Bookish Thoughts | Faith & Encouragement | Satire | Spiritual Issues | Thoughts

A Sordid Christian Love Affair…With Controversy

February 18, 2015

… Since when did the Bride of Christ turn into such a Drama Queen?

They will know us by our love-affair with telling everyone how offended we are by *Whatever it is we are most offended with at the moment. Isn’t that what the Scripture was?

john1335

The DaVinci Code and Twilight and Harry Potter & Dungeons and Dragons (for the ancient of us who remember those days).

Now it’s 50 Shades of Outrage cluttering FB newsfeeds and all the internets.

To be honest?  I think this series is garbage.   From what I’ve seen (and I’ve only read a few excerpts but not the books) it seems to be a poorly written attempt at literary porn targeting middle aged, unfulfilled women while masquerading as an unbelievable love story. That sounds terrible to me, personally. And, frankly? Gross.

I am all about discussion and sometimes an issue will raise it’s head and get everyone having a conversation about stuff we’d rather not think about.  Convos are awesome.

So talk about the porn issue. Yet, try this tactic.  Make it your mission. All the time. Not just when a book makes news.  

When 50 Shades has become toilet paper for 3rd world countries, keep talking about the dangers of pornography to relationships, personal growth, and development.  Write about the addictive nature of dopamine and how greater elements of excitement become necessary to feed that beast until the addict becomes a monster doing the unthinkable to feed the need…

Then?  Then it isn’t just a controversy.  You have found a vision.

Personally, there should be more pet pigs and cat videos mixed in with Brian Williams memes and quizzes on the color of my soul on the internet.  But that is not to be as the information super-highway was pre-ordained to be a place of play-acting at persuasive speech by those in love with the sound of their own voice.

There are those of us who love to read books, all kinds of books, and often, we look to find beauty from the poorly written free Kindle book to Homer’s Odyssey.  In the way well-intentioned and passionate folks band together to make us all pay attention to this latest affront to decency or faith, marriage or children, even faith itself there is something chilling and “burn-the-books-we-don’t-like”-ish about it all.

It’s a minefield of voices chanting that the mind is F-R-A-G-I-L-E and so is the ego and the id and the self-esteem and the marriages.  We must be vigilant lest the lusts out in the world conspire to enslave us.

Like yoga pants.

Sadly, against my wishes, hysteria ensues and opinions are shared about All. The. Things EViL.  We must protect each other because IT’S FOR THE CHILDReN.

Besides, your husband will turn into a raging sex-animal, as will all your teenage boys and girls, if you don’t guard them always. And, soccer mom, your heart is in danger too. Our youth are being led astray and…

While there are so many societal and cultural dangers, pitfalls, and minefields out there that require big signs and such, I can’t help but feel as though there’s something missing.

Besides, is my faith really so tenuous? Is yours?

Maybe it is?

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In a fit of rebellion and piqued curiosity, fed by the tsunami of moral indignation sent through the community, I was drawn to read the Davinci Code and Twilight and watched all the Harry Potter movies (multiple times).

Somehow, my trust in Jesus survived. My marriage survived. The children survived and even THRIVED through the HP (Harry Potter) series.

I was left scratching my head because I couldn’t remember.

“What was the insult to the true and living God here?  Was it magic? Because C.S. Lewis and Tolkien got away with it?  Was it orphans?  Or maybe it was brooms?  Yeah… I don’t get it.”

Whatever I was supposed to feel or be tempted to feel or question about God? Well, I didn’t.

Yet, the great and powerful church, destined to storm the very gates of Hell was, for a season, side tracked by 608 pages of prose (The DaVinci Code). A beautiful and brilliant Bride, her stature and magnificence destined to turn the head of none less than the Creator of the Universe, all too often found wrestling in the mud over book series, a movie, a tv show, a magazine article.

