A Rape Victim’s Problem with Fifty Shades and the like

The Fifty Shades series isAs a Christian woman, I shouldn't have to say anything about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I need to.

God Above All Else Christian Strong Ladies Summer Tee Shirt Click To Shop


The Fifty Shades series is just the newest, shiniest example of racy romance novels turned into movies. As a Christian, I shouldn’t have to say anything to other Christians about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I needed to.

A lot of wonderful pastors have written tremendous articles about the dangers of Christians watching movies like Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker.

I can’t add much to such an excellent Christian commentary. I can only offer the purity standard I try to maintain for our home.

Philippians 4:8 ESV / Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Probably not achievable this side of heaven, but I have never regretted ‘breaking up’ with favorite shows that didn’t meet Christ’s standard.

So why read the rest of this post if I’m not adding to the “Christian” commentary on the film?

Because I can add my personal perspective on Fifty Shades as a date rape victim.

Movies like this that twist sex and violence aren’t harmless entertainment. They shape our views of sexuality. And affect the attitudes and behaviors of their viewers.

The Fifty Shades series is just the newest, shiniest example of racy romance novels turned into movies. As a Christian woman, I shouldn't have to say anything about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I need to.

Read my perspective on Fifty Shades as a date rape victim. NO starts with what we watch. Click To Tweet

Films like these depict intense, sexually-charged content, which pushes viewers to seek more exciting, more forbidden sexual content.

And often viewers act on these fantasies, which is destroying healthy views on sex and sexuality.

Fight the New Drug  discusses studies that looked at the effect of graphic sexual media on teens, concluding people expect what they see of sexual relationships, for better or worse.

Movies like Fifty Shades show a man manipulating a woman into believing she will be sexually gratified through dominance and violence, and makes it seem romantic and fulfilling.

Violent sex isn’t romantic.

As a survivor of date rape, I find it tremendously troubling women have made this series successful. We are financing the spread of the pervasive media lie that women want to be forced into submissive sexual roles defined by pain and violence.

We are contributing to a rape culture because we learn to accept this twisted view of sexuality as normal in the name of embracing our sexuality.

Violence, pain, & force aren't healthy parts of sexual relationships. Say No to 50 Shades. Click To Tweet

My generation was the first with VCRs and access to porn right in their homes. Many boys I knew watched it and expected girls to match their movies, including believing that saying no was a game of “persuade me.”

I was a thing to be used, not respected or valued.

Many studies show ANY pornographic content affects the way we think about human sexuality. Even after viewing non-violent graphic sex, men were more likely to view women as less equal and believe NO only when accompanied by a slap.

This climate created the date rape culture that made me a victim.

Rape left a jagged wound in my life that will never completely go away. God has healed much of my hurt and used my experiences to help others, but I cannot ever completely erase the impact from my mind.

Sexually graphic media perpetuates a culture in which women are objectified not valued. Click To Tweet

Most days I walk around completely forgetting it ever happened. However, in a flash, rape raises its ugly head in the middle of a conversation, a usually tame television show, or a movie scene I didn’t anticipate.

While I don’t blame myself, I can tell you that my rapists’ sexual sin is like a poisonous weed that I can never completely eradicate. My rapist perpetrated violence against me on the inside, affecting more than just my physical body.

Rape is a crime against more than the body.

I can’t tell you how destructive it is to the true, God-honoring intimacy of marriage to have these mental and emotional flashbacks of my victimization.

Thankfully, through Christ and inside a loving marriage, the impact weakens. Yet, even when everything is perfect and good, I have found myself weeping because the shame and pain from my past poisoned what God has given us for joy.

So what does this have to do with Fifty Shades?

I have forgiven my rapist inside myself and in prayer, but never had personal closure. I don’t know what created the violent, sexual person he was so young. But I never want to support an industry or media that creates the widespread acceptance of sexual sin.

1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV / Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

Love and sex are already confusing in our sexualized culture. Kids are exposed to images of sexuality in hamburger commercials. Raising our children to be disciples of Christ in a society that ambushes their purity is hard enough.

Loving and satisfying sex within marriage is the true ideal.

Proverbs 5:18-19 ESV / Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.

We need to create a culture for our children that honors appropriate sexuality for ourselves and our children.

