Sex, Romance, and Books

I read about a series that hit the bestsellers list on a blog a couple weeks ago. Intrigued, I went to Amazon to check it out… and stopped cold after reading the first review. My heart sunk and I felt sick. The descriptions the reviewer used made me blush and wish I had something I could clean my mind out with.

Shortly afterward, everywhere I looked, the book series kept popping up. I found it on lists, more blog posts, and everyday conversation. But what struck me the most were the people interested in reading this book: Christian women.

The book I am referring to is Fifty Shades of Grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey is about a young woman’s encounter with a brilliant, handsome man. A man who has dark tastes when it comes to the physical. They embark on a “daring, passionately physical affair” where the young woman explores her own dark desires.

That description alone made me hesitate, but then the reviews talked about all the sex in the book. Graphic, erotic sex. And then the blog posts started coming in. Even secular bloggers were taken back by all the sex. And not just regular sex, but more. No, I have not read the book, but when it shows up at the top of a list labeled “kinky sex” (I replaced a word), then there is definitely something disturbing (at least for me).

So why do I bring this up? To slam a series? No, to share my heart with you. What makes a book filled with descriptive sex any different than pornography? Both are visually stimulating. Both contain graphic content. And both are addictive.

You will never find a book with a white bunny and photos of nude women on the bestsellers list (at least I’ve never seen one). However, it seems that if the images are enclosed inside a story, then it’s okay. And to me, that is scary. Unlike a TV show or movie where you can just fast-forward through the scene, I find myself scrambling to a stop halfway down the page. But by then it’s too late. The words are already there, inside my mind. And with my photographic memory, they will never leave.

I write this post as a call to Christian women. For some, it is a warning about books like these. I stumbled into these kinds of books when I was a young girl and wish I had never opened the covers. I had no idea books with graphic sex existed. I had been taught that to look at naked people in photos was wrong, but not about books with naked people. So as a fellow Christian woman to another, I am warning you now that these books exist, and to be careful with what you read.

For others, this is plea to not go down this road. I will be the first one to say I love romance. I think it has been ingrained in us since the moment God first brought Eve to Adam (see my post about romance here ). But consider the romance in these books. Is it really romance? Or simply lust?

And I would take it a step farther and say reading books like these is no different than your husband sitting down with the latest Playboy. How would you feel if you saw him do it? How do you think he would feel about your book?

My friends, the images and scenes you read generally don’t stay in the living room. They follow you to the bedroom and can destroy the intimacy between you and your husband. Your husband will never live up to the hunky hero in a book. So it can be tempting to replace your husband inside your mind with the hero from your book. Or wish for a more exciting sex life, instead of finding fulfillment and pleasure in your husband.

Romance is good. Sex is good. But there are just some things that should be left behind closed doors and not displayed for the entire world to see. Even on the page.

For another great article about this subject, check out Mommy Porn is okay, But Daddy Porn is not

14 thoughts on “Sex, Romance, and Books”

  1. You are absolutely right, Morgan. The Devil works in subtle ways and this is another example of how he is at work in our society. Remember the lyrics from the child’s song, “Oh be careful little eyes, what you see…” I heard an excellent discription of how the devil weasles evil into our otherwise righteous lives. It’s like the first time you drove a car. 20 miles an hour seems like you were going SO fast and it was scary! The next time you drove, 20 was ok but 40 felt scary. Then 60 then 80. Soon, the fearful sensation became unfearful and quit normal. That’s how the devil works. He lets us expose ourselves to something that shocks us or otherwise stirrs up emotions, but over time and with enough exposure, it becomes normal and we no longer think any thing of it. Then, he’s got us. And his thoughts are our thoughts and we are sinning unintentional as it may have been, because it becomes a norm in our lives.
    Thanks for bringing this up! I appreciate your brave postings!
    Lynn Donovan

  2. I know some women who are reading these books and it disappoints me to no end. I wondered what they were about, so I looked them up. I couldn’t believe some of my friends were reading them. Our small group is studying a book about evil in the world. As Lynn points out, the devil is so devious that the changes we see are so small that over time they become the norm. This type of book (I won’t even call it literature) is trapping so many of our young people. This is one reason I stick with Christian authors. The love scenes in these books are much more erotic because so much IS left to the imagination. Good post, Morgan.

    1. Exactly Barb! I love to watch people fall in love, get engaged, go to the wedding, then giggle when I see them at church the next week because they just got back from their honeymoon. But I don’t want to go with them on that honeymoon!

  3. I am not much of a romance reader, but when I do read romance I’m always disappointed when there is graphic sex, and not just on the moral level. To me, it’s like the writer is short of interesting plot developments at that point and says, hey, I’ll hold ’em with a bit of sex. Charles Dickens and Jane Austin never resorted to that, and their writing careers went OK.

  4. “…be careful with what you read.” So true. I also read some “romance” novels when I was young & unchurched, and you can’t un-read them, no matter how much you want to. They are visual. The whole point of great writing is to evoke images in the reader’s mind. But some images we’re better off without.

  5. I’m aware of the books because of their self-published/Twilight fanfic origin, which has generated discussion from the publishing side of things. I was not aware that Christian women are openly reading them (though I realize plenty of people read things they *don’t* admit to). That disturbs me because it sounds like there’s no comprehension of the issue among those readers. Thanks for writing about it, Morgan.

    1. C.L., that disturbed me too when I saw how many Christian women were reading those books. I thought either they didn’t know what the books were about or had become callus to that kind of content.

  6. I think a lot of younger Christian women have never heard a strong message about reading smutty books— perhaps because there are so many more intense evils out there for pastors and others to be speaking about. I’m just sad to see books like this on display at Kmart like it’s normal reading matter.

  7. Thanks for posting about this Morgan. I, too, was surprised to see these books hit the best seller list on Amazon. I think part of the problem is that we don’t value intimacy the way we should. Social media has made it easier to interact with others but on a more superficial level. I wonder if we even know what we’re missing.

    “Your husband will never live up to the hunky hero in a book. So it can be tempting to replace your husband inside your mind with the hero from your book. Or wish for a more exciting sex life, instead of finding fulfillment and pleasure in your husband.”

    My husband’s father told him the same thing about his future wife when he was a teenager. It was enough to break the lure of pornography for him (praise God!). Do you know how amazing it is to *be* your husband’s fantasy?

  8. Great article, Morgan. I too, fell into the same hole when I was a teen and then even into my early years of marriage. I was a voracious reader, so went through a tremendous amount of reading material. For many years I was stuck with the scenes etched into my memory and I think reading is worse than viewing, because all the emotions/ feelings are played out for you in detail.

    God has been so good to me in that this past year I was able to break free from memories like that. I didn’ t know it was possible, but in His love and mercy He did that for me. I hope others will realize that they too can have freedom from memories also.

    Thank you for speaking on a subject that really needed to be brought up.

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