How should we respond to "50 Shades of Grey"? Should we dismiss it as nothing more than a sappy romance jacked up on erotica, agreeing with critics like Claudia Puig, who wrote that "the dialogue is laughable, the pacing is sluggish and the performances are one-note"? Or should we be deeply disturbed … that sexual violence is being romanticized and could likely lead to the physical and emotional abuse of women?
Both the book and movie "50 Shades of Grey" pervert God's good and healthy intention for sex by sugarcoating a harmful phenomenon known as BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism). The CDC reports that one in five women in America will be raped in her lifetime. Powerful media images matter in either combatting or contributing to this statistic.
"50 Shades of Grey" depicts the developing, dysfunctional relationship of Anastasia Steele, a naïve, college coed, and wealthy, debonair businessman Christian Grey. Nothing new in the girl-meets-boy storyline except for Christian's demand for control that twists sexual desire into deviancy. His obsession with violent sex hurts Anastasia emotionally and physically.
Really? Can anything be more contrary to what the Creator of men, women, love, relationships and marriage intended? The Bible's Song of Solomon describes a beautiful sexual relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. This biblical love story is filled with tender, honorable, compassionate, respectful, awe-filled manifestations of erotic love. The groom never once violates his beloved physically, nor does he assault her verbally with a steady stream of obscenities.
God created sex to be a wonderful and pleasurable experience. He also ordained clear boundaries for sexual relationships for the physical, emotional and spiritual benefit of both the man and the woman. The Bible couldn't be clearer: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable … and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 6 NIV).
Consider the following 7 reasons to pursue sexual integrity:
1. I want to please God.
"I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship" (Romans 12:1 NIV).
2. I want my prayers to be answered.
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened" (Psalm 66:18 NIV).
3. I want God's blessing, not His discipline or judgment.
"Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV).
4. I want God to have preeminence in my companion's life.
"You shall have no other gods before me" (Deuteronomy 5:7 NIV).
5. I want God to have preeminence in my life.
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'" (Matthew 22:37 NIV).
6. I want to live a life of integrity, knowing God sees and will reward.
"I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity" (1 Chronicles 29:17 NIV).
7. I want others to see the power of Christ in me and want the same for themselves.
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3 NIV).
The film "50 Shades of Grey" will present millions all around the world with a warped view of human sexuality and will undoubtedly entice some to explore. The Bible, however, gives us a clear and wise directive: "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 NIV).