Stories that Matter

Hey, My Book Has Sex In It!

Unknown-1

 

Still with me? Thought so. 🙂

In light of the whole Miley Cyrus fiasco, along with the casting pics for 50 Shades of Gray that have just been released, I’ve decided to let you all know that, yes, my book has sex in it. Actually, both of them do. But if you’re looking for pages of extremely graphic description that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination, you won’t find that in Yesterday’s Tomorrow or Hidden in the Heart. What you will find is a dose of reality. A story of what can happen when real people like you and I refuse to listen to God and make their own way in the world, rather than believing He has a plan for them.

But why the sex? Why include it at all? Don’t you write *gasp* Christian fiction?

Okay, to be fair, you really have to read the book or I’ll give the story away. In Yesterday’s Tomorrow, it was an important part of my characters’ journey and had to be included. But I am told it was so subtly done that a couple people missed it altogether and had to go back and re-read. 🙂 In Hidden in the Heart, the incident had already occurred, but without it, there would be no story. And yes, I do write fiction from a Christian worldview. By the way, Christians do have sex. Sadly, some of them also have sex outside of the sanctity of marriage. Which leads me to my next point.

If we believe that sex was created by God, to be given as a gift to one another when a man and a woman marry, then it becomes a beautiful thing. But the world has taken this once treasured and never talked about experience, and turned it into something base, vile and commonplace. These days, if you’re a high school kid and you aren’t having sex, something must be wrong with you. It has become a recreational activity. Something to do when you’re bored. Something to do to prove you are a man or woman. We have fifteen year-old girls running around with babies! Dear God, where did we go wrong?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If we’re not willing to discuss the sin, how in the world can we point people to the cross?

Yes, I said the S word. SIN. This is what makes people uncomfortable. Makes them squirm in their seats. Keeps them away from churches. Who wants to hear that they’re a sinner? I mean, really? Sin has become the dirty word and sex the acceptable moniker for just about everything.

It’s not my job to judge. But it is my job to write books that carry a meaningful message. If I believe I am accountable to the God who made me, then I must present nothing less than my best. But aside from that, I have to believe that there are readers out there who want to read good fiction without having to worry about what they’re going to find within the pages of that book they just spent money on. Sure, my writing may not meet everyone’s standard of what they think “Christian” fiction should be. I’m okay with that. But I can promise you this, I won’t compromise my morals or what I believe to produce a book that sells. And in saying that, I’ve narrowed my market considerably. I’m okay with that too.

The longer this publishing journey takes, the more I’ve come to rely on God for whatever direction my career will go. Right now, it seems like I’m just spinning my wheels. Waiting, waiting, waiting. And nothing is happening. But I know that’s not true. That’s the beauty of being in relationship with God. Something is always happening. It may not be a tangible thing, like a new contract, but behind the scenes plans are being laid out. Specifically for me. And for you. Doesn’t that just give you chills?

So what happens in the meantime? I continue to write. I pray for Him to provide the right people to come alongside me and encourage me on this journey. I look for avenues where my writing might find a soft landing place. I trust my agent and know that she is also praying for the same things. And I don’t give up.

Because I refuse to let books like 50 Shades become the norm. As long as I have breath and am able to hit these keys, I will offer something different. Something better. Something I can be proud of. I will write stories that my friends can read and pass along to their friends. I will write real and maybe sometimes I will cross a line or two for some people, but I will not litter the playgrounds of the mind with garbage.

We can change what’s happening in the world. We can bring something different to the table. It will take work, we will be ridiculed, but we can do it.

I hope you’ll join me.

Aren’t you tired of the trash?

share:

24 Comments

  1. Sherrie Hansen on September 4, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. Well said.

    • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Thanks for reading, Sherrie!

  2. bethkvogt on September 4, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Well said.
    And your books? Well written.

    • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Aw, shucks, Beth. 🙂 You always make me smile.

  3. Holly Michael on September 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Love to check out your books…not because of the sex though. lol

    • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks, Holly! I hope you enjoy them!

  4. Anonymously on September 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I’m a Christian who read and loved Fifty Shades and I certainly didn’t find it “trashy”. In fact, once I got past the giddy emotions of the romance, I was humbled by the tenets behind submission in the BDSM. It’s about trust and faith, and knowledge that the dominant isn’t trying to hurt you or push you into a bad situation, or is trying to rule you against your will. As someone who struggles with submitting to the Lord–due to being hurt and betrayed by authority figures–Fifty Shades of Grey was a metaphor in action, and I am glad I read the books.

