We used to live near a gas station that sold sushi. Regularly, around the midnight hour, I would waddle my large, pregnant self past the displays of shriveled hot dogs and waxy-looking pizza. I wasn’t there for those, stop judging me. I was there for a half-gallon of the most perfect little ice pellets known to man. I would hand the overnight cashier the .59 cents-plus-tax, take my precious ice pellets home, and crunch away in bed until they were gone. For four solid months, I was addicted. I spent roughly $17,000 on small pieces of frozen water, and I’m convinced there is a landfill out there exclusively filled with half-gallon Styrofoam cups from months 5-9 of my second pregnancy. But, I digress. Each night, as I would make my way back to the register with my personal vat of ice, I would pass the sushi. I’d muscle my way past my gag reflex and wonder, how desperate and confused one would have to be to consume sushi from a gas station? Did those people not know that there was a nice grocery store on that very street that sold actual sushi, not a scary, questionable version of it? Did one develop a tolerance for it? Had anyone ever died from gas station sushi? I’m obviously very contemplative at midnight when I’m pregnant.
I respect my teeth and the earth too much to continue my ice habit, and I had kind of forgotten about my midnight liaisons with the ice machine… until this second wave of 50 Shades promotion hit. Ever since the book came out, I’ve had some things I really want to share with you women around me. I love you like you're sisters, and I want to see you experiencing loving, life-giving relationships. I’ve hesitated, though, because I want to share my story, yet honor those whose stories intersect with it.
What seems like a lifetime ago, for a long chunk of unhappy years, pornography had a large and unwelcome presence in my life. It was parasitic, leeching away time and innocence, trust and dignity. I learned that it is a two-faced and nasty houseguest. It whispers hateful lies and far outstays its welcome. It demoralizes the mother in the eyes of her son - she is obviously not enough, doesn’t measure up, is less than… It wraps tendrils of deceit around the heart of the young daughter, presenting an alluring but unattainable standard of beauty and worth. It delights in entrapping people in private shame and ambushing them with public disgrace.
Porn, in all of its varieties, is a lot like gas station sushi. Best case scenario, it’s an icky, cheap substitute for something awesome. For some reason, it seems mommy porn in book form has been granted a higher moral standing. To me, that seems as logical as taking a rancid portion of that sushi we've been talking about, putting it on a pretty plate, and saying, "Guys - this is actually pretty good!" You can dress it up, but it's still bad. I've been married for almost nine happy years. Compared to some, nine years isn't very long, but it's plenty long enough to tank a marriage. I'm more than grateful to be married to a man who has spent nine years building a porn-free marriage with me. Pornography is a great way to begin a slow and painful breakdown in love, trust, security and a marriage in general.
Like most other humans, I’ve seen the trailer for 50 Shades. I actually saw a display in Target of 50 Shades kits for lovers. Um, guys. Can we take a minute? I literally walked across the aisle and put a taco kit in my cart. The very thing that is being promoted to spice up our sex lives is reducing it to a kit.
I want to inform them - the faceless entity that's marketing 50 Shades to us - that we are smart and discerning, not the weak-willed, silly women they seem to think we are. Personally, I loathe being marketed to like I’m a vapid, desperate housewife. Beauties, they expect that this month we will show up en masse. That we will give them our money, file into a dark room, and let them feed us 100 minutes of gas station sushi. What if, instead, we went on dates or celebrated Galentine’s Day? What if we skipped the cheap substitute and, oh, I don’t know, stayed home and had actual meaningful, awesome sex with our husbands? I completely believe that how we allow them to market to us today is how they will continue to market to our daughters tomorrow. Why don’t we go ahead tell them where to go? (They can go back to the drawing board to try again, where did you think I meant, silly?)
Last, but certainly not least, I am a daughter of God, and that is a position of dignity. If you are a Jesus-follower, you’ve been given redemption and hope. Jesus took your shame and replaced it with grace and dignity. Dignity, even if your husband has cheapened and tarnished your marriage by bringing porn into it. Dignity, even if there is sexual shame in your past. Dignity, even if pornography is something you struggle with.
God’s grace is free to me, but cost Him everything. I want to live a life of gratitude and love, and I am making a choice. I will not squander that grace on gas station sushi.