Even a tiny, 140 character Tweet has been known to produce excessive panty-knotting. Ask the girl who made an offhand comment about AIDS… Life=Over

The Grace-Filled, Spirit-Led Redeemed have shown themselves easily reduced to rabble-rousers with shrill voices and an obvious goal of policing the world.

I wonder what they think when, inevitably, those teacup tempests add to controversies, spurring them on, and adding fuel to the PR machine until Oprah and CNN and MSNBC all take notice, adding their punditry. Everything escalates and then, suddenly, all we can see are these things which we’ve been told were far too unlovely to be even considered.

Highly paid talking heads and their shows filled with earnest warnings around a warmed-over, rehashed discussion until it becomes ridiculous and all they remember is the mockery of Jesus’ Beautiful Bride as it commences again.

On the other side, those who do read the book, watch the movie, support the cause instead of burning it at the stake? These brothers and sisters can be reduced to tiptoeing around their involvement. They function under a certain nervousness as though admitting to not being part of this loud, loud conviction and carefully toeing a party line, has draped them in a scarlet letter.

 “We watched Harry Potter.” She whispered to me from behind her hand in the 5th grade writing class I taught.   “But we aren’t supposed to tell anyone. Some people think it’s really bad.”

Shame written all over the face of a 10 year old… Is that really where you were going with that heated debate at the bookstore?

Whatsoever thing is pure… Lovely. Kind.

I wonder if anyone has ever been sued for libel while busily focusing on being lovely.  It would seem a sure thing that no one has lost friends, even if they were just Facebook friends, by knocking themselves out being kind. I bet no marriages were irreparably damaged because of personal dedication to emotional, physical, and personal purity…

Friends, I love you, I do. I really. Really. REALLY do. But this has got to stop.

This thing we do? Talking about it so much it becomes white noise? It accomplishes something you may not have foreseen.

Your obsession has helped make THE UGLY THING integral to society.

It makes it a part of daily conversation and thereby? Makes it commonplace. Even acceptable. No big deal.

And if it’s routine? It’s no longer taboo…

Or, if it remains prohibited? It’s so outlawed as to become interesting.

In short?

Thanks to all the Christian and conservative moral outrage over a movie released on Feb 14 I have had sado-masochistic sex thrown up in my face for the past few weeks like there’s no tomorrow. So have my sons.

Thanks for that.  Said no one ever.

The normalizing of this conversation is beating at our hearts and souls until a callous just the size and shape of your outrage makes us numb.

Can we talk about marriage without talking about That Book? Can we talk about love and healthy sexuality without dragging us into someone’s dungeon? Can we talk about relationships and abuse and empowering women to live as strong, independent female types without dragging them through the filth to get there? 

I dare to speculate we can.

I know you feel a moral obligation to Stand Up For Something and I applaud your passion.

This is me; standing and applauding your passion.

I feel passions too, welling up inside, upsetting a comfy status quo as an undeniable impetus begins propelling me forward so I entertain the possibility that I can be a light in the midst of utter darkness.

Freedom fighters for Jesus.  

I want the tattoo.

freedom tattoo2

Somehow, it doesn’t seem that the screaming and shaming and unending monologuing is setting us free.  I can tell you one thing it does though. All these words are making sure to keep people looking, their heads in a vise made of injury and offense.  All of us staring at the very ugliness many of us weren’t looking at in the first place. That very thing you’ve decided was too ugly to look at in the first place.

Still want to stand up? Be heard. That’s awesome. What if you were to try harder to matter where you ARE.

Stand up and volunteer at a local homeless or women’s shelter. Women who know intimately that pain and love are not synonymous could be encouraged and transformed to hear what love should REALLY look like and be introduced to what the Lover of their souls has to say about them.   That would matter to those who have struggled greatly.

That’s how you matter.

Use your voice to speak for voiceless children in foster care, languishing for a forever family while they age out of group homes. Maybe open your heart and pocketbook and intertwine a safe suburban life with those who have no idea who a Father truly is?   Maybe show them the magic of laughter and the moment it can, truly, turn a day completely around.   For the abandoned, orphaned child looking at you that would matter.

