Dr. Jennifer Degler on Why You Shouldn’t See or Read 50 Shades of Grey

It deeply saddens me to learn that millions of women and teenaged girls have read and are considering going to see the soon-to-be-released film of 50 Shades of Grey. Three years ago, I was grieved by the number of Christian women on Facebook who described how they couldn’t put the book down and anticipated reading the next book in the series. Simply put, if you are a Christ follower, don’t read this book or see the movie version. It is female erotica, meaning that it is designed to entertain and turn you on sexually. The book 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 or viewing 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. I went to the library every two weeks and 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 secretly read 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 CWIVES 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.

If you have read 50 Shades, please don’t take what I’ve said as an attempt to shame you. I am in no position to stand in judgment of anyone. Instead, please take my words in the spirit they were written: straight from my heart, filled with love and concern for you, your mind, and your marriage.

Question for you: Do you think books and movies like 50 Shades are harmful or harmless to a marriage? Why? 

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