50 Shades of Deception

I want to make a brief comment on the phenomena that is 50 shades of Grey. But first, I need to make a disclaimer – I have not read the book, and I have certainly not seen the movie. But, I don’t need to eat rat poison before I warn others about it. It promotes violent sex and psychological abuse in the name of ‘romance’. This book romanticises weird, kinky and potentially harmful sex acts, and that is not real life. It is porn.

Porn is always self-seeking, never honest, never truthful, never trusting, and never protecting. There is no hope in it, no kindness, no sacrifice. Porn moves sex from being sacred to being profane.

Men are the major consumers of porn. Australian research shows that by 16 years of age, 100% of boys have been exposed to porn, with the current average age of exposure to boys being around 11-12 years of age.

Girls are also being exposed to porn at an early age – both in seeing it, but also as victims of the boys who have now seen porn as their first sexual experience. The girls become confused and distressed because they want the boys to like them, but what they’re asking for makes them question themselves – they are left thinking something is wrong with them for not wanting to do the acts depicted in porn.

Most women hate porn. They recognise that porn destroys actual relationships. So why are women loving Fifty Shades??? I believe the answer is in the supposed “happy ever after ending”. While a lot of the sex in Fifty Shades is cruel and sadistic, as in mainstream porn, it is deceitfully packaged for women who want a “fairy tale” ending. In male-targeted porn, the woman is an object, and only interesting for as long as the sex lasts. Once done with her, the man is onto the next, and the next, and the next. She is disposable and easily replaced. No happy ending here for women. But in Fifty Shades, the young woman – I prefer to call her the victim – captures the rich, sadistic, hero, and he doesn’t move on to the next conquest once he has his wicked way with her. In fact, he actually marries her and confesses undying love.

This is why groups fighting against Domestic Violence are so angry about this movie. It’s perpetuating a lie. Violence doesn’t lead to love – we know that intuitively, and life confirms it. In the first 7 weeks of 2015, 13 Australian women had already been killed as a result of domestic violence.

But this awful movie encourages victims to hang in there. It perpetuates the lie that he ‘really does love her’, despite torturing her, that in the end it will work out, and they will live happily ever after. They have denied the truth that porn objectifies women, and sold us the lie that he really loves her, despite his sadistic cruelty.

But that is not love! It is lust and I want to sound a warning that we need to know the difference. We need to stand up against the sexualized, objectifying, pornification of our society that is happening. Because when women become objects, they lose their humanity and the accompanying respect and human rights that they deserve.

Before we go any further, let’s establish what love actually is. Our authority is the bible and this is what it says –

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

So, on the one hand we have lust, which results in the objectification of women, and on the other hand we have love, which results in honour and respect.

Which of these two – lust vs love – are we being inundated with?

We have so much information about sexuality coming at us from everywhere – the media, advertising billboards, movies, TV shows, music clips, just everywhere. Recently, the Australia Institute research found that this sexual saturation is contributing to a wide range of risks to children and is, in fact, derailing the natural process of sexual development which commences in childhood and is a normal part of development. Our sexual health is closely related to our mental and emotional health. Because sexuality is more than biological – it is also relational, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual.

Let’s consider a few of the outcomes of this pornified culture we currently share –

  • 70% of adolescent girls have body dissatisfaction
  • Eating disorders are the second leading cause of mental disorder, and the third most common chronic illness for young females in Australia.
  • 1 in 5 young Australians suffer mental illness with young women twice as likely as young men to be affected.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in the hospitalisation of young Australian women who have intentionally harmed themselves.
  • Over the past decade, the number of cases of self-harm using a sharp object have more than doubled
  • The average age of first sexual experiences for both sexes in Australia is 16
  • 20% of Australian girls have intercourse before their 15th birthday
  • almost one in three girls has had sexual intercourse without a condom by year 12.
  • 13% of adolescent girls aged 12-15 years who were tested, had chlamydia.
  • The number of chlamydia cases reported annually in Australia is far higher than for any other infectious disease
  • One of the side effects of chlamydia in females is sterility
  • The Australian Kids Helpline reports that between January and March last year, 500 young people contacted them about sexting. 75% were female. One in three were aged between 10 and 14.

In drawing these facts to your attention, I am not trying to be sensational. The Australian Medical Association reports that sexualised marketing and advertising is contributing to children focusing on an inappropriate sexualised concept of body image. This impacts on their growth and physical functioning, including a reduced ability to think and learn. They also say that much of our advertising idealises a particular kind of female body, specifically one that is slim, toned and shapely and that this is contributing to the increasing number of children dieting at younger ages, trying – often in vain – to copy this concept of ‘physical perfection’.

Inappropriate sexual advertising and messaging should not be dismissed lightly.

There are so many opportunities for us to get involved and really make a difference.

