So You Want to See Fifty Shades . . . But You’re a Christian

Watching an exciting movie.It’s finally here: opening weekend for Fifty Shades of Grey, “the hotly anticipated film adaptation of the bestselling book that has become a global phenomenon” (Fandango).

I confess that I didn’t want to write this post, but as opening weekend crept closer and closer, it became more and more obvious that a lot of the folks who will be standing in line to see this film are Christians. And I can’t keep silent about that. Therefore, this post is for believers (and not just women; according to MovieTickets.com, 80 percent of Valentine’s Day tickets are being purchased by couples). If you’re not a Christian, I have no beef with you. In fact, if I weren’t a believer, I’d be in the movie line right next to you if only to find out what all the hullabaloo is about. I’m not baffled by your fascination with this movie. For that matter, I’m not confused by anyone’s interest in it. Sex sells for a reason. What I am confused by is the fact that so many Christians readily pretended that the book didn’t constitute pornography and abandoned their convictions in order to read the series—and now they’re doing the same regarding the movie.

One reader says of the meaning behind the title Fifty Shades of Grey, “It’s a criticism of people who only see the world in black and white. They think everything is black or white, good or bad, socially acceptable or delinquent.” I disagree. Countless issues must be decided on an individual, personal basis. But some are clear-cut. And when the first Fifty Shades book came out and it was obvious that a number of my female Christian friends and acquaintances were reading it, I was stumped as to why pornography was no longer off limits . . . until I realized that, as a society, we’ve decided that Fifty Shades falls outside the parameters of pornography.

The line between porn and not-porn has long been blurry, but since the arrival of Fifty Shades it’s been virtually absent. Why? Because we’ve invented a new genre: “Mommy porn,” a.k.a. “porn that’s far more acceptable to Christian women, especially in the summer when you need a good beach read.” In fact, we’ve so convinced ourselves that this series represents valid literature/cinema that there’s been a lot of uproar over the plot.

Before you accuse me of not caring about topics like domestic violence, let me say that it is a horrific crime, and those who give its victims a voice are heroes. But think about it: we would never argue about the unhealthy relationships and controversial themes represented in your “typical” skin flick because we wouldn’t expect it to be anything but sordid. We’d immediately recognize the silliness of trying to critique such a film. To debate such things in relation to Fifty Shades is to imply that this series has some literary or cinematic merit. And if it merits discussion and debate, then it can’t be mere porn, right?

If we continue to support this new genre with our money, Fifty Shades will be the first in an endless lineup of chocolate-covered smut designed to give Christian women an excuse to indulge in pornography. So here it is: I dare you not to go. I dare you to take a stand, to admit that this film is pornography—nothing more and nothing less—and to stop making excuses and using euphemisms. I dare you to give God jurisdiction regarding what you let into your soul and spirit.

Silhouette illustration of a woman hand grabbing an appleLet’s get honest. If you boycott this movie, your friends might well holler “Prude!” as though you find it all disgusting. There’s a common misconception that believers say no to certain behaviors because they find them unappealing or even revolting. But often, nothing could be further from the truth. Sin is fun. If it weren’t fun, we wouldn’t all struggle with it. If it weren’t intriguing, Adam and Eve wouldn’t have messed things up for the rest of us. Sin was appealing then, and it’s appealing now. We don’t necessarily say no to something because we find it distasteful. We say no because we answer to Someone other than ourselves.

Ephesians 5:12 says, “It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret” (NLT). If we’re instructed to not even chat about these “things,” it surely displeases God when we read 500 pages describing them—or sit in front of a 50-foot screen and watch them played out by real people with real souls.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Fifty Shades won’t be playing everywhere, of course. Malaysia, a predominately Muslim country, has banned the film, while other Muslim countries aren’t likely to play it either.” Are we seriously going to let non-Christian religions outshine the U.S.—a supposedly Christian nation—when it comes to this film? Or will we refuse to line up like cattle on opening night?

It takes guts to say no when the masses say yes. Are you courageous enough to allow the Lord to have the last word?

 

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The Breaking of a Food Addict

Selection Of Doughnuts In A TrayFor me, hitting bottom as a compulsive eater looked like this: I was driving home from work one day with a box of donuts in the passenger seat beside me. That box represented a thousand occurrences of the “buzz” I always felt during the first few minutes of a binge. But it also represented years of obsession, despair, and suffering. Food had me by the throat, and I knew I couldn’t live that way anymore.

We Christians use the phrase “cry out to God” so much that it’s lost its meaning. But believe me when I say I finally cried out to God that day in the car. I wailed and hollered, and it wasn’t pretty. Essentially, my prayer boiled down to a few words: I’d rather be dead than live like this. Help me!

The Lord answered, Here I am. Let’s do this.

I knew what I had to do first. Normally, I’m so against littering that I’ll pick up someone else’s filthy soda can off the beach, but as I continued down the road that day at 60 miles an hour, I glanced in my rearview mirror to make sure no one was behind me and then hurled the box of donuts out the window.

