It’s Not Black and White
I love a good Romantic Comedy as much as the next girl. I could watch some of my favorites over and over again, and I have. Great scenes are etched in my brain forever: Tom Hanks meeting Meg Ryan at the top of the Empire State Building in “Sleepless in Seattle,” Richard Gere climbing a fire escape to rescue Julia Roberts with flowers in his teeth in spite of his fear of heights in “Pretty Woman,” the famous scene in “Say Anything” where John Cusack holds a huge radio above his head playing “In Your Eyes” while standing outside the window of the girl he loves, the scene in “Letters to Juliet” where Christopher Egan climbs up the balcony to reach Amanda Seyfried.
And who could forget the classic scene in “The Notebook” in which two long lost loves reunite in the rain, or the classic “Pride and Prejudice” moment where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth finally realize how much they love each other after so many years?
Usually First in Line
As a Christian, I’m aware that most of the Romantic Comedies I love do not mesh with what the Bible says about love and the proper place for sex (within a married relationship). In the movies, falling in love usually involves leaving an unhappy relationship and having sex as part of the romance. I’ve always been able to enjoy these movies anyway and simply compartmentalize them in my mind.
I’m always aware of thinking about how to enjoy life in this world without becoming a part of it. It’s a constant challenge as a Christian, especially a single Christian. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2.)
Looking at “Fifty Shades of Grey”
When all of the hype surrounding “Fifty Shades of Grey” began, I was curious what it was all about. Woman everywhere were reading it and I mean everywhere. I saw them in line at stores, in elevators, at the beach, walking down the street reading it. They devoured it—turning pages like it was their last meal. I began to ask around to figure out what this book was all about and why it was so popular.
Sexual curiosity made this book fly off the shelves like a tsunami clears a beach, quick and destructive. But the sort of sexual behavior in “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not typical; it is a specific fetish called BDSM (Bondage, Dominate/Discipline, Sadism, Masochism). If this is your first time hearing these terms, BDSM involves being tied up or restrained, domination by one or more partners, and the enjoyment of hurting someone or receiving pain yourself. I don’t feel like I need to go into much more detail than that.
My surprise didn’t come because they decided to make this erotic smut into a movie, because what happens in Hollywood never surprises me anymore. My utter shock came from how openly and unashamed my Christian friends were in reading the books and sharing their excitement about seeing the movie.
There was not a blink, not a pause, not a flinch. It seemed like a normal reaction for them and when I questioned them in my shock, I was generally accused of being judgmental.
But, there’s a difference between making judgments and being judgmental. I was genuinely confused and found it difficult to get anyone to agree with me. I began to gather opinions from people from different walks of life and most with any literary taste agreed the book was pretty poorly written. Others didn’t like how unrealistically naive the lead female character is.
Other than that, most people overlooked the twisted sex and pointed to the “love story” that’s in the movie. What!!?? Have we as Christians completely forgotten what love is? Have we become so emerged in this sex-saturated culture that it’s becoming a part of us?
Is this really a love story?
When I really think of love, real love, I think of Jesus. “This is how we know what love is, that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). I wondered how to take my knowledge of the love of Christ and bring it into my everyday life and into this debate over “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5). I began to ask myself if I was being too harsh? Do I live my life with the true love of Christ? Were my concerns beginning to turn into a judgmental attitude? Should I just go read the book and see the movie for “research” purposes? No! Do I need to put my hand into the fire to prove it will burn me? No!
I really thought about keeping my mouth closed so I would not stir up the pot, rock the boat, or cause any other friction especially among those I love. After awhile, I began to feel that staying silent was actually the unloving thing even if there is some backlash.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” may have a love story of sorts woven into its sexually charged content, but it’s not the sort of love story I’d like to share with my future children. I want more of a 1 Corinthians 13 sort of love. I don’t want to be involved in a relationship (or to watch one) that involves stalking, manipulation, pain, confusion, fear and the total absence of God in the mix.
This movie is taken from an erotic book—the central idea is about a BDSM relationship with a naïve virgin. Is this love? People openly call this movie porn.
There have been studies done and blogs written about the increased sexual interest in the BDSM lifestyle and the sex drives of soccer moms and suburban housewives everywhere. If women decide to experiment with this sexual activity even in the privacy of their own home with their husbands, won’t they need toys purchased from a sex shop that supports the sex industry and, ultimately, human trafficking? Is this a stretch? I don’t think so. If there is no desire, then there is no market demand.
Is it a good idea for Christians to watch? Is it? The Bible asks us to be careful about what we put in our minds and in our hearts. Have you ever heard the expression, “garbage in garbage out?”
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23).
I still struggle with what I should and shouldn’t allow into my heart and mind, but “Fifty Shades of Grey” is certainly not one of them. I began thinking about how I used to watch “I Love Lucy” on TV when I was a kid. Lucy and Desi had separate twin beds. I’m not saying it should have stayed that wholesome, but look how much we’ve changed.
Now it’s normal for everyone to have sex outside of marriage. If you are unhappy with your husband, have an affair. If you’re not sexually satisfied, watch some porn or have a threesome or an orgy. Things have changed so much and gone so far in the realm of sex and violence that we are becoming completely numb and desensitized.
Where do we go from here? Whatever happens next needs to be bigger and greater, right? I’m seriously terrified to see the aftermath of “Fifty Shades.” I’m concerned for humanity and future relationships. Like a drug addict who needs more and more to get high, I wonder what it will take for the next fix in RomCom cinema.
When thinking about the choices we need to make in life, how do we decide? Do we do what we can handle, what won’t hurt us, or do we have a higher calling?
As Christians where do we draw the line? Is it black and white? Or is it Grey?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)
Laura Damschen has worked in education for 15 years and is currently pursing a new career path in writing and ministry. Visit her blog at https://selah411.wordpress.com/