Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I think I touched a nerve.

A week ago, I wrote a post that has caused some ripples over here. My thoughts on why I feel Christian women should not read the Fifty Shades erotic fiction series were not what some people wanted to hear. Out of the near 40 comments on the post, I chose to delete two, the most critical I've ever received. However, I did not delete them because they were critical. I deleted them because they were critical AND the authors did not allow me a way to respond. One was submitted by an "anonymous" reader, and the other had only a first name, and when I clicked to respond to her thoughts via email, I saw she'd chosen the "no-reply-blogger" option by not making her email address visible.

My thought is that if you'd like to add to the conversation here, please comment with the same respect you'd like to have for your thoughts, and allow me to respectfully respond to your point of view. I never want this space to be a one-way conversation, whether it's me talking at you, or you talking at me. But when a reader removes her identity from an emotionally charged and disrespectful critique, I'm choosing to remove that kind of comment. (I actually tried a few months ago to install the Disqus commenting format so as to encourage more back and forth, but it had so many technical problems that I took it down within the week). I'm sorry to those two readers, but that is how I feel, and this is my space to govern. Other bloggers may feel differently. That's fine. But I think you'd more than likely do the same if I came to your space and left some harsh words under a veil of anonymity.

Actually, no matter what the comment says, I get bummed out when I click to reply via email and I see "no-reply-blogger" in the "To" line. I try to respond to as many comments as I can on a regular basis. If you've taken the time to offer some thoughts on my posts, I always want to share my appreciation. Now, whether I am able to get to all of them in a given week is another story. But I do my best. If you don't know how to enable your email address, go into your Blogger profile and change your settings to allow your email address to be visible. It is not visible to anyone but the person to whom you are submitting a comment.

And as an addendum to the Fifty Shades post, I wanted to clarify some things. First and foremost, I'm not above moral compromise. I'm a sinner saved by the grace of God that I do not deserve. Of course, I have the free will to choose what I do and don't want to read, watch, talk about, embrace, restrict, abstain from, etc., but my choices, in my opinion, should be governed by a passionate pursuit of transformation and holiness as the Bible instructs. It doesn't mean my choices always are. I'm saying if I were perfect, they would be. Free will is one of God's greatest gifts, and that means we, as sinful humans, will make wrong choices. Having free will doesn't mean all the options are equally right. It means we are required to use wise judgement, not of others, but of the options, so that we can discern what choices are best.

My choice is to not read Fifty Shades, not even in order to give the series a more thorough review. It is not worth putting that sort of material in my head. For me, it would violate my idea of what it means to pursue holiness. It is not because I want brownie points. It is not because I think it makes God like me more. And I certainly don't think I'm above anyone else. I have a fair idea of how sinful my heart can be. I cannot earn anything from God and I'm not trying to.

I'm choosing not to read these books because I decided it's the best choice, based on my judgement of the options. My other conviction is to share my story on this blog, and that's exactly what I'm doing. I also interpreted a portion of Scripture that I felt aligned with my conviction. That is where the discussion is especially open. I'd love to hear any other thoughts on God's word. I want to work out my faith with you and you with me, as we are a community; not endure personal attack and then be put in a position of defense. That's just not cool.
 
If you've read this blog for any length of time, I'm sure some of my areas of weakness are pretty clear. However, many comments have come from new readers clicking over from sweet blog friends who have referenced my post on their own blogs. I'm betting that if someone is not regularly reading Christian blogs, my words sound pretty preachy. I'm okay with accidentally rubbing someone the wrong way. I can receive grace for not being all things to all people all the time.

But I do want to please one reader. The One who reads my heart. He sees every bit of sin and pride in me, and still uses what I have to offer. He still calls me to stand up for what I believe and speak His name, though I represent it imperfectly. He still asks me to obey His voice. And anything good in me is nothing short of beauty from ashes, all His work.


As I stood washing my face last night, drafting this post in my head, Jesus reminded me once again that this wasn't actually about me anyway (there's that pride trying to sneak in!). All the comments and commenters and hearts, including my own,...at the end of the day, it's all about Him.

Friends, I don't know about you, but I find freedom in that.


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{I just figured out that if I change my commenting
 form to "Embedded" instead of having comments pop up in a new window,
I can reply beneath a comment, and not just via email. Yay!}

26 comments:

  1. Great response. I haven't heard much of the series ehre in Australia (I'm sure the wave will hit soon) but after reading your previous post, and this one, it's something I won't be reading either. Thanks for your honest reasoning, and your willingness to challenge yourself (and us) to honour our Audience of One.