If you don’t hear anything else, hear this: The only reason that moment marked a turning point in my life was that as I consciously unshackled myself from food by tossing that box out the window, I also consciously shacked myself to the Lord regarding food.

As donuts hit the pavement, I relinquished my so-called rights in regard to eating. Essentially I said, “I will never have freedom of choice in this area of my life again.” I knew I could not be trusted when it came to food. So I surrendered that part of my life to Someone who could be trusted.

I’d already surrendered my life in general when I was saved, but now it was time to do the same concerning this aspect of my life. Let me explain: being a believer doesn’t mean saying a word of prayer every time you make a decision. For example, I do pretty well when it comes to money: chances are slim that I’m going to gamble my next paycheck away because I’m a good steward of the money God gives me. Even if I stop by TJ Maxx five minutes after depositing my paycheck, I won’t have to pray my way through the aisles lest I blow $300 on useless stuff. But when it comes to food, I can’t be trusted. I had to abdicate my right to make decisions regarding what I ate. I had to give up control right then, right there, for the rest of my life.

As I mentioned last week, the journey has sometimes been difficult, but I felt a change immediately. I distinctly remember the next morning as I allowed God to guide me through the first meal of the day. What should we have for breakfast, Lord? How about this? No? Okay, how about that? I knew that, as a believer, I had the ability to sense the yes or no of the Holy Spirit, so I literally conversed with Him every time I was in the presence of food. I learned to obey His leading quickly (before I could talk myself out of it). Within days I’d cleared the house of as much sugar as possible and confessed my addiction to someone else in order to bring it into the light.

Chain with heartOn one hand, I was terrified. But on the other hand, I felt great relief. I was no longer responsible for making the often tortuous choice between saying yes or no to something I wanted very much but that I knew would make me feel awful. God was now calling the shots. At first, there were days when I had to take it minute by minute, but eventually it became an hourly effort, and then a daily one.

Next week, we’ll look at a few more aspects of what I now call the Consecrated Way—that is, a lifestyle in which eating is devoted to the Lord. The word “consecrate” means “to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity.” When you consecrate the way you eat, you declare that it’s sacred; you set apart and dedicate that aspect of your life to the service of God. In turn, He accepts your offering and makes it holy—as only He can.

 

The Making of a Food Addict, Part 2

By my mid-twenties, I was living in a 24’ camper with an irresponsible husband as well as my son and two—sometimes three—other adults. For all intents and purposes, we were transient, just one small step from homelessness. Life was out of control. More and more, I sought solace in food.

When you’re spiraling into addiction (food compulsion or otherwise), there comes that moment during a binge when it’s not fun anymore. It no longer tastes/feels good, and you don’t even want it. All sense of enjoyment is gone, and all that’s left is the guilt and self-loathing, but you keep going… The thought process goes something like this: “I’ve already failed, so I might as well fail big.” And if it feels awful, that’s all the better because as far as you’re concerned, that’s what you deserve. Зона ненависти. Дорожный знакCompulsive eating or __________ (fill in the blank) is a type of self-flagellation. It’s a way of giving all the shame, pain, guilt, and sorrow of life somewhere to land. Freedom is possible only when we grasp this truth: the shame, pain, guilt, and sorrow already landed somewhere—on Jesus’ body.

“It was our suffering he carried, our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness. … He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries he suffered became our healing” (Isa. 53:4–5, Voice).

As the binges became more frequent, I started gaining weight, and I certainly didn’t want to pack on the pounds, so I started purging (which is a polite term for sticking one’s finger down one’s own throat in order to bring the food back up so it doesn’t turn into fat). I have little recollection of the first time; I only remember feeling like I had to rid myself of what I had just put into my body. And of course I remember the shame. This secret cycle of helplessness, self-comfort, and self-loathing continued for a couple of years. I had said the sinner’s prayer at fifteen. But here I was, shackled to my addition. I woke up thinking about food and went to sleep thinking about it. I obsessed about eating, and I obsessed just as neurotically about finding a way to stop.

Man in mask with oxygenI know people who are shocked—even appalled and offended—by the fact that a Christian can be an addict, as though we are somehow immune to the compulsions of the flesh. If only that were true! Brennan Manning once said, “There’s this naïve idea that once I accept Jesus as saving Lord my life is going to be an unbroken, upward spiral toward holiness. … almost like being a patient etherized on the table.”* But that’s not what happens. We don’t shed our bodies; we aren’t immune to temptations, neuroses, dysfunctions, fears, and addictions. I came face to face with this brutal truth as the events of my life roller-coastered and my addiction escalated.

Finally, I hit bottom. That’s where we’ll pick up next time. In the meantime, know this: when God is there to catch you, hitting bottom is good news. For me, it meant waving the white flag and realizing the extent of my helplessness. It meant understanding that, ironically, the only way to freedom was to forfeit my rights and my “freedom of choice” when it came to food and to shackle myself to Jesus instead.

*http://www.georgefox.edu/journalonline/fall06/manning.html