'Mommy porn' caution underscored at seminary

Photo by Alyssa Karr
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- In light of the increasing prevalence of pornography and erotica such as the bestselling "50 Shades of Grey," Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a closed-door women-only panel discussion of the issue and its devastating effect on marriages and ministries.

The panel included June Hunt, founder of Hope for the Heart counseling and discipleship ministry; author and speaker Susie Hawkins; and Mindy May, a biblical counselor whose work includes victims of sex trafficking. The trio set forth candid answers to questions from moderator Terri Stovall, SWBTS dean of women's programs, and from some of the 100 female students and student wives in attendance.

Culture has changed significantly in areas dealing with sexual sin, and the change is not a positive one, the panelists said. May, a Southwestern Ph.D. student, noted, for example, that teenagers are more sexualized than ever before, accepting activities such as "sexting" as commonplace.

Pornography has infiltrated the church in alarming numbers, Hawkins said, noting, "It absolutely is impacting ministry families. … [I]t would shock all of us in knowing how many ministry people are involved with pornography."

With the exploding popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, it has become apparent that pornography is no longer just marketed to men. Hunt said the book is widely considered "mommy porn," appealing to the suburban soccer mom who can read it privately on her e-reader, imagining herself in the situations described in the book -- effectively replacing her husband with the fiction book character.

The content of the book, Hunt said, goes beyond explicit descriptions of sexual scenes into bondage, dominance and sadomasochism -- behavior that demeans females and plants irrevocable images in the brain that can never be removed. It also casts human trafficking as acceptable, Hunt said.

May, speaking of her work with teenagers who have been sexually trafficked, said, "These are girls who have been taken into literal bondage, and so there are huge implications there. If we're adopting this as 'okay' or as 'entertainment,' we are in for a world of devastation as far as the sexuality in our culture today."

Disturbingly, many women who read such books as 50 Shades of Grey consider it harmless and even helpful. "It is surprising how many Christian women will read this book and say, 'It spices up my marriage,'" Hawkins said. "That is going to put you on a road that is not going to bring fulfillment. You're introducing a third party, so to speak, into your marriage bed, and according to 1 Corinthians 6 and 7, that is to prostitute. …

"It will not bring, long-term, what you are looking for. It brings dissatisfaction. Eventually a woman will think, 'Why can't my husband be like that?'" Hawkins said.

So, what's a woman to do?

When dealing with a husband who has begun to look at pornography, the panel said the husband and wife should immediately find a Christian counselor with whom they can meet as a couple. They also suggested the husband find an accountability group to join. "It will not go away by itself," Hawkins said. "It will not."

Every woman, they said, should begin fighting for her marriage long before sexual sin forces her to. "I think it is a wise wife who will not work against her husband and say, 'You better not,' but will say, 'How can I help you? What can we do together to fight this?'" Hawkins said.

The panel agreed that a woman should tell her husband if she has been reading erotic material or looking at inappropriate pictures and likewise should seek biblical counseling and accountability partners.

While every person will face temptation if life, the panel said Scripture is clear that with Christ temptation can be overcome, and in instances when people have yielded to temptation Christ offers redemption. They encouraged the women to guard their thought lives, to flee from temptations and to know that Christ offers redemption from sins for every person who will accept it and offers redemption for relationships that seem without hope.

"I believe that God is a God of reconciliation first and foremost," May said. "And so, if His plan is for reconciliation in our lives just as sinful people, then I believe He has the power to give us the grace to continue to fight for reconciliation in our relationships and in our marriages."

The Oct. 29 panel discussion was one of Southwestern's Grindstone campus forums, sponsored by the seminary's student life office to build Christian character among students.


Sharayah Colter is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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