Why You Shouldn’t Read 50 Shades of Grey

Why You Shouldn’t Read 50 Shades of Grey

It deeply saddens me to learn that millions of women and teenaged girls are reading 50 Shades of Grey. I am grieved by the number of Christian women on Facebook who describe how they couldn’t put the book down and are anticipating reading the next book in the series. Simply put, if you are a Christ follower, don’t read this book. It is female erotica, meaning that it is written to entertain and turn you on sexually. It is pornography without the photographs. If you wouldn’t want the men in your life to view pornography, then apply the same standard to yourself.

If you begin reading female erotica, you will likely develop a taste for it. As Lysa Terkeurst says, “We eat what we crave and then we crave what we eat.” I know this to be true in my own life. As a fifth-grader, I began reading at least one Harlequin romance novel a day. My family went to the library every two weeks, and I would fill a brown grocery bag with romance novels. After a while, I grew bored with the tame, repetitious story lines and moved on to the romance novels with racier covers and plot lines. By the time I was in middle school, I was reading adult popular fiction filled with explicit sexuality. If those books were given a movie rating, they would be at least an R by today’s standards, and many of them would be rated X even though they were not classified as female erotica. My appetite for this type of book was voracious. My brain was addicted to the rush I got when I read the racy parts of the books.

Words create powerful images in our minds. I was never exposed to pornographic photos as a child, but that didn’t matter because the mind can create more vivid images than a camera could ever capture. And I wanted to experience what I read about and imagined. Long, sad story short: my high school and college years are filled with foolish choices that I regret tremendously. It has taken me years of personal and spiritual work to untangle the mess I made in my own brain.

            God is gracious to turn our mess into our message and our pain into our purpose. Out of my sexual brokenness, God guided me to create CWIVES, a ministry to help married women value, initiate, and enjoy sex with their husband. My heart’s desire is for wives to love sex and to experience the oneness God designed for sex to produce. I want wives to want sex, but reading female erotica is not the answer. Yes, it will likely turn you on, but turn you on to what? Answer: to increasingly sexually explicit books. Not to your husband. You will be more drawn to erotic material than to sex with him. The same process happens with men when they feed themselves a steady diet of pornographic images. They begin to crave the images more than sex with their wife.

If you are missing sexual excitement in your marriage, sign up for the CWIVES Dare of the Month. Take the 324 Club Challenge. Buy a Christian sex manual and take turns reading it (or the Song of Songs) aloud to each other in bed. All of these will likely turn you on…to each other.

Question for you: Do you think Christian women should read female erotica?  

32 Comments

  1. Ditto to Ginny re: submitting the earlier letters for new subscribers. Alsocan you convey to us who wrote the January letters?

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  4. I read porn and other erotica in college and 30 years later, I’m still trying to cleanse my head from the thoughts of those. I’m in counseling but it is so hard to discuss.

    I am scared by the fact that this series has gone mainstream.

  5. I am late in replying to this conversation. I have not read this series as I know firsthand the dangers of reading ‘racy’ material as I just crave more and more. I read erotica in college and 30 years later still remember things I wish I could forget. I’m in counseling now but it so hard to forget those images. I am hopeful that I can overcome….

    • Thanks, Alicia, for your comments, and good for you for seeking help in restoring sexual wholeness. Don’t give up! It can take a while to rewire your brain with healthy truth about God’s wonderful gift of sex.
      Blessings,
      Jennifer

      • Sorry for the duplicate post. By avoiding sex with my husband I could believe that I had cleared my brain. However, I missed the intimacy with him and we have begun to work on that aspect of our marriage. However, the forbidden thoughts returned and that led to counseling. Thank you for warning others.

  6. More and more these days, I am leaning toward this: the only book worth reading is the Bible!

  7. It’s a book.. A BOOK. And yes,it’s racey. But shouldn’t a woman, even a christian woman be able to handle her own thoughts and mental images? To say one can’t because mental images have been placed is lame to say the least.I’ve read tons of true crime but it doesn’t mean I want to kill or have the urge. I’m sorry, but I think denouncing this book is the same as saying Harry Potter books are bad.

    • Well, it may be lame, but the more I grow as a Christian, the more I see how I cannot handle things myself, particularly my thoughts and desires, and the more I see the desperate need I have to let God take captive every thought. Call it a crutch that I lean on, but I’d say it’s even more vital, like the air I breathe. I’ve found from personal experience with addiction to this sort of thing that there is a vast difference between reading Harry Potter books and thrilling in anticipation of knowing what’s going to happen next and craving the thrill of reading sexually explicit material. I cannot handle my own thoughts and I need to surrender them to Him. If I do this, I’m not going to seek out this kind of thrill.
      Is having sexual desire an unnatural or sinful thing? Of course not! It was created by God when He designed men and women. But I completely agree that in the same way that men (stereotypically, but also women) harm their relationships with pornography, the sexual fantasy (and let’s face it, usually dwelled on and built up in our minds) of verbal pornography is just as harmful to relationships in real life as pornographic images. From personal experience, I know it has impacted and confused my expectations about my relationship to men in my life and how I should interact with them and love them. Particularly as a teenage girl, I remember having what a slightly wiser young woman now realizes was a completely screwed up view of what real love looks like between people. Much of that came from the culture in general, but it was fed by an addiction to words that consumed my thoughts and told me that sexual intimacy would fill the void I had created by seeking joy and peace in places outside of surrender to God’s will.
      An old fashioned opinion? Yes, probably. But until my experiences in the world prove God’s Word wrong, I’m sticking to it and fleeing from the temptations that I know I can’t handle.

