A Modern Puritan

Lost in wonder, love and praise. Follow along as we seek to uneclipse Christ in our lives.


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Book Review: Pulling Back the Shades

pulling-back-the-shadesby Erik Martin

When I was asked to review Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery’s new book, Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart, I must admit I had mixed feelings. I am not an experienced literary critic and this book–written by women, for women, about women–seemed outside my area of expertise. However, the noxious and pervasive nature of erotica today caused me to pause. The mainstream acceptance of E. L. James’ Fifty Shades series told me that Gresh and Slattery’s book was worth a review.

I must admit I’ve never read any of E.L. James’ works. After reading Pulling Back the Shades, I am even more confident in denouncing such literature. Gresh and Slattery expose the inescapable perils of reading 50 Shades of Grey.

I was able to easily read Pulling Back the Shades in about two hours. It’s graceful writing style and compact size makes it manageable for even the reticent reader.

True Satisfaction

Gresh and Slattery refuse to shrink back from hard answers, even those unpopular or politically incorrect. They hold up the Word of God as authoritative, even today, to speak into the lives of Christian women. This is not just a book attacking 50 Shades of Grey, but a guide for finding genuine satisfaction. Gresh and Slattery seek true sexual intimacy–within marriage–as a picture of a Christ-follower’s intimacy with his or her Master.

Gresh and Slattery call for revival. As they write, “this book is about the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of women.” They want women to treasure Christ alone. He is the consummation of all the desires of the female heart.

Practical Yet Prudent

Both Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery work diligently to be circumspect. They attempt to be as vague as possible about the details of erotica, while also trying to address the problems associated with the different facets of fornication fantasy. The nature of this subject requires them to delve into more detail than would be preferred, but detail which seems necessary.

Gresh and Slattery’s book is fiercely practical. It disarms those who justify erotica. It is a great resource for those entrapped in sexual sin and seeking sexual healing. While the book is targeted towards women, many of the principles should be employed by men as they also seek sexual purity.

Pulling Back the Shades is filled with helpful discussion questions which make the book a practical devotional. It features an appendix with useful resources for accountability, online filtering, Christian therapy, and other helpful books. A second appendix is filled with valuable strategies for overcoming temptation.

Conclusions:

I would strongly recommend this book for those who entertain or endorse erotica. I also think it would be helpful for those tempted to read 50 Shades of Grey. I also recommend it for those who wish to counsel women who struggle in these areas.

I would definitely not recommend Pulling Back the Shades for everyone. It is not appropriate for children or those who are innocent about erotica. It would expose the naive to areas of sin they do not even realize exist.

If you struggle with sexual purity, frequent erotic literature, or struggle with Christ’s lordship over your sexuality, then you will find this book helpful. As with any book on sex, read carefully and prudently. Gresh and Slattery seek to help you navigate troubled waters. Don’t be cavalier, or you may fall even deeper into the bondage of sin.

May King Jesus be glorified in your mind and body!


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A Black and White Choice NOT to read Fifty Shades of Grey

by Mary Kassain

Fifty Shades of Grey,” an erotic novel by an obscure British author based on Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, has electrified women across the country. Readers have spread the word like wildfire on Facebook pages, in college hallways, at office functions and in spin classes. Within six weeks of publication, the three books of the series, Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, claimed the top three spots in USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list. Sales have topped 10 million. The series is so popular that last month, author E. L. James was listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World“.

Red Room of Pain

The books in question are erotica that explicitly describe sexual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM). The story follows an unfolding affair between a recent college graduate, the virgin Anastasia Steele, and handsome young billionaire entrepreneur, Christian Grey, whose childhood abuse left him a deeply damaged individual, and who enlists her to share his secret sexual proclivities. Steele is required by Grey to sign a contract allowing him complete control over her. Because of her fascination and budding love for him, she consents to a kinky sexual relationship that includes being slapped, spanked, handcuffed, and whipped with a leather riding crop in his “Red Room of Pain.”

A few weeks ago, the book popped up as Amazon’s suggested buy on my Kindle. I declined. Like my friend,Dannah Gresh, I absolutely refuse to read these books.

Smut is Smut

Undoubtedly, the series portrays BDSM in the context of an engaging, passionate, tender, romantic relationship that culminates in the characters falling in love, and the conflicted girl assuaging the billionaire’s troubled soul. But it doesn’t matter to me how the author sweetens it up. The tasty red Kool-Aid doesn’t offset the bitter poison. Smut is still smut.

I don’t have to read the book to know that it’s bad for women. Nor do I need to read it to tell you that I think it would be unwise for you to read it.

7 Reasons Not to Read 50 Shades

1. It violates God’s design for sex:

God created sex to be exclusive to marriage. In 50 Shades the relationship is based on a sex contract, not a marriage covenant. The Lord says that sex outside of marriage is sin. It grieves Christ when we take pleasure in something He abhors.