    • Jennifer K. Hale on September 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Dear Anonymous,
      In response to your comment above, I have to say, I am surprised. I’ve heard a lot of arguments for the merits of the 50 Shades books, but never that they are a metaphor for our submission to Christ. It’s a point of view that gave me pause and really made me think about your perspective.

      In response to your point I’d have to say that from what I understand of BDSM, it is submission for sexual gratification. There is an element of fear that underlies the trust. I don’t see the correlation in that, for our submission to Christ has no elements of fear. In fact, fear is absolutely contradictory to what the Bible says our relationship with Christ is all about. Also, our submission to the will of God is not for our personal gratification (born of sin), but for the glory of God. The joy and blessings we receive are byproducts of our walk with the Lord, glorifying Him in all that we do.

      I do not see those books as a metaphor for anything that glorifies the Lord. In fact, all they do is, as Cathy so wonderfully stated in this post, add to the idea that sex outside of marriage is without recourse or consequence.

      I have many, many Christian friends who have read the 50 Shades books and argue their merit. I haven’t read the books and have no plans to do so. Like you, I often struggle with submitting my whole self to God’s plans. But I think that our goal in this struggle is to seek His righteousness and holiness, not the sinful nature of the flesh. If we excuse that sinful nature by trying to disguise it as something acceptable, we are simply excusing our own sin. These books are not edifying or glorifying in any way. Instead, they are giving women a false hope of relationships, providing for sexual encounters outside of marriage to be “normal”, and turning one’s focus away from that which is holy.

      Cathy, I applaud this post, and I’m right there with ya, sister!

      • Christian Wife on September 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm

        I’m not sure how to say this so it doesn’t sound odd, but I will attempt to. I think the key in Jennifer’s reply is “I’d have to say that from what I understand of BDSM, it is submission for sexual gratification. There is an element of fear that underlies the trust. I don’t see the correlation in that, for our submission to Christ has no elements of fear.”

        I’ll start there, and say that you do not understand BDSM, which is totally fine! I applaud that you tried to, and I expect anyone who has never experienced it or been involved in a real BDSM relationship (not these fiction books or erotic writing type things) to not understand it.

        As a Christian, who has been in (and is in) a BDSM relationship in my marriage, it has nothing to do with fear, “submission” in the biblical sense, or bringing anyone closer to God. I’m not going to pretend that it’s biblical or sacred. What I will say is that is can and does bring a couple (yes, some are unmarried, but a large portion ARE married, and a very substantial amount are Christian), closer together. For us, when I am submissive as an extension of our marriage, into the bedroom, it allows me to relax, be, zone out and let my husband do what makes him happy, and in turn, with him keeping my needs and wants in mind (since he “loves me as Christ loved the church outside and inside the bedroom), he fulfills my needs. I am not one bit “fearful” of my husband in the bedroom, marriage or otherwise.

        Just wanted to shed some light on that comment for those that truly don’t understand. I don’t want you to think I liked the books. I didn’t read them, because they are totally fake and off base on what a real D/S relationship entails. If you’ve never lived it, you can’t write about it, sorry.

      • bethkvogt on September 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

        Well said, Jenny.

      • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm

        Thanks for sharing your heart, Jenny. I appreciate the time you took to voice your thoughts, even if others do not agree. We’re all entitled to an opinion and as you know, I always value yours. 🙂

    • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks for sharing those thoughts. I can’t say I agree with you, at all, but I appreciate that you were willing to share your point of view.

      • Rachel Heston-Davis on September 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

        Unless I”m mistaken, the original blog post was not singling out BDSM in particular, but was more so referring to the amount of explicit sex portrayed (which would be problematic to Cathy whether the sex was BDSM or not). Cathy, am I right?

        In all fairness, though, I have heard from a startlingly high number of people that BDSM is indeed a bit different (and more positive) than what the average person pictures when we hear that word. For what it’s worth. My own contribution to the personal experience camp is, however, zero. My biggest concern would be whether BDSM would undermine the natural equality that should exist between spouses. I don’t know that I’d see consensual, married BDSM as inherently sinful in and of itself, but it’s the long-term consequences to how the partners view each other that have me worried.

