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.
Let’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?