 2. It violates the biblical concept of authority:

The relationship between a man and wife is to mirror Christ’s relationship to His Bride. BDSM tells a lie about the nature of that relationship. Christ taught and modelled that authority is for the purpose of loving service. It is not an egotistical power trip. Christ is not into domination, control, abuse, and humiliation. So in my mind, there’s something seriously wrong when we get a kick out of interpersonal domination/humiliation, and bring BDSM into Christian bedrooms.

3.  It violates the biblical concept of submission:

A wife’s submission is first and foremost to Christ. The biblical directive to submit does not turn women into brain-dead, passive, weak-willed doormats who acquiesce to the whims of dominant, controlling men. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Lord doesn’t want His daughters to be wilting, weak-willed, wimpy women who welcome and enjoy abuse. BDSM perverts and mocks the beauty of what true submission is all about.

 4. It encourages the sin of sensuality:

Erotica is a genre that aims to arouse sexual desire. It evokes sensuality, a sin that appears in numerous New Testament lists of vices (Gal 5:19, Rom. 13:13, Mark 7:21-23, 1 Pet 4:3, 2 Cor. 12:21). Sensuality is anything that

  1. is characterized by lust
  2. expresses lewdness or lust,
  3. tends to excite lust.

Scripture tells us to flee all such things.

5. It promotes sexual perversion:

“Curiosity” has led to the downfall of multitudes who have been trapped in the destructive, downward vortex of sexual sin. Fifty Shades piques curiosity. It dangles behaviors that are forbidden, unfamiliar, and titillating. Maybe you’re just curious, or maybe you rationalize that it might boost your libido and marital sex life. And it might. Temporarily. But the problem with erotica, as with porn, is that you’ll end up craving increasingly graphic, perverse images over time. Erotica/porn lead to deeper, darker erotica/porn. What’s more, they end up robbing people of the joy and satisfaction of “ordinary,” non-twisted sex with an “ordinary” spouse. In the end, they assault and diminish a healthy sex life.

6. It glamorizes pathological relationships:

The male protagonist is a very tortured and misunderstood soul with a proclivity for sexual perversion. One moment he is abusive, and the next he is tender and romantic. The girl feels she is the only one who can reach him and help him. Hmmm. Sounds like a seriously dysfunctional co-dependent abusive relationship to me. As Dr. Pinksy, a relationship expert said, “the idea that women look at this relationship as anything other than absolute, categorical, profound pathology is more than I can imagine… I worry about the 15-year-olds and 19-year-olds reading this and formulating a notion that this is anything close to a reasonable relationship.”

7. You won’t get it out of your head:

The Bible tells us to think about things that are pure, right, excellent, praiseworthy, lovely, admirable, noble, and true (Phil 4:8) There’s truth to the old proverb that “as a man thinketh so is he,” and the modern day adage, “garbage in – garbage out.” Your thoughts have transformational power – for good or for evil. Filling your head with thoughts of sin, sensuality, dysfunction, and BDSM will lead you further away from the things of God and not closer to them. Darkness has incredible “sticking power” – Once exposed, it can be extremely difficult to get the images and thoughts out of your head.

As Dannah says,

“God has given me more than fifty shades of truth in His Word and when just one of them is in conflict with my entertainment choices, I choose to pass! To be clear: I wouldn’t drive my Envoy into the front of an oncoming semi-truck any more than I would open the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey. I love my marriage, my God, and myself too much.”

So girls, have some respect for the Lord, and for yourselves. Exercise some discernment, and don’t read this book!

In my opinion, the choice whether or not to read Fifty Shades of Grey is pretty black and white.”

-Mary Kassain, http://www.girlsgonewise.com/a-black-and-white-choice-not-to-read-fifty-shades-of-grey/


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Why not to Read “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Dannah Gresh explains why to avoid Fifty Shades of Gray like the plague.

“I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

I wasn’t planning to announce this, but I can’t help myself. I told my husband, Bob, that I didn’t really want to get involved. But then, I found out my girlfriend’s seventy-year-old mom has her name on a long waiting list at the library to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey. And then my mom told me that a relative I love and respect for her strong faith had already devoured the book. She regretfully “can’t get the images out of her head.” So, here I am. In an attempt to keep the images out of yours, I’d like to explain to you why I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

Reason #1: Let’s start with the facts. Fifty Shades of Grey is classified as erotic fiction. According to one online dictionary, this genre of literature is defined as that which has “no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” I’ve been studying what God says about sexuality for fifteen years. According to Him, there is only one who should stimulate sexual desire in me: my husband. Since that’s God’s plan for my sexual desire, anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention. (Translation: It is sin.) Jesus said it this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The same is true of a woman looking at or reading about a man. Reason #1? I believe reading erotica is sinful.

