- 2015Feb 11
[Today's guest post is written by counselor and author, Rachel Coyle. This article was originally posted at Counseling One Another.]
The best-selling book Fifty Shades of Grey dispels the old myth that women do not use pornography, that it’s a “man’s problem.” Forever we’ve heard the claim that women are “not turned on by sight.” But the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey reveals how pornography captivates women, too. In fact, it may captivate them more since women often indulge in other forms of pornographic literature that are not commonly recognized as such because they appear softer. The book has been dubbed by some as “Mommy Porn;” a cutesy term that makes light of a socially-acceptable form of pornography targeted at women.
Most women whom I speak to claim they have never “used” pornography, but as soon as I mention graphic romance novels some chuckle with embarrassment. “Sure,” might be a response, “I read romance novels. But that’s not pornography!” Are you sure? Just as the serpent deceived Eve into believing she should eat of the forbidden fruit, women today are deceived into believing lies about erotic literature. Consider the following definition of pornography: “The depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writings) intended to cause sexual excitement; material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement” (Merriam Webster). The book Fifty Shades of Grey is pornography for the mind’s eye as women conjure up sexual thoughts and images while reading. The movie is pornography for the physical eye, no imagination required.
For years, I’ve been speaking the truth about the increased use of pornography by women and its deadly attack upon their souls, their view of romantic love, and their relationships. Many women have become captivated by erotica and are now so engrossed in it they have become totally enslaved. How should we as believers think about this issue?
Is God Silent?
Some argue that the Bible does not specifically address the issue of pornography and; therefore, God does not have an opinion about it. While it’s true the word “pornography” is not in the Bible, God indeed has an opinion about it. The Greek word porneia, which is the root of our English word pornography, is translated fornication or sexual immorality in many modern translations, including KJV, NKJV, NASB and ESV. We have a clear picture of God’s opinion of pornography if we understand what the Bible says about fornication or sexual immorality (Eph 5:3-16; Col 3:1-7). Pornography takes something God designed to be beautiful, intimate, and private between a husband and wife and deforms it into a public, perverse, and destructive evil. It is an obvious departure from God’s standard of purity and, therefore, is immoral.
Is a Taste of Forbidden Fruit Worth It?
Let me make it clear that I have not read the book Fifty Shades of Grey; nor will I ever pick it up. Some of you may think that in order to develop a fair opinion on this subject, you must read the book. Do not believe the lie that you must eat of the forbidden fruit in order to know why it is forbidden. Reading a description of the erotic plot of this book is enough for me, and just knowing this book and forthcoming film is dubbed erotica is enough for you to avoid it, too. Once an image has been imprinted on your mind you cannot easily erase it. There is no delete key for the brain. No “undo” button. I have counseled women who have agonized for years, trying to blot out the images that had become engrained in their minds and plagued them. They testify that a single taste of the forbidden fruit is not worth the pain and trouble it brings.
It saddens me to know that thousands of women, including some who profess to follow Jesus Christ, have become fans of this book. How did we get here? How have Christian women arrived at a place where they shamelessly read erotic literature and comfortably discuss it with their friends? In the past it was disgraceful, but “today’s woman” is brazen.
Now, I realize I may not be making any friends by writing this blog post, and surely will step on some toes, but I’m okay with that. Sometimes our toes are pointed in the wrong direction and they need to be stepped on. Truth is never popular, but it must be spoken. I want to---I need to---shout a warning: You may be dipping your toes into the pool of pornography through reading erotic literature or viewing images (like this movie), but you never know when pornography will wrap its chains around you and imprison your mind. A “dip” leads to a wade, and then the current draws you deeper in, deeper down, until you find yourself drowning in it. Don’t think you are strong enough to handle reading erotic literature---not even a single time! And do not be deceived when the world says that erotic movies are acceptable forms of entertainment.
Has the Fear of the Lord Disappeared?
The success of Fifty Shades of Grey has made it clear that pornography is something women read, watch, look at, fantasize about... And yet we want to believe that women in our churches are not affected by pornography? Surely they are not tempted, or engaged, or enslaved by it? Yes, they are. Maybe even in your own church. Maybe even you. How did we get here? It is through losing the fear of God and its resulting wisdom.
