Think the outcry by some Christians against the upcoming movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” is overblown? Prudish? Legalistic? If so and you’re a Christian, please give me the chance to convince you to change your opinion. (I could not let the New Start 15 emphasis on holiness end without addressing this timely issue.)
First, please hear me. I have not perfected holiness. Over the years, I have read books and watched movies that I later regretted because the content was inconsistent with my faith. And I still make mistakes. But, oh sisters, this one is a BIG mistake. And it’s so easy to avoid.
No “Shades” Should be a No-Brainer
“Shades” is classified as “erotica,” which by definition means “sexually explicit literature or art.” Here’s a quick summary of the book I copied from a blog by Mary Kassian:
The books (Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy) 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.”
Oh my. Let’s stop right here. Honestly, based on the book description and the dictionary definition of “erotica,” Christian women have no business reading this book. But they have. Christian women have no business seeing this movie. But they plan to. My question is: Why?
Justifying the Unjust
I’ve heard the arguments in favor of the New York Times best-selling book and what’s sure to be a blockbuster hit in the theaters. Here’s a sampling:
- It’s just a movie. It won’t affect me.
- It will spice up my marriage.
- I need to know how to speak to the culture.
- Christians shouldn’t judge other Christians’ behavior. What’s wrong for you isn’t necessarily wrong for me.
Any of those sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard one. Maybe you’ve used one.
Let’s turn these arguments for watching “Fifty Shades” into reasons not to watch it:
- It’s not just a movie. It will affect you – Everything we allow into our minds shapes our thinking and eventually changes our behavior. That’s why God tells His people to think on “true, noble, pure, lovely” things (Philippians 4:8). He knows that our spiritual transformation begins in our minds. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). Spiritual maturity begins to develop when our thinking begins to line up with God’s thinking.(For more on this see “What are You Feeding Your Mind.”
- The sex in “Fifty Shades” is a warped, sinful version of God’s good gift – God created sex to be enjoyed within the bounds of marriage. It is to be an expression of a respectful, kind, and loving relationship between a man and woman who have committed their lives to one another. Among believers, there “must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3). Sexual impurity and perversion is particularly destructive (see 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, 1 Corinthians 6:18). By the way, the movie’s Valentine Day release is very purposeful.
- We don’t have to “experience” every aspect of the culture to impact it for Jesus – Yes, Jesus commanded us to go out into the world – to share the Gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), not to blend in with the world. Consider Jesus’ prayer for us the night He was betrayed in John 17:15-19. This passage is where we get the phrase “in the world, but not of it.” Jesus died so His people can be lights of holiness in a dark world. And I don’t have to read or see “Fifty Shades” to know it blatantly goes against God’s holy character. In today’s New Start 15 passage, James 4:1-10, James calls this kind of behavior “friendship with world,” which is also “hatred toward God.”
- God has already judged sexual immorality – Only God has the authority to determine right and wrong, good and evil. And He has. He doesn’t ask us to judge what’s right and wrong, but He does tell believers to hold each other accountable for His Word and to exhort one another to holiness. (For more on this see “To Judge or Not to Judge”)
So, considering God’s Word, why will believers still go see this movie? As the saying goes, sex does indeed “sell.” Unfortunately, sex sells to Christians too.
God’s Word is black and white. So why do we keep trying to blend God’s truth. Holiness is not grey – not any shade of grey.
This topic is heavy on my heart. I really want to hear your thoughts. And I would love for you to share this post.
For more information on the topic and the destructive nature of “Fifty Shades of Grey” read:
- Dannah Gresh gives biblical and sound scientific evidence why reading this kind of material is harmful to women and our marriages on the True Woman blog
- Crystal Renaud offers help, hope, and healing for women and girls with pornography and sexual addiction at Dirty Girls Ministries.
- Author and Bible teacher, Mary Kassian on her blog Girls Gone Wise. Mary gives 7 solid reasons why a Christian woman – or any woman for that matter – should not read this book.
- Lest you think this is just the opinion of “ministers,” check out this blog by Dana Suggs. She is a mom, photographer, and Christian blogger writing from the perspective of an average Christian woman who loves to read.