I guess I could stop there, but it won’t be enough for some of you. So let’s go to reason number two.

Reason #2: The Bible has said for thousands of years that lust is hurtful and harmful. Guess what? Biopsychologists and others are studying the effects of lust, pornography, and erotica on the brain and the body. They are finding that the Bible was, in fact, right. Over time, your body becomes conditioned to self-stimulation and gratification. It’s not just a preference. It’s physiological. The lust cuts a literal pathway in your brain tissue that’s kinda like a rut. A rut you better be prepared to get stuck in. While at first a little bit of erotica might give you a taste for your spouse, over time that rut reminds you how great you are at self-stimulation and how powerful your imagination can be. You’ll become less interested in real sex with your husband. (Both SELF magazine and The New Yorker ran articles on this phenomenon in recent years. They both suggested that if you want to have a great sex life, you better push pause on porn!) The fact is, erotica robs you of real sex. It’s not good for your marriage or future marriage.

Reason #3: Okay, we’re girls. And, sadly, a few of our guys have looked at porn. How’d that work for ya? How’d it make you feel? Did it cross your mind that you could never compare to the perfection created by lights, camera, and Photoshop? Well, he can’t compare to a plasticized, vanilla interpretation of manhood either.

Reason #4: Do you know what BDSM is? Bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. If you don’t know what those words mean, be glad. If you do know, you should understand that the most damaging part of Fifty Shades of Grey is that God created sex to be a partnership that’s fueled by love and self-giving, not pain and humiliation. It’s not just that this book misuses sex, it redefines it into something evil as the lead character dominates in a hurtful manner. How woman can enjoy that, I can’t understand! But I do have a theory. It seems to me that in our emasculating culture there is a hunger so great for strong men that women will stoop to bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism for just a taste. Do yourself a favor, don’t!

You might be wondering if I’ve read the book. I haven’t. I don’t need to. There are many things in this world I need not partake in to discern that they are going to be harmful to me. God has given me more than fifty shades of truth in His Word and when just one of them is in conflict with my entertainment choices, I choose to pass! To be clear: I wouldn’t drive my Envoy into the front of an oncoming semi-truck any more than I would open the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey. I love my marriage, my God, and myself too much.

If your heart resonates with mine, please take a moment today to post these words on Facebook or Twitter: “I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey.” If you have friends who need help understanding why, send them to this blog. I’d be happy to explain!”

-Dannah Gresh, http://www.truewoman.com/?id=2095


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Albert Mohler: Ten Books Pastors Should Read in 2012

Thanks to Rick Holland for posting this list!

“Every year I am excited to see what books Dr. Mohler recommends for pastors to read in that calendar year. In the March/April edition of Preaching magazine, he provided the following list. I’ve included links if you are interested in grabbing one or more.

Ten Books Every Pastor Should Read in 2012

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction Alan Jacobs (Oxford University Press: Oxford)

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way Michael Horton (Zondervan: Grand Rapids)

Reading Scripture with the Reformers Timothy George (IVP Academic: Downers Grove)

The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been…and Where We’re Going George Friedman (Doubleday: New York)

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other Sherry Turkle (Basic Books: New York)

The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion Rodney Stark (Harper One: New York)

Christian Apologetics: Past and Present, Vol. 2 William Edgar & K. Scott Oliphant (Crossway: Wheaton)

A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New G.K. Beale (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids)

Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Gregg R. Allison (Zondervan: Grand Rapids)

Lost in Translation: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood Christian Smith, Kari Christofferson, Hilary Davidson, Patricia Snell Herzog (Oxford University Press: Oxford)”

-Rick Holland, http://approachingdamascus.com/2012/03/14/albert-mohler-ten-books-pastors-should-read-in-2012/


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Recommended Book

I just finished Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. I highly recommend this book. A very generous and fair analysis of the emergent conversation.

“You can be young, passionate about Jesus Christ, surrounded by diversity, engaged in a postmodern world, reared in evangelicalism and not be an emergent Christian. In fact, I want to argue that it would be better if you weren’t.”
The Emergent Church is a strong voice in today’s Christian community. And they’re talking about good things: caring for the poor, peace for all men, loving Jesus. They’re doing church a new way, not content to fit the mold. Again, all good. But there’s more to the movement than that. Much more.
Kevin and Ted are two guys who, demographically, should be all over this movement. But they’re not. And Why We’re Not Emergent gives you the solid reasons why. From both a theological and an on-the-street perspective, Kevin and Ted diagnose the emerging church. They pull apart interviews, articles, books, and blogs, helping you see for yourself what it’s all about.”

http://www.notemergent.com/

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