Fights can get pretty ugly, especially between women. This has been very clearly demonstrated over the last several weeks in regards to the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. As I have been on the book team for Pulling Back the Shades, I have encountered articles and comments of women who are passionately arguing for Fifty Shades. These books and this movie are a hot button topic. Women are obsessed, or dare I say addicted, to them. They are very adamant to defend their choice, and call out anyone who questions that choice. The love of these books and this movie is so great, I even heard that fist fight broke out between two women at the premiere in our local theater because one of them wouldn't be quite. Yikes!
I have been thinking about what to write on this blog, I feel compelled to address the five main arguments I have seen women making in defense of these books and the movie. I am not an experienced writer or debater, but I will do my best to explain their arguments and the answers from both Christian and logical perspectives, in hopes that everyone can see my point.
1) Don’t Judge Them Unless You've Read Them
This is by far the most common argument for the books, and honestly the most frustrating to me personally. They claim that it is impossible for us to make any sort of educated judgment if we have not read them. Christians and non-Christian readers alike are saying we should read them for ourselves before we decide if they are good or bad.
There is major fault in this line of logic that is very easy to see. I will illustrate by asking a few questions.
- Do I have to be try cocaine to know that I don’t want to be addicted?
- Do I have to have a heart attack to know it doesn't feel good and should be avoided?
- Do I have to experience suicide to know its consequences?
I think these examples should be sufficient to illustrating the error in this line of logic. I don’t have to experience any of those things to know that they are not wise or good for me. In order to know pros and cons in any of these cases, there are two ways to figure it out before diving in: research and wise counsel.
Research should be an important part of every decision we make if we want to be wise. For the Christian, the first place we should look is the Bible, to see if God’s word reveals the truth about a particular subject. Then, we should look to those who are well-informed to seek out the right opinions. Sometimes, your best friend’s opinion or your friend's recommendation isn't going to cut it, if you want to make a wise choice. Look up reviews or articles to see if something is worth your investment. Then, go seek out the wisdom of someone you trust, like an older mentor, to see if they think it is wise to pursue. If after all that all lights are still green, then you can go into it without regrets. If not, then you should probably avoid it.
As far as Fifty Shades is concerned, I have not, nor do I plan to, read the books or see the movies. But this does not mean I cannot have an educated opinion about it. I have done my research. I have read Pulling Back the Shades, several posts and articles, and plot summaries. I have several people in my life older and wiser than me that think it’s not beneficial, and I trust their counsel. I have done the same thing (researched and sort out counsel) for both the Twilight saga and the Harry Potter saga, and I came to similar conclusions (Those stories may be saved for other posts). I do not walk into this discussion with uneducated answers, and assuming that everyone who disagrees can’t have educated answers is faulty logic and an arrogant assumption of their part.
2) But It’s a Love Story
I have made a comparison chart of one of the greatest descriptions of love to ever be written, 1 Corinthians 13, and love as it is portrayed specifically in Christian's actions (based on my research of the book). It’s pretty obvious they don’t match up. In fact, most of his actions are the opposite of love, as the Corinthians passage defines it.
It grieves me to think that so many women have been deceived by these books, which are a wolf in sheep’s clothing as far as love and romance are concerned. Christian and Ana’s story disguises itself as a love story when it reality, it’s the exact opposite of what love should be, according to 1 Corinthians 13. Don’t be deceived.
3) If They Both Consented, What’s the Problem?
Many Christians struggle with having a “sexual theology.” In other words, we don’t bring God and His word into the bedroom, and as a result, we become sexual atheists that buy into the definition of sex that our culture sells us (a game between consenting adults). That's when we fall into the danger of making us our own sexual reality, just like Christian Grey. I don’t think I fully understood this until I watched this video. This is John Mark Comer, author of the book “Loveology” (This video was uploaded to Jefferson Bethke’s YouTube channel, one of my favorites Youtubers).
When you consider the way that we should view sex according to this teaching, the kind of behavior that is glorified in Fifty Shades is even more dehumanizing than what John describes. For Christian, Ana became an object for his self-gratification, and he had enough sexual partners previously that Christian has been hallowed out, just like John talks about. Those are the major problems with their sexual relationship, despite the fact that it was consensual.
4) But They Get Married
Many women claim that because they get married, and because they have some sort of “happily ever after,” that the story is good. They also talk about how Ana’s love changes him and makes him into a better person. According to their logic, how can the story be all bad if "all's well that ends well"? I get back to this question in a moment.
If it is true that “All’s well that ends well,” then why does the Shakespeare’s play of this title result in a man being forced to stay in a marriage with a women he didn't love? Because Bertram was initially forced to marry Helena, he runs away, telling her that he would not return to her unless she got his family’s signet ring off his finger and became pregnant with his child. She has to use deceitful means to fulfill this conditions, and when she does, he reluctantly returns to her. There is meant to be an irony in this title that I think is somewhat reflected in the Fifty Shades series. Even though it is portrayed as a “happily ever after” ending, it may not be as resolved as it is meant to look. If it were more realistic, the ending would not be so pretty.
5) If You Don’t Like It, Just Leave It Alone
This is the argument where the fans basically tell those of us that voice an opposing opinion to mind our own business. They tell us that if we think it’s wrong, just leave it alone and let those that do enjoy it do whatever they want. They tell us it’s their choice to read the books or see the movie, and we have no right to criticize their choices if they do.
There is some validity to this argument if you are a Christian and they are not, and let me explain why. We cannot hold a non-Christian accountable to your personal moral standard if they haven’t chosen to live by that standard themselves. In that respect, they are totally right. I feel like that is one of the easiest moments for hypocrisy to creep in and taint our witness to non-believers.
That being said, I don’t think Christians should keep their mouths shut if they believe this to be wrong. If you do your research, you will find that these books are doing damage to many marriages, are drawing women towards the BDSM lifestyle, and are tainting God’s design for sexuality. We should be grieved to hear these stories, to the point that we want to take action, but how? If you are convicted that this is wrong, then how to we tell them the truth without judging or “Bible-thumping”?
We must be careful when approaching the situation because these stories have created a moral and emotional fantasy in their minds, and that is one of the reasons they are quick to call anyone out for judging them. Did you catch that? This story alters a moral reality, one in which things that were once black and white are now grey, and this alteration is hidden behind all the emotion and good feelings the women get from reading them. Because their moral reality has been effected, they have become quick to judge anyone who questions their choice. We need to keep this in the back of our minds and the front of our prayers as we come to these discussions.
I believe that we should think of what we are doing as a warning. If I know someone is going the wrong direction while traveling, I will tell them to reconsider their route if the opportunity comes for me to tell them. If I think someone is about to walk into a dangerous situation, I will do my best to warn them if I am given the opportunity, but in the end allow them to make their own choice. This is the way I try to think of it. That is the best mindset we can have in this discussion, especially when dealing with non-Christians. If you have a personal relationship with the person you discussing this with, they will hopeful be able to see the concern you have for them if you use this approach.
Speaking the Truth In Love
I hope these tips will help you in your discussions about Fifty Shades. This is not necessarily in-depth or definitive, but I hope it will help you see that many of the women that are infatuated with these books and movies have been deceived. This deception is worked so deeper into the themes of the book, it has manifest itself in these arguments consistently. It isn't always easy to reverse a deception, especially one that is becoming so deeply embedded in our culture. But this is a topic that we cannot avoid anymore. We must do what we can to take back sexuality from Satan’s grasp so that we can reveal its divine and holy intent to a world that needs to know the truth. Now that I know the truth, I must do what I can to speak the truth in love. I hope some of you will join me in this fight.