... but some things are black and white.
I'm surprised by how quiet things have been from Christians when it has come to the book that has apparently sold out Harry Potter. I've not read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor do I intend to. If there was ever still a question over pornography being a male-dominated issue, that has been answered. This book has simply highlighted that, whilst men generally prefer visual stimulation, for women it is visceral. We want to be wooed, we want fantasy, ideals; and so our imagination is our greatest tool to help us on that journey. Magazines have been playing up to men's needs for imagery for years and, whilst Mills & Boon and the like have been trying to tap into the female market, somehow this book has gained a heightened degree of notoriety and acceptability that they perhaps did not. So why now? I suspect that it is the product of a multitude of changes; I watch TV or music videos, and I see images that would have been considered pornographic ten or twenty years ago. Now they are part of the 'norm', and lyrics by Rihanna and others are sung across playgrounds by girls to young to have a clue what they really mean. Everyday clothing sold in everyday stores is designed to be increasingly provocative, show more cleavage without crossing the boundary into something more. Women's magazines have become a farce, with the same publication using one page to berate certain celebrities for putting on a few pounds/being too skinny, and another to scream about how we should all learnt to accept our bodies.
I could go on, but I won't. I'm already in danger of taking on the mantle of Mary Whitehouse, and I certainly don't want to give the impression that I believe myself to be whiter than white when it comes to the issues of popular culture and its impact on female sexuality, whether through music, magazines, clothing or other influences. Nor do I want to vilify one particular group of people for being the downfall of us all. It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario of which came first, the businesses who promote sexualisation in so many forms, or the people who demonstrated an interest for it? However it started, it's now a vicious circle, that apparently wants to spiral downwards into itself. Brilliant. That should help Western society no end.
Where are the Christians in all this? I have been really surprised by the lack of discussion by Christians about what is a significant marker point in our society's acceptance of pornography into every day life. I suspect the answer is that we have become more de-sensitised to popular culture than we have realised. Of course, the question really is, why does it matter? The simple answer is this - the more time people spend in fantasy, the more difficult it is for them to engage in reality and gain satisfaction there. It affects people's abilities to have whole and honouring relationships with others. And all of that is without even considering what it does to a person's relationship with God. In other words - it doesn't matter who you are or what you believe in, devoting time to pornography will have a less-than-positive impact on your life. So this is why Christians should care. This is why they should be talking about this subject. This is why Christian women should be paying attention - because pornography cannot be put aside as a men-only subject now. But we will only be able to take this issue on if we are clear in both who were are in Christ - new creations, powerful beings who can choose to have the mind of Christ - and what He wants for us - freedom.