Hebrews 13:4 ESV / Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

So, I would ask you to learn about the very real links between watching (or reading) content like Fifty Shades and violence. I would ask you to consider changing the channel during the commercials for the film or writing to letters to the networks that air them.

We need to do more than not watch them, we need to change the culture for our children.

My daughter deserves a marriage with beautiful intimacy fueled by real passion for each other. I don’t want her to experience the pale reflection our sinful culture tries to appropriate.

That starts with us refusing to financially support ANY media that portrays graphic sex.

And that starts with you today.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

What 2016 taught me

What did you learn in 2016? It was a challenging year, but I learned the blessing isn't a storm free life, but God's peace and presence in the storms.

What did you learn in 2016? I learned a lot. But I can’t begin to measure what 2016 taught me.

It wasn’t my best year in concrete ways. I lost count of the challenges and financial setbacks somewhere around June.

Only to find higher and higher hills each month, culminating in complete physical and technological breakdowns that have left me physically wounded and without my computer to write and at least virtually step outside this broken body.

God is forcing me to BE STILL so completely right now. I’ve been trying to revel in the stillness despite its frustrations, and listen in it.

I have made no attempt to blog until I couldn’t let go of God’s sweet presence with me this morning. I am slowly and painfully typing this on my phone. But I wanted to write this down at least for myself.

I had times this year that I was so sad, I struggled to breathe in my despair. I felt hurt and inadequate, alone.

But what I learned there was what made me realize in the end, 2016 was exceptional in ways that defy measuring.

I drew closer and closer to God, pressing in, crying out for guidance and solace. I wept, arms outstretched to heaven, praying, groaning. Mostly seeking His answers and peace.

And I learned the greater blessing in that.
The blessing isn't a storm free life, but God's peace and presence in the storms. Click To Tweet

This morning, I was reading in Isaiah, chapter 65 God’s promises for His people and I ached with hope.

“I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.

No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭65:19-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

After spending this year immersed in such a tremendously broken world, oh! how I long for this day of God’s promises: long lives and children who always grow up and personal health and prosperity.

If 2016 taught me anything, it is that without God, all we have are the storms of this life without any hope or joy or peace.

What did you learn in 2016? It was a challenging year, but I learned the blessing isn't a storm free life, but God's peace and presence in the storms.
With God, we still have storms. Sometimes, they are even more challenging with being rejected by the world and attacked by Satan.

But we have PEACE.

A peace that makes no sense outside of Christ, but is so real and so profound that I know as hard as this year has been, for all the losses financially and emotionally and physically, I’ve been blessed spiritually beyond measure.

I’ve grown in how I process my hurts and fears. I’ve grown in how I respond more than react.

Each storm prepared me for the next. While I would have rather not had the challenges, I would not trade the reliance on Christ I’ve gained.

Each type of season passes. Both busy and slow, joyful and difficult seasons eventually give way.

Every season passes - both joyful and difficult seasons give way, only God is eternal. Click To Tweet

I wouldn’t mind a season of fewer struggles, yet I know I’m heading into 2017 facing some difficulties that may not make for an easier year.

But when I gave up my life to follow Christ, I gained back a life that is blessed beyond measure in ways that cannot be counted.

I am still human and struggle against grief and fear, but through overcoming this year, I have an underlying current of trust and hope that the end of Isaiah speaks to so beautifully.

He writes a stunning dichotomy of God’s wrath and punishment juxtaposed against prophecies of Christ’s redemption of His people and glorious eternity in Heaven.

Joy and pain balanced with hope and promise, which is a pretty good way to end 2016. Happy New Year!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!

How you can give better this Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season.

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season, the greatest gift of Christ and His love which frees and transforms us.

Honestly, in my opinion, Giving Tuesday should precede Thanksgiving. Maybe we would all be less focused on the commercialized shopping if we started our season with giving. And, it is a good reminder that we are to honor God by giving of our firstfruits, not what’s leftover.

Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV  Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Giving has always been something important to me. When I was five, I got passionate about supporting the missionaries at my church. I went home, dumped out my checker cup, and went door to door for donations without telling anyone.

I’m lucky my parents didn’t kill me! I can’t imagine my six year-old being missing for two hours. But I did collect some money for a good cause. 

