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Last week a group of baseball moms stood chatting Fifty. Fifty Shades of Grey, that is. 

Last night, while getting my hair cut, I overheard a salon of women talking Fifty.

At the park, some women discussing Fifty.

Unless you've been in hiding, you've heard of the phenom that is 'mommy porn.'  Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James, a BDSM erotic fiction trilogy, is rocking the book industry. Reaching number one on the New York Times Bestseller List and topping it for the last three months (largely by discreet e-book downloads), I walked past it in the grocery store two weeks ago. Even though it's already banned in libraries in three states, women are reading it while they fill gas. According to The New York Times, moms ages 30-50 are using it to "revive their libidos." 

ABC News provided this plotline summary of the trilogy:

"Anastasia Steele, 21, and a virginal college student, can't say no to dashing 27-year-old Christian Grey, who insists she sign a contract that allows him to submit her to his every sadomasochistic whim.  In their first sexual encounter, Grey unveils his silver tie and binds her wrists in knots, and Steele does as she is told.  He is also fabulously rich, a telecommunications tycoon, and uses his wealth to take care of her like a pampered princess.  "Ana," as he calls her, willingly and excitedly agrees to spanking, whipping and gagging, with props like ice, rope, tape—a repertoire right out of a BDSM [bondage, discipline, dominance and submission] manual.  Grey instructs her to call him, "sir" and sets rules on everything from her diet to her most intimate grooming routines."

Until today I chose to keep my head in the sand, cover my eyes with a pillow, and put earmuffs over my ears. I just wanted it to go away. 

But today it hit me. Friends, it is NOT going anywhere. It will not blow over.

In fact, this is probably the beginning.  There's going to be an infiltration. An invasion of this book and its aftermath will soon impact marriages, friendships, communities, and businesses.  You will be unable to avoid it.  Fourteen-year-olds are going to secretly sneak into their mom's room and read its pages.  Pornography downloads and purchases will rise.  Misogyny will heap burning coals on your sister, your cousin, and your best friend.  Men (not all men) will take advantage of a reader's newfound sexual confidence.  Women will believe a loving sexual relationship involves rope, whips, and dominance.  Forty-somethings will compromise, saying 'a little fantasy doesn't hurt anyone' and perhaps even think, 'this has actually helped my marriage' (e.g., "I finally want to have sex again").  Images will seep into minds for the long haul, waiting until a weak moment where they can creep in and cause dissatisfaction, lust, or carnal selfishness.    

Already the book is having an impact.  One of the top erotica publishers reported at the end of April a 250% increase in e-book sales. Sales of BDSM accessories and toys are spiking. Now that Universal Pictures has the movie rights, we can expect erotic fiction in the form of porn in movie theatres across the country. 

I am not trying to be dramatic. I'm simply saying we need to be prepared for what the British magazine, The Economist, says is sure to come: "the glut of mommy porn."

From what I've read, people on the other side of the spectrum, people who practice BDSM, watch hard porn, and/or read erotic fiction, they claim this book is supposedly 'not that bad.' I wouldn't know. What I do know is that millions upon millions of women are reading it, and millions more are talking about it.  Millions of dollars are being poured into the erotic fiction industry, and millions of dollars are flooding the explicit sex market. This cart is rolling down the hill, and we don't know how long it's going to fly and all the damage it will do in the process

As a mother of three children, I'm likely raising my sons to be someone's lover, husband, father, and best friend. My daughter too, is learning how to be her husband's wife. And all around them are compromised, loosened sexual content. It's on the TV, on the radio, in bookstores, on the baseball field and next to the Trident at the grocery store check out. A few months ago, when I was face-painting for our city, an 11-year-old asked to have 'Sexy and I Know It' etched on her cheek (goodbye unicorns). Turn on a baseball game and you'll enjoy the not-so-pleasant duty of educating your child about Cialis.


Sex sells, and while we can take steps as parents to guard what comes into our homes, we cannot, unfortunately, completely isolate our children from the avid sexual images around them. 

Fifty is only going to make this worse. 

We need to be prepared.

The rulebook that navigates my life as a Jesus-follower is that of the Holy Bible.  For most of my readers, you too also have that compass. Yet I understand there are many people who do not live their life under that constitution, and I have many amazing friends who are of no faith or of a different faith. I must be ready to take a stand in this conversation. We (you and me) must be wise, educated, and engaged to speak into the movement, and we need to have more than Bible verses under our belt. We need to be able to discuss, dialogue, and challenge our culture as to why we think these books and what they stand for negatively impact our communities. We need to be able to explain why this book is not good for the soul, why it will harm your marriage instead of help it, why a carnal pleasure for a moment is not worth the lasting psychological harm.    