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  2. Loved this and LOVE your heart to please Him. xoxo

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  3. Sometimes it's hard to take a stand against something that's popular. I think the book is pretty vile and glorifies something that doesn't deserve the spotlight. However, I have friends that love the book and can't get enough of it (which is one of the reasons I think it shouldn't be read). They know my stance and I know theirs and that's all there is to it. No judgement needed. That's not my job. But like you said, pride tries to sneak in and condemn. Just have to keep that in check and we'll all be fine.

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  4. I LOVED that post! I was thinking in church this weekend that Jesus is always the standard for our behavior. Just because he's the minority doesn't mean he's the exception. He's still the rule! Those who aren't willing to see that are so used to the dark, they're frightened by the light.

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  5. amen!
    thanks for sharing your heart...
    even in the difficult times.
    sorry you were hurt by some comments. :(
    i didn't even get a chance to read them.
    probably a good thing.
    those things just come with the territory, me thinks.
    i'm so glad you're standing up for what you believe in.
    gives me encouragement.
    thanks babe!
    xo

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  6. I thought your original post on the subject was written with honesty and love. Like I said then, you spoke the truth with grace & love. I think the Lord has used it to start many a'good conversation on the topic. I'm sure it did hit a nerve with people but my hunch would be they're feeling a bit of Holy Spirit conviction. Keep on speaking the truth!

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  7. your words are so true and so encouraging. i linked your previous post about the book in one of my blog posts and many friends and bloggers agreed. thank you for being unashamed of the gospel and for sharing your beautiful heart for the Lord!

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  8. I'm always stunned at some peoples' responses to a post. Its your opinion, they're on YOUR blog, and then they come in with bashing. That's hard to swallow but I guess its also part of the territory with having a blog.
    I do strongly support everything you've said about this new series and have always gone "against the grain" when it comes to popular literature. There was never any Harry Potter for me or any of the vampire/zombie phenomenon. Its all purely evil in my book(which happens to be the Bible :)). But already I know that there are those who completely disagree with me.That's OK. Christ is my standard, not any reader or popular concept. Hes the One I'll answer to at my life's end.
    Thank you for honoring him in your choices and posts:)

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  9. Your heart to pursue holiness & honor the Lord with your words & actions is incredibly encouraging. Thank you for be such a great example.

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  10. Well put Leslie! Your blog and hearts truly reflects a love for the Lord! Thank you for being a great example of grace to another who has been ungraceful in her comments to you. I really enjoy your writings and they are SUCH a huge encouragment to me :)!

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  11. Proud of you girl!

    I might have said the same thing on your first post. But I mean it! Hard to take a stand!!

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  12. there is complete freedom in that.
    thank you for sharing your heart.
    xxO

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  13. I completely respect your decision not to read these books for whichever reason you choose. What's concerning to me is your lack of knowledge on the material in the book and yet your judgement of those who do read it being that they are not being good Christians. There are also many scriptures on not judging others and how He is the only one we have to answer to.

    This is an unfortunately broad issue amongst Christians, in general - this judgement. I believe a true person of God wouldn't judge another just for doing something that they wouldn't do. Just my 2 cents.

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    1. **** Hey everyone, I just learned I can reply to comments on my post itself if I switch my commenting form to "embedded" instead of "pop up window"!

      Jamie, thanks for leaving your words in a respectful way. You actually touched on the topic of my next post, the notion of judgement and what the Bible says about it. The truth is that the Bible says we are to judge, meaning evaluate, certain things, but NEVER to judge, meaning condemn, others. There are multiple meanings for the word, and I've seen a lot of confusion out there on this topic, which is why I'm itching to write about it. I am not condemning others for their choice in reading material. Even if I had read the books, I would have no right to do so. That's God's job alone.

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    2. hey Leslie, still catching up on all of this. But wanted to say first, thanks for letting us in on the little secret of the embedded comments! hooray for me! I'm taking off Intense Debate because now after a year, I'm having problems too :(

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  14. I read this post today before reading your initial post, which I went back to read when I finished this post.

    I first read the synopsis for this trilogy as I was looking for books to download to my Kindle (shout out to my husband for an awesome Mother's Day gift!). In reading that little bit, I did feel a check in my spirit. Not in a holier than thou way, just in a way that made me stop to think. Since then, I have seen Facebook statuses from different people who rave about the books and, "...can't put them down."

    I appreciate your posts about this and the links to other blog posts about these books. I didn't know some of the themes in the books ran as deep as they do, and it makes me sad.

    I know there are many differing views on these things - I did read the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series, the latter mainly because I am a youth pastor's wife and I was curious as to why the girls in our youth group/community were so "in" to these books.

    I don't plan on reading the 50 Shades of Gray series but I'm glad to know more about it in the event any of our girls are reading it.

    Taking a stand is never easy and will always ruffle some feathers - the way you've presented your message about these books, unfortunately, is viewed judgmental by some, but you've not come across this way at all. We are all in need of, but don't deserve, God's grace, which seems to have been your standpoint.

