I was scrolling through my personal Twitter feed when I noticed an amusing tweet from one of my little brothers in Christ.
All these women going crazy for 50 shades of gray. Let a grown man go crazy about naughty nurses 92 and he'll be shunned from society.
— fmoi: Louie_V_Baby (@LouieVBaby21) July 26, 2012
After I finished laughing, I realized that his tweet had managed to give voice to a question that has bothered me for just about all my life–why is it that our society views pornography and “romance novels” so differently? It never slipped past me that many women in church regularly read “romance novels.” Some even exchange them openly with their sisters in Christ without any fear or stigma. However, the relationship between Christian men and pornography is quite different. We generally only mention it in the context of a prayer request with respect to needing deliverance and never in the presence of women. We know better because some women will never pass up an opportunity to kick a man while he’s down.
It is no secret that 50 Shades of Grey is one of the most popular books of 2012. People are trying to credit it with ushering in a new sexual revolution among women because of its explicit sexuality. (Some people concede that the level of explicitness pales in comparison to anything written by Zane. Ironically, my source for all of this information has been church women.) Indeed, retailers of adult items have reported an increase in sales from women who were drawn in by the book.
Nonetheless, I am confused about the pervasiveness of romance novels within the church because they serve they same purpose as pornography. Both end up awakening lust within their audiences, yet romance novels receive very little attention from ministers. Maybe it’s because many pastors know that women make up the majority of their congregations and figure that it is easier to focus on male-specific issues like pornography than it is to focus on controversial female-specific issues. It could also be because most pastors are male and are therefore more familiar with the kinds of issues that men typically face. Whatever the cause, it is clear that we as ministers are not balanced in this area.
When I preached my first sermon almost 8 years ago, I made a point of trying to be balanced. While preaching about Samson, I made a point of saying that we needed to be careful of underestimating the impact of sexually-charged media on our lives. Everything went as expected until I got to my line about romance novels. At that point, I heard a lot of nervous laughter and gasps. I guess it’s safe to say that no one expected me to go there–especially not for my first sermon. Since then, I have been pretty tame, but situations like this are making me wonder if I need to revisit the boldness of my younger days.
For now, I’ll agree with LouieVBaby21 and say that there is a definite double-standard in the way that our overall society views romance novels and pornography. One is accepted and the other is condemned. It’s just too bad that the same trend is evident in the church. After all, sin is sin.
What do you think? What other double standards exist in the church?
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