- An honest and entertaining view by Christian mommy blogger Melissa Jenna.
- Matt Walsh’s post “4 Reasons to Hate 50 Shades of Grey”
- “Lies Christian Women Believe to Justify Watching Fifty Shades of Grey” by Carmen Miller
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Hi Kathy, I wholeheartedly agree with you which is why I wrote about it myself (on my blog listed above). This movie is dangerously dark and one amy woman (or man) should not be watching. Thanks for writing this.
Hi Lorna, thank you stopping by and speaking up! I just read your post about this movie. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. Thank you for sharing how a distortion of God’s good gift can be devastating. May God continue to heal and strengthen you!
Lorna, your site won’t pop up with your comment, so I’m adding it here in the comments! https://follow2serve.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/a-piece-of-my-heart-about-fifty-shades-of-grey/
Thank you – it’s been a hard battle – one only God has healed and will continue to heal in areas yet untouched. I have shared your post to my personal Facebook page and will continue to fight against this movie. I look forward to your future posts.
Thank you for bringing this to light. It will help me share with my friends why I refuse to read the book or see the movie.
I do not do a lot of things if they concern ruining God’s view of sex in a marriage. Including watching Carl’s Jr. commercials for eating their sandwiches. They are all about sex selling food.
Anyway – that is another whole story about marketing.
Thank you for speaking the truth.
Hi Mary! Thanks for coming by! It’s tough when we feel like we’re making a stand by ourselves. Oh, but let me encourage you! A commitment to holiness, a decision to stand firm in obedience even when those close to us don’t, pleases God! Keep standing firm Mary!
You don’t have to be a Christian woman to find these books and this movie offensive.
Susan, so true! Thanks for that reminder! The reason I wrote this post specifically to Christian women is because we have a responsibility to challenge and exhort each other to follow Christ. I have been saddened by the fact that so many Christian women have read the book and plan to see the movie. It so clearly opposes godly values.
The book “Pulling Back the Shades” by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Julie Slattery is definitely worth a read! Women can ‘trade in their shades’ by mailing in their copy of 50 Shades in exchange for this book. Check out Authentic Intimacy’s website or google Pulling Back the Shades.
Hi Emily. I’ve listened to an interview with Dannah and Julie. They have great insight on this issue. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
I was told I can’t speak against this book/movie because I didn’t read the whole series. I could not get past the discription! This goes against everything Christians should stand for. We need to make a stand for purity! It sounds so filthy.. With sex slavery becoming one of our worlds top crimes, how can we call this entertainment? Children are being locked away so men can have control. It’s truly sickening!! Old Fashion releases on Valententines day.. Check it out and send a message to Hollywood!
Hi Sarah, thanks for coming by! I totally agree you don’t have to read it to know it’s dangerous. Thanks for the shout out for Old Fashioned! I hope to see it soon!
Can you tell me the difference between this movie and any other movie that is out there? What about Gone Girl? Where was the outrage over its popularity? Where was the condemnation about the wife’s lies and deceit? Or the husband’s affair? That was also a book that turned into a movie. What about American Sniper? It could be seen as a book that glorifies murder and assassination?
I guess my problem with all of these judgy Christian blogs saying Christian women shouldn’t see this movie is that they are jumping on the bandwagon of trashing a popular secular movie, and missing a very Christian theme.
I read the book and the plot was quite interesting…not because of the sex. The story was one of conversion, change of heart and repentance. The Grey character was abused as a child and was raped as a teen, and as a result had a really warped version of what sex is. When he meets the girl, he tries to steer her toward the the “pain” but she refuses to be beaten and leaves him. Because he fell in love with her, he abandons his contracts and has a relationship with her while learning what it is like to love someone. He does mess up, but eventually, he quits the BDSM lifestyle and marries the girl. He went from being a broken mess to loving, married man who welcomes a committed relationship and children.
That is the entire plot of the three books.
I guess it is all how you look at it. The redemption of the character is what stayed with me, not the graphic sex. I’ve read books with more disturbing content (Gone Girl among others) and it boggles my mind why NOTHING was said about those popular movies being anti-Christian, but let’s make a big deal of this and ignore some Christian themes and lessons: The conversion of a sinner being a big one!
