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What’s on Mommy’s Nightstand?

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Should Christian Women read 50 Shades of Grey? @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Taking A Stand

I’m barely in my twenties and traveling alone. My flight lays over at Chicago O’Hare Airport, giving me some time to kill. Wandering the airport, I casually stop outside a bookstore to thumb through a display of paperbacks. Picking up an innocent title, I skim the contents. In those moments, a layer of my innocence disappears as a few lines on a page sear images of an unimaginable intimate act into my young mind.

Two decades later, I can instantly recall the scene.

That’s the power of pornography.

I’m a reader. So, when my husband and I spent part of our date night a couple of years ago at the local Costco (I don’t know why we consider that such a treat, but we do.), I naturally gravitated to the giant stacks of books temptingly on display near the store’s entrance. There I found it. Fifty Shades of Grey by British author E. L. James. Having heard whispers of this book from Facebook friends and grocery line media, I knew better; but while Husband browsed electronics, the Eve in me grew curious.

Picking one from the stack, I scanned the book’s back cover, hoping the couple from church we’d smiled and waved to earlier would stay busy tasting free samples in the produce section. Mental red flags appeared as I read this sentence: “Amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever. This book is intended for mature audiences.” That blurb was disturbing enough to cause me to quickly replace the book and go find my husband. Having personally witnessed addiction’s devastating effects, I neither longed to be obsessed, nor possessed.

Should Christian women read books like 50 Shades of Grey?

Although obsess and possess are strong expressions, with overtones from the underworld, the sad fact is that Christian women (and men) read these books on their Kindles right alongside the rest of society. Even more disturbing is the fact that we, as Christians, are warned of an enemy who is like a roaring lion seeking to steal, kill and destroy us, our marriages, our purity and our relationships with God. Still, with modern media at our fingertips, we’ve justified our way into fifty shades of our own personal grey areas. What we read and view for pleasure is one.

The trilogy’s second book is entitled Fifty Shades Darker. I came across that one, neatly wrapped in cellophane, a short time later in the checkout line at our local Walmart store. Good idea. At least they had the sense to wrap it, I thought, absently placing canned beans on the conveyor belt while remembering how Chicago had twisted my innocence.

Why do we want to go fifty shades darker in an already dark world? When it comes to darkness, Ephesians 5:11 (NKJV) is pretty clear that followers of God should “have no fellowship with the works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Verse 12 states, “For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”

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After two decades of observing the eroding effects of pornography on the outwardly solid marriages of Christian couples I’ve known, may I suggest that when it comes to opening our paperbacks, our electronic books and our minds to the things that are “done by them in secret,” we are opening the avenues of our souls as channels for the enemy of God to enter? When we must, as a Facebook friend laughingly reported about his young wife, read a “dark” book with Dictionary.com open beside us so that we can look up unfamiliar sexual terms, can we not see that we are treading on enemy territory?

Should Christian Women read 50 Shades of Grey? @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Like Eve of old, women are curious creatures, often fatally attracted to the not-so-innocent whispers of the Serpent. This curiosity has led to big business, and a whole new movement mockingly called “mommy porn.” What mommy doesn’t realize is the long-term effect her choices may have, not only on herself, but on her family. Some online research on pornography among Christian women unearthed this older, yet relevant quote from the Christian Research Journal, which says: “it creates a dependency that weakens the individual; it causes a disruption of the “one-flesh” union that weakens marriages; and it results in a distortion in thinking that weakens the ability to relate and function.” Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 03 (2004).

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Marnie C. Ferree’s book No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction (Intervarsity Press, 2013) addresses another “distortion in thinking” that perpetuates the growing problem of sexual addiction among women. Ferree states: “A common assumption is that sex addicts are nothing more than moral failures who are weak of character and will. Clearly they must lack faith and genuine commitment to God. If they would only try harder and be more intentional in their Bible study and prayers, they wouldn’t sin sexually. These beliefs are inaccurate and only compound an addict’s shame.”

While I’m not suggesting one will instantly become a “sex addict” with the purchase of a Fifty Shades book or movie ticket, I am cautioning female believers when it comes to taking pornography or sexual fantasy lightly. Our entire being is affected by what our senses soak in. We cannot view images, or words that create images in our minds, without losing the purity we are called to embrace.

When a woman’s mind is occupied with the story of Christian Grey, (according to the author’s website) “a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control,” there’s a trickle-down effect into the entire body of Christ. When mommies are involved in sexual sin, the whole church is at risk.

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Perhaps the Apostle Paul says it best, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 NIV).

Juliet Van Heerden


Juliet Van Heerden, a teacher at heart, lives in Florida with her pastor-husband, André. She believes the gospel transforms lives. Juliet struggles with codependency and regularly writes about addiction and redemption in her blog, Same Dress, Different Day.

