NOTE:Upon reviewing the survey results, it has become clear that whatever I write in the following paragraphs is going to successfully anger one sect of my Christian sisters (and likely all non-Christians). Please understand that the entire premise of this article, much like my ‘Orange is the New Black‘ article, is to be faithful to and communicate the scriptural position on this issue so that we may grow together in our sanctification. Further, the intended audience for this article is Christian women. If you are not a Christian, I invite you to first read this page and keep in mind the target audience when commenting. Thank you.
Philippians 4:8 [ESV] “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Yes, I am a Christian. No, I am not a woman. Why in the world, then, would I consider myself in any way capable of writing an article with the target audience being solely Christian women? Two reasons: 1) We all use the same Bible and thus can speak into each other’s lives truthfully, and 2) I anonymously surveyed hundreds of women regarding the Fifty Shades of Grey books and upcoming movie. Also, this week’s episode of the FireAway! podcast discusses this article for those who do not have time to read it.
If you’d like a woman’s perspective on these matters, be sure to head over to EquippingEve.com and listen to Erin Benzinger’s podcast, and read the blog article, where she ponders the exact same survey data being used in this article.
My sincere hope is that this article and podcast become materials which you may come back and reference often. Further, I pray they become tools that you will use in the iron-sharpening process of sanctification. For instance, send them to a woman who watched the movie or read the books, or read and discuss the statistics with a Christian who sees nothing wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe even use this article and podcast to initiate a conversation about righteous judgment.
I want to make it clear that this article is going to be very long. Comprehensively illustrating why Fifty Shades of Grey and other books/movies like it are so damaging to women and the church, requires an exhaustive analysis. Because of this, unlike other articles I write here at EntreatingFavor.com, I will include section headings so that you may read a portion of the article and return later to finish.
Finally, if it was not already clear, the presupposition of this author is that media such as Fifty Shades of Grey should in no way be consumed by Christian women. I will spend the first half of the article reviewing the results of the survey and the latter half of the article making the biblical case for my presupposition.
All that said, let’s dig in…
The impetus for creating this survey and writing this article is the abundance of Christian women I’ve heard chatting about these books over the past few years. I’d grown a bit numb to the whole thing until one day, recently, I was walking through the balcony of my previous mega-church (that we have since left) and noticed a 20-something young woman lounging on one of the couches and reading a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. Once I overcame the initial shock, my heart became immediately burdened for that young lady.
Tim Challies made a startling, but accurate, observation when he said that “Erotica Is In Among Christians”:
It might be convenient to think that such trends exist primarily outside the church. It might be more comfortable to assume that Christians are immune. After all, the clarion call to purity is proclaimed from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday and many do take that call to heart. But recent research suggests that up to 20% of Christian women are indulging in regular or occasional online pornography. If this is accurate, how many more are embracing the lure of best-selling erotic material once the Sunday service has ended?
Like it or not, erotica is being consumed by people in our congregations. Women in our churches have read it, and we expect women in your church have too. And, for many, the decision to buy the book wasn’t a particularly difficult one. Many of us are so bound up in the culture in which we live that we aren’t even beginning to be shocked by material that a generation ago would have left a significant proportion of the congregation gasping for air. It’s not just a problem out there in the world, but a problem within the church as well.1
The fact that these books have become so widely accepted in Christian circles that the woman at my previous church felt comfortable enough to openly read one of them in a place of worship grieved me greatly and shook me to the core. It was at that time I began planning this survey and subsequent article.
Question #1: How old are you? (As a man, I fully realize I may be shot for asking.)
I find it very interesting that the largest age demographic is that of the Baby Boomers. Considering this survey was advertised exclusively on social media, I would have (wrongly) assumed the largest demographic would be the twenty-somethings (Millennials). As I work through the survey responses, you will be interested to see how this first question relates to those to come.
Question #2: Are you a Christian?
Considering this survey was advertised and targeted to professing Christian women, this figure is not surprising. Further, and as expected, all 18 unbelieving women who took the survey said something to the effect of “women should be able to read what they want regardless of their religion“. We should not be surprised when the lost act lost.
