My wife and I have three sons under the age of five and a brand new baby girl.
Even at these innocent ages, sensual images enter their minds on a daily basis. These images appeal to something that they don’t even understand. Their environment beckons them to consider the temptation and culture says, “It’s ok.”
And now, with a daughter, it’s even more important.
We must choose to be the example.
100 Million Shades of Grey
The moral poverty of our culture has caused an uneasiness within me to grow into a great concern.
“Game of War” commercials feature scantly-clad supermodel Kate Upton, stepping out of a bathtub (a curious marketing notion for a video game about war).
Kim Kardashian’s book, Selfish, is a collection of selfies infused with cleavage and curves.
The final straw, for me, has been the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. The movie trailer leaves much to the imagination—a flash of seductive innuendos followed by the boastful tagline: Over 100 million books sold.
100 million! That’s one out of every three Americans.
Why is this stuff so popular?
The Root of the Problem
The majority of Fifty Shades’ readers are women. Just as Kate Upton appeals to their male counterparts, these books seem to offer women the guise of entertainment and escape from their seemingly mundane lives. It beckons them to get lost in its fantasy.
I believe that the mystery and intrigue of Fifty Shades of Grey can be blamed on men.
If we loved our women with unconditional passion, I doubt that millions of them would flock to search for it elsewhere.
The trouble is, men have been conditioned by marketing and popular culture to compare their wives with alternative standards.
It is an endless cycle that corrupts itself as it grows.
So how do we fix it?
We must first understand that we are being appealed to by something on a much deeper level.
Whether money or sex or drugs or food or some combination therein, we’re promised the enjoyment of escape, yet as we indulge, we find ourselves captive. Entertainment often ends in a rabbit hole of unquenchable indulgence.
I recall many mistakes in my own past that began with these simple justifications: “I was just having fun” or “It was harmless.”
C. S. Lewis said it best:
“Our appetites grow by indulgence. Starving men think much of food, but so do gluttons.”
The more we indulge in this type of entertainment, the more gluttonous we become, sliding every-so-gently down the slope toward isolation.
The Consequences of Indulgence
Our heart and our affections follow our indulgence. Everything from golf to bird watching can be, at some level, harmful when it becomes obsessive. Anything can become indulgent and the consequences of Indulgence are shattering.
So what are the consequences of a culture that is desensitized to sexual indulgence?
It’s already known that our children will grow up in a world where sex trafficking is real, where strip clubs are as common as Wal-Mart, and where pornography has begun to creep into everyday marketing.
In Proverbs chapter seven, a father warns his son:
“With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.”
The cost of exaggerated sexual indulgence is our very lives.
Fix Yourself First
I don’t blame Miss Upton, Mrs. Kardashian-West, or Fifty Shades of Grey author, E. L. James. They are simply supreme marketers who have learned how to capitalize on our condition. And I’m sure they would attest: a culture longing to repair broken places pays well.
Instead of pointing fingers, which seems to be what most of Christian culture does, I believe we can only fix the problem by fixing ourselves first.
We must take action. We must be responsible for ourselves first. Then, those we have been entrusted with.
The best way I can assure that my wife doesn’t find Fifty Shades of Grey entertaining is to treat her in such a way that these illicit temptations seem meaningless when compared to the true love of her husband.
When I made the decision to commit my heart and my affections to her through the covenant of marriage, I chose to love her with reckless abandon.
I can’t, for one second, allow a seed of doubt to be planted in her mind that I would ever compare her to someone else.
The best way to combat the challenges of a sexually explicit culture for my sons is to love their mother. In order to fight for them, I must fight for her. Then, I must teach them that what they see on television and portrayed in culture is a far cry from true fulfillment.
I’m sure I will fail at times, but this is a battle worth fighting.
Will you join me?
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About the Author
Matt Ham is dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.
You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com
To contact Matt, visit www.mattham.com/speaking