As I write this article we are just a few days away from the American holiday of Valentine’s Day. This is the day our culture will celebrate in one way or another romantic love, real and imagined. Dinner reservations will be made, romantic cards will be bought, roses will be sent and hopefully everyone will be happy.
We are just a few days more away from the beginning of Lent, the 50 day period that the Christian world has set aside to focus on the greatest act of love ever known. This period of time culminates with the remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for you and I. This one selfless, sacrificial act is the true measure of love for us. In that vein, 1 John 4:10 explains, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
We are also just one day away from release of the movie that is highly anticipated by many, “50 Shades of Grey”. The movie, which opens on Valentine’s Day Weekend, is based on the New York Times Bestseller three book series, “50 Shades of Grey” by female author E. L. James. These books have made millions of dollars. Presales for the movie are setting records. The books and movie have been strategically marketed to women and I am sure the movie will have a great, perhaps record breaking, weekend at the box office.
As I write this I am greatly concerned for the women in our lives and the women in our culture. Mainstream movies with strong pornographic elements have been marketed to men for some time. The effects of these movies on men have been quite disturbing. The unrealistic expectations stimulated by the fantasy provided on the screen have created appetites in men which no woman can realistically satisfy. Beyond that, there is very little authentic love in the aforementioned movies. They aren’t about giving of ones’ self unconditionally and sacrificially, but rather they are about “you are here to please me as an object of my desire.” In other words, they are about lust and unbridled lust at that.
“50 Shades of Grey” in both its book and movie renditions is marketed as “porn for women”. Through the genre of Bondage, Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) in the sexual arena there is a promise of some sort of fulfillment for a woman. That promise is a lie. Allowing oneself to be dominated, whipped and raped is neither fulfilling nor smart. It is, in fact, dangerous and twisted. It is not a healthy expression of sexuality it is an unhealthy expression of base lust that if left unchecked leads to emotional pain and devastation.
My concern for the women in our lives and in our culture is twofold. I am concerned that first of all, they will believe the lie that this kind of sex — this kind of perverted lust — will bring them the sort of fulfillment that they have been longing for. This kind of expression of love is a pseudo replacement for the real thing. My second concern is that they may very well feel great pressure from the men in their lives to participate in this risky behavior in order to please or keep them.
I can already hear someone, somewhere saying right now that “No self- respecting woman would allow herself to be put into a situation where she did anything she was uncomfortable with.” I mostly agree. They shouldn’t and perhaps they wouldn’t. The difficulty we have is that there are a lot of women; I mean a lot of women, especially young women, who don’t respect themselves for a variety of reasons. They are dating immature, selfish boys dressed as men. How does this movie affect these relationships? What kind of position do the expectations of our culture put on these women? The answers to these questions are not good.
In addition to single women, we have married women whose sex lives are unfulfilling. They may be married to men who feel the same way. Is BDSM really the direction we would like people to go to find fulfillment sexually or otherwise? I am sure it is not. BDSM is not an expression of authentic love but of untethered lust. It’s not healthy. It never has been and it never will be. Let’s get a grip here.
Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as he tells us the standard for genuine love from God’s perspective. He states: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
The type of love described by Paul is what we need to cultivate in our relationships. It will result in satisfaction in life as well as in the bedroom. When two people in the Covenant of Marriage seek to live out this kind love they can experience fulfillment on a level that is all it was ever intended to be.
So, here’s my advice to followers of Christ as well as to anyone else who will listen:
Young women, my young sisters in Christ, don’t see this movie or read the books. The images on the page and on the screen are not healthy for you. They make promises that they can’t keep.
Mature women, my sisters in Christ, set the right example for those younger women who look up to you. Take a stand. Be your sister’s keeper. Don’t see this movie or read the books. Inform yourself about this topic and share that information with the individuals that this movie seeks to prey upon.
Older women, my mothers in the faith, please pray. These are difficult times for your daughters in the Lord. They need your intercession.
For men, young, old, and older, avoid the movie and the books like the plague. You don’t need these images in your head. Remember what the Bible teaches regarding how you are to treat and view women other than your spouse (1Timothy 5:1-2).
For all of us, let us daily cultivate authentic love from a pure heart, a good conscience and an authentic faith (1Timothy 1:5).
If you just must see a movie this weekend, go and see “Old Fashioned,” a movie about true love and romance – http://www.oldfashionedmovie.com/.
Listed below are other helpful resources about “50 Shades of Grey” :
Pastor Dave Watson