Question #3: Have you read any of the 50 Shades of Grey Books? (Even if only partially)
The responses to this question, combined with question #4 begin to truly shape the data gleaned from this survey as it pertains to Christian women. Of the 98 women who reported they had read at least some portion of the Fifty Shades of Grey books, 85 are professing Christians. That’s almost 87%. Dear friends, that should be shocking to us. Even if we assumed a few of those women did not truly know what the books were about before reading them, that is still a very large number of professing Christian women who chose to begin reading a book they likely knew was filled with sexual immorality.
Note: I was a bit taken aback that a girl (and I use that term purposefully here) claiming to be under the age of 18 had read all three of these books. Regardless of her opinions and responses, how far have we as a society fallen when young girls are reading this type of explicit material? That said, I’m not a complete moron, I realize that most kids can get their hands on whatever they want, but it honestly took my breath away a bit.
Question #4: If so, how many have you read?
Building upon the thoughts in question #3, not only are almost 87% of women who say they had read at least a portion of one of the books Christian, 84% of those Christian women had read more than one, 65% had read more than two, and 58% had read all three! This should not only shock us to our core, it should grieve us greatly that American Evangelicalism is so derelict in teaching sound biblical doctrine that a woman proclaiming Christ would deem it acceptable to feed on the anti-biblical garbage written in the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey. Do not for one second think that this mindset that says it’s okay to read pornography, does not have implications far beyond a trilogy of books.
Question #5: Did you enjoy these books?
Case in point, of the 87% of women who are Christian and who read at least some portion of any of the books, 79% liked them well enough to say they enjoyed them, many of them so much so (as evident in the responses to question #8) that they would recommend them to other Christian women. If your jaw is not on the ground, you may want to look into having your moral compass recalibrated.
Dear friends, the so-called leaders in Evangelical churches are so concerned with getting more butts in the seats that they neglect teaching the very basics of our faith. In doing so, congregants are either falsely converted or are such immature Christians that they feel little to no conviction when it comes to recognizing and avoiding blatant sin. And the response to question #5 from professing Christian women is, I submit to you, Exhibit A.
This is tragic. In fact, one respondent said, “I was interested and wanted to read the end, in spite of being uncomfortable at times.” Madam, dare I suggest, that was God the Holy Spirit convicting you? Another woman wrote, “Some aspects were enjoyable as a single woman, however those enjoyable parts also leaves you feeling empty and dirty.“
Again, how debased of mind are we as a culture that a woman (Christian or not), in all sincerity, could say something that left her feeling empty and dirty was enjoyable? This is precisely the reason why the upcoming movie based on these books is not merely immoral, but outright dangerous.
Whether women realize it or not, media such as this conditions them to accept as normal the sexual depravity about which too many men fantasize. Dear sisters, you are worth so much more than that. (Psalm 139:13-16) You are infinitely more than a sexual play toy.
Question #6: Do you have any issues with a Christian woman reading these books?
The comments under question #5 more or less apply to question #6 as well, but I will add that 69% of Christian women who read at least a portion of one of the books would not have a problem with other Christian women reading this book. As I write, I’m quite literally heartbroken to the point of tears. What has happened to us? How have we as Evangelicals allowed ourselves to be so distanced from the Lord and his Word that we not only enjoy but outright endorse obvious sin?
Question #7: Please briefly explain your answer in question #6.
The responses to this question were far and away the most troubling because they indicate a wide acceptance of the material and obvious lack of biblical discernment. I’ve chosen a few quotes that best represent the most common responses and have organized them by topic below (these are actual survey responses):
— Peer Pressure —
- “I read these books while on a girl’s trip in Florida. Everyone but me was reading them and discussing them. Wouldn’t read again.”
- “I read the first 100 pages and wanted to quit, but the girls in my small group from church had read them so I continued to read. I think they are a lot like Pretty Woman, the movie but explicit. If I had to do it over again, I would not read them. For sure not for unwed women.”
First of all, as I argue below, these books and movie are not for any Christian woman, not just singles. What really saddens me about this category of responses is that there are Christian women who have hesitantly read these books for no other reason than because their professing Christian girlfriends were reading them. They simply didn’t want to feel left out. This is a serious problem.
