My prayer in writing this has been (yes I've been praying over this post), first of all, that the Lord would give me the words to say clearly what is on my heart and for it to be scriptural. Second, that you would understand that I am not writing this from a place of judgement; I struggle with my own sin just as we all do. But I write this out of concern and because it has been heavy on my heart.
I've noticed a trend recently, among married Christian women. Obviously women love 50 Shades of Grey. Apparently 1 book is sold every second. But what is truly surprising to me is that it isn't just women outside of the church who are buying it, obsessing over it and recommending it to friends. It's women inside the church; women who are in Christ, saved by grace and called to be the light of the earth.
Let's first begin with a brief explanation and synopsis of the book (keep in mind that this is based purely on what I have read about the book and an interview with the author):
This book is characterized as Erotic Fiction.
Anastasia something-or-other is a young college student. Oh yeah, and a virgin. She meets Christian Grey who is older, wealthy and interested in her. The two fall in love and (I don't know if its before or after) they enter into a contract in which he takes care of her completely in return for her being a "submissive" sexually.
The book is based on what is known as BDSM, which refers to "bondage and dominance, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism." Basically, the plot is tied together with a series of graphic bondage sex scenes. When asked, "There's a lot of graphic sex [in the book]?" by the interviewer, the author EL James plainly says, "yes."
There's no denying it: the book "is pornography, plain and simple." At least that's how one man characterized it. When I originally heard about the book, the first thing I wanted to hear was a man's opinion. Let's face it: it's become normal and expected for men to watch and enjoy porn (that's sad and pathetic to me, but it's the truth). Therefore, I wanted to know the opinion of someone who knows pornography when he sees it; someone who porn has been targeting for decades.
Frank writes: "The narrative is comprised of 9 or 10 lengthy yet well-paced sex scenes tied together with some mindless, almost purposefully banal filler..." Wow. Remember what the author said? Those sex scenes are graphic and apparently "well-paced."
"50 Shades of Grey" is pornography for women.
Now before we dissect the rather alarming storyline, we need to address the fact that books like this induce sexual lust. That is their purpose; to cause the reader to get swept up in the story and fantasize about it. The author admitted herself that 50 Shades is a culmination of all of her fantasies (which is quite disturbing, but more on that momentarily).
Pastor Mark Driscoll talks about these types of romance novels in Real Marriage. He says, "They commonly entice sinful lust and cause women to fantasize about sexual sin with all the alluring power of visual pornography for men." In other words, these novels affect women's minds and hearts in the same way that visual porn affects men's mind and heart. It's all porn in God's eyes.
But let's just say for argument's sake that it doesn't cause you to lust or fantasize and you really are just reading it for the storyline (which, let's face it, is exactly like saying you read playboy for the articles). You are still exposing yourself to graphic sex, sinful fornication, sexual immorality.
Ephesians 5:3 is incredibly clear on this point: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity... because these are improper for God's holy people" [emphasis mine].
As a Christian, you are called holy; meaning sanctified, set apart, clean and pure! We must not do anything to defile ourselves before the Lord. Jesus says it most simply: "Be holy as I am holy." Consider that Christ lives and dwells in you. Is 50 Shades a book that you would read to your Savior? If not, and I sincerely hope you answered 'no', than it's not a book that He would have you read to yourself.
Now, on to the storyline. Can we talk about bondage for a moment please? Words I never thought I'd type into my blog or say aloud. PS- I'm about to apply my degree in psychology; it could get a little technical.
Recall that the entire novel is based on BDSM, or in layman's terms: bondage. Bondage is basically sadism and masochism in action. Both are considered by psychologists to be paraphilias; "paraphilia being a biomedical term used to describe sexual arousal to objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation and that may cause distress or serious problems for the paraphiliac or persons associated with him or her. A paraphilia involves sexual arousal and gratification towards sexual behavior that is atypical and extreme." [emphasis mine]
The characters in this novel, the ones that readers are obsessing over and fantasizing about, are involved in an "atypical and extreme" way of life, according to medical professionals. There is nothing normal about bondage as a lifestyle. But that is what must be so intriguing about this book to so many. That's also why indulging in it is dangerous and I would even propose, unhealthy.
When reading the description of Christian Grey, I can't help but think of a sexual predator, who grooms his young, naive victims. Not to mention, the reason he is in to bondage is because he was once a victim himself, as an abused child. And Anastasia, like most women in pornography, is dominated by and submissive to the man. This characterization of women is normally criticized as sexist and degrading (when the film is directed by a man for men). But when a woman writes the storyline for women to read, all of a sudden it becomes a fantasy that readers can't get enough of. Double standard?
Either way, it's all wrong. It's all twisted and perverted. It's all porn. It's all impure. And it's all sinful.
The bottom line:
As Christians, we are called to keep the marriage bed pure: "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure" Hebrews 13:4. That means nothing should defile your marriage, especially sex with your spouse. Books like this sear attitudes, expectations, storylines, images and fantasies into your mind that will make their way into your bedroom, whether you like it or not.
As Christians we are called to think on things that are pure: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything be excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things" Philippians 4:8. Is 50 Shades of Grey true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable? Than put your mind to better use and dwell on the things of God instead.
As Christians we are called to live a holy life: "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written "Be holy as I am holy" 1 Peter 1:15-16. In every single thing that we do, we are to be holy. Of course that's impossible while we still wear flesh on earth, but we can make the right decisions and be self-controlled. We can choose not to read a certain book or watch a certain movie. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can put our fleshly desires to death.
As Christians, we are called to guard our hearts and minds: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" Proverbs 4:23. If you have the time, please read this quick devotional about guarding your heart and mind. She writes, "Today I want to encourage you to value yourself and don't just allow anything or anyone, for that matter, to enter your heart. You are chosen, beloved, and special to God and He wants nothing to defile you."
Exposing our eyes, mind and heart to pornography, for any reason, in any situation, is sin. It must be recognized, confessed, repented of and fled from. Christ died for us to be holy and pure. And He is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us when we fail (1 John 1:9).
How wonderful that He cares so much for you?; that your value and worth is so great that He wants nothing less than perfect purity for you? And while His call to be holy is impossible by our own strength, and through our own will, there is nothing we cannot do or overcome with Christ in us.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galations 2:20
*Soli Deo Gloria*