Editor's Note: Shannon Ethridge is an advocate for spiritual and sexual integrity. She is a counselor, speaker, author and certified life and relationship coach. Her 19 books include the million-selling Every Woman's Battle book series, "The Sexually Confident Wife" and her latest book, "The Fantasy Fallacy," a response to the "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon, a discussion of the roots and role of sexual fantasies.
By Shannon Ethridge, Special to CNN
(CNN) - When a friend alerted me to the "Fifty Shades" trilogy in April, none of us had any idea it would sell in excess of 40 million copies within months, or that sales of whips, chains and other BDSM paraphernalia would skyrocket as a result, or that a European hotel would replace its Gideon’s Bibles with "Fifty Shades of Grey."
Many legitimate possibilities have been offered for the seeming success of “mommy porn.” Women are more sexually liberated than ever before. Couples are longing for ways to spice up their sex lives. Many women have a deep inner longing to be dominated by a man who’s absolutely obsessed with them.
While there might be some truth to each of these theories, I think the real force behind this "Fifty Shades" phenomenon is that our society is clamoring for closeness. However, in the absence of genuine sexual intimacy (best defined as “in-to-me-see”), we settle for sexual intensity: erotica, pornography, an office romance, an extramarital affair or whatever strokes the ego and provides the sexual high we crave.
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I suggest that sexual intensity (such as that experienced between the lead characters of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy) is simply not the same as intimacy. If it were, then prostitutes and porn stars would be the most emotionally and relationally fulfilled people on the planet. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
Does the entangling of arms and legs and the exchange of bodily fluids scratch the human itch for intimate connection? Or is sex just the closest thing we can imagine to what we’re really craving: a deeper spiritual and emotional connection, both with our Creator and with His creation?
When I explain through my writing, speaking and life coaching that I am an “advocate for healthy sexuality and spirituality,” some assume I’m insane. Why would someone even use the terms “sexuality” and “spirituality” in the same sentence? I do so because I believe they are basically the same thing, or at least two sides of the same coin.
Regardless of gender, age, race, political views, economic status, etc., all humans have two things in common: We are both spiritual and sexual beings. And behind every sexual longing, I believe there’s an even deeper spiritual longing.
So we have much to learn about God through understanding our sexuality, and there is much to learn about our sexuality through a deeper exploration of God.
Looking at sexuality through a spiritual lens, and vice versa, is not a new concept. In the Song of Solomon, a man's and woman’s desires for healthy sexual intimacy are celebrated. In the book of Hosea, God uses the analogy of a husband’s relentless pursuit of a sexually unfaithful bride to illustrate the depth of His own passion and commitment to His people. God obviously knew that “sexual metaphors” would teach us about ourselves and about Him.
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This brings me back around to the "Fifty Shades of Grey" phenomenon. I don’t believe that fantasy is evil, even sexual fantasy. But when we divorce physical pleasure from emotional connection, such as when we selfishly strive for orgasm through pornography, masturbation or illicit sexual encounters rather than cultivating sexual ecstasy with our marriage partner, sexual ecstasy is only “half-baked.” Love and relational intimacy are the “yeast” that allows our sexual ecstasy to rise to its highest level.
My counseling experience shows me that we often seek healing for our deepest wounds via sexual encounters. Our minds and hearts believe we will “get it right” or “find the love I need” via an intensely satisfying sexual relationship.
If deep and spiritual intimacy is what humans seek, then relational or sexual intensity can never satisfy our deepest longings or heal our oldest wounds. Christian and Anastasia (for all the "Fifty Shades" fans) won’t discover heart-deep intimacy in whips, chains, pain and sexual intensity. Their deep wounds will be healed by sacrificial love (of which Christ is the incarnate example) and intimate relationship (both human and divine). Soul-deep intimacy is what we seek, and it’s ultimately found in the God who created human sexuality.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Shannon Ethridge.
Too early to ask for free handouts
Obama won, you lost! wheres da money honey?
Al Quaeda is dead. Susan Rice said it.
A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. For example: if she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features. However, if she is menstruating or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth and a spear lodged in his chest with a baseball bat up his as s while he is on fire.
No further studies are expected on this subject.
LOL! That is priceless! Thanks.