  5. Darlene Lindstrom on September 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Cathy, I agree with you totally! Everyone I’d allowed to read what they want nut I don’t t want to read fifty shades! I bought all 3 books they were flying off the shelfs and I hit to the red room the sm room and threw all the books away! I want to read a nice clean book with some romance and imagination! Iove your writing and your blog I am joined on your blog and books! This is great you go girl!
    Love your sister in Christ,
    Darlene your loyal reader

    • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks, Darlene, I appreciate that!

  6. Philip Hayles on September 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Jennifer

    I tried to resist, but I am incapable. I don’t belong here, and my views will no doubt be welcomed by few here, Cathy included. But I think you are being hugely unfair towards anonymous, and your tacit sanctimony more than irks me. I have not read ‘Fifty Shades’ or any of your and Cathy’s work. Nor do I engage in BDSM.

    So she liked the books and they meant something to her. She identified with something. She was moved. She was entertained, and perhaps even titillated. I find it unseemly that you choose to condescend to her about their lack of value because of your notion of ‘our walk with the Lord, glorifying Him in all that we do.’ Who exactly are you to denigrate her experience and make conclusions about the possible effects on her life? You haven’t even read the books. They are not ‘edifying or glorifying in any way,’ you say. I’m sorry, but that is simply not for you to say.

    I am an avid reader, or perhaps more accurately, I used to be. I hope, like me, that anonymous will think ridiculous the conclusions of someone who neither knows her, her history, nor the books in question.

    As I’ve learned, you too pen ‘Christian Fiction’- ‘God-inspired stories of life and love.’ I am not a believer and am quite capable of marshalling very good arguments, moral precepts, and knowledge of the history and archeology of the bible (you know, to some extent). I will refrain from doing so here. But I wonder how you might feel if I were to, after seeing someone post something positive about your novels, post a response decrying them and their philosophical underpinnings and warning of the potential dangers of being exposed to the ideas in them… all from my high horse of Enlightenment reason and rationality. And without having read any of your work.

    You obviously feel very good about your beliefs and your outlook. Fair enough, I suppose. But I think you go too far in lecturing people about what you admittedly know nothing about from that standpoint, especially those who indicate at least something of a troubled history.

    She liked the books. They spoke to her. They gave her some insight into her own life. Into her own self. These are the books I remember. That I cherish. This is what you hope to engender in your readers, I imagine. Better to applaud her experience, wish her luck, and be glad that literature has once again enriched the life of a fellow human being. That is edifying. Indeed there is a kind of glory in it.

    I’ve said my peace. Thank you for your kind attention.

    Philip Hayles

    P.S. You do write a good sentence.

    • Jennifer K. Hale on September 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Thanks for that compliment there at the end, Philip. I appreciate that! 😉

      I think the difference here lies in what you stated toward the end of your comment– that the books have “enriched” someone’s life. Our definitions of enrichment are altogether different, you see. To me, enrichment brings us closer to Christ. Those books do not fall into that category.

      The major difference between us, and between me and anyone who, like Cathy mentioned above, reads the ever-growing category of over-sexualized “literature”, is our worldview. I have a Christian worldview– and not even just Christian, but Evangelical, born-again Christianity. When someone says that they share the same worldview but want to justify something that is clearly unholy and void of the righteousness of Christ, I have to call a spade a spade and label it sin. Am I without sin? Absolutely not. Not even close. But I follow One who died for my sins and in following Him, my job is to not only keep myself on His path, but to shine His light.

      My goal as a writer is to point people toward a better way– a higher road– a life of desiring Christ. That desire trumps anything earthly. Christian fiction writers want to promote the Biblical Truth of a Savior who died for our sins, was resurrected, and will return. It’s a glorious thing full of hope. That’s enriching. It’s why we ARE Christian writers– because the intentions of our books are exactly the opposite of the mainstream worldview. Cathy’s post defined that perfectly.

      I see your point, Philip, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

      PS- If you were to warn people against my books, I’d be thrilled. That means I’m doing something right, yeah? 😉 lol.

  7. Christian Wife on September 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I’m going to guess that was to my comment in reply to Jennifer’s to clarify things. I appreciate your stance, however, if you don’t want conversation, comments and viewpoints, why do you have a blog with comments open? There was nothing “wrong” about “anonymous'” post, or Jennifer’s post and they both mentioned BDSM and 50 shades, as did mine in response to theirs.

