In case you haven’t heard, Fifty Shades of Grey was recently named the best-selling book of the decade. When I saw this come through my newsfeed, my first thought was, “Here we go again…” I’m quite certain that we will have another round of debates about the relative harm of erotica and whose place it is to judge someone else’s sex life. Part of me dreads these conversations, but another part of me is getting ready with great anticipation. Here’s why…. A conversation about sex is never just about sex. It’s about longings, desires, wounds, and about what you ultimately believe will satisfy you.
A friend asked me the other day, “Juli, do you like what you do? Do you actually enjoy writing and speaking about sex?” In one respect, no. I don’t always like being in the thick of controversial and sensitive topics. But here’s what I love… I love seeing men and women know Jesus Christ.
John Piper wrote, “The quickest way to the heart is through a wound.” Jesus knew this which is why He didn’t make small talk with people. He got honest fast, going right to the wound. He asked about their sin, their shame, and their longings. He exposed them so that He could redeem them.
Over the past five years ministering to men and women on the topic of sexuality, here’s what I’ve learned. Your sexuality is either drawing you closer to God or it is a barrier to true intimacy and fellowship with Him. For most people, the latter is true. Their shame, their hidden wounds, their vows to never trust again, and their secret sins keep God at “arm’s length.” They may be getting along just fine on the surface, but they don’t know Jesus Christ intimately.
I’ve had the profound privilege of watching Jesus set women and men free from porn, restore a marriage after betrayal, bring healing to sexual wounds from childhood, pour passion into a dead relationship, and remove the cloud of shame from those who thought they could never be free from their sin. Each of these people know Jesus like they never could have before. They may have been Christians for decades, but there had always been a wall between them and God. By stepping into their wound, Jesus became more than a distant God. He became Redeemer, Comforter, Counselor, and Friend.
Why do I care whether you see Fifty Shades Darker, go to counseling for your wounds, or cry out for freedom from your past? Oh, friend. It’s only because I want you to know Jesus. I want you to know that His friendship isn’t reserved for the super-spiritual. It is offered to anyone who wants to walk in the truth and to embrace Him. Paul wrote:
For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
Authentic Intimacy exists to tear down strongholds … Those things that prevent individuals from intimately knowing God. As as Paul wrote, this is a spiritual work that must be won with spiritual weapons. I have strongholds in my life, just as you have in yours. Oh, God, please tear them down so that we might know true intimacy with you!
How ironic that the title of the series’ latest movie (and the corresponding book) is Fifty Shades Darker. John wrote, “If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” I care so deeply about your sex life because I care so deeply about your relationship with God.
May we walk fifty shades “lighter” as we run towards true fellowship with Jesus Christ.