The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cincinnati has warned that the upcoming "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie is a "direct assault on Christian marriage." Archbishop Dennis Schnurr asked churchgoers to boycott the film, which opens in the U.S. on Feb. 13, a day before Valentine's Day.
"The storyline is presented as a romance; however, the underlying theme is that bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism are normal and pleasurable. In the storyline, a young Miss Steele is urged to sign a contract becoming a sex slave and agreeing to an abusive and degrading relationship," Schnurr said in a post on the Facebook page of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
"This movie is in direct contrast to the Christian message of God's design for self-giving and self-sacrificing love, marriage and sexual intimacy. The movie is a direct assault on Christian marriage and on the moral and spiritual strength of God's people. We need to inform our people about the destructive message of this movie and to highlight the beauty of God's design for loving relationships between a husband and wife in the bond of marriage."
The movie is based on the 2011 erotic romance novel by author E.L. James, and is the first installment of a trilogy.
While the book has topped best-seller lists in the U.S., a number of church leaders have spoken out against the negative messages they say it offers to society.
Fellowship Church pastor Ed Young from Dallas, Texas, said last week that he will baptize copies of the book, which he called a "perverted attempt to trap readers."
"There is a cultural epidemic out there that is wrapped up in complete fantasy. The book, Fifty Shades of Grey, is a perverted attempt to trap readers and leads them to a misunderstanding of what intimacy and connection are all about," Young said in a statement.
"It is a pathetic distortion of a more powerful reality about relationships. God is not anti-sex, and he isn't grey when it comes to relationships. I want to wake people up to the reality that God's purpose and plan for their lives is so much greater!" he added.
U.K. domestic violence group Wearside Women in Need has also urged viewers to boycott the film, and suggested that they donate the money to domestic violence charities instead.
"It's tragic that the idea of a good Valentine's night out is to pay to watch an abusive, controlling and psychopathic man beat and humiliate a woman," said Claire Phillipson, the organization's director.
"And to women, I would say, you are entirely deluded if you think you can turn a Christian Grey-like man — a psychotic, woman-hating monster — into someone who is respectable and capable of loving you back."