    • .In reply to Sue…Harry Potter books are very bad….as well as this one. Gods word instructs us to…..We Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
      must step up and be responsible for our “eyes” and heart for God.

      Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

    • Hello Sue,

      As you say, reading racy books will not necessarily lead a woman to reenact the sexual scenes in a book; however, she is likely to develop an appetite for racier and racier books. You are what you eat, and if you consume quantities of erotic material, you will find that your thoughts (and possibly your actions) are increasingly sexually oriented. Initially, this can seem like a good thing in a sex-starved marriage, but over time, your sexual energy is likely to become focused on the erotic material or on comparing sex with your husband to the unrealistic sex scenes in books.

      In my experience as a woman and as a psychologist, it seems like most everyone struggles with handling their thoughts and mental images. It may not be a struggle with sexual thoughts and images, but a struggle with bitter thoughts or anxious images. The mind can be a battleground which is why the Bible speaks of taking every thought captive to Christ. Captives don’t surrender willingly, and neither do our thoughts.

      Thank you for your part in this discussion.

      Blessings,
      Jennifer

    • I think the bigger question you need to ask yourself sue is not whether it is lame but rather does this book grow my faith and draw me closer to God? His word tells us 2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

      It’s we read books like this it’s hard to allow the imagery and thoughts to not interrupt our walk with Christ. I always ask myself when I engage in things that I THINK I can handle “if Christ were sitting with me would he be pleased with ………….. (fill in the blank(.”. 9 times out of 10 my answer is no. I think it’s a slippery slope that Satan can quickly use to tempt and deceive us. And for me it’s just not worth the risk off possibly falling into sin when I’m not sure if I could handle it.

  8. I began reading 50 SOG and yes it’s true I couldn’t put it down. I learned of the book by hearing several of my FB friends chatting about it and finally some of the ladies in my inner circle. I prayed prior to reading the book because I am cautious about how things will affect me internally. Initially I found nothing wrong with it, I was excited at the fact that it was a huge turn on and FINALLY, my husband and I could get back to where we once were intimately. I found that initially my desires were towards my husband or at least he was who I looked to for the “release”. However I noticed that there was this openness about me where there were images from the book instilled in my mind and I almost felt as if I was getting to the point of feeling my husband was inadequate because he in fact wasn’t Christian Grey. I started to question what was taking place internally and God revealed to me a very familiar place in which I had similar feelings and then I remembered the feelings from a past struggle. God reminded me that this was the same feelings my husband struggled with during his addiction to porn. Unfortunately, this book is a trap for some…I can’t speak for all. I also received the revelation regarding the titles…50 shades of grey (the initial draw to darkness 1/2 way there), 50 shades darker (completely hooked–completey downloaded) and 50 shades freed (the release of that which is internal) So in other words what is within (unclean images, lust for that outside of your marriage, etc…) are now available to be put into action. I am in agreement that the images are there however there’s nothing God cannot remove. I didn’t finish the trilogy..I stopped at the 24th chapter of the first and I am thankful for God’s revelation. I can not speak for anyone else however I know that I couldn’t continue any further for knowledge of myself, my past and where God is taking me. I also know that the adversary HATES marriage because a united front is a threat to his agenda. As Christian wives we must be watchful and prayerful. We must love our husbands unconditionally and I’m all for experiencing all the erotica I need and want with the man that God has ordained me to be with for the rest of my life.

    Thanks for this awesome blog and I pray that God will impart his divine wisdom on all who has been drawn to read this book!

    • Well, I too am a Christian woman, wife and mother. I read the books. I agree they can have a negative affect and certainly should not be read by a teenager. However, there is another side of the story so to speak. If you read all three books you see the love story. She recognized he had been abused and saw his pain and vulnerability and loved him enough to see it through. Because she was a strong woman she demanded love on her terms and helped him recognize he too deserved love. He changed his life and his ways because he was unconditionally loved. And oddly enough, that is how God loves us and wants us to love each other.

      • Hello Kim,

        Thank you for contributing to this discussion. While these books may have a love story that inspires you, that story is surrounded by explicit sex, violence, and the degradation of humans. My suggestion would be to find love stories that display unconditional love but do not require readers to also consume quantities of explicitly sexual content.

        Blessings,
        Jennifer

    • Thanks sharing your experiences and helpful insights after reading these books. I agree, as Christian wives, we must be watchful and prayerful.

