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

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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.

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Marriage Advice I Wish I Had 10 years ago

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Maybe that’s really the only kind there is: Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

Yesterday we celebrated our 10th Anniversary! We’re not quite the wide-eyed dreamers we were when we said, “I do,” but we made it. And I’ve gained some wisdom I wish I’d learned much sooner.

The song that was playing in the background the day my husband proposed in April, 2006 (see our amazing romantic proposal video below!) was “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts because our lives took convoluted paths to get to each other. But we were so grateful to have found someone to call home. As a military couple, home for us isn’t a place so much as it is our family.

Our wedding centered around the idea that two roads were becoming one journey; a wedding was just a day, but a marriage was a lifetime of love, joy, laughter, patience, forgiveness.

We both knew marriage would be challenging, but didn’t know how broken the road would be AFTER we said “I do.”

Bless the Broken road was our song, we didn't know it would be part of marriage too. Click To Tweet

We thought marriage would be bliss. We would finally be together after years of living in different states or different continents, but that wasn’t going to be the case.

Only weeks after he returned from his second deployment, we got married and had a couple of chaotic months together (wedding, moving, honeymoon and holidays) before he went away to various training schools.

Then we moved to a new duty station where he immediately began training to deploy while I worked full-time in a new teaching position.

Then he deployed again for a third year, and following his return, we underwent the adoption process while still trying to reintegrate as a couple, working around his training to deploy again.

He deployed again three months after our daughter was born. I was a “single” mom and he was in some of the darkest situations he had faced. And when he came home, the war did, too.

While grappling with the compounded effects of his four Iraq tours, we transferred to a new duty station with new challenges. He’s stateside, but works more than ever. And I’ve had health issue after health issue.

Marriage often took a backseat to just hanging on for dear life.

But the first piece of marriage advice I wish I had really known is that marriage isn’t the grand romance we envision the day we get married. It’s the romance in dancing through life together.

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Maybe that's really the only kind there is. Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

Getting married wasn’t a solution to a problem. Expecting him to fill the broken places in my life was too much and unfair to him. It left us both feeling discouraged and empty.

Lamentations 3:24 ESV “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

God is my portion. My hope and faith has to be in Him not my husband or I end up having unreasonable expectations.

My husband might be my hero, but he can't be my savior. Jesus has to be 1st focus of my heart. Click To Tweet

Truly learning to put my faith and hope in the Lord has allowed me to see my husband’s humanity in a new light. I’m able to offer grace in a way I never could before.

The Holy Spirit intercedes in my heart daily. Thank heavens!

My husband is just the captain of our team. We have to remember to be a team before we can do anything else.

Which means treating each him with respect and kindness no matter what is going on. Life often can feel like an emergency, but not much of it really is so important that I don’t have time to take a deep breath and respond with love.

Being kind and gentle under stress prevents conflict and builds up your partner during difficult times.

Proverbs 15:1 ESV  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I am still learning this lesson. Every. Day.

But my choice is to respond to life, stress, and even a harsh response with softness and the peace of Christ.

Time after time, I’ve seen how gentleness can affect even the most difficult situation.

The next piece of marriage advice I wish I had learned sooner is so simple to say but much harder to do.

Most arguments can be solved in two words, not a thousand perfect ones.

I’m sorry.

Not three – “I’m sorry, but . . .”

This one is really difficult for my flesh. I want to explain away my bad behavior. I want to put the blame on someone else, or point that nasty wagging finger right at him, but the truth is . . .

There is only one thing I can control in the entire universe: me.

Most arguments can be solved in two words, not a thousand perfect ones. I'm sorry. Click To Tweet

I have learned to take responsibility for my side and that’s it. Leave it right there.

Nothing anyone does justifies acting poorly. It sometimes explains my failures, but never excuses.

More often than not, he responds by softening and apologizing because I didn’t demand it or accuse him.

Which leads to the next piece of marriage advice God has really been working in me.

