Right this minute, in the living room of a suburban home somewhere in America, a family is falling apart.
And they aren't even aware.
There's a fit for prime-time show on the flat-screen tv, but no one in this family is paying any attention to it.
Because even though they are all together in one room, they are each wrapped up in their own private entertainment choices.
The husband is sitting in his chair in the corner, viewing a movie on his laptop. He has his ear buds in place, preventing anyone from hearing the sound but himself.
The wife is curled up on her end of the couch reading a popular paperback novel and their 15 year old daughter is on the other end of the couch, smartphone in hand, reading fan-fiction she's found on the internet.
A typical, modern day family, right?
Spending a quiet evening at home together.
Quality time, some would say.
But it's the secrets this family is keeping that are tearing it apart.
You see, this husband is cheating on his wife.
The wife is cheating on her husband and their daughter is damaging her future marriage before she's even thought about saying "I do".
What's even more concerning is that this could be any family, in any home, in any neighborhood, anywhere in America today.
It could even be yours.
How do I know?
Because at different times, the parts of this scenario have taken place in my home.
In my family.
In my life.
And if you think it can't or won't happen in your family, then you're kidding yourself.
It's time we had a talk.
And it's time we stopped believing the lies being fed to us by a culture that has chosen to ignore truth. Lies that convince us that wrong is right and cause us to stubbornly defend our poor choices.
Choices that don't honor the God of the universe who created us to be so much more than what we have become.
Yesterday I posted a blog link on my personal Facebook page that got a bit of attention.
It was a commentary written by popular conservative blogger Matt Walsh and addressed the latest darling pet of the entertainment world - the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. (Click HERE to view his commentary.)
If you've been alive and over the age of 7 since the initial book was released, my guess is that you've at least heard of this book, it's two sequels and now, predictably, the upcoming Hollywood movie.
But in case you've been living under a rock over the past several years - allow me to enlighten you.
It's not a decorating book, or design publication extolling the virtues of the color Grey.
It's a book about sado-masochistic sex between two unmarried people; an 'experienced' dominating male figure and a young female college graduate.
And that's probably the least offensive way to describe it.
According to a February 16, 2014 article in the Hollywood Reporter, the sales of the trilogy have topped 100 million dollars worldwide. In addition, the original book was listed at #18 in the Nielsen Book Scan Top 20 for 2013.
That's 2 years after it's initial print publication.
I'd say that it's pretty popular, wouldn't you?
However, as we all know, being popular doesn't mean it has redeeming value.
I'm not writing today to debate the merits, or lack thereof, of this particular book.
In fact, I haven't read the book.
However, I have read many 'romance novels' over the course of my lifetime, many of which dipped their 'literary' toes into these waters.
Starting with Harlequin Romance novels when I was 13.
That may seem awfully young to some of you, but consider this - today's children are being exposed to hard-core pornography as early as age 7. Any child who has access to the internet in any form is likely to have been exposed to some type of pornographic image or writing. And sadly, for many of our children, this initial exposure is leading to addictions and behaviors that are damaging their moral compass and leading to a lifestyle that can only bring regret and shame.
If you've read my own story (click HERE if you have not), then you know how my poor choices affected me and my loved ones. And truly, it's only by the awesome grace of our loving God that I am still here to write this today.
But as I've looked back, I realize that it was the unrealistic expectations that those 'romance' novels created in my mind that caused me to look for similar ideals in my own relationships.
The mystery of tall, dark and handsome coming to sweep me off my feet and make me feel like the woman I was meant to be was seductive to an awkward and unpopular teenage girl.
In truth, not so much.
For me that led to losing my innocence at the age of 14 and an unexpected pregnancy and my first abortion at the age of 17.
Not so romantic after all.
Let's fast forward to what is happening today.
When our young daughters - and I say WHEN because it is happening, don't be fooled - when our daughters read the material in 50 Shades of Grey, and books like it, what ideals are being planted in their impressionable minds?
