Fifty Shades of No Way

The movie version of runaway best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey will soon hit the big screen. The movie, like the book, treads where only fallen angels dare to go: themes of sexual bondage, domination, and sado-masochism (BDSM). The Fifty Shades book series sold over 100 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 52 languages. The writing is generally considered marginal to poor, so there must be some other draw.

I wonder what that might be.

I have not read the books, I will not see the movie, and I urge you to spend your entertainment dollars elsewhere. This is not about picketing, boycotting, or trampling freedom of expression.

It’s about protecting your own soul from harm.

By playing fast and loose with sexuality, our culture has trapped itself in a bondage it never saw coming: a weakened ability to form lasting bonds of affection.

God designed you for bonding — to form emotional/spiritual attachments that bring a sense of love, acceptance, knowing, camaraderie, and support into your life. Dogs are world-champion bonders. They bond through touch, play, sight, sound, proximity, smell. What self-respecting canine wouldn’t jump at the chance to sleep on his best-friend’s dirty socks? Every time you walk in the door, there’s your mutt, beside himself with joy, renewing the bond, and ensuring your friendship stays tight.

Anyone who’s lost a dog knows the pain of that broken bond.

Bonds that form slowly go deepest. The Bible says, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection [spiritual maturity]” (Colossians 3:14, NKJV). This well-bonded love comes last. It’s the capstone of all other virtues. A mature bond forms last, at the end of a long process, and it holds the tightest. Those old married couples who still hold hands show the power of a lifetime bond. They’ve been through everything. They’ve argued their arguments. They’ve fought over money and kids and open toilet seats. Their bond has prevailed, for better or worse. To see a well-bonded couple like this is to see humanity’s finest hour. The bond has aged to ripe perfection. Slowly. Over time.

I am a grace-guy. I’m all for personal liberty under the wide open skies of amazing grace. I’m a do-what-you-want, follow your heart, walk with God and be free kind of guy. I continually fight my urge to judge others. So I’m not writing to judge or damn anybody here. I’m writing to encourage you — and the people I pastor — to deeper dimensions of grace, especially in this arena of sexual bonding.

Movies and books like Fifty Shades of Grey will not only damage your bond, they will damage your ABILITY to bond.

Every time you make and then break a bond, it’s harder to bond the next time. Like repeatedly attaching, and then ripping off, a bandage, sooner or later, the thing stops sticking. The trauma of repeatedly tearing apart bonds can result in attachment disorders, isolation, intimacy problems, and all kinds of heart-breaking patterns. You cross legitimate boundaries, feel the pain of it, excuse yourself, and ultimately become numb to it. You need ever-increasing stimulation for ever-diminishing returns. It takes more effort to achieve less satisfaction. Once you tear down the boundaries that protect your bond, you become vulnerable. You open yourself to wounds. You invite pain.

Protect your heart.

Protect your spouse’s heart. If you’re single, protect your own heart, and that of the person you or the other might someday marry.

You’ve been given this precious machinery of bonding. You possess this miraculous engine of attachment. Don’t break it. Don’t numb it.

The acts related to physical intimacy produce life’s fastest bonds. In God’s design, you bond mentally and emotionally first, then get to the chapel and get married, and then consummate your bond physically.

Why that order? Because God loves you too much to let you run down paths that will break your heart. Physical bonding works best in an atmosphere of exclusivity and lifetime commitment. Anything else leads to needless drama and lots of tears.

Fifty Shades of Grey is porn. Plus, it associates pain with pleasure — so it’s a double whammy. It will introduce images into your mind you won’t be able to erase. It will stimulate desires your spouse may not be interested in. It will cause comparisons that will only make you and your spouse feel inferior. It will judge you and your “lame” sex life as bland. It will damage your bond. It will damage your ability to maintain your bond. It will throw a wrench into that finely tuned engine of bonding that is the human spirit. It will bring other people into your marital bed through images you’ll find hard to erase. It will dilute your exclusive bond with your spouse — or, to use another word — it will adulterate your bond. To adulterate wine is to water it down. To adulterate a marital bond is to water it down by bringing in any other partner, even in the imagination (Matthew 5:28).

Strong bonds require focus. Ask your dog.

The more partners you have — whether physically or mentally — the harder it’s going to be to erase the others and focus on “the one.”

Broken bonds haunt you.

Even imaginary ones. Some things just can’t be unseen, even with God’s grace. To see this movie, or to read this book, is to turn your back to grace. You lose.