According to Scripture, wisdom begins with fearing God (Prov 1:7, 9:10). The first priority is to fear God (Prov 1:29), to view Him properly. A correct understanding of who God is brings unsaved sinners to their knees before the Cross in humble repentance and faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, and a healthy reverence toward Him causes Christians to consider the choices we make and how those choices affect our relationship with Him, and with others. A healthy fear of God will cause women to put down graphic romance novels, or turn and walk away from the TV screen in repentance. The fear of the Lord produces a desire to stay away from evil, including pornography. Are you actively keeping yourself away from all forms of pornography? Or are you already trapped?
The good news is that God’s grace is far greater than our sin. Romans 5:20 tells us clearly, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (emphasis added). This grace is not cheap; it cost Jesus His very life. This isn’t a grace that gives you and me a license to sin; it’s a grace that frees us from the grip of sin (Romans 6; Galatians 5:13). This grace should stop us in our tracks. If you want to steer clear of pornography, the answer lies in first cultivating a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. It begins with repentance and faith in His finished work on the cross. Then it develops through an active prayer life and faithful Bible study. This is how you get to know the Lord and what pleases Him.
What Can Concerned Believers Do?
For those of you who have been stirred by this post and want to help women who are struggling, what can you do? Share God’s truth with others. Those who are dipping their toes in, or wading in deep muck, need to be warned that they are heading down a path that leads to destruction. Others need a word of encouragement: They are not alone in their struggle and there is hope for freedom in Christ. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to call the women in your church, your friends, your family to a higher standard than what the world sets.
To help your ministry to other women, I’ve written a small eBook for the sake of helping reclaim purity among women in our generation. Help! She’s Struggling with Pornography explores the issue in more detail. I discuss the many facets of the media’s spread of pornography; including books, magazines, the Internet, movies, and even music. The book also provides Bible study suggestions, practical steps toward breaking free, and disciplines to keep your mind and heart pure. Designed for women to use on their own or in discipleship relationships, the book will educate and equip you to address the problem of pornography targeted at women. Together, may we faithfully call one another to the freedom and purity provided for in the gospel of Jesus Christ!
- 2015Feb 09
I’m thinking about love for Christ, tonight. How easy it is for us as believers to fall out of love with Jesus in the same sense as the Ephesian believers did. “You have left your first love,” Jesus said to them (Revelation 2:4). Their deeds and toil and perseverance for Jesus and the gospel were noteworthy, commendable. But Jesus had one thing against them. Their primary passion had shifted from Jesus---alone---to all the things they were doing for Him and, no doubt, also things from Him. I got to thinking about this while reading One Cry by Byron Paulus and Bill Elliff. Here are the words that challenged me:
Imagine a Christian, saved by God’s grace, saying to the Groom, Jesus Christ, “I want You to know that I’ll come to church most Sundays. I’ll occasionally read my Bible because I know I should. I’ll give a little bit, support missions, and maybe even teach children in Bible study. I’m committed to doing most of the Christian stuff. But, I just want You to know---I don’t really love You anymore.”
Our Groom’s greatest desire is not His bride’s activity, but her undivided attention. Christ doesn’t want mere form, but passion. He longs for YOU. He wants an intimate relationship. In fact, He died for that intimacy to occur. He knows that all the right works flow from a passionate heart. But without love, a marriage---earthly or heavenly---is doomed. Love provides things that are found nowhere else.
Love for Christ is empowering. You can operate only so long out of duty, and not very well. Love fuels you with the passion for sustaining relationship.
And love is intriguing. When you love someone, you want to know more about them, and you discover that a lifetime cannot reveal all the inner reaches of their heart. When we are in love with Jesus we are drawn in, captured by the height and depth and breadth of His love. Our great desire is to know Him and experience Him in ever-increasing intimacy.
True love is more fulfilling than anything else as Christ becomes our greatest longing and greatest satisfaction. When we are experiencing the love of Christ, there is no need to look for joy anywhere else.
And love for Christ is contagious. Mere religious duty is not only insanely boring to us, but incredibly unappetizing to all who observe our dutiful rituals.