    In your own words “If we’re not willing to discuss the sin, how in the world can we point people to the cross?”

    • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Your point is well taken, as you can see. I have opened the comments. We can agree to disagree on our viewpoints. 🙂

      • Cathy West on September 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm

        Christian Wife – But I’m at a loss as to why you feel the need to share what happens behind your closed bedroom door with us. I wasn’t going to post that original comment of yours for that reason. I believe in closing the door. That’s why I don’t write explicit sex scenes. I don’t think it’s necessary to provide those details for my readers. Nor do I believe it would be glorifying to God. So I am curious as to why you want to discuss your private life on the internet, albeit anonymously.

        • Christian Wife on September 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm

          I truly appreciate that you did post all comments (including mine). I’m being sincere here when I ask how you feel that stating that my husband and I, in our Christian marriage, both as Christians and both submitting to God, practicing BDSM is sharing what happens behind closed doors.

          I guess what I’m saying is that, I didn’t share any type of “activities” with a plan-o-gram or details of actions or what type of anything we do. I shared something akin to “I like the lights off” or “He prefers to be on top” – tell me honestly, would you be offended at those statements? I think those would have been much more divulging of information. I just threw those out there, they are not anything we like! I also know that most Christian women have no idea about BDSM, and those that do would not be offended by my statements. I’ll even say that most WOMEN and people in general have no idea about BDSM because they choose not to, or have not experienced it. It is nothing like you read about in fiction, or see splashed all over adult sites etc. Therefore, I didn’t feel at all odd stating that it is something we practice, because I know for a fact that people don’t get it. The “vision” others have of it is nothing like what it actually is. It’s not my fault that people don’t understand. I am only responsible for what I say, not what others hear or perceive.

          I feel what I said was the same as saying “my husband and I enjoy listening to Barry White while we are being intimate.” If you feel those are too descriptive, then we’ll have to agree to disagree. Yes, I mentioned our behind closed doors activities, however, why is sex, or the marriage bed a taboo subject? We are married, I’m going to assume that people KNOW we have sex behind that door (or anywhere else we choose in our home), and I am a firm believer that ANYTHING that occurs in my bedroom with my husband is sacred, wonderful, and sanctified by God. He put my husband and I together for reasons and we explore and enjoy them all!

          I provided no details – at all, I think that’s where I’m losing your comment here. My private life and sex life is still private, and would be even if I did share who I was. I didn’t share anything that I wouldn’t have told a friend, or my mother, or in laws. I’m an adult, I’m a Christian, I’m sane, and I’m quite confident in my marriage, there is no need to hide what God has given my marriage. Even more important is allowing others to know that marriage is wonderful and you SHOULD enjoy your sex life, and if it’s within the confines of your marriage and you and your spouse agree and like it, and it glorifies God by bringing you closer together – then who is anyone to say that it’s wrong?

          Thank you for asking, and I hope that clears things up as to why I said what I did!

  8. Deni H. on September 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    While everyone unnecessarily shares the intimate details of their sex lives on a public website, and argue about whether or not some poorly written book was moral to enjoy, I’d just like to compliment Cathy West on a wonderful post about the oversexualization of the media and the negative impact it can leave on those who see it.

  9. Beth Willis Miller on September 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Just wanted to share this link to a message entitled, Your Marriage: Black, White and Grey Shades, http://shar.es/ianGb

  10. Denise Morgan on September 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Denise Morgan
    September 5, 2013 at 12:26 AM
    . . . be careful little eyes what you see . . . .
    . . . be careful little ears what you hear . . .
    These lines from a childrens song come from the Bible – the Book of Books.
    They tell us to guard our hearts and to think on these things:
    Philippians 4:8
    New International Version (NIV)
    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.
    I agree with Cathy in the aspect the we are to “raise the bar” as Christians and
    1 Corinthians 8:9-13
    New International Version (NIV)
    9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
    Christ calls us to be like him and to not conform to the world.
    I also agree with Cathy that what a Christian couple does behind closed doors is between them and God who knows and sees all.
    As for Christian fiction, yes , sex is part of being human but there is no need for steamy details. We are all fallen sinners saved only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Christ who shed His blood for all of us.
    He calls us to be like Him.
    Is reading 50 Shades of Gray honoring to Him?
    Do you want your money to support the author of such writing?
    The heart is deceitful and the lies of Satan are tempting.

Leave a Comment