Pulling Back The Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and The Longings Of A Woman’s Heart by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery is a beautifully written, Biblical response to the rapidly growing trend of accepting and normalizing erotica, specifically 50 Shades of Grey, as well as addressing other issues that have to deal with sexual and emotional intimacy.
As much as this book is a powerful resource that confronts the issue of erotica, very specifically the series 50 Shades of Grey, Dannah Gresh points out,
This book is about the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of women. (146)
I love that she added that to the text. I hope her words show you this book was not written only to confront the women who may have been interested in 50 Shades of Grey, but rather this is a book confronting sexuality and authentic intimacy for all women.
I never read 50 Shades of Grey. I was repulsed at the obvious attention it was receiving. I immediately saw it for what it was and my heart yearned for others to avoid it. I even posted an article about 50 Shades of Grey and was surprised to receive so many responses (more so on the Facebook thread) of women defending the series and how it has helped their marriage.
I avoided that series at all cost. Not because I am perfect or have all the right answers, but because I have experienced the ill effects of being addicted to that type of explicit material. I know the damage it causes to marriage, because it has negatively affected mine.
So when I found out that Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery wrote a book about sexual intimacy, answering some of the questions women had about erotica, and providing a resource that taught women the truth about God’s great design of sex, I was beyond ecstatic.
I read Pulling Back the Shades in two days! Although written by two authors, it was so cohesive it seemed like it was written in one voice. I believe God anointed this resource and guided both women as they poured their hearts out, ultimately sharing His voice!
I want to caution anyone who is intending to read this book who has not read the series 50 Shades of Grey. Dr. Juli Slattery explains how she prayfully, and from her professional viewpoint as a clinical psychologist read through the series herself to research for Pulling Back the Shades. From her findings she does expose some alarming details from the series by EL James, however, what she pulls into the light and describes in referencing the text is astounding. As much as I cringed a little reading those parts, I felt it was important to whole of the work. I just wanted to give you a fair warning.
Pulling Back the Shades flows from exposing the truth about issues women may face in the bedroom to the spiritual side of sexuality, wrapping up with an encouraging message of hope and a charge for women to care about God’s Word, to care about His will, to care about what they allow into their lives and to care about others.
Each Chapter ends with a section called Pull Back The Shades, challenging the reader to immediately apply what was discussed in that chapter. It is a thoughtful way to prompt the reader to not just read the book, but actually use it as a resource to guide them in applying what they read.
Pulling Back the Shades is for married women and single women, but I absolutely love that it shines light on how what we do as wives has a profound effect in our relationship with our husbands.
In the very back of the book there is a section with group questions which are there for anyone who wants to use this book in a group setting. They are designed to promote discussion. There is also a section with other resources listed to help you fully navigate all the questions and concerns you have about sexual/spiritual intimacy.
What I Got Out Of It:
There was quite a bit that resonated with me throughout this book. I really value how these leading Christian women are confronting issues of sexuality. There was not a lot of this happening when I first became a wife, so to me the resources they provide are priceless and life-changing!
I appreciated how vulnerable Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery were as they shared intimate details of their lives in hopes of encouraging other women. They conveyed the importance that intimacy requires transparency, something I strongly believe as well.
I loved God but had no concept of what it meant to be intimate with Him. (124)
I too have struggled in this area! Just to know that someone else can understand certain struggles I have had makes me feel better, while pulling me in to listen to how this area of life can be improved!
On page 106 Dr. Juli Slattery shares another valuable resource that I encourage you to check out titled Passion Pursuit: What Kind Of Love Are You Making? which she coauthored with Linda Dillow. They have an online ministry as well called Authentic Intimacy and both of these resources cover the tough topics regarding sexuality and God’s great design of sex. Dannah Gresh also has a ministry called Pure Freedom equipping moms to help raise teens who understand the value of purity.
Pulling Back The Shades also details what happens physically as people chase after counterfeit intimacy. There is a chemical reaction that occurs when our bodies are sexually stimulated, which ultimately causes your body to crave more, whether it is pure sex with your husband or experiencing an orgasm while reading erotica. So if we choose to chase the counterfeit intimacy we will train our bodies to want more of that…but if we choose to pursue our husbands, our bodies will crave more of that! I thought this was so interesting! From this conclusion we can see how God designed our bodies to have the capacity to desire more of our spouse over time, but we also see how the enemy has strived at great lengths to use this against us through the temptation of destructive materials such as pornography or erotica.
I love this next quote and I wish so much for our society/culture to embrace this incredible truth…
The bottom line is this: sex is sacred and deserves incredible honor. (114)
If more people believed this, there would be a lot less pain in this world. Unfortunately, so many people have accepted lie after lie about sex. My heart breaks for those who do not honor sex the way God has designed it and intended it to be a precious gift.
In the back of the book, in Appendix 2 there is a question on page 164 that is asked which really challenged me:
How are you sharing your life?
I immediately wanted to answer yes, of course I share my life with my husband, we do everything together! But I was quickly convicted specifically in the area of sexual intimacy. I often find reasons or excuses why tonight is just not a good night, but somehow there are weeks that go by without any kind of sexual intimacy between us. I struggle to share that part of my life with him. I desire to change in this area!
Although it hurts to be confronted, particularly because we get convicted to change our behavior, and honestly that can be really hard to do…if we make the appropriate adjustments with the guidance of the Holy Spirit our marriages can be radically transformed! I know from experience!
I highly recommend this book to any woman who has been exposed to sexual abuse, pornography, erotica, promiscuity or has experienced painful sex during intercourse, a lack of intimacy in marriage, or a lack of intimacy with God. I also recommend this book if you have ever had questions about your sexuality or about Biblical sexual boundaries, specifically regarding explicit material such as erotica.