This evening, as prepare for Lord's Day with God’s people, let us remember our first love, repent of our false loves, and return to the one supreme love.
- 2015Jan 22
In Christian circles, pornography is almost always portrayed as a male problem. However, more and more Christian women are confessing their addiction to the power of lust. In the following interview, counselor and author Rachel Coyle talks about her mini-book Help! She’s Struggling with Pornography. Her booklet is part of the LifeLine Mini-Book series. This interview was originally posted by the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
BCC: "Sometimes people assume that only men struggle with pornography. What prompted you to write a booklet for women battling pornography?”
RC: “Years ago, when I was just beginning my training in biblical counseling, several women approached me for counseling, each with her own story of how she became not just involved, but addicted to pornography. It was interesting that these women all approached me within just a few months’ time and were not acquainted with one another. This experience opened my own eyes to the reality of this problem and how life-dominating pornography can be for women as well as men. I began talking with other women and researching this issue extensively for several years to understand the magnitude of this problem. This resulted in a lengthy thesis paper on the topic which has since been condensed into two articles, one book chapter, and finally, this booklet.”
BCC: “What types of struggles with pornography do women experience?”
RC: “In the booklet, I focus on women who look at pornography as well as women who read pornographic literature such as graphic novels or magazine articles among other things. Some women do not realize that they are addicted to pornography because they do not look at pornographic images, but they read material that conjures up the same kind of images in their minds. For a woman who turns to any kind of pornography as a means of escape, euphoria, or sexual fulfillment, the effect is the same. This is very clear in God’s Word, which I explain in the booklet.”
BCC: “How important is it to have a clear understanding of the definition of pornography?”
RC: “It is vital, especially in reference to a woman’s struggle. Pornography is everywhere, and in our society we have come so far from modesty that many of us do not even know how to define pornography or identify what could be considered pornographic. Billboards, movies, television, graphic romance novels, magazine articles, chat rooms, and even music all have the potential to be a source of stumbling for women who struggle with this issue. In the booklet, I explain the possible dangers of these and other media sources.
BCC: “Tell our readers how you examined the Bible’s teaching on the problem of pornography.”
RC: “Many of the words we use to describe the problems of life are not found in the Bible, for example: alcoholism, bulimia, abuse, and of course, pornography. But this does not mean God does not have the solution. As we understand what fuels those behaviors and how they are rooted in our hearts, we can “re-define” the terms and use biblical words to label our problems. This equips us to efficiently study God’s Word and understand the problem as well as the solution.”
BCC: “How is your booklet different from other materials that address this subject?”
RC: “As you can tell by the title, this book is written specifically for women. That is one key difference, as most books are written for men or are gender-neutral. I identify various sources of pornography that women tend to be attracted to and explain why they may be considered “pornographic,” such as novels and soap operas. On a practical note, the compact size of the booklet allows a woman to be discreet in dealing with her own struggle or helping another woman work through such sensitive material.”
BCC: “Is your booklet only helpful for women who struggle with pornography?”
RC: “It is written for either a woman who is struggling or an individual who wants to help a woman who struggles, but the principles I use to explain the problem and the solution are founded in God’s Word. They apply to any kind of besetting sin; anything that we find ourselves struggling to overcome. Therefore, anyone could read this book and apply the principles to their own personal battle against any habitual sin.”
BCC: “Who should read this book and why?”
RC: “Pastors, counselors, and mentors should read it to take the blinders off and become aware that women (as well as men) can and do struggle with pornography. Women should be addressed from the pulpit along with men. Parents and youth workers should read it to be aware of the potential dangers young women face through various media sources (including PG movies!), which could introduce them to pornography. All it takes is an inkling of curiosity to introduce a young woman into the deadly grip of pornography. Women of any age should read it to learn how vital it is that we filter what we allow into our minds. What we read, look at, watch, and even listen to has the potential to open us up into a world of sensuality reserved for husband and wife alone. Women who struggle with pornography should read this book and know they are not alone! For them, it is a source of hope for freedom from pornography, fixed upon the grace of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
BCC: “Thanks, Rachel, for helping our readers to ponder biblical principles for victory over the temptations we face in our daily Christian life.”
Get a copy of HELP! She’s Struggling with Pornography.
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