Listen.

We all want to be understood and respected. Taking the time to listen does both.

God has been working on me in this area a long time. I can demonstrate my husband is a priority in my life by focusing on him when he speaks. When I listen, I can hear his heart and share his joys.

I earn his respect in return because he knows that he is my priority.

Sometimes, I have to fight my selfishness when his desire to share with me interrupts my reading, television show, or just my busyness.

Again, God has challenged me to choose what to give my best attention to. Very rarely do I really need to ask him to pause and tell me later. Most of the time, I really can drop everything and listen.

Put your faith in the Lord, Respond kindly, Take responsibility for your side, and Listen.

And this advice holds true no matter how long you’ve been married.

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Which job is right for me? Ask Away Thursday

I’ve been invited to join a tribe of women bloggers in Ask Away Thursday. A couple of Thursdays a month, we’ll take a reader question and each answer it from our unique perspectives.

One question - multiple perspectives. Email your questions to momstribeadvice@gmail.com #AskAwayThursday Click To Tweet

Today’s question comes from Texas.

My husband is transitioning from his career in the military, but isn't working yet. We need a supplemental income, so we've decided that I look for work while he pursues changing career paths. We have a 5yo in kindergarten, a 3 yo and an infant. 

I've been offered two jobs. One is full-time at minimum wage at a child development center working in the infant room. I would be able to have my youngers attend the center at little cost. I would be finished working in time to pick up the kindergartner and be home in the evenings. 

Yet, the second job sounds so good for me. I would work 20 hours a week, but make more money overall. The catch is the second job is 4-8pm Monday-Friday because I would be developing an after-school program. So that would mean being gone every weeknight evening. I feel really torn between what to do. 

We need a second income but one job would be full-time and require me to pay for some child care while the second I would work only part-time hours and make more money. Is it too much to be gone every evening? My husband is a good dad, but making dinner and doing baths and bedtime every night might be a lot. What should I do?

That does sound like a difficult decision! You’re weighing lots of important values and probably feel a heavy responsibility to make the right decision for your family.

Military life is predictably unpredictable, but we do get used to not having much say in our own lives. Taking back that responsibility is a large change and will take adjusting.

Remember there is no right decision, just the best one for you and your family for today!

If a clear, God-obedient direction isn’t obvious, I have a tendency to be a list maker.

Break out the sharpies for my pro/con list! Hooray!

Before breaking out the sharpies for a pro/con list, pray for clear direction & open doors. Click To Tweet

I pray for clarity of mind, patience, and a heart focused on His will. His answers usually come pretty quickly: doors open or close, respected friends point in the same direction, con lists grow.

One question - multiple perspectives. Email your questions to momstribeadvice@gmail.com #AskAwayThursday

Secondly, I would consider the reasons for taking a job.

Is money the most crucial factor right now? Then the job that pays more and requires less out of pocket for daycare makes the most sense, especially for 20 fewer hours per week.

But taking an evening job is rough for a momma. This is where the heart gets involved for me. Working 4-8 means missing picking up the kindergartner from school, homework time, family dinners, baths and bedtime.

However, it sounds like, with the exception of the kindergartner, your family has the ability to be flexible with the family schedule at this time.

Flip-flop most of the evening activities. Give morning baths and have a large family lunch, leaving leftovers for an easy dinner. Push bedtimes back for the little ones who don’t have to be up early, so momma can come read the last story and help with prayers.

Is your husband on-board with such a drastic family renovation? Get his thoughts and perspectives. Take this chance to show you respect him and value his opinions.

As a military wife and Christian, this may be a wonderful opportunity for you and your husband to pull together, creating new roles and rules for this new civilian life that can be such a drastic change from the military.

Your husband is used to having you be his back home support (the household six), and this may give him a unique perspective on what that’s been like for you. Working together during this transition could be a tremendous blessing.