— Judging/Personal Choice —
- “I believe women should follow their conscience. If they feel it is a sin, or more importantly that it could lead them to sin, then they should stay away. But otherwise, I feel it is just a personal choice, as is any other art, film, or literature.”
- “As a Christian, you should not judge others, including what they read.”
- “It’s up to that Christian how she believes, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, other than it’s mommy porn.”
As to that last comment, maybe it’s just me, but the fact it’s “mommy porn” does, in fact, mean there is something wrong with it. If you truly love your sister in Christ, you’ll tell her the truth about adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28) instead of sheepishly “keeping the peace”.
As I’ve discussed previously on this blog and in the podcast, the whole idea of “judge not” and the torturous mangling of Matthew 7 is something the Evangelical church must purge itself of immediately. Briefly, we are directed to judge rightly those within the faith. The lack of such judgment inside the American Evangelical church is the exact reason why unrepentant sin and pulpit silliness exist.
- “I believe that Christians should be allowed to choose what books and movies they would like to read/watch without being made to feel guilty. There is only one true judgement we all will face and we will face it alone based on our own choices. By judging others decisions we as Christians are committing yet another sin that we will be judged in ourselves.”
While a number of women decried the consumption of this garbage, this comment best encapsulates the other end of the spectrum. I marked in bold what I believe is the key phrase in this comment, which is, “without being made to feel guilty.” As Christians, we do everything we possibly can to avoid the conviction of God the Holy Spirit. We choose not to judge others rightly because we don’t want to be judged rightly by them. Again, this creates the undiscerning and undisciplined atmosphere in our congregations that allows false teachings, false doctrine, and abject heresies to invade.
— Christian Women and Sexuality —
- “Being a Christian does not change the fact that I am a sexual woman of consenting age.”
There were many responses of this ilk and, as a Christian man, it is not my place nor do I care to get into detail regarding this topic. I will simply say that God created all of us to enjoy sexual relations inside of a committed, biblical marriage. Being a “sexual woman” of “consenting age” does not necessitate that you may fulfill those desires whenever, however, and with whomever you please. I will address this biblically later in this article.
— Pragmatism/Misc. —
- “I don’t think christian women should have to feel out of the loop just because they are Christian. If they want to know what the hype is about, they can read.”
This response is the anti-biblical fruit of the seeker-sensitive church movement, which promotes the idea that the church can and should look like the world and take part in the things of the world. If not for this philosophy, people like this respondent would not claim, “It’s not fair”. You know what else wasn’t fair, Madam? The fact that Jesus Christ came to Earth, lived a perfect life, and was crushed (Isaiah 53:10) for our sins. That, my dear sister, isn’t fair.
- “The story goes beyond the sex. It’s about meeting someone where they are and helping to bringing to a healthier, happier place through love and understanding.”
- “Reading books like 50 Shades of Grey allows a married couple to experience new things and keep their sex life alive. If you or your spouse get bored with your sex life it will cause stress on your relationship.”
- “It spiced up my marriage in a good way. Opened dialogue and discussion. I also educated myself on things I wasn’t aware existed. i.e. Lifestyle”
- “I am a Christian woman who is married to a wonderful man. I enjoyed reading these books. I know there has been a great deal of controversy around Christian women reading these books, and while I understand why, I don’t consider it the “wrong” thing when a Christian woman chooses to read these books. There are many other harmful books that are published that Christian women choose to read every day. How is Fifty Shades of Grey different than a Harlequin romance that many woman read frequently? In my opinion, it’s not.”
The bottom line here is that pragmatism is not Scripture. Just because you like the fact that you learned something you were previously unaware of does not mean it was okay to fill your mind with such filth. Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) is the authority in all matters of the Christian faith. Nowhere does the Bible tell a married couple to watch others fornicate in order to “spice up” their bedroom relationship.
Question #8: Would you recommend these books to other Christian women?
Of the 87% of women who are Christians and read at least some portion of any of the books, 57% liked them well enough to say that they would recommend these books to other Christian women. This, my dear friends, is a travesty.
While that language may sound harsh, the reality is that these women are infecting other Christian women and causing this trash to spread in the church. Biblically, this is far more than merely causing “a [sister] to stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13) because the object being passed along is unquestionably sinful.
