Valentine’s weekend, 2015, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey was released. Two years later, the same weekend, the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker was released. As the world continues to try to convince us that pornography, degradation, abuse, and deviancy is “love,” I thought it might be beneficial to “throwback” this 2015 response article to remind us that:
God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.1 John 4:8b-11
In this is love. Are you using or viewing materials that are closer to the world’s definition of love, or God’s definition of love?
When I originally published this article, I also posted a companion piece,50 Alternatives to Fifty Shades, at another women’s blog I wrote for. Today, I’ve dusted that off, freshened it up, and present it to you as 50 Ways to Have a Happy (and Holy) Valentine’s Day.
Originally published February 6, 2015
As you’ve no doubt heard, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey is releasing next weekend. Valentine’s Day weekend. Isn’t that a little like picking Pearl Harbor Day as the release date for a movie celebrating kamikaze pilots, with veterans as the target audience?
But perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself. If you’re not familiar with the subject matter, Fifty Shades of Grey is a film adaptation of the novel by the same title written by British author E.L. James. The Girls Gone Wise1 blog posted an excellent report on the book here in 2012, and summarizes the storyline thusly:
“The books in question are erotica that explicitly describe sexual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM). The story follows an unfolding affair between a recent college graduate, the virgin Anastasia Steele, and handsome young billionaire entrepreneur, Christian Grey, whose childhood abuse left him a deeply damaged individual, and who enlists her to share his secret sexual proclivities. Steele is required by Grey to sign a contract allowing him complete control over her. Because of her fascination and budding love for him, she consents to a kinky sexual relationship that includes being slapped, spanked, handcuffed, and whipped with a leather riding crop in his ‘Red Room of Pain’.”
Let’s set specifics, such as “How much nudity does the movie show?” aside and look at the bigger picture:
Is a movie (or book) that romanticizes and normalizes abuse-infused sexuality something that Christian women should be viewing and supporting financially?
Imagine this book and movie didn’t even exist and some man-on-the-street reporter walked up and asked you that question out of the blue. What would your answer be? Then imagine he turned to Jesus, who just happened to be standing right next to you, and asked Him the same question. What do you think His answer would be?
Well, you might not be sure about your answer, but we can find out Jesus’ answer by looking at His Word:
1. No, because it’s blasè about fornication.
Be honest- did the fact that the two lead characters aren’t married to each other even register a blip on your radar? No blip here, initially, I’m sorry to say. I know it’s just sooo yesterday to say that sex outside of wedlock is a sin, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and HE says that’s what it is. It’s a sin He died to pay the penalty for just like murder or rape or stealing, and to treat fornication as not only normal, but a given (Think about it- how many copies of the book would have been sold if it featured a married couple?) is a slap in the bloodied face of our crucified Savior.
2. No, because it approves of perversion.
BDSM has been around for a long time, but in our culture, it has been relegated to the shadows, locked away out of sight, and not talked about by the vast majority of marginally moral society, because, with God’s law written on our hearts, we know it’s wrong. Grey takes BDSM out of the stock room, removes its plain brown wrapping, and attractively arranges it in the center showcase: “It’s fine! It’s a healthy expression of sexuality! It’ll spice up your love life– just look how playful and romantic it can be!” Romans 1:32 is not amused.
3. No, because it embraces violence and humiliation.
God is not a God who engages in violence and the humiliation of others to gratify Himself. That is cruelty. God is a God who loves us so much that He allowed His Son to be subjected to violence, humiliation, and cruelty in order to forgive those who commit the sins of violence, humiliation, and cruelty. God is good. God is kind. God is patient and loving. To embrace the antithesis of these characteristics is to embrace all that God stands against.
4. No, because it tells men a lie.
God tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Christian Grey (can I just say, I hate that this guy’s name is Christian, since his actions are so un-Christian) loves himself and uses a woman to gratify his own selfish desires. God tells men that, in the same way that they do not abuse their own flesh, but nourish and cherish it, they are to nourish and cherish their wives. Christian Grey nourishes and cherishes his own flesh and abuses the flesh of his woman. God tells men to be understanding with their wives, to honor them, and to respect that they are physically more delicate than men. Christian Grey only understands himself, dishonors his woman, and disrespects her physicality in order to fulfill his own base proclivities.
When Christian women clamor for Grey matter and support it with their pocketbooks, it sends the message to men that Christian Grey’s lusts and behavior are not only acceptable, but what we want. It tells them Grey’s way is good, cool, and cutting edge, and God’s way is sissified, frumpy, and out of date. It sells men a lie.
5. No, because it dims your light.
You don’t hear it much any more, but when I was a teen in youth group, we were frequently asked, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s not that the things we do make us Christians or even prove that we’re Christians, but rather that, if we’re Christians, the things we do will necessarily differ from the things lost people do because the Holy Spirit lives within us, conforming us to Christ’s image.
Does your life look any different from an unsaved person’s life? Because of your love for Christ, it should. We are ambassadors for Christ to a lost and dying world. Our every move preaches a silent sermon to them, showing them what is right in God’s eyes and what is wrong, what is Christlike, and what is not. If you do something, it must be OK with God because you’re a Christian, right? How can we be an example to the world if we look just like them? Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Is your light shining brightly, or are you allowing it to fade into the darkness? How would going to see Fifty Shades of Grey make your light brighter?
6. No, because it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.
You believe the Bible, right? Of course you do. You’re a Christian. Well there’s more to it than that. God doesn’t just call us to believe His word, He calls us to submit ourselves to it and obey it. That means there are going to be some things we want to do -that we feel like doing- that we’re simply going to have to deny ourselves out of a greater desire to obey Christ and to represent Him well. Can you go see Fifty Shades of Grey and obey these Scriptures?
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
I’ll ask again: Is a movie (or book) that romanticizes and normalizes abuse-infused sexuality something that Christian women should be viewing and supporting financially?
Scripture seems pretty clear that Jesus’ answer would be no. What will your answer be?
1I’m not recommending this blog (which was more doctrinally sound when this article was originally written), just using their synopsis of the movie.