Lastly, I would carefully consider how to make sure your kindergartner gets enough mommy time. Perhaps you have breakfast together every morning, drive him to school rather than put him on a bus, have special Saturday plans one on one.

If your family stays Semper Gumby (always flexible) and you are able to work as a team, working the evening shift might not only be the best job, but also teach you both about what love looks like from the other side.

Good Luck! I’d love an update soon!

Let’s check in with the rest of the MOMs.

Moms Tribe Advice

Monica Riojas is the founder of A Mother Loving Mess, a mother of five trying to survive 😉 She writes about parenting, fun DIY’s, recipes, and more. A Mother Loving Mess – Which Job is Right?

Nikki Crump is military spouse and mommy of three who loves to blog about motherhood, mental health and fitness from Healing Mama RemediesHealing Mama Remedies – Need Help Deciding Work

Marisa Boonstra from Called to Mothering is A New Jersey native transplanted to Oklahoma, Marisa writes about her homeschool experiences, motherhood, and raising children with a biblical worldview. Called to Mothering – Need Help Deciding Work

Crystal Mendez from Love More Live Blessed shares recipes, budgeting tips, crafts and fun kid stuff on her blog. She never knew blogging could be so much fun! Love More Live Blessed – Work outside the home

and Rachel Osborn from Don’t Call Me Supermom will be joining us next time at Don’t Call Me Supermom – Ask Away Thursdays

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Being Boldly Submissive in a Culture Scared to Submit

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Submissive is dirty word in a culture that is scared to submit. We clamor and chest thump about individuality, celebrate rebels and smart alecs, but we’re really scared of giving up the illusion of control, foregoing what we think we need.

Women cringe as soon as pastors dust off this rusty gem from the sermon library. Submissive is the modern church’s dirty word. Just the idea of ‘obey’ in the marriage ceremony gets under our tissue paper skin like a splinter.

Submission sounds scary. It sounds like giving in, but being BOLDLY Submissive takes strength. Click To Tweet

But nothing has made a bigger difference in my marriage than learning to be boldly submissive, and I’ve never been treated more lovingly since I stopped demanding my way and just loved him first.

If you had asked me about submission a decade ago, I would have spit nails. Seriously, me, a submissive wife? HA. Over my dead . . .

.  .  .  marriage,

which is exactly where we were headed because two people demanding their way are shouting way too loud to listen.

But I was gonna fight for my rights; my right, apparently, to be miserable.

Once I thought being submissive meant being weak, mistreated, overlooked. I couldn’t see the power in submission, the subtle strength that doesn’t need attention.

Through God’s grace, I finally understood bold submission when I realized who was the most submissive figure in the Bible.

Submissive is a dirty word in a culture scared to submit. We chest thump about individuality and our rights, but we'd rather let fear control us than love.

Christ.

Jesus had the power of the universe at his fingertips, the fringe of his garments healed; he could have commanded angels to pull him off the cross.

Submission changed when I realized the most submissive person in the Bible went to the cross. Click To Tweet

If anyone EVER deserved to arrogantly insist on His way, it was Jesus Christ, but He chose bold submission to God’s plan, to be utterly persecuted, violently punished for sins He had not committed, dying completely separated from God out of His love for us.

No matter how many times I use that word, my love for my family will never measure up to that standard, but it isn’t weakness that makes me try, it takes strength and courage to obey.

However, I learned that submitting to my husband wasn’t really the standard, I am submitting to God. He asks we put others before ourselves, serve secretly, give in the shadows.

I’m submitting, not just to my husband, but God’s placement of me into this family to be a living, breathing example of humility and love.

When I feel myself start to puff up with not-s0-righteous indignation about some slight, God reminds me of this …

John 13:34 ESV  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

He loved me to the point of death.

I can overlook a lot of slights: a mess in the kitchen, coming home late, not listening when I speak, bringing home the not organic butter.