That intense heart for causes and passion for people never changed.

Giving should be something we do all year round not just at Christmas, not just on giving Tuesday, but today’s a great day to focus on why we give back and starting the season with the right heart and the right attitude.

Giving should be part of how we live all year round, not just on #GivingTuesday Click To Tweet

Number One

Give where you are passionate.

The world has millions of different causes. Even important work would get overlooked without people like us finding the ones that matter to us.

God gave each of us diverse interests and put us in specific places for a reason.

Find something that speaks to you and give there.

For example, I have several causes near and dear to my heart, but SavingEliza.com is extra special. A friend of a friend has a daughter who has Sanfilippo Syndrome, a tragic childhood Alzheimer’s, a disease orphaned by modern medical funding.

But the people who love and care about the children affected with Sanfilippo syndrome knew science had a potential treatment that just needed funding to get it through the final FDA stages.

With a handful of hope, several families with children suffering with Sanfilippo made an incredible push to get it done. They raised millions through people like me and you who care about giving. And children are starting to get treated!

Every year for her birthday which is right before Thanksgiving time, I make a donation and often a few times during the year because so many children are still waiting for their chance to get this potentially disease halting treatment.

Secondly, give locally or personally.

Giving to someone in need near you is a powerful way to be a light in a dark world. Just this week, I had a chance to give to someone during a deeply difficult family loss. Sometimes, we don’t know what to say and other than prayers, we feel helpless. Donating to a fundraiser is one way to say I’m walking with you.

Or take the time to give personally, mail a check, slide a grocery gift card under their door. Make a difference for the people in your life.

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season.

Third, gifts don’t have to be financial.

Volunteer. Offer to cook food for an event. Babysit the neighbors’ kids so they can have a night out.

Give of your time, your talents, your treasures. Look for ways to help people. I find that if I slow down, I realize how much need I can be missing by just being too busy. Sometimes people just need our attention.

Also, pray about need. God will sometimes bring someone to your mind. This summer, He did just that for me and I felt like I was supposed to mail her a check. It was kind of strange, but even as I was writing it, I made it out for more than I initially thought.

It wasn’t much, but I was blown away when she called and said there had been a problem with her husband’s paycheck through finance. Our small gift was enough to make some ends meet.

I love seeing how God is uses us when we take the time to get quiet and listen to His prompting.

Lastly, research your charities. Lots of great causes are represented by non-profits that pay millions in salaries for CEOs or even celebrity endorsements, and sites like Charity Navigator are great ways to see how much of your donation goes where it should.

My personal rule of thumb is 90% or more should go to doing what I intend it for.

I don’t have much compared to some, but so much compared to so many, and I want to make a difference for Christ.

#GivingTuesday is one opportunity to show others the light of Christ that shines in us. Click To Tweet

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!

We Gather Together – Thanksgiving 2016

After a year of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together create such a beautiful picture.

After a year of tremendous division and fear in our country, we need Thanksgiving more than ever. As I thought about giving thanks today, I couldn’t stop singing the classic hymn We Gather Together.

The lyrics seem extra poignant. Maybe, I’ve never really paid attention to them before, but they drew me in today.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Not only is gathering important as friends and family, but especially as Christians for fellowship. Living separate from the world but in it, can be lonely. We gather together to encourage and be encouraged, reminded that we need not fear because we belong to the Lord.

Hebrews 10:25 (NASB) 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
We gather together for fellowship and encouragement, remembering to Whom we belong. #Thankful Click To Tweet

I love how the hymn discusses a body of believers gathering to seek His blessing, His chastening.

Chastening is God’s correction of the sin in our lives. And it is a blessing, He corrects our steps, sets us right. I’m not always grateful for the correction in the moment, but I’m learning to see it correctly.

God promises us He reproves whom He loves.

Discipline isn’t punishment, it’s guidance. When I punish my daughter, it’s never vindictive. I want her to learn, grow, mature so that she’ll be prepared for obstacles to come.

God chastens & reproves those He loves. It is part of His blessings for us. Click To Tweet
Revelation 3:19 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

In the hard times, I’ve learned to seek His face. When I hit a wall in a friendship, my marriage, or parenting, I’ve learned to search out God’s will, even if it means I must change.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

After a year of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together create such a beautiful picture.

