Have you ever watched a movie or television show and been tempted to read the book the story on which it was based? That happened to me when I got totally hooked on a Hallmark Channel show and thought, "How fun would it be to relax a good book?" So I bought the Kindle version and prepared to enjoy.
Only the books were quite different from the television show. Even though the characters were still intriguing and their dialogue was still rich, I was surprised to find profanity in the second or third chapter.
At first, it jarred me because I don’t remember swearing on the show. But I tried to push it aside and told myself, “Grow up girl, it’s not like you’ve never heard that phrase before, it’s pretty mild, just ignore it and move on.”
So I tried. Only it wasn’t long until I began sensing a larger problem looming in the story line. You see, while the series I had been watching focused on love and romance, the descriptions in the books emphasized attraction and sensuality. The author described physical traits of love interests and the desires it aroused inside of the characters. That’s when I decided that it didn’t matter if I wasted the money on the book or even if the story line was really interesting. If I wanted to keep my heart and mind pure before God, I needed to stop reading the book and delete it from all of my devices. Why? Simply put, because I’ve been there and done that, I’ve seen the effect that this type of reading material (or books and movies) can have on my attitudes, my feelings about myself, my feelings about others, and even my relationship with God. I know the desire it stirs up inside, the images that are so hard to get out of your mind, and the discontentment and dissatisfaction it plants in your spirit. Having read and watched too much of this garbage during my college years, I know that it’s not just harmless fun—it influences every part of your thought life and emotions. I’ve seen the danger and there is NO WAY I’m going to even dip my toe in the water of that river again. "But Adessa, don’t you think you’re exaggerating the danger just a little?" No, I do not. I honestly believe that women of God must be honest with ourselves and each other about what these types of novels really are: they are soft porn for women. As women of God seeking to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus, we need to avoid them. Whether they are secular or “Christian”, we need to avoid all literature that uses profanities, vulgarities, describes sexual scenes or desires, or tries to arouse those desires inside of us. Looking back I can see now that I was wrong to tell myself to overlook the swear words. They were a clue that this book was not something I should be reading. Rather than telling myself to “get over it” I should have listened to the Holy Spirit's conviction and stopped reading it. Because as Christians committed to following Jesus it isn’t enough to just avoid the “big sins”. Instead, we need to be careful to guard our hearts against every sin that tries to slowly and stealthily lead us toward destruction. We can’t just comprise and say, “Well, that just today’s world”. Instead, we need to choose to live differently, to think differently, to protect our minds and our hearts, and to do all that we can to pursue holiness and purity in our lives.
Really, it’s about choices. Choosing to put down one book. Stop reading it. Delete it from your device or throw the book in the fire (I had a friend who did this to a CHRISTIAN book that contained far too much profanity and sensuality—-she didn’t want it anywhere near her house). Whatever method you choose, get rid of it.
As it says in 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immortality.” Here’s an interesting fact: The word translated “sexual immorality” in this verse comes from the Greek word “porneía” which is where we get the word “pornography”. Hence, the Bible is literally telling us to flee from pornography…this includes anything that focuses on the sensual, sexual, or arouses ungodly desires inside of us. “But ‘Des, I like reading fiction.” Then read something else—which is what I did. Only this time I chose a Christian book with no swearing, no sensuality, and a positive encouraging message where the characters found the strength to deal with the issue in their lives through their relationship with God and the help of their church.
It’s a simple solution. Don’t tolerate immorality, sexually suggestive material, profanity or female pornography in your life. Instead, avoid it, stay away from it, and if you accidentally come on it, get rid of it as soon as possible. Recognize that this type of reading material is sin and don’t give it a place in your life. If you want to read, then read something that follows the guidelines of Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Choose purity in all areas of your life—including your choice of reading material. Then, enjoy a good story!
Spoken in Love,
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.