      Blessings,
      Jennifer

  9. Interesting article and comments. I appreciate that Christians want to avoid pornography, and agree that is can be very harmful to emotional health and relationships. But I’m concerned about women and girls possibly being made to feel ‘dirty’ or that there is something wrong with them, for having sexual thoughts. It is normal and natural for human beings to have sexual thoughts, and find they can become aroused by these thoughts. Does this have to be such a shameful thing? If a woman finds herself with her husband working away for months at a time, or worse, widdowed, is she really supposed to ignore and supress these natural desires?

    • Hello Katie,

      It is normal for females (and males) to have sexual thoughts that are arousing and that doesn’t make them “dirty.” It just means they are human. It’s not shameful. It’s what you do with your sexual thoughts that matters. If you direct them toward someone who is not your spouse, then according to the Bible, you are doing something that is wrong. And yet, as you indicate, unmarried women do have sexual thoughts and feelings. There is no easy answer here. It’s challenging to redirect your sexual energy and thoughts, but according to Scripture, it is doable or God would not have asked it of us. Our culture today promotes the idea that humans cannot and should not control the expression of their sexual desires. History (and the Bible) would suggest otherwise.

      Thank you for your great question.

      Blessings
      Jennifer

  10. I was told by a friend about this book and she explained nothing about it but told me she could not put it down and how she absolutely loved it. I had just finished reading the hunger games and thought that this newly referred book would be a love story and nothing else. Sadly I was mistaken. What really saddens me is that she was right about one thing.. I could not put it down. As christian woman I try hard to guard my mind and this becomes difficult especially since my husband is an unbeliever. I now battle with the images I created in my own mind although I completely understand that God has forgiven me at times I feel condemned by my decision to not put it down as soon as i realized what it was. I now the battle is with myself and that forgiveness has already been granted, but as such I continue to pray.

  11. And what if a woman is single, without a husband, boyfriend, or romantic partner to enjoy sex with? I personally feel that judging other women for expressing their sexuality is in itself worse than the act of simply reading a novel. In a society where it is generally acknowledged that most men watch porn, I think it’s a fair thing and a great step for the feminist cause that the media is beginning to put out things like ‘Magic Mike’ and ’50 Shades’ for women to enjoy. I also believe that as a teenager or young adult, discovering things like this for yourself can help you figure out what you like and what you want from sex, which in turn can help you make safer choices in the future. Plus, it can make you feel more comfortable with your own self-image as well as making you feel more comfortable around the opposite sex. Condemning things like ’50 Shades’ seems to just contribute to the idea that sex equates corruption, when in fact it is simply a healthy act of nature.

    • No one actually said that Sex is a bad thing or that there should be sexism in as men can watch pornographic material and women can not express themselves or explore themselves sexually. The comments and expectations are for both male and female. As a fememist or sympathizer, you should require more or yourself and the men you surround yourself with. Objectifying women such as they do in Porn or saying that if they can do it so should we, fixes nothing. The intimacy we should require of ourselves with our spouces should be just that… between us, not a battle of who can do it better or catching up to the generations before us and the sins they have done.

    • I am not sure you read or understood the article. The writer was letting Christian women know what the books really are (erotica), and reading it is no better than or no different than a man watching porn. She also stresses one of her goals is encouraging wives to want a good sex life with their husbands (not a book or herself). Sex is a healthy act of nature, porn is a man-made (or worse), often family-damaging business. It is important to guard your mind. The way I see it, if you won’t read it or watch it with Jesus looking over your shoulder, put it away or turn it off!

    • Hello JB,

      According to the Bible, if a person is single, then s/he should not have sex outside of marriage. That can be challenging, particularly in our sex-saturated culture, but it is possible, and in the long run, will prove beneficial. Every instruction God gives is for our benefit.

      While I disagree, as a psychologist, sex educator, and Christian, with the points you make in your reply, I appreciate that you took the time to read the blog and contribute to this discussion.

      Blessings,
      Jennifer

  12. So glad to hear someone speak up on this. I do not personally know anyone who has read the book, and I’m hoping that none of my friends do. As a Christian woman and pastor’s wife, I guard my mind very carefully.

    It is hard enough to keep your mind pure with all the billboards and tv ads out there. Please do not volunteer your mind for invasion from this smut.

  13. Thanks for the heads up on this book. I have only heard that it’s this great book but I had no idea what it was about and I was thinking about reading it. Also, great point that if we don’t want our husbands looking at porn then we shouldn’t involve ourselves with it either. I didn’t necessarily think of books being pornographic but they definitely can be.

    • Thanks for your comments, Ashley, and I’m glad you have chosen to not read the book.
      Blessings,
      Jennifer

      • This book was recommended to me by a friend, but I have not chosen to read it. I’ve had the same thoughts about romance novels of my earlier years. I do think that fantasy within bounds might help spice up love life in marriage. I am near 50 and we could use some spicing up. I’ve looked at the previews of the new Meryl Streep Movie, “Hope Springs”. Do you think that one would be one to go see?

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