I think about all the small ways God ordained my every step this year. The devotionals I read that challenged and convicted me at just the right moment, the lessons I learned at exactly the time I needed them.

I’ve faced some heartbreaking moments this year. But God orchestrated my paths to and through them. He stood by my side through it all. His picture is an eternal one.
I am especially grateful for the way His word is always relevant for me, everyday.
Today’s daily passage was Revelation 3 which reflects the hymn I had already been singing and writing about.
Revelation 3:10 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

We lift up His name in praises today, seeing His leadership and dominion, asking for Him to defend us against the tribulations of the world.

What tremendous safety we have in Him.

And much like the company that shared our feast today, God promises His great desire for communion with us.

Revelation 3:20 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

I imagined the Lord sharing my table today, seeing Him through the blessings of friends who joined our celebration because of providential happenings, and know God is present in our thanksgiving as we gather together.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!

The Election is Over. What should Americans do now?

Election season has never felt quite so divisive as it did this year. The entire country is so desperately polarized. What should Americans do now?

Election season has never felt quite so divisive as it did this year. The entire country is so desperately polarized. The despair and anger and vitriol are palpable. Our country is at tremendous risk of destruction from within.

What should Americans do now?

If you are a reasonable, intelligent American, I’m talking with you; I’m walking with you. We need to act like we are reasonable and intelligent more now than ever.

I’m not seeing very many reasonable, intelligent responses following the election.

As Christians, we faced an impossible decision. As Americans, we faced a truly painful one. But we GET to choose how we act today.

election-is-over-what-should-americans-do

Maybe, today we can stop focusing on the figureheads and start focusing on the issues.

The election might be over, but the work has just started.

America needs Conflict Resolution 101.

We are looking at the same picture, but seeing a totally different image. But really, we’re both looking at the same America, so the disconnect is our own perspective, biases, and opinions.

The election's over. What should Americans do now? America needs Conflict Resolution 101 Click To Tweet

Find common ground.

We all want America to be the great nation we believe she used to be. Even if we disagree on how, we should be able to agree on some core ideas.

We all want a safe country in which every citizen has the means and ability to provide for his/her family, a nation in which every person’s rights are equal under the law, with a strong economy and opportunity for all different types of people.

But how do we get there from here?

Debate ideas, not each other.

We might disagree on the details, but we have to start with seeing the humanity in each of us. Click To Tweet

Be more respectful and kind than expected. No one can hear your ideas over your shouting.

Philippians 2:3 ESV Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

When we count others more significantly than ourselves, we seek to understand, not wound.

Healing from this election starts with listening.

Conflict resolution teaches we have to understand the other side before we can resolve the conflict.

Listen to the heart of your opposition. What are they really saying?

Research both sides of an issue – go back to debate club basics and be able to really see both sides. When we do that, we often realize we’re not so far apart.

Today, I had a conversation with an LGBT woman who was angry, but as we exchanged opinions I heard her fear. She’s afraid for her marriage and her family. She is afraid of being mistreated.

As a Christian woman in an increasingly unChristian society, I understand that fear. How can I respond in a way that demonstrates I love her even if we disagree on specific policies?

Refuse to take the bait.

This one is personally challenging. And I’m not good at ignoring the need to correct or comment. But I’m learning.

If I can’t speak in love or within a relationship with someone, I may do more harm than good, if I speak at all.

Doesn't matter which side you're on, when you wound with your words, America can never heal. Click To Tweet

Anger and arguing often comes from a place of fear.

We Christians need to be examples of how not to let fear dictate our actions. We have an eternal promise. We’re not demonstrating our trust in our Heavenly Father if we are reacting in fear.

Matthew 6:34 ESV  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Today, nothing has changed. Let’s not borrow trouble. Decisions and change take time. Hopefully, such a close election and balanced legislature will hopefully, bring great discussion and compromise.

And we LOVE.

John 15:12 ESV  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

They will know we are Christians by our love, not our political affiliations, not our bumper stickers or ballots.

We let humility and grace be our watchwords going forward. We seek solutions to problems, not for people.

We are all Americans. Let’s start there.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!