CP: Speaking of a "satanic agenda," what do you think the ultimate agenda might be?
Slattery: I think the most obvious agenda of evil that we can see right out of the gate is to kind of deaden our sense of what's right and wrong and to destroy intimacy and what sexuality is supposed to look like. But I think an even deeper, darker agenda is really the degradation of what's holy because being a Christian, and calling yourself Christian, that means I live for the Lord Jesus Christ, I live for His glory, I worship Him. Anything that separates me from the sense of being in awe of who God is and just worshipping His holiness is satanic.
Even the idea of worshipping love and worshipping sex and thinking that that can fulfill us and that we can save each other, those things are all the way through the Fifty Shades trilogy. I think because the sexual agenda's so obvious, you almost don't pick up on the deeper things in the messages that are being communicated.
Gresh: It's doubtful that E.L. James had an intentional spiritual agenda when she penned the book, but it's not at all far-fetched once you read the book … that this is just another place where the enemy is marring God's intention for marriage and sexuality. From Genesis to Revelation we can see that marriage and the marriage bed is meant to be a picture of the passionate love that God has for His people. In Ephesians 5:31-32, it says that the relationship between a husband and wife is a picture of the love of Christ and the Church. If that's true, how motivated is Satan to see the picture of marriage and sexual love destroyed? He's motivated, and this is his weapon of choice for this generation.
CP: What is God's perspective on sex and intimacy?
Slattery: He created it not just to be an expression in marriage … that's one of the reasons He created it. It's created to be something very spiritual. A single woman … she's not supposed to be having sex according to Scripture, but she's still sexual, she still has longings, she still has an urge, a desire to be known and share her body. I really believe that metaphor means that even a woman's sexuality will drive her towards an awareness that, "There's gotta be more than this."
You know, like, David expresses this deep yearning of "My soul cries out, my body longs for you, Lord." Scripture tells us that we should be yearning exactly because our bridegroom isn't here. God's design for sex and sexuality is about even more than just what a husband and wife do with each other, that's an important part of it. But it's ultimately a spiritual metaphor and [once] you understand that, it changes your discernment about what you want to read and what you want to think about and how you want to act.
In part two of CP's interview with Slattery and Gresh, the authors discuss what they've learned from Christian women who defend reading the Fifty Shades series, why there might be frustration, confusion or discomfort when it comes to openly dealing with and discussing women and sexuality in Christian contexts, and more.
The below infographic produced in 2012 by Neomam.com, a year after the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, highlights some notable aspects of the book, such as its frequent use of "holy" (crap, hell, s*** and so forth), its effect on the adult market and how it has out-sold Stephenie Meyer's Twilight book, which reportedly served as James' inspiration for her own work.