50 Shades of Broken: Part 1 of 2

At present, there is a stack of books on the end of my desk at home 12 volumes thick, books that I very much want to read or feel obligated in some way to finish. One of the biggest frustrations of my “normal” work week is that I do not get nearly enough time to read, whether for fun, personal enrichment or some form of continuing education. And for every one book on my desk, there are probably ten others I could easily add to the list. All that to say that there is absolutely no way that the current bestseller “50 Shades of Grey” is likely ever to pass through my hands. God has richly blessed me with both a complete lack of interest and a dizzying array of far better things to pursue.

One can almost hear the immediate retort; “You shouldn’t slam books that you have not even bothered to read.” Like all truly excellent deceptions, there’s a kernel of truth in this, and indeed there was a time when mine might have been one of the voices contributing to that chorus.

But no more.

It was Ravi Zacharias who really turned my head around on this subject when he – arguably one of the better-educated human beings on the planet, and not at all a fan of ignorance among Christians – turned loose an impassioned speech about the ways in which the world, the flesh and the devil all seek to destroy our families and friendships by exposing our minds to thoughts and images that are fine-tuned to corrupt the way in which we see God’s good creation and all the blessings that can be ours. These corruptions of the good make us itch for “more” that invariably turns out to be devastating, insatiable and (ironically) less. A rough paraphrase of Dr. Zacharias’ speech would go something like this: “So yes, there are books that I will never read. There are films that I simply will not expose my mind to. There is every manner of human wickedness that I need not indulge simply so that I can impress others with my up-to-date worldliness.”

Clearly, Zacharias is more than willing to let go of some cultural cachet. Where does the strength to risk being labeled “out of it” come from?

For me, the work that I do with men who have destroyed themselves sexually has made it relatively easy to shore up my extreme loathing for pornography in all of its manifestations, literary or otherwise. And yes, I would categorize “50 Shades” as pornography, based on everything I’ve read about its contents; the book seems specifically designed to provoke a sexual response in the reader.

Maybe it’s because I have ceased to see mere statistics in the divorce rate and have instead begun to attach the names and faces of husbands, wives, and (most tragically) children caught up in the destruction of their homes when a loose and ungodly libido is unleashed all in the name of “finding myself” or “exploring the hidden realms of my own sexuality.” It’s one thing to sit at home and watch a news report of a tornado tearing apart someone’s home; it’s something else altogether to arrive on the scene and clasp hands with the victim as they heave, sob and collapse in the ruins. I suppose it’s right about then that one’s appetite for “tornado jokes” vanishes rather effortlessly. Such is my experience standing at the end of a person’s run in his experience with “sexual liberation.”

We flawed humans have a natural/worldly tendency to exchange a desire for God with a desire for His good gifts (Romans 1:18-25), and then twisting those good gifts – like sexuality – into something that ultimately harms all involved. Apparently, women all over the country are heading over to the local hardware store to buy rope and other products specifically designed to facilitate a foray into playing around with sexual bondage, acting out in real life what they are reading in this book, reminiscent perhaps of a young child who watches a classic Hollywood Western and then goes out in the backyard to play “Cowboys and Indians” with his siblings.

What those women likely don’t realize is that while they may feel empowered walking out of the store with their new purchases, they are in fact leading the men in their lives into some very dark places. For men, “a little sexual bondage” is not a liberating feminine statement – it’s an invitation to treat a woman like an object, a possession to overpower and use as one sees fit. I can with some confidence assure you that the kind of man who will be interested in “playful bondage” in the bedroom will not be satisfied to stay there for long. What initially seemed exciting and intoxicating to both parties will soon become “not enough” for him, and what seemed like liberation will ultimately lead to despair and personal devastation. This is exactly what pornography does; it stirs the sexual appetite for what hardly seems dangerous, birthing an ever-increasing desire for more and more and more.

As DivorceCare facilitators at The Crossing, my wife and I routinely tell believers who have recently gone through divorce that if they want to live life faithfully in the wake of the death of their marriage, they simply must proactively develop a personal code of ethics with regard to sexuality, or they will find themselves slowly wandering from their desire to be faithful, and falling right into someone else’s bed. I believe that, increasingly so, the same is true for married couples. Without a proactive decision to live out sexual faithfulness in every sense within our marriages, we’ll find ourselves wandering into areas that may not seem dangerous or unfaithful at the outset, but will wreak destruction in the end.

For those who are at least willing to give God’s good plan for sexuality a hearing, I’d like to strongly suggest that your ultimate satisfaction with your sex life would be better served by combing through some of the resources I have listed below rather than taking a trip to the hardware store to buy rope, handcuffs and other accoutrements needed for a foray into consenting-adults sadomasochism. I fully realize that this suggestion may seem rather dull and unexciting by comparison, but if the end goal is to enjoy the greatest and most satisfying sex available, you owe it to yourself to put down the latest “sensation” in literary pornography and at least dip your toe in the shallow end of understanding how and why God – the author of human sexuality – designed it.

Recommended Reading:

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
A Living Sacrifice
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Proverbs 27:20 (NIV)
Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.

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