I have not read the book and will not view the movie, but I don’t live in a cave. So I am aware of the basic content of Fifty Shades of Grey. And it is precisely for this reason that I will not expose myself to it. Yes, I know: “legalist,” “Pharisee,” “prude,” “judgemental”! But with that disclaimer, let me continue.
Christian liberty is a wonderful truth rediscovered by the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Believers are free to make choices in accordance with their consciences being captured by the Word of God. The apostle Paul said, with reference to food, drink and religious ceremonies, “All things are lawful for me” (1 Corinthians 10:23). That would apply to books and movies as well. But Paul did not end the sentence there. He went on to say, “But not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” There comes a point when the exercise of so-called “liberty” crosses the line into sin. To be entertained by a book or film that glorifies sexual perversion would fall into the latter category.
I don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that I have a headache, and it does not take a skilled literary or film critic to know what is fit for human entertainment and what is not. This is particularly the case for a Christian. The Holy Spirit is grieved when those He indwells are entertained by that which is an affront to God’s holiness. Clearly, Fifty Shades mocks the holiness of God.
Christian Grey is the central character in the story, and I don’t think this name is inconsequential. His first name suggests a perhaps not-so-subtle affront to God’s standard; yes, His Christ-endorsed and exemplified standard—and therefore the Christian standard—of human sexuality.
Further, there would seem to be the implication that the perverse behaviour that characterises the protagonist is not actually either black or white; it is rather “grey.” Of course, when you shine the light of God’s Word on it, there is nothing grey about it. In spite of the “sophisticated” media elite referring to it as “mommy porn,” it is in fact as dark as sin can be. And that applies to both the book and to the film.
The Internet is filled with some great biblical and righteous responses to this book and movie. I am not trying to compete with the “big boys.” But I am burdened to write and to get this off of my chest, in the hope that it might help any who are tempted to either read or watch it. Spend your money, and your time, elsewhere.
I suspect that most who read this will say, “Of course!” But not everyone is as wise.
A famous American athlete (gridiron player), who loudly proclaims that he is a Christian, has recently come under fire (and rightly so) for endorsing the film. Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks recently tweeted, “Thanks for the early showing of #50ShadesOfGrey late last night. Great movie.”
There has been a lot of research lately about the effects of concussions upon those playing gridiron. Is this a case in point? For the life of me, I don’t know how a Christian in his or her right mind could endorse such a film.
In response to the justifiable backlash from his fellow Christians, Wilson offered his self-defence. He tweeted, “Saw a movie filmed in the town I call home. Provocative/disturbing no doubt but that does not make me less faithful. Have a blessed day!” Well, with all due respect, the pronouncement of a mild form of the Aaronic blessing should not shame into silence his concerned critics.
One reporter said that the football star “wants everyone to chill and realize it was just a movie.” The argument seems to be that, since it is a piece of fiction, we should just relax and withhold criticisms. But whether fictional or historical (and one suspects that the story is rooted in someone’s history) pornography (whether portrayed in words or film) remains pornography regardless. And Christians are to have nothing to do with it.
This is clearly mandated throughout, Scripture but perhaps no more clearly than in Ephesians 5:8–17:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship [read: partnership] with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret…. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
That is so clear that little, if any, explanation is even needed. Apply the highlighted portions to your entertainment decision concerning Fifty Shades and you will be spending your money and your time elsewhere. In other words, be careful to “redeem the time” in these “evil” days by exchanging your money and your time only for that which is of the greatest value. Or, in the words of Paul quoted earlier, exchange it for that which is “helpful” and will “edify.”
One of Wilson’s teammates defended him in a tweet: “People upset w/our [teammate] for going to 50 Shades of Grey: your head would explode if u saw the rest of the team’s Internet browser histories.” And your point is?
All moral filth is to be shunned, whether book, bioscope or browser. No Christian can justify setting such wickedness before their eyes (Psalm 101:3). If we are not to even speak of such things, then how can we justify watching (or reading) it? To do so is to be guilty of having “fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.”
My appeal is that Christians exercise a Christ-centred, and therefore what is most usually a countercultural, choice when it comes to entertainment. We must behave “circumspectly,” not just with reference to this film (or book), but rather with reference to any and all forms of entertainment. Someone who truly “understand[s] what the will of the Lord is” will have little difficulty discerning what is white or even grey from what is clearly deep darkness. Despite the attempt to fob off the criticisms, it is not possible to “have a blessed day” while being entertained by what is under God’s condemnation.
At the end of the day, Fifty Shades of Grey is actually “Filthy Shades of Darkness.” Christians are to have no fellowship with it.