Question #9: Do you plan to see the movie?
Interestingly, only about 15% of Christian women who read at least a portion of one of the books said they plan to see the movie. I wonder if maybe they would be embarrassed to be caught coming out of that movie, or maybe they don’t usually go to the movies anyway because it’s so expensive and they wait and buy the DVD instead? Another thought is maybe they know that the movie is never as good as the book, so if they’ve already read the book, why bother going to the movie?
It would be out of line for me to speculate the reason why so few plan to see the movie compared to reading the books. I’ll just say that I sincerely hope it’s not because books are deemed somehow less harmful than movies when it comes to questionable content.
I pray, instead, that this statistic reflects a realization of Christian women that this movie should be avoided. For me to offer anything more concrete than that hope would be unfounded speculation, and generally unfair on my part.
Question #10: Any thoughts you’d like to add?
Considering how long this article has already become, I am not going to comment on the responses in this section. Instead, you’ll find below the 10 most encouraging comments posted. After being so heartbroken laboring through most of the survey, the comments here on question #10 were a breath of fresh air. I’ll let my sisters in Christ have the last word for the survey:
- “God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change and He said, Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
- Please look up an alternative movie called, “Old Fashioned.”
- “Christian women are playing with fire if they see this as harmless entertainment. It’s a sad day when we have to even discuss this.”
- “I find that Christian women ought to consider what they read and watch. Many women often do not think about what they are reading and watching so they spread by mouth what is good or not and influence what other women watch/read. Why put yourself or others into reading or watching something that may not be good for your mind and heart? Not everyone can just read/watch something and then not think about what just happened. Why create stumbling blocks for you or another person?”
- “It saddens me that so many of my friends who call themselves Christians are looking forward to the movie and have ‘enjoyed’ reading the book. *Sigh*”
- “There is a great lack of discernment among “Christians” today. Having a form of godliness but denying the power. Let us examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith!”
- “The popularity of this is a sad reflection of the complete moral decline in this country. As Christians, we should not be entertained by this, but rather be much in prayer for God to open many eyes are bring women to faith in Christ.”
- “Such works that support sexual immorality and sin are completely inappropriate and vile. It’s a shame that our postmodern society has allowed for the publication of these books that are “inspiring” teens everywhere to pursue sexual immorality as portrayed in the pieces. Please also keep in mind that I am an 18-year-old high school student and I am still voicing this opinion because these books completely go against God’s Word.”
- “If a Christian woman enjoys this book perhaps she should examine herself to see if she in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
And finally, I think this dear sister summed it up best (since the survey was anonymous, I can’t give credit):
- “Many of the remarks we are going to hear are going to begin with the question, ‘Have you read them?’ My response to questions like that usually goes along the lines of, ‘I don’t need to smoke pot to know that it’s bad for me.’ I believe this can be handled along those same lines. The Bible speaks clearly about our participation in worldly things and how we are to remain separate from them. There is a pagan side to this that makes it highly interesting to women. They are unsatisfied with their marriages and mistakenly think that this will help that somehow. They are missing the mark and will be further disappointed because they still aren’t handling their issues in a biblical appropriate way. The movie that’s coming out based on these books is just a sign of how far a nation has gone in displaying the intimate parts of their lives for everyone to see. On a positive note, the Gospel is the answer to this sin. Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
—– Survey Concluding Thoughts —–
I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that America in general and the American Church are in a sad state of affairs. We’ve turned our collective backs on God and are bombarded daily by unrepentant sin and apostasy. However, seeing this reality first-hand in this survey literally moved me to tears. Do we really love ourselves and our sin so much that we’re willing to spit in the face of our Savior? Unfortunately, yes we do.
One other final thought I’d like to mention is that while I was conducting the survey, on more than one occasion I was accused of not being Christ-like, being divisive, and generally unloving by asking Christian women these questions.
I’m not being Christ-like? I must ask, to which Christ are you referring? The Christ who called Pharisees “vipers, white-washed tombs, sons of Hell”? (Matthew 23) The Christ who physically overthrew tables of merchandise and cash, and drove out animals and people from the temple courts with a handmade whip of cords because they were making merchandise out of the sincere worship of fellow believers? (Matthew 21:12) The Christ who employed hyperbole, sarcasm, and blunt honesty when He needed to cut through the fake politeness and get to the Truth? That Christ?