To read some secular critiques of the trilogy, check out these articles: Dr. Drew Pinksy: "Dr. Drew: 50 Shades of Grey Pathological, Poorly Written"; Whitney Frink of Acccess Hollywood over at MSNBC "Is 50 Shades of Grey Sending the Wrong Message?"; "Avflox" of Blogher who likes BDSM "The Troubling Message in Fifty Shades of Grey"; Avital Norman Nathman over at HLN "Women Deserve Better than 50 Shades of Grey."

Within the church, we need preparation. We need Biblical reasons for why we shouldn't follow the mainstream culture on this one. Don't assume people in your church know why these books are unhealthy.

Senior Pastors:

You can draw a hard line from the pulpit.  Shut down any infiltration of this book into your programs or school or small group discussion.  Do an 'anonymous' survey asking if they have read, are reading, or know of women reading Fifty.  Based on the results, consider a little pamphlet, newsletter, or Freedom in Recovery type class you could offer.

Youth pastors:

You can write curriculum. Write it now. Teach parents of kids in your youth group (those that you can) how to talk with their kids about sex, purity, sexual culture, and healthy sexual relationships. Host forums and Q & As. As you teach the parents how to talk to their children, you can also educate the parents themselves. 

Women's Directors:

You can train up your small group leaders on what they should do when Fifty comes up (because it will come up).  Be aware that there are women in your pews reading these books in secret (just like there are closet alcoholics and anorexics and non-Christians) and some women reading them openly without seeing any harm in them.

Karen Yates is a Jesus chaser, mother, non-profit consultant, adoption advocate and lover of sushi. She blogs at: www.KarenEYates.com and tweets: @KarenYates11

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Talk about it...

Keith B

commented on Jul 12, 2012

ummm....no. I will not mention a pornographic book from the pulpit. I'm currently preaching through Ephesians. Chapters 4-5 address a lot of that stuff...and I do need to do a little application into it. I don't want to give this book or any like it any more publicity than it has but I will address the topic of what we're reading...and whether or not it is wholesome--in addition to the unwholesome thoughts that chapter 5 speaks about.

Stephen Summers

commented on Jul 12, 2012

I guess this is a concern in some places. I had never heard of the book and neither had the congregation until I mentioned it based on the advice of the previous article. I guess we all have our heads in the sand or least our Bibles.

Daniel Diaz De Leon

commented on Jul 12, 2012

As a pastor I feel that I need to address this issue because I do believe that if we remain silent about it many will take that as assent. People need to be encouraged to find their way, in these sexually explicit times in which we live, not in secular books which ultimately promote pornography but in God's Word. No, I won't include any passage from the books but just by mentioning the title most people will immediately know what I'm talking about. Our congregations need to know where we stand on this cultural phenomenon.

James Sellers

commented on Jul 12, 2012

Thanks Karen for your imput into this very delicate subject matter. I agree that the book must be addressed from the pulpit but I also must agree with kb in that publicity for the book must be a voided. We must be careful not to peek the curiosity of our listeners to want to read it for themselves. It's a fine line that a pastor must walk sometimes but it is possible to do so.

Ricardo V. Avelino

commented on Jul 12, 2012

No need to mention the word "Fifty" it will only create more curiosity. Instead, add more time and heighten the study of the word focusing on the flesh mind and sins with the small groups as mentioned.

Dianna Marcum

commented on Jul 12, 2012

I was getting my blood drawn a couple of weeks ago, one of the techs saw my kindle and asked if I had read Fifty Shades of Grey, and I hadn't heard of it until then. Now I am seeing it everywhere.......guess I live under a rock, but thanks for the information.

Sonny Salas

commented on Jul 12, 2012

How does a bank teach their tellers to identify counterfeit? By teaching and showing the 'real' ! When we teach the 'realities' of the Gospel, the people of God will have a decerning spirit within and they will recognize the 'counterfeit' and run from it ! Paul instructed Timothy to 'teach the Word' !! Then we will be full and not looking for something to fill the void in our hearts ! That is what people are doing, they are empty and searching for satisfaction, when Jesus said you will NEVER thirst or hunger again ...

