According to Wikipedia: “Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic romance novel by British author E. L. James. It is the first installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM)”.
Like many of my blog postings, I have little idea what the next one will be and more often than not something arises that sparks a train of thought that puts fire in my belly such that I feel compelled to write. Yesterday, I was going through recent broadcasts of Focus on the Family, as I have done on several occasions in recent years. While I tend to skip broadcasts along the lines of how to be a better husband and dad (which no doubt I need) I am often struck by important topics that I don’t otherwise get to hear about, particular where it bears upon modern culture and we how we might respond.
One of the programs was a discussion led by two lady Christian psychologists on the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon (here and here), who pointed out, what Wikipedia confirmed: “the series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages, and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time”. More disturbingly, the trilogy of books amounts to hard core pornography and is read particularly by women, including Christian women whose faith would be otherwise deemed to be of the serious kind. They discussed reasons for this, including for many how the romantic spark in their relationships had nigh gone and they were searching for excitement, albeit in the wrong areas.
I can recall, maybe a couple of years ago, when the book first came out it was a topic of conversation among many (especially women). I even got to start reading the first book but gave up after one or two chapters – before the pornographic bits, as much out of bored irritation as anything else. The specific reasons for doing so were: firstly I had read enough to make me realize, pornography aside, that this was not my kind of book and secondly, and regarding pornography, it is an issue I have struggled with in the past and as with any addiction the best way to combat it is not to fuel it.
The broadcasts made me think again of something that is deeply troubling society, including among Christians, and it is to do with experiencing fulfillment and finding reality. Not doing so manifests itself in, among other things, the breakdown of marriages, even though it is God’s purpose that marriages be healthy and strong and intimate, and the building block for society. God’s gift is abundant life to all who will receive it. Sadly, books like Fifty Shades of Grey take us away from all of this into an unwholesome fantasy world.
Listening to all this, challenged me to be a good husband and the man of God He wants me to be. I am also spurred to continue my writing my commentary on the Song of Solomon, with its twin themes of “fired up” and “pure intimacy”, which is as far as the east is from the west when it comes to the Fifty Shades of Grey.
Postscript: After posting, a friend shared a link: “How 50 Shades of Grey saved my marriage“. Having read it, I can quite accept there is an alternative perspective and while I have no intention to read the trilogy myself for the reasons stated, I can see why some may think I should. But this does not let us off the hook, for we have been told that: “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” Philippians 4:8, which will have all sorts of benefits just as not doing these things will cause harm. It is evident that while Fifty Shades of Grey may provide a wake up call to work on our relationships, it goes against this exhortation and reading the book will likely, in my opinion, prove to be on the whole harmful, simply because the book’s themes of abuse, violence and grooming a young girl for sadistic sex are simply wrong.