The Rev. Timothy Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City has said, "Until now, there has never been a culture in the history of the world that puts so much emphasis and so much hope in sex for happiness."
Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh agree that it's a sad truth—people today have settled for pursuing a physical experience in their search for happiness, while overlooking an emotional connection.
In Pulling Back the Shades, Dannah explains, "While erotica might originally heighten sexual feelings, over the long haul it erodes something much more important—intimacy. Whether you are married or single, you are looking for more than sex. Your body, your mind and your spirit were created to crave intimacy." She continues, "Erotica puts undue emphasis on the physical and disables your ability to connect emotionally. No matter how much you may want to believe that the Red Room of Pain will bring the high you are seeking, it's much more likely to destroy your bedroom."
For women and couples who have already dabbled in E.L. James' world of Fifty Shades of Grey, Juli and Dannah offer hope for something more in a marriage relationship. They believe in God's original design for sex, as well as His plan to redeem that which has been twisted. It's time for us as Christian women to reclaim our sexuality as a part of our spiritual and relational longings, committing to the pursuit of something more than a physical connection.
But how do you get free from the entrapment of erotica? Juli and Dannah addressed this question in their interview.
The very first step is to be honest with yourself and with someone you trust. Be candid about your longings and about your struggles. Find an accountability partner you can trust and let that person know you in a way that strengthens you.
Confess any sexual sin so you can be healed. James 5:16 exhorts, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." Dannah clarified that forgiveness comes from God alone, but the body of Christ is available for our healing. She challenges people dabbling in erotica to have courage enough to tell someone. Be accountable to someone who will be compassionate and faithful to help you find healing.
After you've been honest and confessed your draw to erotica, it may be necessary to change your appetites when it comes to intimacy and sexuality. Juli explains, "God has designed sexuality between a husband and wife to be very satisfying, so if you're feeding your mind and spirit these things that are unreal (pornography, erotica), you need to cut all of that off so the appetite is not being fed."
Once that old appetite has been starved, couples can commit to working on romance, intimacy and sexuality in their marriage. The Song of Solomon does more than just talk about sexuality; it gives a married couple permission to work on, enjoy and take pleasure in their sex life together.
The last recommended step to recovery has to do with paying attention to your spiritual appetite. Do you long for spiritual renewal? It's essential that couples work to revive more than their sex life—they need to ask God for spiritual renewal.
From Pulling Back the Shades: "Old Testament prophets often spoke of Israel as God's bride and even use sexual terms to describe the intimacy He desired with His people. The Hebrew word for sexual intimacy, yada, means ‘to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.’ It is a word that transcended the physical act to speak of a deep emotional connection. In a beautiful expression of His desire to know us, God inspired this same word to be used in the Scriptures to express a deep knowing and longing for God."
The bottom line regarding sex in marriage is simple: Sex is sacred and deserves incredible honor. In Hebrews 13:4, we're all reminded, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure" (NIV).