Sonny Salas

commented on Jul 12, 2012

How does a bank teach their tellers to identify counterfeit? By teaching and showing the 'real' ! When we teach the 'realities' of the Gospel, the people of God will have a decerning spirit within and they will recognize the 'counterfeit' and run from it ! Paul instructed Timothy to 'teach the Word' !! Then we will be full and not looking for something to fill the void in our hearts ! That is what people are doing, they are empty and searching for satisfaction, when Jesus said you will NEVER thirst or hunger again ...

Mark Crate

commented on Jul 12, 2012

I sat next to a woman and her teen daughter on a flight recently who were reading the book. I think it is important that we respond vs react. Here is my response...What some are missing in this reaction to "Fifty" is the "why". Why is there such a frenzy over this? I believe this is a quick fix for the divorce, separation, pain, hurt, loneliness, lack of satisfaction, discontent, lack of love, passion, romance, intimacy that plagues most relationships in our culture and too many in the church. This leaves couples and singles starving for something/anything, so "Fifty" fills the need. This is a very sad testimonial of our culture and that is what we must address and help marriages and relationships do better. We must do better for the sake of the testimony of God, for the sake of our marriages and for our children. Jesus gave His life so we could be better - "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Zachary Bartels

commented on Jul 12, 2012

k b, as usual, you said just what I was thinking. Focusing on the filth is NOT what we're called to do. I can't imagine the party in hell (figuratively, of course) over this book's influence expanding to the point of nudging the Gospel focus out of the pulpit.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Jul 12, 2012

In fact, k b, if we're not already FB friends, do me a favor and add me: www.facebook.com/pastorzach

David Hodgin

commented on Jul 12, 2012

I too live under a rock and now my stomach is churning. I think it took a lot of courage to write this article and I am glad to be informed, I knew porn was on the rise but not like this. I pray God will direct us all to minister in these difficult times.

John Neufeld

commented on Jul 12, 2012

While I agree with the sentiments expressed by Karen that "mommy porn" is insidiously dangerous to those inside and outside the church alike, I respectfully disagree with approach to combat it. If we are going to spend our time preaching against the sins presented by specifc authors or playrights we will never get to preach the truth. Identifying "Shades of Grey" from the pulpit only stirs the purient interests of the audience resulting in more sales from people who might otherwise never have bothered to take a second look at the book. F.W. Robertson said "It is an endless task to be refuting error. Plant truth, and the errors will pine away." I'll stick to proclaiming the truth and trust the power of the preached word to be the best antidote to the venom of sexual sin.

Anita Thomas

commented on Jul 12, 2012

This is something that I will address not only with the female adults, but our young adult women in my church. Looking back on my own life, I remember a time when I became engulfed by reading erotica, (and yes I was saved) which eventually led me to porn and from that point the further I went, the darker it became, until I repented of my sins, received help, and recovered. It is a trick of the enemy to take our minds off of God and on thoughts that are not pleasing to him. I find that addressing the issue will be beneficial to those who may not understand how it affects their connection to God, and everyone around them. We being leader's in the church and in our communities need to let people know how Satan entice the mind and how to be set free from the grips of the enemy. Most Christians don't understand what strongholds are nor how to break them. This will be something to address during our women's discussion, because at the place were I worship we put it all on the table.

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Jul 12, 2012

I recall as a teenager that all my parents had to do was ban something, and that only served to increase my curiosity. Having also raised three children, that was reinforced three-fold. Fifty was banned in a Florida county, and due to tremendous outcry, that was reversed. (Brevard was the county, I seem to recall.) We must not be seen to be attempting to ban the Fifty books. And I agree with one of the earlier commenters: I have no intention of mentioning this series of books from the pulpit! I can just hear the chuckles coming from Satan!

Anne Davis

commented on Jul 12, 2012

Just reading the synopsis (sin-opsis) turned me off. There didn't seem to be any redeeming value. With so much good literature available, why even bother? It was written to be provocative and sensational to make money from the morally bankrupt; I refuse to contribute to that. It also demonstrates how low the standards of the New York Times have become. But a best-seller is a best-seller; it doesn't have to be decent.

Anne Davis

commented on Jul 12, 2012

Just reading the synopsis (sin-opsis) turned me off. There didn't seem to be any redeeming value. With so much good literature available, why even bother? It was written to be provocative and sensational to make money from the morally bankrupt; I refuse to contribute to that. It also demonstrates how low the standards of the New York Times have become. But why dignify the book by a sermon. Use the best book, the Holy Bible, to teach discernment and judgment.

