50 Shades of Maybe, Possibly, Potentially Overdoing It

So let me add my two cents, or 50 cents (punny), into the 50 Shades of Grey mularkey that’s been all over the Christian blogosphere. Usually I try to avoid the hot button topics of the day when I write, but I feel compelled to share my thoughts.

Don’t you think we as a body of Christ as going way too overboard with all the blog posts and condemnations?

Firstly, I agree that, with my limited knowledge of the series, we should not endorse it. We should not encourage people to see the film. We should not encourage people to read the books. From what I’ve read about the series and the film, they promote objectification of women and lessens the deep implications that sex has on people. We should not promote those things.

In a blog post on Desiring God, Marshall Segal wisely writes, “In a society that downplays the evil of evil, and even glamorizes it, we need to be regularly reminded of the danger of sin. Like a child that discovers a needle on the street and thinks it’s a toy, we can be dangerously naïve about what’s happening in our American entertainment.”

However, there are two things I want to say and encourage us to be careful of when going on our diatribes about why the 50 Shades series is so evil.

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There are probably Christians who have read the book(s) and plan to see the movie. And they don’t need condemning.

One of the things we as a body of Christ do a bang-up job of is condemnation. We like to bash on whatever is the “high point of cultural sin” that week. And this week, it’s 50 Shades. And as I said before, warnings should be given from the pulpit, from the small group, from the social media of the day. And they have been.

But do you think that perhaps there might be some Christians who have read the book(s) and plan to see the film? And all this condemnation might drive them to guilt over their stance? There should be conviction. I understand the importance of emphasizing that the film promotes nothing good and should not be supported. But when do we take a step back and consider that we may be doing way too much of that and not enough of really reaching out to people who might be struggling with the fact they read the book(s)?

When all this condemnation happens, some people will pull back from talking about it. They might say to themselves, “Well, I read the book(s), and I was planning on seeing the movie. I didn’t realize it was all that bad. But if I tell someone, they’ll just yell at me or condemn me for doing it. So I won’t say anything.” And I wouldn’t blame them for doing so.

There are real people who struggle with lust and porn and other sexual sin who need our help, not just our condemnation of the material. 

There’s already enough people condemning the material that the world is producing. What we miss when we aim our guns at those things is the people whose lives are being affected by the lust that those products are satisfying. If we try to boycott theaters showing the film and take to social media to rant about it, and that’s all we do, that’s like taking medicine to fix the symptoms but not the problem.

Men and women struggle with lust and sexual addiction. Are 50 Shades-type materials helping that? No question, yes, and they should not be consumed. But if we really desire to fix the problem here, we should start with the hearts of the consumers. Are Christians who struggle with pornography being loved and helped in their fight? Are believers who frequently give into lust being poured into and encouraged to keep resisting?

What does God ask of us? That our hearts be penitent and turned towards Him. Condemning porn is like scratching the itch. It might help for a moment, but it doesn’t get to the real issue.

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I wonder: How must the actors, director, producers, writers, crew, fans of 50 Shades feel when all they hear from Christians is the hate and the condemnation? A justified rebuke indeed, yes, but think about what Jesus did.

Mark 2:15-17 says:

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’

He didn’t agree with what the tax collectors and sinners did. He didn’t sit there and applaud their decisions. But He did sit there and eat with them, speak with them, recline with them, spend time with them. He came to heal them.

Once again, I don’t want to applaud the actions of those who produced 50 Shades of Grey. But it is the desire of my heart that all of them come to know Jesus and experience the life-changing grace and love and mercy that I experience as a follower of Jesus.

I won’t be seeing the movie. I won’t be reading the books. I won’t be telling anyone that they should do those things. But I want to encourage you who reads this to take a deep breath and examine why you condemn and how much you condemn. I need to examine myself daily as well and pray that I grow in showing grace and mercy to all.

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