Can there be healing? Yes. Without doubt. Can there be forgiveness, restoration, and rehab? Yes. God’s grace is never out of reach. God’s redemptive grace goes clear down to your sexuality (John 8:11). But the emotional pain of distorted sexuality is still pain. Why choose it on purpose?

Grace provides supernatural power to resist temptation. Calvary-Love offers you a better way of life. Grace offers a satisfaction the world’s counterfeits can’t touch.

I think the question Christians need to ask themselves is simple: Is the grace of God enough? Can I find happiness and love and all that my heart cries out for by laying hold of God’s grace or not? Scripture paints a beautiful picture of a husband and wife as, “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). Heirs together — like millionaires without a care in the world. The grace of life — the most satisfying life with the most wonderful person you can imagine, as a by-product of God’s amazing grace.

Fifty Shades of Grey will deface that picture with a bucket of pain disguised as guilty pleasure.

Go out to a fancy dinner instead, order a nice wine, and actually talk about things you both care about.

Or just take the dog for a nice, long walk.

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14 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of No Way

  1. Pastor Bill, thank you for these words today! I shared on my FB page that it is our 10 year anniversary today and that we WILL follow your advice today and for the years to come!! I have said since these books came out, that they were just wrong for women to read! You said it all just right! We WILL go to a fancy dinner, order a nice wine and talk about the things we care about. And just maybe take the dogs for a walk!!

  2. Wise words. The book and the movie are very common topics at my workplace – an office full of women of all ages. When I spoke out saying I wasn’t going to see it (not in a a mean or judgmental way – just, “thanks for inviting me, but that one’s not on my list,” one of my coworkers said it was a great love story. Indeed, it’s “every woman’s greatest fantasy.” I haven’t read the book – okay, I read the first chapter when it first came out, then put it down because I knew it was something I didn’t want to read, but I can’t help hearing about the plot and themes. I can say unequivocally that BDSM is not my greatest fantasy, and if that puts me in a minority, I’m glad to be there.

    • I love your spirit and your approach. Part of our difficulty as Christians is that our culture does not see as we see. There’s no problem with this stuff. Glad you’re speaking the truth in love.

  3. Thank you for this post, Bill. I won’t share all the reasons why I appreciate seeing a man stand up for the importance of guarding our hearts, minds, and marriages, just that I hope your words reach many who need to read them.

  4. Amen. Not a book or movie I am remotely interested in and my heart breaks for those who have been caught up in the lie that this “romance” is at all healthy. I can’t stop people from reading or seeing this movie, but they also can’t stop me from praying for a hedge of protection around their hearts and relationships. The only thing I can offer them is the perfect love of Jesus, so His love is what they will get.

    – Heather

  5. I haven’t read the books and although I’m the ONLY one in my book club (made up of women from my church, no less) who hasn’t read them, I’m holding to my convictions. Nothing in those books appeals to me, least of all the “love” story. That’s no love story. If it is, it’s no wonder so many marriages are failing. Love this post, Bill. I’ll definitely spend my money elsewhere. What about the other movie opening that weekend– “Old Fashioned?” Looks like a fun alternative to the smut of FSoG.

    • It grieves me to hear you’re the only one in your book club who hasn’t read them. Thanks for standing in a place of wholeness, and doing so with compassion and grace.

  6. thank you, thank you, thank you! I truly appreciate your words. Being a single (divorced) woman in my late forties, I get a lot of flack for believing God’s truth about commitment and bonding, and for appreciating relationship depth over sexual release. I have even been challenged by a pastor that what I thought should be saved was not realistic (he believed we couldn’t be expected to toe the line…and everything “but” becoming “one” physically was reasonable)…Holy Spirit is powerful and can fill us where we are desiring filling ~ keeping us connected through other means. I refuse to read Fifty Shades and I refuse to indulge myself in dating relationships just because I am lonely and wanting physical intimacy…I turn down more than I agree to because so many feel sexuality is a gift to be shared at any time…and I am just “uptight.” Even my family, who are all Christian as well, feel I am “overboard” with my beliefs and the women have read Fifty Shades and think I am ridiculous and that the book is “fine.” I am so grateful for your candid sharing of truth. I have shared on facebook as well. Bless you, Pastor.

  7. I wish every Christian, every pastor and every church would take this stand. Call it what it is and run. Thank you for being bold, bringing light and sharing true love.

  8. Thank you Bill, for exercising your clarity of vision to highlight the Truth..If we are not careful, the shades of Grey will become the novocaine of our lives.

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