Minds that are already being told by the media that they are not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not sexy enough unless they meet an unrealistic standard set by a culture that has no moral standard.
Is Christian Grey this generation's mystery man?
Is sado-masochistic sex this generation's romance?
God have mercy on our children if that's true.
And how about you Mom?
And you Wife?
Have you read this book, or others like it?
Can you honestly say that the scenes you have created in your mind out of what you've read haven't appeared again when you are spending time with your husband in the confines of your bedroom?
Because that's what 'literature' of this type is intended to do - or so the authors tell us.
As my daughter's boyfriend commented on my Facebook post yesterday - "It's porn aimed at girls. It's the same thing as videos and images aimed at guys." "Girls function a different way than guys, therefore porn is going to look different."
If a 17 year old young man understands this, why ladies, can't we?
Let's take a look at what Ms. E.L. James herself says about her books.
In an article published in the Daily Mail newspaper in Britain - 4/18/12, quoting Ms. James:
"[she] describes her novel as a ‘romantic fantasy story’, which offers women a ‘holiday' from their husbands."
Listen up Christian women - I'm talking to YOU here.
Is this what we are about?
Taking a 'holiday' from our husbands?
If that's the case then it's no surprise to me that the divorce rate within the church is higher than that of the unchurched.
Why do we believe that what we do in secret won't eventually come out in the light of day?
Do you want to destroy your marriages?
Go for it.
For the cost of a Chick-Fil-A combo meal, you can download this 'romantic' drivel onto your e-reader and start the process.
No one will suspect a thing until one day your sex life with your husband is no longer satisfying enough.
One day you'll wonder what's wrong with him.
And the next day you might start looking twice at the fellow in the cubicle next to you at work.
And how many days will pass before you pick up the phone and make an appointment with your attorney?
You want a 'holiday' from your husband?
Well, according to Ms. James, you can have it by reading her book.
It's just entertainment, right?
You should be able to read what you want without being shamed for it, right?
Let's consider something else ladies, why are we hurt and disappointed when our husbands look at pornographic videos and images when we ourselves are reading pornographic stories?
Is there really a difference in the result?
The medium is different certainly - images versus words - but as my daughter's boyfriend so accurately pointed out, "Girls function differently..."
We know this, it's nothing new; men are visually stimulated by what they see; women are emotionally stimulated by what they read.
Quoting my Pastor: "When men are addicted to sex, they are scum bags, adulterers and perverts. When women are addicted to sexual content, it's art, women's rights, and love. I'm not shouting double standard, I just see a need for ladies to protect their hearts."
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." - Proverbs 4:23
What Ms. James and other authors of her ilk have done is simply wrapped up deviant sex acts in a pretty 'romance' story that captures our hearts and sadly, we take the bait.
Hook, line and sinker.
Problem is, we get caught on that fish hook, find that we can't wriggle away so easily and then spend a lot of time and energy convincing ourselves that being there isn't so bad after all as we get reeled in towards a certain demise.
You know, because it's your life, right?
It's not illegal, is it?
It doesn't hurt anyone, does it?
It's just entertainment, right?
Hmm, isn't that the same justification husbands use when they are watching that movie on their laptop in the corner of the living room?
"No one can see what I'm watching."
"I'm not hurting anyone."
"I still love my wife."
Do you honestly believe that when you are enjoying intimacy with your husband that the images he's ingested don't come flashing across the flat screen in his mind?
Because they do.
And because of the magic of photoshop, the more visual stimulation they ingest, the more you come up lacking.
You won't suspect a thing until he stops desiring those intimate moments with you.
Because he's wondering what's wrong with you.
He's finding the new intern at the office very attractive.
And one day, he's picking up the phone to call his attorney.
But, it's just entertainment, right?
There was another quote by Ms. James in the same article that really captured my attention. Let's take a look:
"The only two people she has refused to share the book with are her sons. ‘Thank God, they don’t want to read it,’ she says. ‘They’re very proud of my success, but it’s not for them to read.’"