Take this obvious passion for purity and use it to fuel YOUR wardrobe and then look to those who desperately need to hear a Redemption story like the one about Rahab… Or the adulterous woman to whom Jesus extended grace. What have you done to finance the reclamation of enslaved and trafficked women in India. Nepal. Pakistan. Iraq. Portland, Oregon.

Would it surprise you to know I had to Google The DaVinci Code. I couldn’t remember what was so scary about it. That was so like, 10 years ago. It’s all a bit fuzzy.

Let’s face it, every so often people write things that rock our boats and scandalize the masses. The titillation factor makes for easy, quick sales and the author wants to eat, so Win Win!

Following closely behind success, sometimes, people decide a book/movie/idea is bad and another book/movie/idea is good and, before we know it, clubs on each side are hell-bent on carving out Grand Canyons, angry spoonful by angry spoonful, until a yawning empty space between two ideologies void of bridge builders but rich in wall-makers is all that remains.

Divisive, empty space squelches unity and grows until the only side you hear is yours. A vague memory of some “other position” lumps the voices into the Us & Them teams.

Accusation and warning, exhortation and even encouragement, are pitifully reduced to vague insinuations, either embellished and vilified or expanded and deified. The posturing continues.  Unabated.

The drama escalates until we don’t even know what our issues are anymore and remain solely confident in this: we are certainly NOT like Them and They are nothing like Us.

Are you fighting for truth? Is that what this is?   Well, friends, try to stay focused on a simple fact.

Praying an American prosperity gospel doesn’t compute to the guy who is thrilled he just got a plastic bottle light fixture in his hut. Positive confession is crap to the children who just lost their entire family to Boko Haram.

To the girl running for her life through snow while armed gunmen close on her home this bickering over dating v. courtship doesn’t matter. She fled with with one pair of trousers and they are stretchy black ones. For her, yoga pants aren’t sexy. They are survival.

Tell the woman in a full burka who was just sold at a slave market what she did to deserve that? Was the 1”x 5” eye hole too provocative? Maybe if she’d been able to read that article on biblical womanhood.

God doesn’t want a Drama Queen. He doesn’t want a lawyer who can argue all the finest points of the argument.

He longs for those passionate about righteousness like feeding orphans, caring for widows, reaching the outcasts and the lost, holding the broken.

Jesus is coming back for someone who feeds and nurtures, loves and defends, honors and extends the grace that she has received.

Who are you going to be?

Leaning on Him,

Heidi

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  • Kimberly Stiles Vick

    I totally agree with you call to action and not just words. I too have been frustrated with all the “band wagon” riding Christians do with what ever is the hot topic trending that week.
    IN the case of “50shades”, though I do think important things need to be said and heard by the Faithful. The books depict a very abusive dynamic. So many churches and people in ministry (men), get it wrong over and over get it wrong when it comes to loving victum’s of sexual and spiritual abuse. I myself had the head elder at the biggest church in Vancouver tell me it was ok for the head pastor to write a support letter for the boy whom sexual abused my daughter. pastor Matt Hannan of New Heights Church in Vancouver wrote a letter of reference for my nephew that was given to the police, without ever talking to us and hearing what it was the 3 year old said that propped a police investigation. And I’m just one person. The Internet are full of personal experiences when the church made things worse by not believing the abused.
    Yes, action should follow indicnation! And the talking heads will almost always join the controversy, not to add to the solution but to hear their own voices. I guess my only criticism would be that in the case of the current topic source. A book about abuse, I feel that it is a topic worth getting riled up about. Unlike the other books you meantioned, in which we of the faith tend to freak, that such stories will take away from the awesomeness of God.
    As always thank you for your prespective.

    • As I stated, I think the book is crap both in context and content and if I had my druthers I would adore the opportunity to instill in every person tempted to read it a desire and hunger for actual GOOD literature.

