Shades Of Holiness

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of
conversation; Because it is written: Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Pet. 1:15-16)

How important is personal holiness to us? What are we willing to do – or in some cases, to NOT do – in order to live a life of personal holiness? Are we willing to give up “little” things that can compromise our holiness? For instance, right now there is a very popular series of three books that has been labeled “mommy porn” or “women’s porn”. These books are so popular that a movie about them is coming out this week, just in time for Valentine's Day, the holiday designed for lovers. But are these books and this movie appropriate for Christian women?

Right off the bat, anything labeled as “porn” of any kind, whether “mommy porn”, “soft porn” or any other kind of porn, should immediately send up red flags. Any kind of pornography involves the exploitation of women. And pornography is very addicting - just look at all the statistics about the number of men and increasingly, the number of women, who admit to being addicted to it. And it is a fact that child molesters are almost always addicted to pornography. Why would any of us want to participate in something that abuses and exploits and damages women and children?

This kind of books and movies glorify things that are not natural, are not "normal", and are harmful, abusive, and degrading to women. And please don't give me that tired old argument that whatever two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom is nobody's business. It doesn't matter if it is two consenting adults: just because two people agree to do something doesn't make it okay. Themes like bondage and sado-masochism are physically, psychologically, and spiritually degrading; that is NOT okay. They have nothing whatsoever to do with love, only lust.

Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung says: "Sex is a gift from God, but like all God's gifts, it can be opened in the wrong context and repackaged in ugly wrapping. Violence against women is not acceptable just because she's open to the suggestion, and sex is not open to all permutations, even in an adult relationship." The physical relationship between a man and wife is meant to be both uplifting and satisfying, filled with mutual love and respect. Physical intimacy is a wonderful thing, but only within the boundaries God set for it. Without those boundaries, it becomes a snare, a trap that leads to sin.

How does reading or watching sexually implicit content lead to sin? First, it lends itself to fantasizing: after all, whose life can begin to compare with a script where everyone says and does just exactly the right thing at the right time? The Bible tells us to be careful of our thoughts, they control our actions. All sin begins in our minds, before we ever act on it.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust,
and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin:
and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. (James 1:14)

Within the pages of the book or on the movie screen, everything is larger than life: every scene is carefully staged, and everyone’s responses are magnified. Our lives - especially our love lives - seem so tame in comparison. It seems like everyone else is getting more action, more variety, more excitement, more romance, more ….. everything. And it seems like we’re the only ones missing out. So we start to fantasize. And although the world tells us that a little fantasizing is perfectly fine and normal, and even healthy, Jesus tells us:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her
has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28)

I have said for years, and will keep repeating it until God calls me home: EVERYTHING the world teaches us is in direct opposition to the Word of God! Fantasy is a lie that makes us unsatisfied and discontent with what we have, and makes us long for something else: something new, or different, or more exciting. Then our fantasies cause us to sin. They ensnare us, because enough is never enough. Fantasies just keep growing and growing, becoming more and more perverse.

And sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sins we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, which are created in God's image, and are the temple of the Holy Spirit. I Cor. 6:18 tells us that fornication specifically is a sin against our own bodies, but no form of sexual impurity glorifies God. The principal is the same for any sexual sin, because the next two verses go on to say:

“What? know you not that your body is the temple of the
Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have of God, and you
are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore
glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
(1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Even within the boundaries of marriage, trying to act out our fantasies sends the message that what we have is not good enough. We can’t let ourselves become dissatisfied because our sex life does not measure up to some fantasy standard that we’ve created in our minds - or one that someone else’s mind has created. True intimacy in marriage has no place for dominance, pain, or degradation. The expression of sexual intimacy is not all about what “I” want. There is no room in the marriage bed for “I”, it is intended for “us”. It is about sharing yourself with the one you love, when “the two become one flesh”. (Gen. 2:24)

“Let marriage be held in honor by all, and the bed undefiled:
but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Heb 13:4)

For the record, I have not read the books. I have read reviews of the contents, and have heard from women who read them. And I will not be watching the movie, either. Reading the blurb about it was all I needed to know. I don’t have to touch a hot stove or swallow poison to know it will harm me, and I don’t have to see the movie to know that it isn’t something that will build me up, but instead has the potential to cause me to sin. The Bible says:

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient:
all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1 Cor. 10:23)

The bottom line is this, ladies: There are not 50 shades of holiness, there is only one: pure white. If personal holiness is important to us, we will make the choice to not watch those things that may be lawful, but are not expedient and do not build us up, or bring glory to God. Remember that little children's song that says "Be careful little eyes what you see"? We need to learn to guard what we allow our eyes to see, and what things we allow to fill our thoughts. We would be wise to learn to say, as the Psalmist:

"I will not look upon anything vile; I hate what faithless
people do, and I will have no part in it." (Psalm 101:3)

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