our love cup is so empty and our hearts so desperate that we turn to pornography to fill us.
God calls us to be in the world, not of the world. This is a life-long journey. But perhaps God is speaking to you today about your consumption of erotic literature or visual pornography. Will you hear His voice? May He strengthen you--and me--through the Holy Spirit to dare to be counter-cultural and to see people as people for whom Christ died and not things for our consumption?