Karen Yates

commented on Jul 12, 2012

I'm new to this publication, but glad to see my article has been posted here. I understand your reservations about discussing this from the pulpit, but I do think this is something that needs the ?heavy hand? of church leaders/pastors in whatever way you feel you can address it (maybe by hitting on the topic without directly mentioning the book?). The original article was posted on my blog and had over 40 comments, many from Christian women who ARE reading the books and find them to be a ?sensual? love story. Most of their arguments have been that the books have a redemptive element. While the protagonist is abusive "at first," by the end of the trilogy Christian Grey, an abused man himself, turns from his 'dark side' and is redeemed, and the two get married. This is, on a secular level, probably my most serious objection/concern to the books--we don't need women believing that a man (who she?s not dating, let alone married to) who causes her physical pain, who dominates, manipulates, abuses and controls her (down to what she eats and where she goes), *might* change. This is not an example of a strong, respectable man, the kind of man a woman should ?pick? to be with. My biggest reason for writing the post however, was to simply let the cat out of the bag: Many Christian women are reading these books (or know people who are reading them), and some of them don?t know better. And that?s troubling. One poster said we should look at the ?why.? Why are these books appealing to (some) women today? My speculation is that women today are seeking pleasure (many women read for pleasure), sex is alluring (and romance even more so), there is a buzz (friends reading it and she wants to participate), and spiritual warfare attacking our marriages. I chimed in hoping to provide additional fodder for your teaching. Many blessings to you.

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Jul 13, 2012

Karen - I hope my previous comment didn't lead you to believe I did not appreciate your article - I do believe it is a topic that is timely and needed. I am wondering, however, why in truth this series has appealed to so many women (and men)? For years, Penthouse and Playboy have given men access to material of this nature. Where is our outcry against those two publications? Was there an outcry back when they first began? I do agree with Ricardo (#5) that we should be stressing morals from the pulpit, without being specific. Thank you, Karen, for your insightful thoughts. Blessings.

Mark Baker

commented on Jul 13, 2012

Karen, I appreciate your article and concern. I don't know about addressing this book, specifically, from the pulpit. I have, however, [from the pulpit, in classes, in books, etc] addressed the problems and principles behind the popularity of books like this. The bigger problem is not this book, it is the more "acceptable" books to Christian women (and men) that create the most deception and destruction. How many Christians--mainly women, because they mainly read this book--are aware of the theological "erotica" and heresy in the ever-so-popular-and-praised book "One Thousand Gifts"? Despite many excellent reviews/critiques, most Christians seem all the more zealous to read and defend the more "acceptable" heresy in this book.

Myron Heckman

commented on Jul 13, 2012

Thanks for the article and the helpful posts. Sandy asked about Penthouse and Playboy ? ?Was there an outcry back when they first began?? and he answer is yes and for some years after. There has been much focus on combating porn. What is new here is that adult females are going for it, and the female in the story is in the degraded role. I would say if one does address it from the pulpit, not to say the sky is falling, but to mourn the continuing loss of purity and ideals and the erosion that brings, and celebrate the joy and meaning God intends for fellowship with Him first, and as God wills, with a spouse.

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Jul 14, 2012

Thanks, Myron, for answering my question about Playboy and Penthouse. I just don't recall that, but I'm sure its true. I was perhaps raising children at the time. And I must be the one with her head in the sand this time: I am not familiar with "One Thousand Gifts," mentioned by Mark. In any event, this article has made us talk, and caused us to have a healthy discussion on the topic - Thanks, Karen.

Sonny Thomas, Sr.

commented on Jul 14, 2012

Thank you Karen for the timely article. A 30-something female recently commented to me that people need to stop critizing this book because it has greatly enhanced her sex drive (to which she also mentioned that her husband was well pleased). I have no reservations addressing this from the pulpit and will do so very, very soon.

Mark Aarssen

commented on Jul 15, 2012

Thank you Karen for sounding the ALARM on this one. We must constantly contend for that which is pure, that which is precious and that which is Holy. The attack on the family both saved and unsaved is escalating and we Pastors need to bring out the full armor of God against such wickedness in our culture. Good article Karen please continue to bring more issues to our attention through Sermon Central.com. Bless You

Mark Baker

commented on Jul 15, 2012

Sandy C, "One Thousand Gifts" has been on the New York Times best seller list for many, many weeks (not a good sign when it comes to Biblical truth, yet many Christians believe just the opposite). The book is mainly read by women. There are several good book reviews ... you can do a search on the reviews by Bob Dewaay, Gary Gilley, Tim Challies, Sola Sisters...

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