The authors of Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart, meant to serve as a corrective to the wildly popular Fifty Shades series, believe one reason erotica has found a home among Christian women is because they are simply starved for Bible-based teaching and open dialogue on sexuality in their communities of faith.
Dr. Juli Slattery, a clinical psychologist who founded Authentic Intimacy, and Dannah Gresh, best-selling author and co-founder of Pure Freedom, spoke with The Christian Post about the dangers they believe are inherent in pornographic works like E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide since its publication in 2011.
Barna Group researchers revealed in the results of a survey published last year that “there is no difference between the percentage of Christians who have read Fifty Shades of Grey and the percentage of all Americans who have read the book.”
Why are women of faith flocking to the series, the stories of which are centered on the explicit and violent sexual relationship of its main characters Anastasia “Ana” Steele and Christian Grey?
Slattery and Gresh took on that question, and more in an extensive interview with CP. Below is a transcript of the final part of their discussion conducted via a conference call.
CP: The women you’ve interacted with who see no problem with reading Fifty Shades, what kind of reasons do they give?
Gresh: A lot of women are saying that it has awakened their sex lives and for the first time in a long time, married women are enjoying sex again. The problem is that oftentimes that’s a very short-lived revival. We’ve talked with many of those women who believed that lie that went on to say that over the course of time they became less and less interested in their husband, and more and more interested in the erotica. And they couldn’t wait till they could get into the privacy of a bedroom where they could go back to their story.
There’s less research on erotica because it hasn’t been as prominent in the cultural conversation as pornography has been in the last few decades, but the research really does tell us that both porn and erotica, when a man or a woman is engaging in them they do become less interested in real sex. It does draw you away from real people, not towards someone. That would be one example of why women are defending their choice to read the book, but we’re really seeing that in the long-term that doesn’t actually turn out to be a benefit for them.
CP: Why do you think there’s so much frustration, confusion or discomfort when it comes to openly dealing with and discussing women and sexuality, specifically in Christian contexts?
Slattery: One of the reasons why so many Christian women are reading Fifty Shades of Grey is because there hasn’t been good teaching coming from Christian sources on sexuality, so they just go to the world without having that discernment. Why is that? I think people falsely make the assumption that because sex is private, the conversations about sex should be private. In other words, you can teach about sexuality, the “Song of Solomon” teaches about sexuality and there are many places in scripture that mention sexuality, without sharing privately what happens between a particular husband and wife.
Also, there’s just shame associated with sexuality. It’s probably one of Satan’s greatest schemes, is that he uses so many avenues to pair sexuality with shame. A woman who gave away her virginity in her teen years [may] feel shameful and guilty about her sexuality. A woman who was sexually abused as a child has any sexual response paired with terrible shame, and that just doesn’t go away once you get married. There’s still shame associated until the Lord really breaks those bonds.
In our ministry, Authentic Intimacy, we talk pretty frankly about sexuality in a Christian context and for some churches that’s difficult for them to give us the freedom to address the questions that women have about sex because there’s an element of, “Wait a minute, we shouldn’t be talking that openly.” But in fact, we should be talking openly so that women have a biblical source of getting their questions answered.
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SOURCE: Christian Post