Menopause is not a phase of the menstrual cycle. Adult women who are in any phase of their cycle or who are post-menopausal do prefer men who are educated and who possess a large and varied repetoire of moves to please both themselves and their partner. I don't know a single woman who prefers men who only know missionary or who always lay back in lazy, lazy, lazy style and watch their partner phuk them. Such men are repulsive, regardless of what they look like.
Just basic human understanding of what it is to be alive ...If you do not understand the article then you have never gone any real intensive journey of your own spirituality, You are just a Joe Rogan thinking you have all the answers and feel the need to open your mouth and force the world to listen to you ...Look deep within you own self without judgement , and then if you are not wired to be some sociopath or mentally disturbed you will find the connection you seek.
Your words are my commands oh highly holiness! May the forces aplenty be ever yours to command! :-) :-( :-)
P.S. I'll take that hundred you promised me for saying this!
Sorry. This article lost me when it referred to a trilogy of really bad, p.ornographic books that started out as fan-fiction for the Twilight books (also really bad).
Plus, I found the ti.tle of the article to be incredibly silly.
there is no god. Get use it
i got the god you need right here
* get used to it. (not 'use')
"Of the delights of this world, man cares most for se.xual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven" [Mark Twain]
BC says BJ dont count
Sure they do....
rice has a nice bootie so needs to wear a tight skirt to congress then she gets approved
men only pleeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Prayer changes things .
CNN WEEKEND MANAGEMENT, GOONS – FILTHY PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN NASTY COMMENTS USING MY NAME AND YOU ARE NASTY FOR ALLOWING IT, SKUNKS – YOUR WEEKEND COMMENTATORS, DENIER OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE THIN ALLAH, SECULAR S, ARE NOT WELL SUPERVISED – THEY ARE DOING HINDU ISM AND SAYING WHATEVER THEY WANT -VERY DISGRACEFUL- I THOUGHT YOU WERE MORE PROFESSIONAL, IGNORANT.
and ur point is?
he is not me, truth absolute, and me is not him, denier of truth absolute, goon donut
Boooooooowahhh hahahahaha! Iran will bomb the crap out of the Jew Freaks hahahahahahaha
I voted for Obama cuz Rumnuts did not make sense but you scare me dude
donkey ism of Hezbollah, absurdities happen every day in Irani-Satan, calm down, goon
Is al quaeda still alive or what? I heard Rice say they were dead but Fox keeps saying they breath
Humans, my father, denier of truth absolute, secular s, Haramee, was was searching Thin Allah on my Taliban mother s body, in wrong place at wrong time, BANG happened, here I am blogging live from Daristan, goons
We'll see what will happen by the end of the year I guess
donkey ism, absurdities happen every day in Dari Satan, simmer down, goons.
When are the Congressional Hearings going open?
there are congressional hearings on sex?
The atheists over here in this house are doing pretty darned good, especially since there's no god watching us fool around to make sure we're doing it right.
What a fool! Denying the existance of God, doesn't make Him go away! He sees everything you do, every minute, of every day of your life. Denying Him, doesn't stop that!
Your deity is a little pervy then.
Guest: Nor does accepting him support that
Sounds a bit like dear ol' Santa.
God is and is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently. God bless
Be not a fool for wanting to challenge many here who are dumbfoundingly arrogant minded dribblers of nonsense and disgusting rationalities all for their own needs to instill upon themselves a sensual satisfaction of the selfish accords Many here are as islands in search of a mainland!
Oh isn't that nice? They let the crazies out of their cells to come rant about god again! Here, use these crayons instead of pencils so you don't hurt yourselves, you poor, dear, little darlings.
CNN MANAGEMENT - ARE YOU GOING TO MONITOR THIS STREAM AND STOP DEFAMATION OF MY NAME HERE? WHY DO YOU ALLOW OTHERS TO USE MY NAME AND SAY NASTY THINGS ABOUT GOD AND REDFIREBALLS? IS THIS YOU WAY OF ENCOURAGING ADULT DEBATE? VERY PROFESSIONAL OF YOU. WHATEVER.
If Republicans are anywhere close to being right about the Obama Adminstration then we all better know some good prayers.
and your point is?
I am having bigger sanity problems than ususal today.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.