As a pastor, I remember when the book Fifty Shades of Grey came out. While I was not at all surprised about the overall popularity of the book at a cultural level, I was surprised about the reports I was hearing of Christian women reading the book. I was similarly discouraged with the multitude of Facebook posts by Christian women declaring their excitement about the release of the Hollywood movie “Magic Mike.” While there were multiple available resources to warn men about the dangers of accessing sexually explicit and/or pornographic media, I knew of no similar resource for women.
Some might ask, “Are these kinds of “entertainment” really that big of a deal?” “Are they really inappropriate forms of leisure activity for Christian women?” “Do they really provide significant pitfalls for these women – spiritually, emotionally, relationally?” Authors Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery respond with a resounding “yes.” In their new book, Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart (Moody Publishers, 2014), these ladies go far beyond simply saying “Don’t read those books. Don’t watch those movies.” Far from taking a “sex is bad” position, they approach this topic from a biblical, holistic perspective, demonstrating God’s design for women – spiritually, emotionally and sexually – and how these forms of erotica hijack God’s design and affect women in spiritual, emotional and relational ways.
The authors rightly point out that erotica-type materials are not simply fiction, presenting life situations that DID NOT happen. According to these ladies, these materials are fantasy, presenting life situations that CANNOT happen. They therefore cause women to long for situations in real life that are not grounded in reality, setting themselves up for nothing but disappointment and dissatisfaction in their real-life relationship with their spouse or future spouse.
The approach in this book is biblical and straightforward; frank, but not vulgar. They address issues of sexuality that Christian women have questions about, but are often afraid to ask, either due to embarrassment, or out of fear of how another Christian woman might respond. The thing that most resonated with me as a pastor was the need for older, godly, mature Christian women being willing to talk to younger Christian women about these things, in a Titus 2 kind of way. The reality is, if these mature Christian women will not step up and address these things from a biblical perspective, there is no shortage of people and materials available to address them from a worldly perspective.
Ultimately, the authors demonstrate that these things are issues of the heart. As they put it, “The problem is not erotica – the problem is that we want to read it.” (133) Their goal is to help Christian women be both spiritually and sexually satisfied, according to God’s design for spiritual, sexual, emotional and relational fulfillment, which He provides in His design for male/female relationships within the context of marriage; marriages that are rooted and grounded in Him.
I am thankful to have a resource such as this to recommend to women. I will encourage the older women in our church to read this book so that they can then help our younger women in understanding and walking in God’s design for women – spiritually, emotionally, sexually and relationally. I am having my wife read it so that she can one day lead our daughter to understand these issues from a biblical perspective. I will also have young women who come to me for pre-marital counseling read this book in preparation for their new relationship with their husband.
In an effort to get the word out about this book, the publisher has made an additional copy of the book available for me to give away to one of my blog readers. If you would like to receive the free copy of the book, just be the first to comment on this post below. I will pass your information along to the publisher to send you the book.
(FTC disclaimer – I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing this unbiased review.)
(Accountability disclaimer – A friend very thoughtfully asked me, “Why are you reading a book for women with a subtitle such as this?” I was contacted by a publicist for the book who found my blog and book reviews and asked me to review it.)