Yesterday, I was sent a photo of this display outside a local Target store.

50Shades

I immediately sent the following email to centre management.

For many years my children and I have shopped at your centre. The reason for my message is to ask you to please remove the Fifty Shades of Grey promotion in the mall outside Target. This book and movie mainstreams women as victims. There are many harmful aspects to this including an early introduction to bondage and sadomasochism themes to children.
Everyday Australians are sick of having sexually explicit messaging wallpapering our lives. If you disagree that is your right, but I would appreciate you explaining to me why it is ok to promote sexualised themes and messaging that are unsuitable for children, where children are. Adults can choose to read or watch what they like. Please allow us the right to protect our children’s innocence in their childhood. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Later in the day I received a call from the Marketing Manager for the centre who had spoken to Target – they had agreed to move the display.

50Shades2Today, we see the same DVDs on checkout counters in Target stores.

Please consider taking the time to contact Target and request that DVDs that are not suitable for children, such as this one, are not be placed where they cannot be avoided by children.

Jesus said that His followers are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. Being salt and light is not optional. Jesus did not say you can be…or you have the potential to be…He said you are.

An open letter to Judge Rackemann

Dear Judge Rackemann

I refer to a case you presided on recently in Ipswich. In this particular case, a ‘father’ (I use this term loosely – this man surely does not deserve that title) had raped his nine year old daughter on a continual basis. These despicable acts are beyond any doubt because the man filmed the acts for the purpose of producing child exploitation material. The report in the newspaper quoted you as saying that the sentence may have been harsher had violence been involved.

Judge, I understand that you will have presided over a lot of awful cases in your work, and the Australian community appreciates the work of our judicial system. But perhaps the continual exposure to cases such as this has de-sensitized you to some degree? Or perhaps the explanation is that it is ‘legal speak’, but whatever the reason, I felt impelled to tell you how deeply offensive and indeed, horrifying it was to read the implication that there could be any possible disassociation of rape and violence.

I believe I speak for millions of Australians when I say that all rape is violent. Any child being used in a pornographic way is violent.

In fact, many sexual abuse victims turn to self-harm (violence against themselves) in order to physically feel the pain that they are experiencing inside.

The extremely dangerous message that the reporting of your words gave, however it was intended, potentially sends the message that there are times when rape is not violent.

Rape is always violating the victim. Non-violent rape is a myth.

Yours sincerely

Wendy Francis
Brisbane

 

Dear reader, the perpetrator in this case has been given 7 years jail, but is expected to be released in 2.5 years. This is despite the psychologist assessing him as having a moderate risk of reoffending. And we have subsequently established that his young daughter was 7 years old at the time of the offence. I have read the judgement on this case and the details are unspeakable.

My comment on today’s budget

Acts 20-35

Along with many other Australians, I am disappointed that our Government has recently cut 1 billion dollars in aid from our Budget and today’s budget will not make that up. But I can’t help but believe also that the answer to this moral and ethical dilemma is in our own hands.

There are 12 million working Australians. The average weekly earnings is $1,500 prior to tax. Around the world there are many aid agencies who feed and educate the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. If each wage earning Australian, when planning their own budget, channelled 1% more of their earnings more than they already donate to one of these organisations, we as Australians would contribute a staggering sum of over 9 billion dollars in aid.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

We are a wealthy country. In fact, Australia’s median wealth (the wealth of the middle wealthiest person in Australia) is the highest in the world, at $258,000.

If you don’t personally relate to that dollar sum, consider these salient facts –

  • If you have $4,622, including the value of your home and assets, you’re among the wealthiest half of the people in the world.
  • To be in membership of the top 10% of wealthiest people in the world, the requirement is $97,509.

A quick way to estimate where you sit in the world wealth stakes is this calculator – https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/get-involved/how-rich-am-i

But our wealth has not made us the world’s happiest place. The latest United Nations World Happiness Report ranked Australia 10th in the happiness stakes.

Perhaps giving more to those in need would make us happier? It’s a thought!

Don’t neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

Reading bedtime stories to your children is so yesterday

Before it’s too late, Australians must face up to the intensity of the current attack on the family. For example, we need look no further than ‘our’ ABC for an example. In the month of May, ABC has presented to the Australian public two philosophers and their ideas. Q&A hosted and promoted controversial Australian philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer, who suggests a post-birth assessment period for new parents, during which time they should be legally allowed to kill disabled offspring.

If that is not disturbing enough, ABC also presented to us another philosopher, this time on Radio national – Adam Swift. Perhaps the most worrying concept promoted on ABC national (there were many) from Mr Swift was in regard to what he argues is a ‘magnitude of damage caused by the family unit’. In the light of this ‘damage’, he concedes we may end up being left with only one option: abolish family – “One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.”