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  1. This is a shortened version of Paul Speed's testimony about his failure in pornography: And this is the ministry he and his wife have since founded in order to help others out of that pit (and to avoid it in the first place): http://witministries.com/ Blessings, Patti
  2. Thank you for sharing! I noticed they are making a movie off the book and I was intrigued to watch it since I know many women who read the book. Thank you for reminding me the topic is not edifying and I must guard my heart carefully. God bless!
  3. Please help me help my 14 year old daughter. Are there any books out there that aren't classics, have no sex, no cussing, not the end times, no witches, no vampires? Please, she is so frustrated.
    1. Waiting for Unicorns by Beth Hautala It's not out yet but soon and it is written by a good childhood friend of mine.
  4. Just wanted to commend you for bravely speaking the truth. I've seen that many who speak out about the dangers of this book series and the ones that have followed (there's a huge mommy porn/erotica market now) are mocked and ridiculed—by other Christians, believe it or not. I'm a Christian wife & mom, and I had my experience with the Fifty Shades series four years ago- way back before it was published, when it was just a mere work of fan fiction. I saw repeated recommendations for it by other fan fiction readers, who pushed it saying it was the best fan fiction ever written, and GO READ IT...NOW. I did, and oh, did it ever suck me in. The story did, indeed, obsess me, possess me, and so far, four years later, it's stayed with me—to my frustration. I was so obsessed with the characters, the story, and yes, their sexual encounters, that when I finished reading it, I felt empty and longed for more. So I re-read the story three more times. It changed me. It changed my feelings for my husband. I ended up rejecting his advances, because no matter how loving he was, in my mind, he couldn't match up to Christian, who did such dark & naughty things—things I was now attracted to, and that I knew my husband wouldn't do (and now I'm thankful for that! But then, not so much). And then, my world fell apart. It took such an event to shock me out of my obsession, and I finally repented and got right with God, and came clean to my husband about what I'd been reading and how far I'd walked away from him in my mind. I got rid of my copies of the story, and went about trying to cleanse my mind and thoughts from what I'd read. It was very painful, like losing a love...I think I was completely addicted to the characters and events in that book, as sad as that sounds. It took two years before I stopped longing to read the story again, during which time I saw the fan fiction become a published book, and millions of women—even my Christian friends—go wild over it. I wanted to warn them all, but when someone really wants to peruse something, they're not that open to hearing warnings. I've been told to grow up by several people, that a little mommy porn doesn't hurt anything; in fact it spices up a marriage. Well, I disagree with that, because it hurt and damaged me deeply, it damaged my marriage, and it wounded my husband. The good news is, God redeems. He's redeemed me and my marriage. I still have times when a scene will come to mind from the book, in detail—those things are, unfortunately, burned in my mind. But I bring it immediately to Jesus and start praising Him for redeeming me, and that takes care of it. How much better, though, to have never read a word of it in the first place. It's not harmless, and it IS porn, and it DOES effect the reader deeply, and not in a good way.
    1. Hi Nettie, thank you so much for sharing your testimony. Satan is so clever and deceptive that even good Christian women can be led into darkness. I appreciate your story and hope that others will be touched by it! God DOES redeem and I am so grateful! God bless you and your precious family.
  5. I was interested by the title of this post and at first thought I would find a recommendation for a book that you were reading! Thankfully, you were not recommending this particular book. I have noticed that there is an awful lot of trash out there that is really quite entertaining and may even, on the surface, seem harmless. I have realized more and more recently how much these things distort our vision of reality. I teach Bible and History to high school students and I wonder sometimes the effect all of this rubbish has on them. If they are getting their main information about relationships from the media, be it books, movies or anything else, no wonder it is such a battle to try to instill pure values and a desire for something greater than what the world presents as harmless, exciting and normal! I do wonder if you have any recommendations for young women in particular, books that are interesting and entertaining, but have high moral standards and portray relationships as God intended. Thanks for any help! www.thisismymissionfield.wordpress.com
    1. Mary, this is a great question and I don't have an answer for you. I would love some great book recommendations for teen girls! I do know that Karen Kingsbury is wonderful and my girls have enjoyed some of her books. Personally, I don't read as much as I used to because the Christian market is so saturated with Amish fiction and sickly sweet romances that I just don't enjoy it much. I'm constantly in search of a great author. I do enjoy a lot of Susan May Warren's books. Anyone else have ideas?
  6. Good on you for speaking out and putting into words something I have been thinking about. The devil is indeed very crafty and if we are not careful we will let in in through the back door. I wholeheartedly endorse what you are saying and commend you on your courage. Thanks x
  7. We are a reading family....I have several places to recommend for purchasing good, wholesome books for all ages. Faithview (330)674-0684, Heges (410)775-7643, CLP (800)776-0478, and TGS International (330)893-4828. Call for catalogs. We have a large library at our home. We have 8 children, and I always tell them "you are what you read!" Guard your children's minds and hearts (and us moms also!). May God bless all of you who are searching to protect your family!

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