Writing a blog can be dangerous.
For starters, one has to consider her audience. My audience includes a wide range of people, not the least of which includes my Mom and my pastor. This makes me a little squeamish when it comes to talking about certain topics– even if they agree with me.
There is also the fact that words published on the internet are permanent. My dad always told me never put anything in print that you don’t want the world to see. At the time, he was referring to notes. Regardless, it was pretty solid advice.
For reasons like this, I think long and hard about what I should and should not discuss on this blog.
However, there is a shady topic that keeps coming up in conversations, and I have been doing anything but meeting it head on. Among my friends, I remained silent and vague because I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
In the spring of 2012, it seemed like all of my non-local Facebook friends were reading the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I asked my local friends if they knew anything about the books. They did not.
I decided to check them out for myself. I read their synopses on Amazon but decided to pass on them. Fifty Shades appeared to be a love story. I rarely read romance novels.
A few weeks later, I picked up a copy of the first book at Costco and thumbed through it, randomly picking a page to read. Immediately, my face flushed. I was shocked by the explicit and graphic description of the couple’s intimate relationship. About that time, John walked up. I told him what I read and said this is why I don’t read romance novels. John informed me Fifty Shades wasn’t a romance novel, it was erotica.
Now I really was blushing- fifty shades of red!
In spite of that, I was still intrigued. I began to ask myself: What is all the hype? Why is everyone so excited about these books? I must be missing out on something good.
I had a few books to finish before I could buy another one; so, I had time to make a decision.
About the time I decided not to read the books, I discovered that several of my local friends were reading and loving the books– the intrigue, the story line, and yes, even the unmentionable parts. I wondered if I unknowingly introduced them to something bad.
Conversations about the books were frequent. Admitting that Fifty Shades was soft porn, a few of my friends asked me if it was okay to be read them. I evaded the question and refused to give them a direct answer.
I chose to be grey on the matter.
One Sunday, our pastor shared that we need to lean into each others lives and speak truth in love. What better opportunity to do that than when a friend invites you to do so? I felt like a failure and a coward because the truth is I do have an opinion about the books– very black and white opinions.
The next time my friends mentioned Fifty Shades, I told them what I thought about the books. I explained why I believe what I believe and shared relevant pieces of my story to help them understand my point of view.
Here is what I discovered: My friends wanted to have open and honest discussions about Fifty Shades of Grey and the issues surrounding them. Some of my friends agreed with me. Others did not. But all of them love me and respect still. In the process we learned to agree to disagree, as well as how to support and care for one another.
Maybe you have questions about Fifty Shades of Grey or maybe, like me, you fear hurting your friends’ feelings or worse being judged if you share your opinion. Knowing where to start and how to have these types of discussions is challenging.
Sexuality educator and best-selling author, Dannah Gresh and clinical psychologist, Dr. Juli Slattery recognize this. That is one of the reasons they wrote the book Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart.
Pulling Back the Shades addresses five core longings all women share, answers deeply personal questions we are often too afraid to ask, and explains why you do not have to give up your sexuality for your spirituality.
There is also an online study to guide and support you as you read the book.
You do not have to read this book in community, but if you want to create space to have discussions about Fifty Shades of Grey with your friends, I encourage you to use this resource as a guide. Talking about hard things is hard. But sharing your heart and soul with the people you know and love is incredibly life-giving.