I completely agree with you Eleanor. The tricky thing here is not the misconceived point of view against this series but more the way Christians tend to elevate their views on issues rather than heart matters.
I am a born again believer with a very intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I adore His word and His ways. This book series is not what that blog post concluded the books were about, nor is it only about sex. It is truly a pure love story of pain, rejection, fear, convictions caused from abuse….then healed and changed through love. Does the book include speaking of Christ? No but neither do have of our church services anymore.
I’m not proposing that because I read the series and liked it, that every other woman needs to. There are other movies in the past that I know Christian woman found so important and i did not.
Most Christian marriages and relationships are suffering today. Whether or not this book is around doesn’t change that fact. So let’s not proport that this book and movie is only evil. The two are separate entities.
This article along with many others by Christians this week on this topic, are not fully supported. The scriptures are wonderful but to compare this book series with sex trafficking is absolutely astonishing. its also very judgmental. Christians are known for the judgemental spirit we have adapted over the years. We need to find a way to stop imposing “our” view into the entire culture.
As a child of God we are told to do one thing simply….Love God and love others. Let’s stop bashing pop culture and get out there to BE Christ.
A true redemption story doesn’t include graphic erotica details. Rahab was a prostitute, but we didn’t need to read or watch all her tricks to know that she was a changed woman when she put the red cord out her window and went on to be in the lineage of Jesus.
Jesus knew everything the Samaritan woman at the well did, but her redemption story didn’t take us thru all her sexual adulterous acts to know that she was a changed life and went on to share her testimony….not of everything she’d ever done…but who she was now in Christ.
True redemption stories do not labor thru and exhort how bad the person was… and put the emphasis on the sinful behavior: a simple I was sexually abused as a child and felt powerless and then I the abused became the abuser until love changed my heart and changed my ways…doesn’t require filling a reader’s or movie goers mind as voyeurs into smut, erotica, and someone else’s abusive sex acts. There’s no justification for that.
Satan has distorted sex from day one and he’s the only one who wins when anyone reads or watches sexual trash on TV or at the movies or anywhere.
Eleanor and Tanya, Christians are called to be like Christ who never conformed to the culture. Do you think Jesus would be in the movie theater eating popcorn with the pop culture watching this movie or would He be outside warning people of the consequences of indulging in and encouraging in sinful behavior.
See the movie or read the book if you must…but do NOT use Christ to justify your actions. After all He’s the one you need to give your justification for renewing your mind with the exact opposite of what He teaches which is “whatever is true whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil 4:8
Kathy: THANK YOU for writing this. I wrote about this over two years ago when the books came out. It’s so devastating to see our brothers and sisters justify this, excuse it, and even defend it. God has called us to something so much greater than grey!!
Here’s a link to my original piece: http://tanyadennisbooks.com/50-shades-of-grey-1-beautifully-distinct-purity/
It takes a slightly different angle from yours. While you methodically address defenses and objections, I defend purity and purpose while encouraging support of anti-trafficking organizations and domestic violence shelters. Together we cover both sides of the same coin. 🙂
Hey. I am a muslim and i was going through pinterest when i saw this. I am a student in The Westminster School, Dubai, and girls in my school are going mad after the book and the movie. There is no room of such content in our religion and i see now, that its almost the same with your respected religion. Some of us dont really know about our religions and so are heading the wrong way. Well, thank you for posting this, anyone who follows this will do good to theirself. Will remember you in my prayers. Waiting for your reply.
Hi Nazia!I am honored that you read and commented on this blog post. I am saddened to hear that girls in your school have also read the book and seen the movie. The Bible does teach us to protect and guard our minds and hearts, to keep ourselves pure and holy because we belong to God. Material such as this can only do us harm. Unfortunately many Christian women have also read the book and seen the movie. They rationalize it by saying it is only entertainment or that it’s a good story. Continue to stand up for what is right and good! I am praying for you today!
I thank you with all my heart and hope that you continue this ideal cause.
Love, from a Muslim sister.
I will not be watching or reading 50 shades of Grey. It really upsets me to see previews for this movie on TV for children to see. It use to be that Commercials like this couldn’t be aired before 9:00. Not the case anymore.