It’s a Grey Issue

Kate says . . .

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you have probably heard something about Shades of Grey. The phenomenon of these books has brought to light many issues including sexual fantasies and BDSM, just to start the list. These are huge things we all need to talk about and interestingly enough -they are grey issues; things that the Bible does not speak directly to, but definitely speaks to the spirit of.

Women are being drawn to these novels by more than just sex. They are drawn to the relational aspect, the feeling that this “person” will be my fairy tale, the “all that I have imagined and all that I think I need” person. This is just as dangerous as the sexual aspects and is also a grey issue. It is not clearly defined by black and white, but foggy and smeared in the middle.

When I heard that Shannon Ethridge, an author I greatly admire wrote The Fantasy Fallacy: Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts, a book that would start a conversation about these topics, I knew I wanted to read it-fast! Shannon is the author of one of my favorite books I highly recommend to all women- The Sexually Confident Wife. Shannon’s team was gracious enough to send me a copy to review, which I was elated to receive and is now going on my favorite list-it is that good!

The Fantasy Fallacy

Shannon goes right to the core of why we as sexual beings fantasize. Why did God create us with the ability to fantasize? Could there be more to what’s going on than just what people see at the surface? Shannon shares an understanding of the psychology of fantasy while reflecting on what the Bible says answers these questions.

God created the brain and designed how it connects everything within us. When we study how our brain works we are in fact praising him for all the awesomeness he created. We are unwrapping what he has gifted us with. Having a hubby who has been called into the same field as Shannon, I was excited to hear her perspective on both the psychological and Biblical roots of fantasy.

Shannon is quick to point out; books such as Shades of Grey have been around for a long, long time. These themes have been a societal issue since Biblical times. That’s right; the sexual fantasy, even bondage fantasies that we are concerned about are not new. It is simply (and sadly) that this new packaging has given the old topics prime media attention that has swept even more people into its grasp. So now that the media has highlighted and amplified what was already a huge issue, what do we do about it?

We All Do It

We all have fantasies! Whether they are sexual in nature or not is a different story, though I would doubt there are many people who have not had a sexual fantasy at one point in their life. As Shannon says, we can either run from them, run into them (many times risking our marriage in the process) or we can turn and face them, and see what they can teach us about ourselves. When we stop to ask, “Why does this fantasy play out in my head?” we open a window to our past. The Fantasy Fallacy teaches how we as sexual humans work and it will challenge you to examine your own fantasies.

Marriage is two people becoming one through God’s amazing design. Yet, we are two people who have two very different upbringings and families of origin. If you sat down today and chatted openly and honestly with your spouse about their fantasies, I believe you would learn a whole new level about your spouse. How many of us can say that we have done this? Not many!

Sadly there are heaps of guilt and shame that go along with the images we have conjured up in our heads. Yet ignoring them is not a good way to go either. Shannon explains fantasizing is normal, but it also needs to remain within God’s parameters to be healthy and keep us from acting on things that are not what God intended for our one flesh union.

Fruits Roots

Shannon shares that we “cannot change the fruit we bare, unless we know its roots.” I love that! If we don’t dive into the depths behind the darkness where our fantasies dwell, we cannot understand them and then take any traitorous thoughts captive. This is true in most of marriage and life. We fear that we are just plain weird so we avoid looking into the depths of what we fantasize about. It we are willing, diving in, exposing the roots and bringing them to the light for a closer look will teach us many things. Your marriage is worth it.

Is This Book For Me?

Is this a book for everyone to read? I say, YES!!! It is a must read for both husbands and wives, pastors, church leaders, marriage ministry teams and anyone else.  The topic of fantasies is something I believe we all deal with.  Those around us are dealing with them too.  Don’t spend another day wondering, fearing and feeling shame.  Let’s bring it to the light and deal with it together.

The one word of caution I give is that if someone has a history where hearing graphic details could be a trigger for them, perhaps the other spouse should read it first. There is not too much of this by any means and Shannon uses it in a way that is tactful to bring home her points. I just want to be honest if someone is still recovering from a sexual addiction or trauma, some of the stories and statistics could be a trigger. On the other hand, don’t let that stop you, find a way to have someone read it and share with you and explore. It is that good and important.

Eye Opening Parents

I wanted to read this book because of the impact sexual fantasy has on marriage. Reading it I was also struck on a completely different level, parenting! Yes, parenting! Hearing the stories Shannon shares brought me to my knees with the realization that how we treat our children today, will affect them greatly!  Many of the testimonies shared that their parents and upbringing greatly impacted their fantasies.  Many did not discover this until they dug deeper and questioned why they fantasized about particular things.

Two things hit home for me:

  1. We cannot and will not do it all right; we are going to make mistakes
  2. What we are doing with our children now is making a huge impact on their future, so even though we cannot do it all right-we need to be working hard to be the parents God desires of us.

The difference is, we have the Holy Spirit as our guide and we need to use it. Each of our children is an individual and we need to seek God’s help in loving, nurturing, and disciplining them.