A Man’s Perspective
The reality is that men are consistently bombarded with sexually explicit imagery, innuendo, and the dehumanization of women. We are enticed to believe that women are simply the vessel by which we fulfill our sexual desires. Sadly, with the popularity of media such as Fifty Shades of Grey, women (even Christian women as we saw above) are condoning and fantasizing about this behavior. When men know women are fantasizing about this kind of carnality, it gives many of them the ‘green light’ to fulfill all their desires.
“The thing [sex] is a sensory pleasure; that is, an event occurring within one’s own body. We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he ‘wants a woman.’ Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes).” – C.S. Lewis
While I was in college, a very pretty girl who was involved with Campus Crusade (now known as CRU and something I will never be involved with again) announced nonchalantly during a social gathering that she had “rape fantasies”. Shocking, no? When certain men hear a pretty, innocent college girl say things like this, it doesn’t matter how many times she denies his advances, he’s not going to stop. Now, hear me please, I am in no way condoning that man’s behavior or absolving him of responsibility for his actions. However, when I asked the young woman why she would say such a thing, she confided that she’d been reading some graphic romance novels. Is that the only reason she had those thoughts? I have no idea. What I do know is that reading them did nothing positive for that young Christian woman.
Even the World Sees the Problems with Fifty Shades of Grey
It is shocking to me that an article such as this needs to be written to professing Christian women. Even the world recognizes the damage such garbage can inflict on people. For instance, read the following excerpt from a recent Charisma Magazine article:
We Americans get really angry when oil companies spill toxic fuel in our oceans; yet we applaud when Hollywood dumps a tanker of poisonous garbage like Fifty Shades of Grey on our country—with no offer to clean up the damage. We should be outraged.
Last year a researcher from the University of Michigan did a study on the effects of Fifty Shades of Grey on women readers. It showed that women who read the books (it is actually a trilogy) were 25 percent more likely to have an abusive partner; 34 percent were more likely to have a partner who stalked them; and 65 percent were more likely to engage in binge drinking. Just as there is a link between violent video games and violent behavior in teen boys, this study showed that women who read graphic porn novels tend to gravitate toward the types of abusive relationships depicted in books like Fifty Shades. The study also showed that these women were more likely to have eating disorders. (Interestingly, the dominant male character in Fifty Shades carefully controls his girlfriend’s eating habits.)
In one scene in the book, Christian buys Ana a platinum and diamond bracelet so she can cover the bruises on her wrists—which she got after being tied to her boyfriend’s bed. The message from Ana’s lover: I will hurt you, but I will buy you nice gifts so you will stay with me. That’s twisted. And couples are going to see this movie on Valentine’s Day?
One of the most bizarre moments in the book occurs after Ana leaves Christian and then goes back to him. She says: “The physical pain you inflicted was not as bad as the pain of losing you.” Any psychologist will tell you that is the mentality of an abuse victim, who is brainwashed to believe that the attention she gets from her abuser is better than no attention at all.2
Does this sound, in any way whatsoever, like a book or movie a Christian woman should have anything to do with?
The “church” is Fueling the Fire
With today’s hyper-sexualized culture combined with the American Evangelical mega-church pastors’ reckless desire to be like the world, it should be no surprise that this smut is infiltrating the walls of the church, for both men and women.
The dirty little secret no one in church wants to talk about is porn. Most men, even most pastors, currently, or in the past, have struggled with pornography. Generally speaking, men are turned on visually. Women are turned on emotionally. Men view porn. Women read porn. Fifty Shades of Grey, my friends, is pornography.3
(Male or female, if you’re struggling with pornography – visual or literary – I highly recommend this resource from Wretched Radio.)
Unfortunately, as I’d mentioned briefly before, much of the infiltration of porn into the church comes straight from the pulpits of today. For instance, there are a number of churches promoting sermons like “Fifty Shades of They” and books like Fifty Shades of Christ. Why in the world are we placing the name of our most Holy God in place of pornography?! Why in the world would a pastor deem it appropriate to preach from a series even resembling such anti-biblical trash?
