Sep 18, 2017 • Written by Judy Episcopo
So What’s the Big Deal about 50 Shades?
It’s one of the most popular book series among women and the movie seems just as popular. Some people are saying it is harmless sexual fantasy to encourage intimacy and ultimately healing, while others are saying it promotes violence, abuse and pornography.
As a woman desiring to be a Christ follower, what should my response be?
I believe God designed sex to be enjoyed in marriage and that you can be both godly and sensual but do we know what a healthy, sexual relationship looks like? Does 50 Shades hit the mark?
I liked Matt Fradd’s observations of 50 Shades in his post, “The three most dangerous lies of 50 Shades” on his blog site:
“Lie #1: Violence is sexy
Fans of 50 Shades are quick to point out, “Look, Ana eventually tames Christian and leads him away from his emotionless world of sexual dominance. Just read the sequel books.” …That may be, but it is the eroticism in the books that have made them best-sellers. Whatever change Christian goes through in the books, we can’t overlook the way his violent fantasies scar Ana.
…this is sadly, the trend of all pornography, whether it be text, pictures, or videos. One study found that in the top selling pornographic films, nearly 90% of the scenes contain acts of physical aggression, and in most of those scenes the women portray themselves as enjoying being dominated or punished.
Now some people respond: “yes, but being dominated and threatened is so much more exciting than faithful marital sex.” To me, that’s analogous the meth-head who thinks normal, un-high life is boring. In both cases I just want to extend sympathy.
Lie #2: Sexual brokenness is sexy
For many people, Christian Grey seems like the epitome of female fantasy. He worships the ground Ana walks on. He’s unbelievably wealthy.
But Christian is also a terribly messed up individual who was sexually abused by a family friend starting at the age of 15…yet his resulting perverted obsessions are the very thing that have sold millions of the books.
Can you imagine if the scenario was reversed? Picture a 15-year-old girl being coerced by a man her father’s age into a relationship where she’s sexually dominated for years. Then picture that girl entering into one relationship after another of emotionless, violent sex. Is that woman’s state of mind something to celebrate, something men should fantasize about?
The question answers itself.
Lie #3: Women should put up with stalkers
Many of the advocates of these books will say, “Look how much Christian wants to be sure he has Ana’s consent. This book isn’t misogynistic because Ana gives her full consent to him.”
First, consenting to being degraded doesn’t make being degraded any more cool.
Secondly, the book blurs the line between consent and control in the worst ways. In fact, there was an article published in the Journal of Women’s Health showing that the character Ana is actually a victim of Intimate Partner Violence. The study says the book shows emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction the couple has, including elements of stalking and intimidation.”
These lies that Matt points out are the kind of things the world teaches us about sex, but what does the Bible say about sexual intimacy? Actually many things, not the least of which says that sexual intimacy is to be celebrated and enjoyed in committed, loving and sacrificial relationships (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Song of Solomon is an entire book found in the Bible that celebrates passion, love and sexual intimacy. Unfortunately we don’t hear too many sermons based on Song of Solomon. Perhaps so many Christian women are being drawn to 50 Shades because the church hasn’t done a very good job of teaching on topics of sexuality and our needs for intimacy.
The following are some good resources if you would like more help in navigating this topic. I recommend the following:
The Fallacy of 50 Shades by Shannon Ethridge
Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery
Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love are You Making by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery
Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus