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On Friday when I was in the shower I was thinking about all the things I had planned for Valentine’s weekend instead of going to see 50 Shades of Grey. One thought led to another, dry kindling stacked and doused with kerosene, and before I could properly rinse the shampoo from my hair, I was in front of my laptop. My insides were on fire and words are water to burning fingers.
Fifty Shades got on my radar a few years ago when my friend Stephanie told me all about it. A l l about it. I remember thinking then, I wonder how they could make a movie out of t h a t, which was ridiculously naive, because Of Course They Can.
I thought about why I have zero interest in seeing the movie and only mild curiosity about how they could adapt the book to an “only” R-rated film. Readers will insist the book is better than the movie, but men will just be glad their woman had a need to compare.
I have thoughts.
I wish I could say it was my faith convictions that are keeping me from seeing the movie, but that isn’t it. Maybe I should feel bad about that, but mostly I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty.
I claim grace.
I won’t go because I know what a movie like that does to me. It takes up residence. It hijacks my ideas and implants its own. Images become a lingering haunt, rude ghosts who refuse to leave or that show up when I’m not expecting company.
I can’t unsee them.
This isn’t me judging or condemning anyone, not at all! None of us is righteous, but there is one who is for our sake. Reading the book or seeing the movie won’t send you to hell any more than going to church will bring you salvation. So if I know what a movie like that does to me, it means I’ve seen movies like that, I see movies or shows like that. No judgment, no condemnation. I understand.
I just happen to be drawing a line because of all my knowing.
A movie like that takes on flesh – yours…mine – and if you say otherwise I won’t believe you; or maybe you’re just much, much better than me. It crawls under skin and looks for a way out. It’s gonna show itself one way or the other because that’s its nature. Show, in the secret places; but Tell…the Tell will be something that you know, whether or not you ever admit it to yourself or confess it to another.
And I was imagining how a movie like that teaches you things. Sure it does. I mean, if you aren’t already practicing what it’s preaching.*
And I was thinking how a wife might try a move or two on her husband because she’s learned a thing or two, and what she tries might not even be anything related to the movie or book. But she’s willing to try because, like I said, it gave her ideas.
It primed the pump….
Spoon stirring passion.
And a husband might even appreciate the gesture – variety, spice and all that – but if I were him I’d resent it just a little, that it takes something like a stupid movie to get his wife all hot and bothered and willing to try something new.
And I thought Valentine’s Day…sweet, sweet Valentine’s Day, and then, What in the hell is romantic or loving or good about watching actors having fake kinky sex on a 30-foot movie screen with a theater full of people?
No thank you.
And it’s not that I’m as judgy as this sounds, but I wish it were a different world sometimes, that’s all.
I want more for the women in my life. I want more for the men in my life.
My daughter, my sons. My family, my friends.
Sex is an incredible gift born in paradise when the world was perfect.
I can’t fully appreciate Song of Solomon – comparisons from another time and culture falling short – but of this there is no doubt: it is an intense expression of love and fidelity, longing and desire. The bride and groom are ravenous, and they notice everything about each other. There is no shame in their appetite, their affections undivided. They call out beauty and respect and the kind of intimate knowing we all crave.
Oh, yes, don’t we hunger to be known and loved and seen as beautiful in another’s eyes?
When will we realize we already are by the One who matters most?
I love what my wise college roommate said when I told her what I was writing about:
Song of Songs could be seen as a correction to what the Lord knew we were capable of doing to his beautiful gift of intimacy between husband and wife as He spells out in Genesis. He knew we could either treat it as something to be ashamed of (desire, our bodies or enjoyment), or we could perverse sex and take it out of the context of God’s design, using it to manipulate, control, or share with people outside of His will.
The scripture gives us a beautiful picture of what He meant it to be, between a husband and wife, intimately shared together and with no one else. There is passion, desire and intimacy that declares the deep union of a husband and wife; yet also gives a picture of the Gospel.
Grace God gives, and grace we desperately need.
There are women in my life, friends I cherish, a daughter by birth and more by love, and I want more for them. I want the best for them.
How could it possibly be best to learn about sex from watching actors act out sex? In a movie (or book) that reduces a woman to an object of pleasure, regardless of her eventually finding pleasure herself, and particularly when the form is abusive, demeaning and at times violent?
In a culture where we’ve already become desensitized to sexual perversity on varying levels, I refuse to continue lowering the bar to normalize or accept deviant behavior.*
So what to do?
What if we went to the Creator of sexuality and pleasure and studied His way and will? What if Ancient words informed our ideas and the way we see our mates and our roles in marriage? My goodness, take a few minutes to read Song of Solomon with an open mind and a willing spirit and free your imagination to figure out what it means for you, your marriage.
And I know marriage is imperfect, and we’re tired, and we aren’t treated the way we want to be treated or we aren’t seen the way we so long to be seen or we feel like we’re growing apart or we sense that our spouse doesn’t even know us?
What if we let that go?
What if we respected our mates the way they so desperately long to be respected? Love is one thing, respect is another.
What if we released any sense of entitlement or rights or, this might be the hardest, our wants and needs?
What if we made it our business to be a student of our spouse, to know him in a way that feeds his soul, that esteems him and extends grace?
What if we appreciated the way he speaks love, so often in a language foreign to our own tongue?
What if we received the way he speaks love as love?
What if we tried to speak it back?
What if you believed that he loves you?
What if you believed that your spouse wants you?
The porn industry generates almost a trillion dollars primarily for one reason: men like to see naked woman.
The only naked woman a husband should be looking at is his wife.
So, are you withholding that from him?
I understand…it’s hard.
Age takes it’s toll.
Pregnancy changes our bodies.
Photoshopped images of beautiful women with perfect bodies assault us everywhere we go, and we’re defeated before we begin.
Why is it so hard to trust that a husband views his wife through love-tinted glasses and still sees the girl he first fell for?
– – –
I shared part of this post with a few close friends and I was surprised that most of them saw it as a stand against a movie; understandably, because that’s what started the whole thing. While it wasn’t my intention to climb up on a soapbox, I want to make sure you know which one I’m standing on:
The hot-sex-in-marriage soapbox. That one.
It’s titled 50 Shades of Play because originally I thought I’d write a piece with general suggestions and encouragement for spicing up the bedroom sans the help of Hollywood.
I guess I reached for the wrong glass of water.
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