So, there's this bestselling book around, which over 1m people in the UK have bought, which means several hundred people in my neighbourhood, and possibly a few connected to my church as well.
As someone who likes to be vaguely aware of what's going on, I'd normally dig around a bit to find out more about the book, or even borrow a copy. After all, that's what I did with the Hunger Games trilogy a few months ago. If anyone wants my copy of Mockingjay.... (See Mark Meynell for some comment on this. That's a whole different dilemma: by buying the book, I was consuming entertainment based on young people killing each other, which itself was trying to make the point that entertainment based on young people killing each other was a bad thing. Confused yet?)
Anyway, I got as far as Wikipedia, and immediately hit a few snags. To find out anything about 50 Shades of Grey means getting into accounts of sexual activity which would make Caligula blush, and which as a husband and as a Christian, I would want to steer well clear of. There are some things I don't want in my head, and graphic descriptions of abusive sex are one of them. But not to find out anything about 50SOG would mean being unable to say very much about it.
Trouble is, the more mainstream pornography gets, the more urgent the need to work out how to respond to it as a Christian. At the overt end are books like this and the 'adult' channels dumped into your TV set by Freeview, at the covert end is sexualised fashion, pop culture, media, and 9 year old girls singing 'sexy and I know it' in the school playground.
There are a few Christian thinkers and writers addressing this, but not many. Ed Stetzer has highlighted a study on pornography, which finds:
■Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
■Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornorgraphy they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
■Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
■Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
■Among couples affected by one spouse's addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
So I'm struggling with how, as a church leader, to engage with this stuff in a way that will help my congregation, but without having to actually read/look at any of it. Any helpful thoughts?