A rich entrepreneur sexually using a college student. Control, bondage, submission. Forcing a woman not to speak of being tortured. Buying sexual favors through gifts and beating a woman with a belt. Where are the shades of gray in all this?
To top it off, Fifty Shades of Grey the movie comes out on Valentine’s Day. What is more romantic than sexual abuse and torture?
Not to mention the literary quality of the novel:
Critical reception of Fifty Shades of Grey has been mixed to negative, with most reviews noting poor literary qualities of the work. Sir Salman Rushdie said about the book: "I've never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look like War and Peace." Maureen Dowd described the book in The New York Times as being written "like a Bronte devoid of talent," and said it was "dull and poorly written." Jesse Kornbluth of The Huffington Post said: "As a reading experience, Fifty Shades...is a sad joke, puny of plot". –Wikipedia selection
Yet there is something deeper at stake than simply wasting several hours of one’s life. It’s the message of Fifty Shades of Grey that is alarming.
It is disheartening to see the response to pornography-in-writing turned pornography-in-cinema. Certainly there are opponents to the film, but there are also many excited for it. This is a clear statement on how skewed the definition of love has become society.
Love is caring about another person. It is the willingness to sacrifice for them, even to lay down one’s life for them. Love wants what is best for them, even if it costs you something, even a relationship with them. It is seeing through emotion (yes, love is a choice, not an emotion) and egoism to hope and pray that everything is well.
If you want to know what love is not, Fifty Shades of Grey is a good case study.
Love is not making things solely on your terms. Love is not being controlling and dominating. Love is not using your wealth to buy sex from a naïve woman. It is not desiring to be beaten, and the man fulfilling that desire. It is not abuse, or binding and gagging, or signing gag orders. This is not love; it is lust in its most rotten form.
Still, the character of Christian Grey is desired by women. “I want a relationship like Christian and Ana.” Sure I’ve seen a lot of bad relationship choices in my time. But sexual sadists don’t belong in theaters, they belong in prison. If a Christian Grey-Ana Steele relationship is what is desired, then there are major problems in the desires of men and women.
Be offended. If this is not offensive to some then my job is not finished. In a society with pornography so readily available, this very treatment of women is easy to find. It’s not something to celebrate. Books and movies that play to the romantic desires of a woman are widespread- The Notebook, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in our Stars, Titanic (another topic entirely), and anything written by Nicholas Sparks or on the Hallmark channel. This “female porn” (not a perfect term because many women also watch pornography) gives an unrealistic view of love and relays perverted worldviews. “Your prince will come someday.” “It’s okay as long as it’s love.” Couple graphic pornography with unrealistic romance and you have a society that hungers for a poor plot from a twisted mind. A society that overlooks abuse for the sake of their own entertainment. One that writes off sadistic sexual endeavors to live vicariously through the unrealized issues of a man and the battering of a woman.
Women who claim to be feminists and men who claim to be protective are paying to see this?
For God’s sake, society’s sake and your sake, do not give your money to the producers of this film. It would not be in theaters if there was not a demand. Attempting to stop it would be a violation of the freedom of expression, however sick it is. But we can and we must cut off demand for stories like this. If people would have integrity and realize the values system of “art” such as this, we would run the other direction. We would try to prevent others from polluting their minds with unnatural and immoral sexual relations.
We should expect this from the world. But there are Christians excited about this movie too. Looking at figures on divorce, abortion and alcohol usage, it is no surprise that the Christian audience for Fifty Shades of Grey is on pace with the world. I John says that “God is love”. God is the definer of love and the ultimate bestower and example of love. Is this an example of godly love? Is this the kind of love that God has? I Corinthians says that charity, the sacrificial kind of love that is demanded of us, “is not puffed up”.
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth… -I Corinthians 13:5-6
Can we as Christians honestly say that Fifty Shades of Grey is an example of biblical love? Is machoism and submission and binding not behaving unseemly? Is abusing a woman for your own pleasure not seeking your own? Is flocking to a movie like this not thinking evil and rejoicing in iniquity?
I don’t even find this a matter of personal conviction. There are not as many gray areas as some like to claim there are. There is a black and white, a wrong and right, and it is our duty to differentiate and follow our God-given consciences. The biblical principle is there, and the command is clear.