A few weeks ago, I got an extremely negative and judgemental email about my Fifty Shades of Gravy, A Christian Gets Saucy! cookbook. Apparently, I am capitalizing on sin. I am also not fleeing from the appearance of sin. And, my cookbook, combined with a picture of me at a luau in Maui with a man dressed in native Hawaiian garb (shirtless – my goodness!) brings serious doubt to my sincerity and witness as a Christian.
This isn’t the first kind of correspondence I’ve received regarding this subject. Until I had The Walking Bread, This Bread Will Rise!, and Iron Skillet Man, The Stark Truth About Pepper and Pots cookbooks completed, I’d learned early on NOT to take Fifty Shades of Gravy out at Christian centered book signings. The judgement is immediate and absolute. However, for some reason, when all three books are together, people suddenly get a sense of humor and laud me for my cleverness.
Despite the perception of my intent behind the cookbooks, I am not trying to capitalize on any sin. My purpose in writing them was to confront some aspect of our secular culture — and share yummy recipes. While Fifty Shades of Gravy is absolutely a cookbook that discusses the early origins of gravy, contains 50 gravy recipes, it also contains an article in the front and an invitation to Christ in the back.
On Page 9, you’ll see my article titled “Free Indeed”. Below, you can read the words of the text.
We live in a world that groans beneath the weight of sin that entered at the fall of man. Everywhere we turn, there is pain, hatred, abuse, war, jealousy, greed, and malice. Whether they consciously do it or not, people seeking to free themselves from their chains, longing to end their internal suffering, turn to all types of carnality. They are lost in a world that offers them, not truth, but lies.
The Biblical book of Galatians spells out the types of gratification of the flesh lost people seek when they ache for peace and freedom: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness … yet even when carnally fulfilled, human souls still cry out for freedom from the ropes that bind and enslave us to our sin.
This cookbook is a purposeful parody of a piece of fiction that glorifies the kind of unbalanced dominance and submission that leads to pain, abandonment, forced (non-consensual) sexual acts, and brokenness. While it is a parody, the very serious and very real fact is that there are real people all around us who desperately seek tranquility and truth in this world and who, instead, fall into the trap of pain and bondage in the vain hope that suffering will fulfill their quest.
The world promises that a total surrender to the pleasure/pain promised by the flesh will free us, but the Bible warns us that such will only further trap us.
The good news is that Christ can free us from all of our bonds. He is the Bread of Life. Accepting Christ into our lives brings with it the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit brings us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
When we embrace the love of Christ, we break the chains of slavery to heartache, pain, and sin. We open our hearts and lives to enduring unconditional love and lasting peace.
“Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’” John 8:34.
In the end of the cookbook, I’ve inserted an invitation.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
By Hallee the Homemaker
1 Corinthians 10:31 reads, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I believe that applies to everything I do. Each time I prepare food for my family and serve it with love in my heart, I am doing so to the glory of God. Each time I consume anything in this fallen world, and anything that I produce, I am doing so for His glory. This principle includes my choice of movies, plays, or television shows I watch, music I listen to, and without question it applies to the books that I read and those I write.
For years now, I have been preparing recipes on my website with the intent of publishing my first cookbook. In all those years of preparing myself, I never imagined that my first cookbook would be about GRAVY, much less really quite good gravy recipes used to parody a really not so good fiction book.
I Peter 3:13 reads in part, “… be ready at any time when you are questioned about the hope which is in you, to make an answer in the fear of the Lord and without pride …” When a certain secular cultural phenomenon took over bookstore shelves, found space on the e-readers and coffee tables of friends and family members, and began to dominate my internet feeds, I felt restless with a desire to write my answer. My initial thought was a disbelieving cry of, “Oh good gravy! Even SHE read that horrible thing?”
Even though I wrote a few somewhat lengthy articles on the subject, I never published them. I had no desire to put anyone in my circle on the defensive about having read those specific very secular books, regardless of how pornographic and sinful they may be. Instead, I chose this comedic route. Parody the idea, even mock the tie on the book cover, and attempt to “redeem” it all.
So this cookbook is my answer to the secular cultural phenomenon that is a set of rather poorly written erotica books celebrating bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism, which began as fan fiction for a rather silly young adult series about the undead. My answer to them is a good gravy cookbook intended to equip cooks all over the world with the ability to make virtuous, wholesome gravies and suitable sauces using whole food ingredients that ascribe to a Biblical diet.
I pray that you have fun with this book, that it gives you some tools and insight, and that you finish up amazing meals for your family and friends with the ultimate gravy or sauce. But I wanted to spend a few pages making an even more direct answer regarding that series of books this cookbook parodies and attempts to redeem.
I haven’t read them and don’t plan to … ever. Nor will I ever see the inevitable trashy Hollywood film shortly to follow. I do not read erotic fiction and do not view pornographic portrayals. I have five reasons for this stance, and that is what I will share with you now.
