Fifty Shades of … Porn or Fiction?

I have been contemplating this for a while. Should I blog? Shouldn’t I blog? Should I or shouldn’t I? Well, I guess I caved!

Fifty Shades of Grey.¬†The latest sensation in fictional reading and read by millions of various ages and backgrounds. It has been Number 1 on the bestsellers list for 18 weeks. But what exactly is it about? Some may say romance, others suspense, other adult literature (which by the way is another way of¬†camouflaging¬†pornographic material). But what is it about such reading material that has people hooked (on Facebook, I have seen comments of both women and men readers. And why publicly admit that you have read such material when you are aware of the content thereof)? Is it the attraction and addiction of sex, of sexual submission or even the escape from traditional sexual relationships? Is it a trending fad that if not read then you’ve been left in the dark? Is it mere curiosity? Or is it just for the love of reading?

Let me be controversial to make a point. If I enter an adult store and rent a pornographic film, and then after watching it post it on Facebook and¬†publicly¬†state my impatience on getting to the next episode, I wonder how people would respond to that? Yet, we endorse the consuming of reading material that is filled with sexual material. You might say I have pushed the analogy too far, but then I’m sure anyone can cite the same reasons as above.

Now I understand that adult literature is a genre that has been around for a while, but does that make it acceptable? What message are we sending with regard to¬†morality¬†and¬†sexuality? It’s also easy to say that you skip over the sexual¬†materials¬†and is merely following the story, but the story in itself is morally challenging. It’s a really rich guy who will stop at nothing to get what he wants and a girl who is starting out that wants more. When does too much become too much?

I think that the¬†openness¬†of reading these books, on Facebook, Twitter, and in public spaces, speaks much of where we as a society finds ourselves. The blurring of¬†sexuality¬†and sexual roles, the cheapening of sex and sexual encounters and the “for sale” of sex and ourselves have become too popular and freely available. There is no longer any sanctity in our¬†sexuality¬†and partners and the sorrowful part is that we are passing this lifestyle to our children who will inherit fifty shades of so much worse. When do we tell our girls and boys that money cannot buy you everything you want? Where do we draw the line when it comes to sexuality (pick up any popular magazine and I am sure you will find articles on¬†promiscuity). As much as we want to pretty up¬†promiscuity, selling your body eventually leads to selling your soul.

And in case you wondering, NO, I have not read it. I do not have to read every book to know if it’s good or bad.

Premarital Sex

We had a guest lecturer at the Seminary yesterday, Rev Dr Stephen Willis, who wrote his PhD dissertation on the “relationship between premarital sexual activity and marital dissolution” through the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While his talk had so many great talk points and gems to ponder on and even places of rebuke for us who are raising kids without any thorough thought processes.

But what stood out for me more than the sexual practices activity and unwise decisions made by our adolescents, was the awesome and important role and responsibility that we as youth pastors and adults leader should play in the lives of teenagers in assisting and guiding them to live lives of purity. But what should this guidance look like? How do we go about educating adolescents on this important topic and experience in their lives?

 

 

Dr Willis gave some advice on how to address this important aspect namely:

  1. We have to engage young people before they engage in any sexual practices. The mean age for sexual engagement and experimentation usually is around 15 years old. That means we have to begin engaging with teens by the time they hit the double figures. Yes that’s right, you read correctly. By the time they reach 10 years old, we should have engaged them from a responsible perspective otherwise they will be receiving the information from less reliable sources such as friends, the internet, movies and magazines. And with the steady moral decline out there we sure do not want to take that risk.
  2. We have to educate and empower parents to be able to have this dialogue with their kids. Believe it or not, parents are still the most influential sources and guides in the lives of adolescents. For too long have parents abdicated their roles and responsibility to youth workers, teachers and other people of “influence” to guide and teach on issues of morality in the lives of their youth. It’s no wonder why there is so much rebellion from teens against parents who just let go of their right and privilege to guide and nurture.
  3. We have to encourage younger ages for marriage. I know this might sound¬†weird¬†and against our cultural grain. But here’s the thinking. If adolescents are having sex at an earlier age and marrying at a later stage, then it becomes obvious that the years between will accumulate the amount of sexual partners¬†engaged. Yet at the same time, it would be wise to delay dating to a later age so that there would be less temptations and pressures to engage in sexual¬†activity. This simple, yet I can imagine¬†volatile talk point could save¬†our adolescents from facing and experiencing¬†unnecessary¬†risks of physical, emotional and even spiritual trauma.

So where to from here?

Let’s just get the conversation going! Put your voice in there!

What’s Your Number?

So 10.5 sexual partners in one lifetime is low for an average American female according to the film “What’s Your Number?

Is that good news or bad news? For Anna, it was bad news! Her response was, “No! It’s low!” Now I know that in this new dispensation called¬†post-modernism, everybody can decide what is best for them, “to each his own,” they would say. And yes, we have to respect people’s choices and decisions, even if it is downright crazy and destructive. But how should we respond when they¬†propagate¬†a message of multiples sexual partners?

Here’s a blurb of¬†What’s Your Number?¬†It is about a woman who is fired from her place of employment, and while commuting back home stumbles upon an article of what the average amount of sexual partners an American women has during her lifetime. This average seems to be a modest 10.5 sexual partners across a lifetime due to her immediate reaction and response, “It’s low!” Upon her arrival at home she tallies up and discovers that she has had 19 sexual partners. The rest of the film is about her, through the assistance of her male neighbour, who has almost the exact same problem, trying to reconnect with her ex-lovers to see who could possibly be a match and future husband before she doubles the average and moves up to number 20.

So in a nutshell, the film promotes promiscuity without any conscience or consequence. That it is okay to have many sexual partners, and the more the better, is encouraged. That sexual experimentation and experience has no bearing on the person at all. That such behaviour is endorsed by the entertainment industry without considering the influence such a message may have on young people.

So why should we engage in this conversation? There are too many impressionable young people to promote such reckless and irresponsible behaviour. Statistics of teenage pregnancies and destroyed futures, escalating numbers of HIV/Aids victims, and not considering the emotional trauma that comes with it, should be seen as real results and consequences of such behaviour.

I mean how would you respond if Anna was your daughter and she comes up to you and says, “Mom! Dad! I just thought that I should let you know that I am way beyond the average of 10.5 sexual partners. But don’t worry, I’m only on 19 and I still have the rest of my life ahead of me.”

While we all make mistakes and many bad decisions in life, it is not okay to continue down such a spiral of self-destruction by selling yourself short and not even to the highest bidder. And while this film says much about our culture we are living in, it is not an acceptable message at all. Sex seems to become cheaper by the day. There no longer seems to be any beauty or sanctity in this gift of sexuality.

The question that pops into my mind is, “Are we as Parents, Youth Pastors and Christ-Followers saying and doing enough to make a contribution to this culture?” If we remain silent, our youth will listen to anyone who stands at the microphone and there is no louder microphone than that of the entertainment industry. Are we prepared for that kind of influence?