"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Black and White or Endless Shades of Gray?

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'm not.

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?

Everything.

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. 

4 comments:

  1. So NOT a coincidence that I chose today to take the time to read one of your blogs. You are so full of wisdom and insight that I know you are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
    My niece is reading the series and I have heard from others about how this book is "all the Rave". Well I made the comment this weekend that I was not going to read it... almost like... just because everyone says you should... sometimes makes me not want to. Now that I hear what you have to say and what you found in your research, I am glad that I made that comment! Now, I will change from a comment to making a commitment not to follow the crowd.
    Thanks for your words of wisdom and your courage to say what you feel God is calling you to say.
    Love you!
    Jane

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    1. Thanks Mrs. Jane! I was honestly a little nervous about posting this one, since I knew it might rub some people the wrong way, but I couldn't stop feeling like I needed to speak up. I certainly struggle with keeping on the right path, so I hope I made it clear in my writing that I am not trying to judge. I just hope I'm making people think before jumping on the bandwagon just because it's "all the rave!"
      Love you too!!
      And thanks for the encouragement!
      Jenny

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  2. I’m going to be honest with you, I am reading it and I’ve only gotten through chapter 11 and it’s been almost 2 weeks. I NEVER take this long to read a book that I decided to read for fun. For me I find it’s more funny than anything. Like I told several people, it’s just like reading a book for me. I never decided to read it in hopes that it would improve my sex life, I’m very happy with that part of my life. And to be clear, it has not once made me all hot like most women and claiming. I have NO clue how this type of book would get someone off! It’s pretty disturbing, but funny. Through my laughs while reading it I find myself thinking about the lady that wrote the book. How can one person know so much about this stuff and then want to write about it??? I know I’m really naïve, but I had no clue I was this naive. More than half the things in the book I’ve never heard of and I still don’t have a clue. I find myself wanting to finish the book bc I bought it and I started it. I heard they are making a movie about the book. I thought it was a joke bc I’m not sure how that would work though…I will not be seeing the movie!
    Mer

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    1. I was so happy to see your post this morning about deciding not to finish the book. Unfortunately, it seems like I see at least one person posting about this book almost every day and they are all raving about how wonderful it is and how much their husbands are enjoying the "benefits" of them reading it. It really does make me sad that so many marriages are opening themselves up to this kind of garbage as if it's some kind of sex therapy. (I know that's not what it was for you, but there are many women out there who are bragging about that very thing!)

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