OK, by now, almost everyone has heard of the blockbuster movie "Magic Mike", about a group of gorgeous male strippers, and the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy, a mainstream pornographic series marketed to women about a disturbed, controlling man and his troubled relationship with a young virgin whom he selfishly and callously immerses into the lifestyle of bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism.
The blogosphere is ripe with both raving fans and angry critics of these books and movies. Many of the blogs I have read relate to whether Christian women should see/read these wildly popular sensations. Most have made persuasive arguments based on sound Biblical doctrine, common sense, and the wisdom from seeing the downside to these supposedly "harmless and fun" cultural phenomenons.
However, this post is not about specific Bible verses, or what individual women should or shouldn't do, Christian or otherwise. I am speaking from the heart about what I have observed in my own life and marriage. Obviously, I am writing through the lens of a follower of Christ, since I love and identify with Him. My convictions run deep and perspective is keenly personal.
As a heterosexual woman, I understand the appeal of "Magic Mike." I can appreciate a buff, good-looking man as much as the next gal. Having seen the trailer for the movie, I can relate to the excitement of viewing finely sculpted men with exquisitely perfect six pack abs. Channing Tatum has mastered the feat of tilting his pelvis while simultaneously removing his clothes and smiling a 'come hither' look without breaking a sweat. This is eye candy for women, no doubt!!!
But is this really harmless fun? Is it women's chance to do what men have been doing for many years--objectifying and salivating over naked women? Are women who obsessively devour these books and book clubs who animatedly discuss "Fifty Shades of Grey" into the early morning hours candidly enjoying themselves and expanding their sexual horizons? Am I a killjoy, a prude, or both?
Quite simply, I am convinced there are unintended consequences of this type of entertainment. As a follower of Christ, I have to constantly be aware of what enters my mind, because my mind likes to travel to the gutter, and the Spirit of the Lord does not dwell there. (I know, I've looked;) The effects of my entertainment choices on my own spiritual life will be covered in another post.
The thrust (pardon the pun) of this post is to posit the ramifications of my reading and viewing choices on my marriage. No doubt about it, if I see "Magic Mike" I am choosing to lust over a dude gyrating his junk in front of my face. If I read books about a man who is "all that" and who has me completely obsessed by his charms, I am choosing to be intoxicated by a character who gives the Creator the middle finger and perverts something as beautiful as sex into ritualistic control, abuse, and narcissism.
If I really believe that besides God, my most treasured relationship is with my spouse, I don't want the movies I see or the books I read to subversively tear holes in the fabric of our union. I love my husband and our marriage and want to protect it at all costs. By God's grace, my prayer is that our marriage will bring glory to God and not fall prey to ruin and destruction.
This means, of course, that I am committed to being physically faithful to Jeff. But I also want him to feel that he is incredibly attractive and the only object of my desire. This does not imply that I watch nothing but rated G movies, limit my reading to the "Little Women" series, or that I don't notice an attractive man. But I will not pay money to intentionally leer at dancing, prancing strippers for the sake of being titillated and entertained.
Otherwise, I will communicate to Jeff on some level that he is not good enough, attractive enough, or sexy enough to satisfy me. No matter how many organic salads and gluten-free whole grains he consumes or ab-crunches he performs, he is not going to look like a 25-year old stripper (nor am I;) That's OK--I love him exactly like he is and I believe it is a sign of respect and honor that I lavish all my ogling and compliments regarding a man's physique on him.
Jeff is as attractive and alluring to me as ever. I never want to be with anyone else. My goal is for him to to be the object of all my sexual energy, focus, and attention. I want to worship him with my body. Our marriage is exclusive. Since I desire to communicate these things to him in every way possible, I'll leave "Magic Mike" to others because I have "Magic Jeff" at home.
In addition, what I find sexy in a man is about much more than fine physical attributes. I love David Letterman's Top Ten Lists, so in that spirit, I will list 10 things that get my heart pumpin', in reverse order of importance:
10) A man who takes out the trash without being asked...
9) A man who does the dishes (extra points if is smiles while sudsing extra-greasy pans)...
8) A man who can make me laugh and reminds me not to take myself so seriously...
7) A man who makes sure my vehicle is running properly and smoothly at all times. This includes routine maintenance, diagnosing of "funny noises" that I report the engine is making, coordinating necessary repairs, and purchasing new tires/brakes/timing belts (what the heck is a timing belt, anyway?). It may include fixing self-inflicted damage like shaving the side mirror off my car or pounding out dings made by accidentally bumping my van into various objects. Also, I love myself a man who keeps my car filled with gas!
6) A man who is intent on financially providing for his family. He will endure anything: difficult bosses, thankless tasks, and long hours. If he lost his office job and had no other options, he would gladly work two jobs--one digging ditches and one flipping burgers--to provide for his family's needs.
5) A man who has integrity with everyone he deals with--whether anyone is watching or not...
4) A man who has a heart of service and helps others, often without even being asked, and always with a smile and pure motives...
3) A man who relishes being an exceptional, loving, and devoted father to my children...
2) A man who is absolutely committed to our marriage and remaining 100% faithful to me...
1) A man who loves the Lord and his Word and who is the spiritual leader of the home...
Allow me to camp out at #1 for a moment. NOTHING is more meaningful in our marriage than the spiritual attraction we share. It is one of the first things that drew me to Jeff and it has been the anchor for our marriage and likely the reason we are still happily married after 19 years.
The type of spiritual leadership I am referring to is not domineering. It does not consist of a husband bossing his wife around while his children cower in the corner of the room. Instead, It is humble, kind, loving, and sacrificial. It is a deep reservoir of genuine faith. It involves much more than simply saying "All right everybody, get in the car, it's time to go to church," or offering a rote prayer before meals. It is more than practicing cultural Christianity or going through monotonous religious routine to check off spiritual boxes to supposedly appease God.
I'm speaking of a man like Jeff who has put his faith in the Lord Jesus and humbly desires to live his life in service and devotion to Him. I'm describing a man who rises early, before anyone is awake, and spends time studying his Bible and praying. He actively tries to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in his life. He meets with other godly men who encourage one another, pray with one another, and hold each other accountable.
He reads the Bible to his family and has spiritual conversations with his wife and children. Jeff makes an effort to "teach" by modeling Christ-like behavior and also turning things that happen in our every-day life into opportunities to grow in Christ.
And my husband prays. He prays by himself, he prays with others, he prays over his children, and he prays with me.
Is he a saint? Goodness, no! Jeff is a sinner, just like everyone else, and he frequently makes mistakes and needs to ask God and sometimes others for forgiveness. Sometimes he has bad days or even bad weeks. Occasionally his words or actions do not display the character of Christ.
But Jeff is committed to the spiritual leadership of his family, he is making steps in the right direction, and he is growing. He knows that he is never stronger than when he is on his knees before the throne of his King. As his wife, this is all I could ever ask for, expect, or desire.
So let others spend many hours fantasizing about Christian Grey while he seduces a young woman and then subjects her to control, manipulation, and cruelty, all in the name of romance and good sex. I'm gonna stick with "50 Shades of Pray."