      But, simply, it’s a book about the world doing stupid things and hurting each other in and through it all. However, the books about this issue are everywhere. I found access to them when I was in Jr. High, near the dawn of time, but no one was throwing their hands in the air and freaking out about it. In fact, the exact opposite has been true in so many cases. The more an issue becomes talked about in the public eye, the less likely are the victims you know taken seriously. As a survivor sexual abuse for years (it started when I was 3, your daughter’s age) I found the more educated people became the less likely they wanted to hear that someone they KNEW was involved in this issue. The panty-twisting about Shades that I have seen, with perhaps 2 exceptions, has been either justifying the private rights of consenting adults and poo poo-ing anyone who has concerns as sexually repressed Christian church ladies OR being so horrifically scandalized they must repeat the stories over and over again until even the very telling becomes rote and commonplace. My friend, Taunya, who has been talking about this issue for a while on her blog as she deals with the aftermath of being victimized and abused, added a couple things about Shades and reviewed a book about it, in the context of her life’s passion of purity and redemption. That makes sense. Most of the others? Likes and blog hits for the most part.

      Teacup tempests that make people feel like they are “really making a statement” when they are, in fact, only spewing hot air with no foundation or lasting impact. You know what? The guy who wrote a support letter for a Paedophile? He gets to live with that. You shout it long and loud to anyone who will listen that someone was evil and unrepentant. Advocate for your child and extend compassion to anyone else in your world who might be walking this same road. Those actions and responses matter.

      Thanks for coming by. I like talking with you and I appreciate your thoughtful comments. 🙂 Bless!

      • Where oh where to begin?

        Most people jump on band wagons, not because they have a real conviction, but because they want to look like they ARE concerned about something.

        I joined the Pulling Back the Shades team not to let the world know I was against 50 Shades, but to let the church know that they have HURT people with their insistence on putting their heads in the sand and pretending things like sexual abuse and BDSM and women actually being designed to be sexual just don’t exist.

        It’s EASIER to be fired up about a book…a movie…a pair of yoga pants. But be fired up about a church that promoted beating a child with a 2×4 and then telling her she had to figure out what sin she committed? Be angry that woman are being raped and abused by their own husbands? Be angry that little girls and boys are being devoured by adults for their own sexual pleasure? Be outraged that the church is making people feel guilty for the very thing the creator created us for? No. Let’s NOT feel anything about that. When it involves REAL people and REAL situations the church becomes silent. Strangely silent.

        The bride is sick. She’s the woman with the issue of blood and until she realizes that she’s hemorraging all over the place and start crawling to touch the hem of her garment, she’s going to continue focusing on stuff that really doesn’t matter.

    • Kimberly. I am so sorry that happened to you and to your daughter. Hugs to you.

  • Judit

    Hollywood can no longer survive any show without blatant porn, people peeing and throwing up in toilets – why is this interesting to Hollywood? Why do stories (or lack of them now) have to be embellished with bodily function on paper? I feel offended – no not because of the stupid porn but because hollywood thinks I WANT to look at other people’s awfull a…ses all the time – in my face, sometimes while I’m eating. If someone flashes me in the street what’s the difference when I switch on a TV with a paid for licence and I have to see boring and offence bodily parts? Surely if you’re INTO that, you can go and buy much “better” porn – why foist your bits on me. AND, has anybody seen that in movies people are throwing up an awful lot suddenly? What is THAT supposed to depict? is it because they’re so innately psychopathic that they think normal people throw up when they feel emotion of any sort? My G-d!

    • Judit

      Oh an btw ladies, stick around for a change like some very clever women in France and Italy. Don’t allow someone else to walk off with your stuff. The heck with this idiot. You’ve lived with him for long – might as well carry on doing it – don’t even have to be nice to him but protect your hearts (young girls) against becoming too overly in love and when he does stray chances are that the “other” woman only wants your stuff – so don’t give it to her. Keep the blooming rings and the bricks and mortar. Stuff him!