One church in Florence, Alabama advertised their “Fifty Shades” sermon series thusly, “It’s a culturally relevant series about romance and relationships! Through “Fifty Shades”, Faith Church is tackling the topics of love and marriage and you don’t want to miss it. Invite a friend and join us Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 am. #FiftyShadesatFaith”
Are you kidding me?! How about preaching line-by-line through the Bible and addressing topics such as relationships and sex when they come up? No, this is a marketing strategy. It’s a way for seeker-sensitive mega-churches to play footsie with the world in hopes they can fill a stadium with as many goats as they can cram in. Pastors and churches like this are arrogant enough to think that they can package the message of the Bible better than the Holy Spirit. The result is eternally deadly for those having their ears tickled.
American Evangelicalism… Where pastors, maybe struggling with porn themselves (according to published statistics), see Fifty Shades of Grey as an opportunity to draw a crowd.Tony Miano
What Does Scripture Have to Say?
Dear sisters, we are called to something different, something holy, something righteous. Matthew 5:13-16 says we are called to be salt and light in this dark world of wickedness such that Christ may be glorified.
Specifically regarding women, Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:6-11 that “…among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” The simple truth is that women are more easily swayed and thus you must be diligent in your discernment.
This is also why older women must rise up and teach the younger. Paul wrote to Titus in Titus 2:3-5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
The content of both the Fifty Shades of Grey books and movie are also biblically condemned:
One comment that was made regularly in the survey is that it’s the woman’s choice to read the books or watch the movie and that it’s just a book, it’s not hurting anything. However, according to Jesus Christ, one who merely looks at someone with lust has committed adultery in his/her heart. (Matthew 5:27-28) By merely reading these books, lust can be incited in a Christian woman’s heart.
As if that weren’t enough, sexual immorality is spoken against in many other verses including, but not limited to:
- 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.“
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;’…“
- Ephesians 5:5 “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.“
- Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.“
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.“
- 1 Corinthians 7:2 “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.“
- 2 Timothy 2:22 “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.“
Women, as Christians we are to shun that which is unholy in favor of that which is holy. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
We are to be deliberate in our choices of reading material. We weigh our entertainment against the Word of God, and we avoid anything that is promoting an immoral or sinful story line. 1 Peter 1:14-16 states, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” Additionally, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.“
As those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be in constant pursuit of holiness and righteousness.
However, the Bible does not veer away from shocking or hard topics, and neither should we. There are multiple stories throughout the Bible that speak of immorality, rape, incest, etc. The difference between the Bible and popular fiction, namely Fifty Shades of Grey, is that the Bible does not glorify the immorality and sin within the story line. It celebrates the beauty of sex as God created it, the one-flesh relationship between husband and wife.
As one blogger rightly remarked, “I don’t know about your marriage, but mine is hard enough as it is without bringing in a whole world of fantasy that is not based on Scripture all while glorifying sexual sin. If women want to read something to encourage their hearts in marital intimacy, then read Song of Solomon not Fifty Shades of Grey. Song of Solomon records lovers fantasizing and longing for one another with intimate passion.” 4
God intended for sex to be part of a marriage covenant, not a signed contract between strangers. Furthermore, the relationship between a man and a wife is to mirror Christ and His Church not dominance and humiliation.
Infinite Shades of Grace
All that said, there are obviously many Christian women who have read these books. Some may read this article at a future date and now feel convicted, having already seen the movie. To those women I want to remind you of God’s glorious grace!
Please know that repenting is enough because Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price on the cross for all our sins, including yours. If you are a woman (or a man for that matter) struggling with pornography in any form, please know that Christ is enough. The following verses illustrate that beautifully:
- Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
- Romans 6:9-11 “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
- Romans 6:14 “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
The Eighteenth Century theologian John Wesley once said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” There is no question that his observation was astute and that the truth of this observation continues to this very day. As Christians, if we tolerate the sexual degradation of women and the profaning of biblical marriage and the marriage bed, our children will embrace those ideologies. This means the next generation will not merely tolerate God being mocked and slapped in the face, they will be doing the mocking and slapping.