The Fantasy Fallacy is a much needed book, because it TALKS about the things everyone is wondering about and no one is willing to talk about! Fantasies are a magnified issue in the culture of today and really have been around forever. It is time that we start facing them and looking them in the eye, instead of sweeping them under the carpet. Well done, Shannon and thank you for following God’s lead to write this book!


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12 Responses to It’s a Grey Issue

  1. I got one of those advance copies to read, too… however I’m struggling with it. I read one of those conflicting reviews and it has me frustrated. I’m only on chapter 2 as life has suddenly gotten hectic, so I plan to continue reading. Thanks for your review of this book! I also loved Sexually Confident Wife and a couple of Shannon’s other books.

    • Hi Laura! Thanks for sharing where you are at with reading the book. The best thing I can say (unless it is a trigger like I said in my review) is to read it yourself and make your own assessment and review. It does not have to agree with mine, but going off of what other say and not reading it yourself, is judging a book by what other say. I just know that if I wrote a book, I would want others to do the same. I do so understand about life getting hectic! I am right there with you! And yes, the Sexually Confident Wife is an amazing book! Thanks for sharing! Blessings, Kate

  2. I’ve read conflicting reviews about this as well. I’ve read her work in the past, and found it light on a biblical worldview and heavy a secular psychological worldview. Elizabeth at Warrior Wives had a very good review of it.

    • Hi KS! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You know, I have to agree with you that in the Sexually Confident Wife, the biblical was not as apparent. It made me sad in some regards, but at the same time, I believe she was trying to reach a larger audience. And it was not contradictory to scripture and that is what matters most. There were grey issues discussed in there too and you could disagree with her take and feel the Bible leads otherwise. As for the Fantasy Fallacy, I felt she was big on the biblical worldview! I was so glad to see it and read it! She does also talk about how God designed the brain (psychology) in this book, but I personally feel that is needed. If we want to understand the heart so that we can understand when peoples hearts are not working right, we need to study it and how it affects all other things in the body. I think the same is true of the brain and how God has designed us to cope in life. I think it is a beautiful testiment to God and how he created our mind and body! So I felt the two were very well balanced and was certainly very happy to see her pointing everyone to your relationship with Christ!!! Also over and over and over in her book, she said, “we can take our thoughts captive and we should!” But we have to understand them first! Never did she say it was ok to just let them go in a free for all! I would encourage you like I did Laura, to read it and decide for yourself. Then you can form your own opinions and not just base them on others reviews! I would want the same if it was my book! I did read Elizabeth’s review on Warrior Wives and obviously I respectfully differ in my thoughts! I appreciated reading it, but still disagree! Thanks again for sharing! Blessings, Kate

  3. Why be so ambiguous? “….probably heard something about Shades of Grey.” Say the actual title and what it’s about. Being vague or evasive about the book’s title and subject doesn’t help us deal with it effectively, it only serves to increase curiosity and raise the chance that we’ll deal with it in a manner not pleasing to God. Don’t shy away from the truth. It’s the only way to confront serious topics such as fantasy and sex head on…something I’m sure you’ve discovered on this wise journey you’ve undertaken. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi James! Thanks for writing and sharing! Hmm . . . I didn’t think I was being ambiguous at all! One of my first sentances was “The phenomenon of these books has brought to light many issues including sexual fantasies and BDSM, just to start the list.” On the other had I have not read the books, nor do I wish to and therefore I can only comment on what I have read and heard. Sadly it is hard to get good information about such a book. You have those who are so affraid of it that their reviews are very skewed and then those who like it and their reviews are just as skewed! I don’t think it serves to increase that people will deal with it in a fashion that is displeasing to God. Brad and I are (and have been) always willing to tackle the tough topics! This was not a blog post on the topics in Shades of Grey, it was a review of The Fantasy Fallacy and because Ethridge was motivated to write her book based on that series. I said clearly in this post what I feel about fantasy and what I feel about this book. I am not shying away from the truth-but heading right for it! Brad and I talk about sex and intimacy a great deal of the time on our blog-I have never wanted to shy away from it! It is a vital part of marriage! All of these issues need to be talked about openly and honestly. They need to be brought into the “light” as I said, instead of keeping them in the dark! At the same time I appreciate all comments and the challenges God can put in my heart through them. Blessings, Kate

  4. […] “Is this a book for everyone to read? I say, YES!!! It is a must read for both husbands and wives, pastors, church leaders, marriage ministry teams and anyone else.  The topic of fantasies is something I believe we all deal with.  Those around us are dealing with them too.  Don’t spend another day wondering, fearing and feeling shame.  Let’s bring it to the light and deal with it together.” (One Flesh Marriage Blog Review) […]

  5. Based on your review I am very much interested in reading the book. Justin and I were speaking at a Marriage Works event just a few weeks ago at the end of which was a Q&A session. Fantasy and role playing was one of the questions that came up. While we were prepared to answer the question my mind was renewed in my desire to study it further. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As I research a little bit more and prepare a post I will link up this post as well.