How very Plato-esque of him! But how very un-Australian. This is propaganda at its worst. Ask any average Australian on the street what is the most important thing in their life and chances are the first word out of their mouth will be ‘family’. This is the ‘norm’. In no way do I want to downplay the seriousness of domestic violence or the tragedy of broken families, but if we are talking about ‘common good’, then stable families are what we should be working towards.

Adam Swift believes that the importance people place on their biological origins is largely a social and cultural construct. He says that nothing in his theory assumes two parents: “there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four”.

Adam Swift wants equality and he preaches the dangerous message that the family unit is the true cause of growing inequality in society. To the extent that he says parents should consider the inequity of the situation if they read their children bedtime stories – in doing so they are actually unfairly disadvantaging their children over other children.

Australia is still an amazing land of opportunity; the lucky country. It’s a place where parents are still encouraged to give their children every possible advantage to grow up to contribute to the well-being of the common good of society. We owe much to our Judeo-Christian heritage which has traditionally placed a strong focus on the nuclear family being a foundational pillar of society.

When I was growing up, the ABC was informative and educational. It is still educational, but what exactly are they teaching? And what are we learning from it? It matters.

You can read ABC’s report on the program here : http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/new-family-values/6437058

 

A Spiritual Battle

Alice

Alice: Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
The Mad Hatter: That is an excellent practice.

In Lewis Carroll’s story of Alice in Wonderland, we meet an inquisitive, bold and brave young girl who believes in the impossible. I identify with Alice in so many ways

I love an impossible project!

There’s a lot that puzzles me in life.

I am prepared to fight for what is right. I value friendship.

I tend to take people on face value.

And I hate injustice.

My favourite part in Alice’s story is when she comes face to face with the arch enemy, the Jabberwock, who is the champion of the red Queen. Alice has no idea how she will defeat this formidable foe but then the white Queen hands her the Vorpal sword – the only thing that can defeat the evil Jabberwock. As Alice takes the sword, the Queen tells her that it will know what to do and it will win the battle for her. Once on the battlefield, the dialogue between Alice and her foe is fabulous –

Jabberwocky: So my old foe, we meet on the battlefield once again.
Alice: We’ve never met.
Jabberwocky: Not you, insignificant bearer. My ancient enemy, the Vorpal one.

And so, trusting in the sword in her hand, she steps up to the fight. And after a fierce battle, OFF goes the Jabberwock’s head!

I grew up in a godly, loving home with four amazing sisters who I love very much. My husband and I have been married for over 35 years, we have 3 married children and 10 amazing grandchildren. Add to that the blessing of being Australian. In this wonderful country, I don’t wake in the morning wondering whether there will be a long wait at the well when I go to draw water for the day. I go shopping and eat out without fear. I have access to good doctors and hospitals. Yes, I am blessed indeed.

In the book of Luke in the Bible we read, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ I feel this weight of responsibility that comes with great blessing. But Jesus has promised that His yoke is easy to bear and the burden He gives us is light.

In Matthew 25 we read a story that Jesus told his followers of a master who is going away on a trip. Before leaving, he gives to three of his servants an amount of money according to their ability to use it wisely in his absence. Those who enlarged the original gift were rewarded, but the one who buried the gift was sent away in shame.

Each of us are created with a purpose, with God-given talents to use for His glory and for the good of others. And when I am using those gifts, I feel the wind beneath my wings. It’s not that life is easy. I, like so many others, have experienced deep and intense sorrow. But I am convinced that God’s plans for me are for my good and not for harm. They are where I will find hope and a future.

From a professional background in University and Church management roles, God placed on my heart a deep concern for the families and children in our society who do not know Him. So many are hurting. Badly. Our foster system is failing. One in four of our Qld children are known to child services. In high risk areas this rises to two in every three. Our society is so hyper-sexualised that our children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing is being affected with the rise of eating disorders, depression and appearance anxiety. Their cognitive and emotional development is being affected, they are having sex younger and they do not understand gender roles.

In early 2010 I commenced a campaign to make Outdoor Advertising G Rated. In 2011 I became the Qld State Director for the Australian Christian Lobby. The mantra that I seek to live out is to “Speak the Truth in Love”. We are called to be salt and light and to bless the place where we live (Matthew 5:13-14); to work for its peace and prosperity (Jeremiah 29:7); to free the captives. This is a spiritual battle. Our churches are well placed to care for our children, receiving 80% of government funding which is directed to not-for-profit organisations who are caring for our most vulnerable. I believe there is so much more we can do.

And, like Alice, there is only one weapon that can win the battle.

But our weapon is real. It is our sword – The Word of God (Ephesians 6:17); it is God’s Truth. But we must be prepared to step forward into the fight, and watch as God does the impossible (Matthew 19:26).