Fifty Shades of Shadow

I want to start with a couple of disclaimers.  First, I have not read “Fifty Shades of Grey” and I usually do not comment on books I have not read.  Second, this topic ranges into an area that pastors do not typically write about.  Nevertheless, whenever something becomes a cultural phenomenon in our society, I believe the church should speak out about it and not look the other way.  This book (really books, it is a trilogy) is not only number one on the NY Times best sellers list, the books are prominent in any bookstore you go into today.  I also believe that without reading it though, I have a fair idea of what is in “Fifty Shades of Grey” after reading many reviews and reports on the books.

I do not believe the books are healthy fantasy, for women or for men.  This has nothing to do with the fact that they are about the intimate details of a couple’s physical life.  It has to do with the fact that a key factor in the “romance” is that the protagonist becomes submissive and her very rich love interest is dominant.  In other words these books have brought bondage and even inflicting pain upon your partner in an adult physical relationship into the mainstream of pop culture.   I am sure for most of the readers, this is simply an exercise in fantasy.  But Jesus tells us that what we imagine has a reality in and of itself as he teaches us.  And I also have little doubt that we will see a spike in such behavior being acted out as people seek to make the fantasy real.

I simply want to say that this is not what God made women and men for.  Intentionally containing someone and inflicting pain upon them is the inverse of what real love is all about.  God means for the physical relationship between men and women to be freeing, to draw one closer, and to have a partner like no other that will enhance you.  I see none of that in anything I read about these books.  Trusting that someone will not permanently hurt you when they are inflicting pain upon you is not what God means about being able to trust someone.  God means for us to be equals, to be partners, and to be friends.

Again, Christians need not be prudes.  We shouldn’t turn pale when people want to learn about, read about, or even fantasize about physical relationships.  But we also need to remember that God really creates us to be monogamous and the physical relationships we offer are one of the most special things we ever have to offer about ourselves.  We should only offer such as a sign of ultimate commitment to another and that person should be showing us the love we were made for.  Such relationships are special and meant to draw us closer to one another and to God.  This is not an easy sell in our society where lust and promiscuity are so prevalent.

It is just that everything I read about these books seems unhealthy and truly going in the opposite direction from what two people’s intimate relationships should be about.

I am sure my blog won’t put a dent in the mammoth sales of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  Indeed, I readily recognize that for some people, if you tell them not to read something, it makes them want to read it all the more.

At the same time, as a minister of Word and Sacrament, I feel a duty to speak up sometimes.  And so I do here.

What do you think?

Until next time,

Tom

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5 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Shadow

  1. I have read the trilogy and need to say, what you have read about them is a bit faulty. So here is my spoiler: she does not become his submissive. She gives it a try and says no. They are monogamous and it’s through her love of him (and his reciprocal love of her) that he breaks free of his need of dominance. I like how their love story evolves, which is what I think captivates most women reading it. It’s the ultimate fantasy for a woman: only her love will save him. That all being said; yes, it is salacious. There is some pretty kinky stuff. And no, I don’t think it will cause a huge flood of people to bday, what it’s mostly doing is igniting/reigniting couples sex lives. Which all in all, isn’t too bad 😉

    1. Monica, you are the first person who I’ve talked to who has read it. I suspect I know many people who have considering how many copies are selling. My Newsweek came in the other day with a woman blindfolded on it. Time, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc have all emphasized the BDSM aspect of the relationship. That is what I am taking issue with. If that is not where the story ends, I am glad. I simply hope that that does not become a part of what people think they need in physical relationships. God did not make us to be degraded or to degrade another.

      All that said, I also think God makes us to have active sex lives with our partners. And that isn’t bad at all. 🙂

      Thanks for writing,

      Tom

    2. P.S. But this is why one treads into dangerous waters when one comments on anything not actually read. I sure do not put it beyond mainstream media to mis-characterize any work in order to pump up readership. So, consider my comments focused on what they are focusing on even if that is not the main focus of the actual trilogy.

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