Today on my show (which you can hear at 10pm est. time) I am really going to try hard to explain what my issue is with all the Christian/Catholic blog posts about 50 Shades of Grey. But because I am a crazy person who rambles and rambles, I figured that I should probably write up a blog post first to try and help make myself a little bit clearer.
I was one of those people who lived a very sexually “free” lifestyle. I slept with who I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted. I did a lot of things that even made non-religious people uncomfortable. Not only did I do them, but I liked doing them and bragged about it. There were plenty of people who would try to talk to me about having some self-respect, both Christian and non-Christian alike. I didn’t care what they had to say, I was having really good sex and they weren’t. I honestly felt as if they had no idea what they were missing even though I fell asleep every single night feeling more alone than the night before.
My entire life was centered on one thing: having that split second of pleasure that canceled out all the pain. I didn’t even realize that was the goal in my life at the time. Had anyone asked me if I was in emotional or spiritual turmoil, I would have laughed and said “No. I am living my life!”. The truth is that I was at war with myself. I was willing to go through whatever I had to go through to feel love, even if it was for only a blink of an eye. I was prepared to live like that for the rest of my life. I had given up on the idea of finding true love, but who cared because the orgasms were mind blowing.
When I began RCIA in 2009, I never intended to change my mind on sexuality. I was not planning on leaving the swingers lifestyle. I was waiting for my boyfriend to come home so that we could go back to the club and pick up where we left off. I knew what I was doing and I liked it. I was never going to be convinced by some religious nut that orgies where immoral, “what the fuck did they know about any of that?” went through my mind every time the subject about sex was brought up.
In His true fashion, God surprised me. The priest who I went to for my first confession was this innocent looking guy so I went full blast with all my sexual sins trying my best to get him to show me some kind of shocked face or to tell me to leave because I had gone too far. I never meant to be sorry for any of the things that I was confessing, but by the time I was done I was in tears and asking Father if there was any way that God could love someone who had done all those things. From that point on Fr. J told me about Theology of the Body and other things for me to learn about what the Church taught on sexuality.
A few months later in Rome I was sitting on the floor in my hotel room and I read about Marriage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and that is where I found the love story that I had always longed for. I have written about all of this many times because it was a turning point in my life. It is also the story of how God pursued me and loved me in a way that I had dreamt of since I was a little girl.We all want to be pursued by Love because we are each made to be pursued by God who IS Love. We all have the desire to be united to Him.
It is not the S&M or even the sex that attracts most people to 50 Shades of Grey; it is idea of having Love find and seduce them that is attractive. That is what we should be talking about. When we continue to talk about the perversion of love and spit at the ground at the idea that someone feels pleasure in being tied up, we lose an opportunity to talk about the longing embedded in each of our souls for Love.
I have a serious problem with how Christians speak about sex because it always is whitewashed and made to seem as if the only acceptable sex with your spouse is missionary position sex that isn’t enjoyable and doesn’t involved passion and multiple orgasms. (Or dogmatic statements about vibrators that are not true. The Catholic Church has yet to issue an infallible teaching on the morality of vibrators. She probably never will either.) That is just not the truth. There is a lot of room between that idea of sex and the objectifying and degrading acts of sex that are promoted as “good” in our culture.
Saying people’s desires are disgusting does nothing to help them see why using another as a means to an end is not love, it only shuts their ears off. There is so much to be talked about on this issue, just like any other issue, but the one thing that I really want to stress is that nobody who is living a happily promiscuous lifestyle of any kind gives a crap about “the beauty of sex”. I get it, people who understand that sex is beautiful get it, but never in a million years are those words going to get the attention of people who are on the 50 shades of Grey bandwagon. What they want to hear is that enjoying sex with their spouses is a good thing. That is what 50 Shades gives them permission to do: enjoy sex. That is something that Catholics agree with; it is ok to enjoy sex. We can start there and then go into the purposes of sex and the beauty of it, but first we have to start somewhere and if there is anywhere to start it is with the idea that being pursued by love and enjoying sex is something that Catholics do not disagree with. God is the One Who made sex enjoyable!
**Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote this great piece at Patheos Catholic that I think is the best post on the subject that I’ve read so far.