    Thank you for using your space on the www to encourage and write with sincerity and transparency, not from a lofty place, but rather, out of love and concern and a heart for others.

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    1. Thanks so much for your gracious words. I'm thankful my concern for other women's hearts and minds comes through to some, since that is my true motive.

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  16. I read all three books, and they were much more graphic than I expected. I was not bothered; merely surprised. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I read them. I enjoyed them. I moved on to another book, just like I always do! They didn't change my life. They didn't alter my morals. It was simply a way to unwind for 30 minutes here and there, when I sat at the dealership waiting on a repair, or at home, in bed, while my family practiced synchronized-snoring and I was wide awake.

    Maybe the romance in a certain chick-flick/rom-com gets you in the mood? Or a mixed-tape of 80’s ballads makes you amorous… Who's to say which is appropriate? "50" is not a picture book. It evoked parts of my imagination that can be awakened in many ways. They don't all stem from racy imagery in a fictitious novel. Have you (any of you; not just Leslie) ever been turned on by seeing your husband doing the dishes or folding the laundry? Have you ever felt the urge to passionately kiss your partner after seeing him tuck your child into bed and tippy-toe out of the room, closing the door oh-so-quietly, after they fought sleep for hours? I have. No matter what sparks your appetite, I see nothing wrong with these books, if the reader is of age and of a maturity level to separate fantasy and fiction.

    I respect your choice to blog about them, and to not read them. I have friends on both sides of this fence. I respect their reasons the same way I do yours. It's fiction. I know women who've become "obsessed and possessed" by something as silly as The Bachelorette or a Julia Roberts movie. It comes down to each of us as individuals. We each determine what is appropriate for our own eyes, homes, hearts. These are definitely the most racy books I've ever read, and certainly don't recommend them across the board to every woman I know. Most people won't like what they see, either in the book, or in themselves, if it brings out feelings of which they are ashamed. I am not most women, and your readers probably won't agree with my comment. That's okay. I just wanted to give you another perspective, because I've never felt your posts come across as judgmental until this one. You're right; it did strike a nerve. But that's the best part of writing/reading/sharing! You started a conversation. For some of us, it's been an internal monologue since the day you posted. Today, I air it out with no regrets. I still love your blog. I still love pretty much every other thing you've ever said, and I still think you're quite brave for sticking to your guns on this topic.

    If enjoying a trilogy of steamy novels is what keeps me from getting through those pearly gates, I think we're all in a heap of trouble. My house is glass; brittle, splintered, chipped, but still solid glass, built a strond foundation. It's going to take more than books to keep it from shattering.

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    1. Vanessa, thanks so much for joining the conversation. I appreciate your perspective. Certainly, being turned on is a good thing! But the range of ways that can happen in one's heart/mind/emotions can also be wrong. An extreme example is child pornography. Most people agree that is a hands down wrong way to pursue enyoying the things God intended for us to enjoy. So the line between right and wrong ways to enjoy sexuality is not always clear. For me, the books are one side of the line. And for you, they are on the other. I'm okay with that and I think you are okay with my view. And one reason I'm okay with it is because of what you say at the end....reading 50 Shades is not keeping anyone out of heaven, just like NOT reading it is getting anyone in. Eph 2:8-9 says it all. Thanks again for chiming in.

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  17. I almost mentioned child pornography as a subject we all would agree crosses the line, but I couldn't figure out how to word it without using that p-word! Didn't want your blog popping up in those searches. :)

    Reading the comments, and your replies to those, as well, has been a nice way to unwind tonight. I love the way you summed it up. Eph 2:8-9 didn't stand out to me (I don't have a ton of scripture memorized), but I'm always thankful to have a reason to learn a new one and apply it to a memory. Thank you for that, and so much more! Goodnight, ladies. I've truly enjoyed the discussion.

    P.S. I'm not one of the anonymous writers...I hope you hear from them. I'm not a fan of anonymous comments. I like the opportunity for debate and open discussions. I hope they give you the chance to respond. I only deleted my first comment because it was full of errors. I still missed a couple this go round.

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  18. Hi Linda, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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  19. Kudos Leslies. I appreciate not only your strength in speaking your faith and your heart, but also the strength in your beliefs. They are always so grounded. You don't speak (type?) quickly. You stew over things. You come to conclusions solidly based upon Godly reflection. That is one of my favorite things about you. I'm sorry your first Fifty Shades post was not received well by some people.

    Favorite Winston Churchill quote: "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."

    Keep trucking girl. Your words do not fall on deaf ears.

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  20. Great response. I was already convited to not read the book, but your posts convinced me to make sure Im telling my sisters not to read it too. :) - Priscila

    mommode.wordpress.com

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