First of all, I am convicted that they are sinful. The series of books is “erotic fiction”. According to an erotic fiction website, the definition of erotic fiction is “writing that stimulates the senses”. Jesus said, “You have heard that it said, ‘Do
not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28) I believe that is also true of a woman looking at – or reading about – a man and lusting. In short, according to Jesus, there is only one person who should ever stimulate sexual desire in me: my husband.
Secondly, to all the naysayers who say that I don’t know because I haven’t read them – the fact is that I do not have to read it or view it – or have any kind of personal, practical experience with it – to understand whether it will be good or bad for me. I do not have to be tied up and beaten know it would be painful and traumatizing. I do not have to drink poison to know it will make me sick and possibly kill me. I do not have to read those books – or see the film – to know they are sinful.
Third, I considered the cultural effect. Ever wonder why those books and their main theme are so wildly popular in our culture? This cookbook you are reading will help you make some really good gravy that is both healthy and delicious, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. It seems like really good gravy would be a pretty popular idea. The other books not only misuse sex, but rather they redefine it into something evil as, from what I have learned, the lead male character first stalks in a very creepy way then utterly dominates the female lead in a consistently hurtful way. I think there is a lot wrong with that and it seems to me that it shouldn’t be such a popular notion culturally speaking.
I believe, and have seen evidence again and again to support this, that in our often emasculating culture there is an unquenched hunger so great among women for strong men, decisive men, leading men, that women by the thousands will debase themselves and stoop to bondage, harsh dominance, sadism, and masochism to get even just a taste of the male strength they secretly crave. But God created men to be strong and lead so that men could provide and protect, not tie up and torture. God created women to be submissive to their own husbands (not anyone else’s husband by the way) so that we could respect our husbands not for their excesses, but rather for their gentle and reserved restraint. God created sex to be the intimate glue to a partnership that’s fueled by love and self-giving, not pain and humiliation.
We women were created to complete our men, to be loved and cherished as bone of his bone – flesh of his flesh – to become one with him. We were not created to be kidnapped, bound up, blindfolded, tormented, beaten, starved, terrorized, and punished. Likewise, men were not created to mentally and physically savage those physically weaker then them. Such evil should not be portrayed as good.
Doing so is simply a lie.
Fourth, lust is not only hurtful to relationships but actually harmful to our physical bodies. Biopsychologists and other researchers who study the effects of lust, pornography, and erotica on the human brain and body all reach the same inescapable conclusion which is already available to us from wisdom which God gave us in His word thousands of years ago – “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18. Self stimulation and self gratification literally and physically damage our brains, and eventually we become less interested in real sex and more interested in self stimulation. Studies have shown that pornography, lust, and erotica rewire our brain’s rational, moral, and value systems and make the brain addicted to the sexual stimulation. It is as addictive
The Apostle Paul talked of putting on the full armor of God “to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).” And yet, when it comes to sexual immorality, idolatry, and greed, we are to run. To flee. We are not strong enough to stand against these things, so we are to remove them from our lives.
Reason number five is all the hype. It is exactly because of all the over-the-top hype that I chose to mock those books so specifically. Okay, I’m a mommy. I once overheard, while sitting in the bleachers of my kid’s volleyball game, those other books described as really good “mommy porn.” I tried to imagine a group of dads sitting in those bleachers laughing and joking about some really good “daddy porn” they had just enjoyed and had to wonder about how low our culture, and feminine womanhood, has sunk.
Hopefully, along with some good gravy ideas, I have given you some food for thought. I sincerely pray that God blesses you and grants you peace that passes understanding.
Hallee the Homemaker
When I originally published the book, I expected fans of the book being parodied to write me angry emails and letters about how they’d been duped into buying something they thought it wasn’t. THAT’s NEVER HAPPENED. Instead, I get judged, tried, and executed by fellow Christians.
My husband and I pray over every book idea. I pray over every word I write. As we go through the process of cover design, formatting, distribution, advertising, we pray with and for every person who has their hands on my books. I’ve faced a lot of criticism for these cookbooks. Similar articles and invitations are in the other cookbooks, and will continue to be placed in my Parody Cookbook Series. But, in the face of that criticism, I also receive a lot of responses from people who have had their hearts changed by the words they’ve read.
I believe that the parodies break down barriers and allow these books to reach people a book titled Fifty Gravy Recipes from a Christian Homemaker might not. If I get judged by Christians because of it, I can stand up to that — because, ultimately, I’m not doing it for them. Unless they’re closet BDSM fans, then maybe they need to read the books, too.
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Thank you for having the courage to testify and stand alone against the naysayers. We love and support you.
I’m so sorry that the criticism you experienced was from those who should have been supportive. Sometimes it’s the attack or criticism from where we least expect that hurts the most. I appreciate the spiritual work you and your husband put into each book, thank you. Please continue to stand firm!