All I know about 50 Shades of Grey (and 50 Shades Darker) is that it’s just as evil as Al-Qaeda. Dirtier than Madonna in the ’80s. And as “inappropriate” as the Bible.
I mean inappropriate like when Lot slept with his daughters in Genesis 19. Inappropriate like when King Solomon called breasts “a clusters of fruit.” Inappropriate like when Onan spilled his semen on the floor because his dad, Judah, was forcing him to have sex with his sister-in-law (because God killed his brother), (and then God killed Onan), (for spilling semen).
The Bible sometimes feels raunchy and R-rated. There are multiple verses in it that will never, ever, make it into a sermon of mine. There are stories that shall never be read to my kids before bed. Yes, it is the incredible, beautiful and powerful word of God, but it is loaded with nastiness and murder and seduction and sex (the good kind…and the really, really bad one as well).
I have not seen or read 50 Shades of Grey. However, I’ve been told by my Christian friends (via Facebook, Twitter, My Space and my old AOL email account) that it is also raunchy and rated R. What I do know about it is from Wikipedia, and that information was more than enough to make me uncomfortable…as uncomfortable as the time when I was 12 and a sex scene started onscreen while my parents and grandmother were in the room. #awkward
Honestly, I am glad that men and women of integrity everywhere are standing up against this depravity. No one should waste their money watching this junk. I care about women being viewed as more than sex toys, more than objects to be used for one’s orgasmic gratification. Abuse is wrong. Sex is beautiful. Marriage is the perfect vehicle. And honoring your spouse in it is a glorious gift.
But I do want to make an invitation for the church to join the conversation (as opposed to shy away from it again). The truth is that sex is found everywhere in the Scriptures. It was designed by God. Perfected by Puertoricans. And we as Christians need to speak up about it, in a non-judgemental, non-religious, relevant way.
The problem begins when we try to enforce one rule to correct a bunch of wrong. Like in the late 1960s when “the missionary position” became widespread as a technical expression for face-to-face/man-on-top sexual intercourse. Early Christian teachers said women needed to be subordinate to men (even during sex), and that other positions were sinful and unclean. Then, missionaries in different nations taught this position as the only and proper way to have sex, hence the name “the missionary position.”
Yes, we did that.
We went all over the world enforcing a rule that is not per se biblical. Setting a standard exclusive to western Christianity. We called it “God’s only way” and dumped that burden on people to reinforce fear and shame…truly, the Pharisee’s way.
I believe that if we preach all the verses against lust and seduction and sexual sin (which is the right thing to do), then we also need to teach all the verses on beauty and creativity and romance and awesome sex (which is the best thing to do).
Because Hollywood is the broken prophet that we keep ignoring. It shares the deep dark secrets of the world and exposes them unsparingly to make a buck. While the cinematographers push the limits of what should be shown onscreen, they collect the sorrows of a generation, turn them into art and scream to us the church: “We need YOU to show us the way!”
But instead, we complain, we criticize, we look away…and in doing so, we keep pushing them away.
The church itself is loaded with pornography, sexual immorality, divorce, adultery and lust. Let’s stop pretending like those are only issues of the world. Many who opt not to read 50 Shades of Grey continually struggle in their minds with images similar to the book. Sometimes the people who are the most outspoken against this kind of material are the ones most attracted to it. Why don’t we instead walk the humble road and share on the Father’s forgiveness? Why not speak up about our addictions and temptations and invite others to open up so they can begin to walk the road of freedom?
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
If the church is really all about good marriages and preventing divorce, we need to get very serious about helping couples with sex. If believers are really interested in making disciples of all the nations then we need to talk openly about what most people in every nation want to talk about. God has provided us with enough material to engage our culture with principles of love, joy, pleasure and fun. If it’s true that sex sells, then He has given us the perfect marketing strategy to win the lost, heal the hurting and restore broken homes.
So maybe you could skip 50 Shades of Grey. And instead, take those two hours to “rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” Proverbs 15:19
And if you’re single, Netflix is waiting for you with The Bible mini series. Rated PG-13.