To say I’m appalled by the positive reaction to 50 Shades of Grey is an understatement.
But what’s even more alarming to me, is the mass amount of attention and praise both the book series and upcoming film has received from CHRISTIAN WOMEN.
It’s a story line filled with dysfunction, pain, and sexual perversion played out between a young 22-year old virgin and a seriously disturbed 27-year old man. I have to start my post by saying I didn’t read the actual book, nor do I ever plan on doing so. I couldn’t justify filling my mind with trash for the sake of writing this article (for you critics out there, I read one-too-many summaries, spoke to people who’ve read the series, and did research of my own). But what it comes down to is that you don’t need to watch porn to be against it, nor have experienced abuse to be able to stand up for what’s right. And just the same, you don’t have to read trash to be able to declare it as such.
I, for one, am officially declaring this entire 50 Shades of Grey movement as T.R.A.S.H.; portraying an inaccurate view of:
Theology, Relationship Advice and Sexual History
It’s destructive to relationships, poisonous to the mind, harmful to sexuality, and deadly to the soul. As both a Professional Counselor and Christian woman, here are 5 reasons why I believe it’s complete and total TRASH:
1. It portrays a relationship defined by SEX rather than a relationship defined by LOVE.
Aside from the fact that the story line of 50 Shades glorifies sex outside of marriage, even more destructive is that it defines an entire relationship by SEX. It’s a plot that looks at a relationship between a young man and woman through the lens of nothing more than the dynamics of their sexual relationship. Talk about a seriously lacking view of relationships! I’m appalled by how this story cheapens relationships by condensing the complexity and sanctity between a man and a woman down to this one thing. The moment we define our relationships by our sex lives, is the moment that we’ve failed to experience relationships to their fullest. Great relationships are never just about sex (though great sex is the FRUIT of a great marriage!) they are about LOVE, they are about INTIMACY, they are about WISDOM, they are about LOYALTY, and finally, they are about COMMITMENT.
2. It defines love as an act of TAKING rather than an act of GIVING.
Even though this entire story line is about sex, the word love and being “in love” is used fairly often from what I gather in the summaries of the series. But the problem here is that this “love” is always defined by what it can get, rather than what it can give. From the start, both parties are in it to GET something. To get sex, to get security, to get healing, to get pleasure. But true love is never about what we can get, but rather, what we are enabled to give. Throughout this story line the themes of anger, rage, violence, abuse, dysfunction, and hurt emerge time and time again. But what a poor picture of love that really is. True love is never out to hurt, instead it’s defined by kindness, patience, gentleness. It’s defined by self-control- not self indulgence. By forgiveness, not wounded-ness. True love is an act of selflessness, which is the farthest thing portrayed in 50 Shades of Grey.
3. It presents pleasure as rooted in DYSFUNCTION, rather than rooted in INTIMACY.
It saddens me to hear that so many woman are enthralled, excited, and turned on by this story line because it is all about pleasure rooted in dysfunction. Since when is pleasure defined by bondage, dominance, and masochism? Since when is arousal dependent on pain, abuse, fear, hurt, and violence? This sickest part of this story line is that it makes light of some serious sexual dysfunction rooted in the main character’s past abuse history. How often do we bring our wounds to relationships in hopes for healing? But a relationship rooted in dysfunction will never survive, because relationships can’t heal our wounds, mend our insecurities, or cover up our past. They weren’t meant to, because only God can do that (but that’s an article for another day).
Rather than pleasure that’s rooted in pain, what about looking for pleasure that’s rooted in intimacy, love, and trust? I’m thankful that God’s design for sex includes SAFETY and SECURITY within the walls of a loving marriage offering us pleasure beyond measure rooted in intimacy, commitment, loyalty, and respect. And please don’t misunderstand- there is SO MUCH FREEDOM for sexual pleasure in marriage, because ultimately, it is pleasure rooted in the enthralling intimacy of love.
4. It presents a one-dimensional, cheap, and superficial view of sex rather than seeing sex as valuable, deep and meaningful.
It’s amazing how many women will get worked up about their husband’s viewing pornography, but then get excited by the story line of 50 Shades. Yet since when is lust in women more acceptable than lust in men? Just as cheaply as pornography takes the sacredness of sex and turns it into a one-dimensional self-serving act, 50 shades does the exact same thing. It fixates on the physical components of sexual connection, while completely neglecting the emotional, psychological, and spiritual connections involved in the truest form of sexual intimacy. Sex is so much more than physical. If we could only learn to view sex in every dimension, then maybe we would learn to savor it, respect it, cherish it and honor it rather than frivolously giving it away.
5. It OBJECTIFIES women (and men) instead of EMPOWERING them.
After getting a closer look at this novel, I was surprised to find so many woman singing it’s praises. 50 Shades is the sad story of a man who was objectified through past sexual abuse, objectifying woman after woman along the way. The only truth I find in this whole predicament is the reality that: “Hurt people, hurt people”. It’s a story of hurt,and brokenness, and wounds finding their outlet in the form of dysfunctional sexual expression. And if that’s the kind of thing that turns you on- you might need to take a step back and do some soul-searching. It encourages both men and women to fall into the trap that our bodies hold the solution, and that sex can somehow hold the answer.
I revolt against this mentality with all my heart, because I know full well that the answer is not – and can never be- found in sex, in romance, or in relationships of any form- because the Answer is found in nothing short of Love.
If there’s anything I take away from the 50 Shades epidemic it’s this: Our cultural obsession with sex is telling. It’s telling, because SEX is just a symptom of something far greater. Ultimately, it’s a symptom that we are DESPERATE for connection. We’re desperate for relationship, desperate for love, and oh so desperate to be wanted. And while the TRASH of this world may offer some temporary relief, it will never leave us feeling fulfilled, whole, and satisfied. Because it doesn’t have the power to.
I am thankful for a God who has provided the answers to fulfill my deepest needs, heal my deepest wounds, and satisfy my greatest longings. I am thankful for a God who offers to fill us with His living water, and fill us to overflowing.
Because it is only when we are truly filled, that we can learn the art of filling others…and in marriage, it’s that kind of love that will make for some really incredible sex.
If you agree, share this article! Let’s make some noise.
Update 2/11/15: For more on the harms of 50 Shades of Grey, check out the advocacy work being done by the National Center for Sexual Exploitation.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
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