by Catherine Anthony Boldeau
A few years ago, I was invited to write an erotic novel. I was given the outline and brief and a potential deadline. Although I was never going to earn the money of E L James's Fifty Shades of Grey, the project certainly had the potential to be quite lucrative and propel me into the spotlight as a writer. However, the Biblical principle in Philippians 4:8, '...whatsoever things are pure...think on these things,' screamed in both eyes loud and clear. There was no mistaking what the Father was saying. So I respectfully declined the opportunity with a courteous email and the matter was closed.
However, the situation made me wonder, if as a Christian, there was any time that I would be comfortable about writing a sex scene or should I even conceive that it is necessary in a short story or novel? Does being a Christian mean that I should deny that sex exists and writing about it is wrong? Or should I, like, Solomon in the book, 'Song of Solomon' find a way to write about the sexuality so that it becomes 'holy sensuality?'
I have not been able to answer these questions in any kind of detail, because to be truthful I'm not sure where I stand on the matter. I have made a few sexual references in my fictional writing, but these have being minor and possible even have gone unnoticed. Maybe, I'm scared of being branded as 'too worldly', or maybe, I am scared to approach a subject that might make others uncomfortable. But should I be?
According to a BBC report in 2012, the sale of erotica fiction is 'cannibalising' the rest of the UK book market. At the time of the report, the sales of all other genres had fallen, with crime novels done by 20%, science fiction and fantasy which was down by 25% and horror down by 30%. And eight of the ten top selling novels in August, three years ago were works of erotica.
So, sex sells. It sells everything from cars to sofas, it encourages the purchase of yoghurt and accompanies perfume and aftershave ads. It even seems to be used now to market all types of insurance. And it's often illicit sex, 'quickies', flirtations, etc and sex that does not lead to lasting relationships but disposable feelings, based more on lust that longevity. And however, it appeals to our base senses, it promotes damages lifestyles.
Lifestyle choices affect us in the long term and I don't want to be a part of an industry that promotes short term, takeaway relationships. But that doesn't mean I won't ever write about sex. I will write about healthy lasting and committed relationships and will allude to sex. I may even peep in the bedroom. But I won't linger because such relationships don't desire the voyeur writer, they need the respectful absence of a writer who understands that sex is beautiful, special and should not be entered into 'wantonly and lightly'.