Being Boldly Submissive looks like:

  • Being loving over being right.
  • Choosing not to nag.
  • Being humble when I’ve made a mistake.
  • Loving without expectation of return.
  • Obeying God.
  • Forgiving without an apology.
  • Being gently firm in my expectations as a parent.
  • Looking for ways to serve others.
  • Dying to myself everyday as often as possible.

I’m learning still. I’m continuing to store God’s word in my heart so I can obey His plan for my next step as a wife, mother, and disciple.

The original disciples submitted to God’s will for their lives and died to share Christ with the world. I could only be so bold.

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When People Disappoint

We know people will disappoint us, but we can be so surprised when we are standing in that place.

Oh, that moment is so crushing. Staring in the face of incontrovertible evidence that someone you love fell short today.

Your picture of that person was cracked or shattered in one fell swoop. Maybe the picture of your relationship cracked too, or your perception of yourself through their eyes changed.

Maybe you sensed it was coming, but often, one final straw finally drifts into place and our relationship is on the chopping block.

I’m right there with you. Earlier this week, I wrote about how weary I am, and part of my weary is dealing with some difficult relationships. Long distances, text messages, awful choices, and busy schedules all contribute to how we disappoint each other, and I’m struggling with tough places in a few different relationships.

Here is where I’m resting today.

People always disappoint.

We can be so surprised when people disappoint us. We stand there with our pretty picture shattered and say now what? What do we do when people disappoint?

Because we’re flawed and human, All. Of. Us. We are going to disappoint each other, in little ways and big ones, at some point.

I have to stop being surprised when people are human.

Stop being surprised people are human. Restore them in gentleness when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

In that moment when the disappointment is raw, put yourself in their shoes. Giving them all the benefit of the doubt, what do you think they were thinking?

What do you think they are feeling now facing your disappointment? How can we meet them in Christ where they are?

How we handle the moment of disappointment may speak louder than anything else we do.

Galatians 6:1 ESV  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

What does it look like to restore someone in gentleness and avoid the temptation to sin ourselves?

First, I remember my own failures and God’s grace for me when I don’t deserve it.

I have yet to survive one day without failure. Offer grace first when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

I’ve been reading 1 & 2 Samuel recently. I’m blown away by how these familiar stories speak new wisdom to me today. The stories of Saul and David say so much about how to act when people disappoint us.

Saul was God’s anointed king for Israel, but (1 Samuel 18) in his sin, he fell from God’s grace, becoming paranoid and selfish, plotting to kill David.

David is disappointed, heartbroken, his king, his God’s anointed, wants him dead for no failure of his own.

David twice finds Saul served to him by God’s hand, in the cave (1 Samuel 24/26 ) and in his camp asleep, but instead of letting his hurt and anger rule him, David chooses to show Saul he could have killed him, but did not.

David takes steps to protect himself, but sees Saul’s sins are really against God, not himself. He is dismayed and saddened, without seeking to return hurt for hurt.

TWICE, David spares a man who is murderously plotting against him without cause, leaving Saul’s fate in God’s hands.

Twice? why?

To prove to Saul that he really was blameless (David’s righteousness made Saul’s sins more glaring.), but also as an example of how we are to continue in righteousness continuously, even when offense is piled upon offense.

So I’m still disappointed. I have hurt feelings, there is lost trust, and some of my relationships may not be restored right now.

But my focus has to be on God who never disappoints and staying righteous in His eyes.

I have to remember my emotions are nothing compared to God’s ability to rebuke or restore, forgive and sanctify. I can wait on Him.

Protecting myself is okay, but I should avoid returning sin for sin.

Letting God rule my heart even in the midst of big disappointments isn’t always easy. I get angry; I hurt. Indignant doesn’t look good on me, but in my own sin, I disappoint people all the time. I’m not usually trying to fail when I do.

If I hope for grace, I have to offer it too. Recognizing my worth and value in God’s eyes is immutable gives me pause to connect their failures with human nature, and offer a chance to explain, to understand, to apologize.

In the end, I guard my own walk with Christ and forgive them.

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