Clare Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need, which is a charity for victims, says “There will be a whole generation of young women hearing the women around them say: ‘What a great book,’ a generation of 13-and 14-year-olds picking it up and thinking, ‘This is all right. We are saying, could people try reading it again and thinking: ‘What is this man [Christian Grey] really about? It really is about a domestic violence perpetrator, taking someone who is less powerful, inexperienced, not entirely confident about the area of life she is being led into, and then spinning her a yarn. Then he starts doing absolutely horrific sexual things to her … He gradually moves her boundaries, normalising the violence against her. It’s the whole mythology that women want to be hurt.“5
I ask you ladies, is this the kind of thing you want your teen or pre-teen girl reading? Do you want her to grow up to seek multiple men who physically abuse her and “willfully” rape her because this is what has been sold to her as love? Is this the kind of thing you want your young boy picking up and reading? Do you want him to grow up and physically abuse the multiple women with whom he’ll have intercourse? Have you become sufficiently shocked enough to take action, whether it be for yourself, your kids, or both?
Blogger Leah Wood bravely and astutely said, “There is absolutely no justifiable reason to see this movie. I don’t care how good the soundtrack is. I don’t care how good or bad the acting is. I don’t care if all your friends are going or if your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife wants to go. It is wrong— from a human rights view, from a purely romantic view, from a Christian view, from a self-esteem view, from a sexual view. And what’s more wrong, is how utterly devastating the long-term effects will be on us as people and as a culture.”6
With the movie set to release this weekend, sisters in Christ, I implore you to please guard your hearts and refrain from bombarding your brain with this dehumanizing, anti-biblical, smut. It is not harmless. It is not fun. It is not innocent fantasy. It is sin and it promulgates sin.
Ladies, I sin every single day in all areas. I do not pretend to be more holy and righteous than anyone else. Just like Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Please test everything in this article against the Scriptures to ensure it is in accord with sound doctrine. But I beg of you to not see this movie or read these books, rather, encourage your sisters in Christ to avoid such wickedness.
This is not the first, nor will it be the last, book or movie that will come along and ensnare Christian men and women. But let’s not use that excuse to sin now. Get the kids a babysitter and enjoy a date night with your husband or a movie night at home with your girlfriends instead. God created sexual intimacy as something to be enjoyed inside of a biblical marriage. Fifty Shades of Grey makes a sinful mockery of that beauty and does nothing but work to destroy marriages and ongoing sanctification.
Dearest sisters, do not give Satan a foothold. (Ephesians 4:27)
You may find full survey results by clicking here.
Special thanks to Michelle Lesley and Erin Benzinger for their meticulous, Scripture-centered editing. Be sure to check out Michelle’s Fifty Shades of No Way José article and Erin’s podcast and blog post.
NOTE: The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) has launched an aggressive national campaign against the controversial film, Fifty Shades of Grey. NCSE’s new webpage, fiftyshadesisabuse.com, highlights 50-plus ways that Fifty Shades harms and provides various actions that the public can take, including signing a boycott petition and joining the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, which calls on patrons to forgo the film and donate to women’s shelters instead.
“Hollywood is advertising the Fifty Shades story as an erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women,” said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Hawkins noted that the public sees too much sexual abuse and violence against women in real life and urged Hollywood to take this into consideration when setting the entertainment agenda.
- Challies, Tim. “7 Lessons from 50 Shades of Grey.” Challies.com. 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. ↩
- Grady, J. Lee. “Let’s Call ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ What It Is: Perverted.” Charisma Magazine. 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. ↩
- Dutton, Leigh Ann. “I’m Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey.” Intentional By Grace. 21 June 2012. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <http://intentionalbygrace.com/im-not-reading-fifty-shades-of-grey/>. ↩
- Dutton, Leigh Ann. “I’m Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey.” Intentional By Grace. 21 June 2012. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. . ↩
- Van Maren, Jonathon. “Really? You Need More Reasons Not to Watch 50 Shades of Grey? Fine. Here They Are.” LifeSiteNews. 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. ↩
- Wood, Leah. “I Cried a Lot While Writing This.” Leah Marie. 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <https://whalesinwhiteink.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/i-cried-a-lot-while-writing-this/>. ↩
- “Dirty Dozen: Fifty Shades of Grey.” National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. ↩