I should probably start out by saying that I haven't read the book(s). I actually had no idea what the big fuss was about until I finally did a Google search and discovered it on Amazon. After reading the short description and then skimming a few of the reviews (all of which happened to be negative, despite the rave reviews I've seen posted by my friends on Facebook), I closed down the page.
Before I could walk away from the computer, I found myself looking up the author. The first thing I noticed were the words "Romance ~ Suspense ~ Erotica" at the top of the webpage.
My heart sank.
I closed down the site and let all of this new information sink in for a while. Then, after tucking the kids in bed, I asked Buddy if he knew anything about this new, popular book. When he confirmed that he hadn't, I filled him in on what I knew. His reaction was very much like mine; his face dropped in disappointment and he agreed with me how sad it was that this kind of thing is so common.
Here's the thing...I can totally see the appeal. I don't want anyone to think that I am trying to be all high and mighty, looking down on anyone who is reading (or has read) the book.
I get it. Real life love stories don't always seem like the page-turner that this book claims to be. Real life has its ups and downs. And the truth is, even the "up" moments in your life probably don't involve you having an orgasm just because you hear the sound of your name coming out of your husband's mouth. (I'm not sure if that actually happens in the book, but it was in one of the reviews that I read.)
Real life is messy.
And I'm not talking about we've-had-sex-ten-times-in-one-night-and-the-bed-is-really-wet kind of messy.
I'm talking about REAL life.
In real life, you walk around smelling a bit funky all day because in your mad rush to get dressed before the kids destroyed the entire house, you forgot to put on your deodorant.
Real life involves late night laundry because you know the kids don't have any clean underwear for tomorrow.
Real life sometimes means working so hard that you can barely remember to kiss your wife goodnight because your eyes are closing faster than your brain can comprehend what's missing from your routine.
Real life is messy.
Not always, but at least for me, I'd say it's messy most of the time.
So what's the harm in losing yourself in a romance novel that also promises some suspense and erotica?
Like I said, I can totally see the appeal, but if you really allowed yourself to think about it (and pray about it) you'd realize that reading this stuff isn't going to improve your life or who you are as a person. Just like you should try to surround yourself with people who encourage you to better yourself, you should also fill your mind with knowledge on how to become a better person.
It seems to me that this kind of book might just be the exact opposite of that.
I'm not saying that you should only allow yourself to read self-help books, but I do think it's important for us to read books that have characters who possess traits that we can actually admire. If you are going to let your imagination wander, why not make sure it's wandering around in a safe place? One that will encourage you to improve yourself, rather than lose yourself?
I really try not to allow myself to indulge in the "What's the harm in it?" mentality, but to be honest, it's always a battle. I still watch TV shows with characters having casual sex. I don't agree with it, but I've somehow convinced myself that I'd have nothing to watch if I didn't overlook certain things, and I need TV.
(Yes, I am aware that that's not actually true.)
When I first read the synopsis of the book, it seemed so obvious to me that it was (for lack of a better description) a trashy romance novel, that I was kind of shocked by the number of people who were promoting it as being so wonderful.
These were good people.
They were people that I loved and respected.
So why didn't they see what I saw when reading the description?
Why didn't they notice the potential harm in immersing themselves in this story?
Because we live in a world that no longer sees things in black and white.
We live in a world that has created endless shades of gray.
We live in a world that constantly promotes false beauty. Girls are
taught from a young age that being beautiful means that you must be tall
and skinny, with perfect hair and sparkling white teeth. Photos are touched up and then plastered all over magazine covers in checkout lines, ensuring that none of us can escape the lies that they promote.
We live in a world that pornography is shared among young boys faster than fleas can jump from one dog to the next - and that's just when it begins. These same young boys quickly grow into men, and by that point, their minds are filled with so many of these graphic images, it's hard for some of them to even comprehend what real love is all about. And if by chance these men do find real love, they are left to battle the inner demons that are ingrained in their minds from years of buying into these pornographic lies. Worse yet, the sad truth is that some of them will hold on to their addiction, naively convincing themselves that it isn't causing anyone any harm.
We live in a world full of lies, where the truth can only been seen if you are constantly searching for it.
When it comes to my search for the truth, I fall short just as much as the next guy. I get lazy and allow myself to wade in the gray water of lies that surround me. I watch shows that don't promote the truth and I read books that don't always tell stories of reality.
But that needs to end.
So here's my challenge:
If the book you're reading isn't helping you become a better person, stop reading it.
If the TV show or movie you are watching starts promoting behavior that you know in your heart to be wrong, turn it off.
If you or someone you love is addicted to pornography, take the necessary steps to help break the addiction.
When you get dressed every morning, promote modesty with your wardrobe. Lead by example.
Take the time to examine your life. Pray about the gray areas that you are struggling with, and ask God to make it clear to you what needs to change.
Even if it seems like you are taking baby steps to correct your path, take them.
Don't allow yourself the excuse that it's too hard to make the right
choices, just start making them. Little by little, you will notice that
you are coming closer and closer to where you need to be.
Remember that baby steps
are still steps. Don't stop moving in the right direction.
Be sure to encourage your loved ones to do the same.
And don't judge one another, because we all struggle. We are in this life together, so we need to stand together to fight against these shades of gray.
We must always remember to seek the truth and to speak the truth, because we truly are one body in Christ.