Will You See Mr. Grey? (2 Reasons You Might, But Shouldn’t)

Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-1-Office-Window“Mr. Grey will see you now,” touts the posters and trailers leading up to what promises to be a block buster movie. I probably don’t need to tell you the name (unless you’ve been living under a rock).

Maybe you’ve already decided you will not see it. But maybe you stopped by my blog post today because you are wondering. Let me tell you how I made my decision.

I was introduced to this conversation by my husband. (Relax. It’s not like that!) He’d been hearing about it in the media buzz. One night he couldn’t take it anymore, and the conversation we had changed the way I responded to this whole tidal wave of erotica.

“You’ve got to blog about this book,” Bob said incredulously. He plopped a laptop in front of me and pushed play. A Saturday Night Live commercial spoof for amazon.com began. It was advertising a book I’d never heard of before: Fifty Shades of Grey.

A woman was reading the book in a bathtub and masturbating, when her husband and son walked in on her. She hollered and acted ashamed. Another woman was reading the book while she used her clothes washer as a vibrator, when her husband walked in on her. She hollered and acted ashamed. Another woman was reading the book and using a vibrator in bed, when her husband and kids came in with breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. She hollered and acted ashamed.

I pushed the computer away and told my husband matter-of-factly, “Oh, honey, I’m not going to write about that. I don’t think Christian women will be attracted to it.”

The next day my mom told me a friend of hers had read it.

The next week a friend of mine told me her seventy-year-old mother had her name on a very long list at the library to get it.

Shortly after that I was speaking at a conference when Priscilla Shirer came up to me and Dr Juli Slattery and asked me what we were going to do about it because everywhere she turned women were reading it.

The conversation had begun and it seemed everywhere I turned, a friend, family member, or acquaintance was either reading the books or asking if they should. Some of them specifically mentioned that they were excited that people were finally talking about topics like…spanking.

Christian women. All of them. 100 million women have read Fifty Shades of Grey. Barna research reports no statistical difference in the percentage of Christian vs non-Christian women who have read it.

Based on what I’d already seen and heard, I chose not to read the book. I would have been happy to have left it at that. Recently, I urged an editor of a prominent women’s theology blog to write about the movie release. She told me that she didn’t want to add to the hype or give marketing attention to it. I so wish I had the luxury of such complacency. I do not.

And I don’t think you do either.

Our Christian sisters are starving.

There are two existing hungers that may send you to the box office to buy tickets to see Mr. Grey. But they’re also the very reasons you shouldn’t go.

Women Are Starved For Real Romance

Have you ever shopped for groceries when you are hungry? I have a really hard time staying in the produce aisle. The lemon poppy seed scones call to me, practically force me to buy them, and I am devouring them before I leave the parking lot. You shouldn’t grocery shop when you are starving.

God created us to be romantic, sexual beings but our culture is starving us. Women who are hungry for real romance will eat anything.

In a culture that constantly celebrates women’s independence and freedom, a movie about bondage is breaking Fandango ticket pre-sales. Words like “submission,” “master,” and “obedience” are not only acceptable, but sexy. This seems to have come out of left field. But it hasn’t really. The mantra that “you don’t need a man” has created a culture of strong women and weak men.

Now we secretly yearn for the very thing our independence has destroyed—strong, confident men. But since when did Prince Charming carry handcuffs?

The fact is….Christian women are hungry for what God created them to experience in romantic relationships. God created us to be strong, yes! But does that strength have to be at the expense of men as our emasculating culture claims? I don’t think so. I like my man strong and safe. Most women do. But today men have been made weak. That’s why we’re reading erotica. We’re starved for strong men and some women will devour sick counterfeits of strength because their souls are emaciated by the emasculation. The problem isn’t erotica, it’s the hunger.

So starved are women that while they carry signs to picket sex trafficking and violence against women, they pack their Kindles with erotica that glorifies bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. Can you say double minded? And make no mistake, this will lead to more violence against women. A recent Michigan State University survey found that young women who had read Fifty Shades of Grey were more likely to be in abusive relationships.

There’s nothing grey about it.

Violence against women is a black and white issue.

The romance you’re hungry for requires a strong man, but not one with whips and chains. So pass up Christian Grey and find a man who is so strong that he’d  have the guts to lay his life down for you.

Women Are Starved For Intimacy

If I hear one more Christian woman defend her choice to read Fifty Shades of Grey based on the fact that it “awakened her sexual desire” I promise you will hear me scream! The road to great sex is not physical and/or mental titillation.

Evil’s primary attack on sexuality is to simplify it—to separate the physical act of sex from human love and divine design. Every time sex is abused or distorted as it is in erotica, the physical act is split off from the relational and spiritual elements of sex. Erotica is aimed at awakening your physical sexual desire without any connection to emotional, relational, or spiritual reality.

God designed sex as a powerful symbol and celebration of covenant love. It is a physical and emotional expression of the deepest commitment two people can make to each other. The Hebrew word for sexual intimacy, yada, means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.” It is a word that transcended the physical act to speak of a deep emotional connection. The same word God ordained to describe the emotional and physical intimacy we can have with one man is also the word he uses to describe the connection of intimacy and satisfaction we can have with him. In a beautiful expression of His desire to know us, God inspired that this same word be used in the Scriptures to express a deep knowing and longing for God. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know (yada) me” (Psalm 139:1).

The word yada is so deeply rooted in the emotional and spiritual intimacy that it is impossible to withdraw those elements and still have an authentic sexual experience. A physical exchange of body fluids maybe, but not sexual intimacy.

A University of Illinois study considered to be one of the most credible surveys of American sexual behavior found that those reporting the most satisfying and more frequent sex were middle-aged people in mutually life-time monogamous partnerships, and that the hottest sex was reported by “religiously active women.” These are women who run from impurity and race to live lives of holiness. And they are sexually satisfied in ways others are not.

This isn’t really a statement of sexual satisfaction, but of emotional and spiritual intimacy. Intimacy with both God and humanity. That’s what your soul is hungry for. Don’t settle for the counterfeit of erotica that limits the act of sex to something merely physical, do the hard work of seeking out the authentic intimacy that your soul truly hungers to taste.

Will I see Mr. Grey?

I treasure the true gift of sex far too much to settle for such a cheap counterfeit.

_____

For more on this topic, visit pullingbacktheshades.com, the landing page of a book called Pulling Back The Shades which I co-wrote with Dr. Juli Slattery to help women discover what they’re truly longing for when they reach for erotica.

 

 

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30 Comments

  • “Don’t settle for the counterfeit of erotica that limits the act of sex to something merely physical, do the hard work of seeking out the authentic intimacy that your soul truly hungers to taste.”

    You wouldn’t know, but 50 Shades of Grey does not limit the act of sex to something merely physical. It’s actually a story about how love can help a man who is obsessed with only the physical grow into someone who can actually love and develop an emotional and intellectual connection. But again, you wouldn’t know. Oh wait, actually you must know. After all, you’re the content expert who knows all about what the book is or isn’t romanticizing, despite the fact that you haven’t read it. You know all about how the book is “evil” and is attempting to “to separate the physical act of sex from human love and divine design”, when in fact the story is about a man who goes from needing sex and power, to being willing to give up that power for love. But again, you’re the expert.

    • I understand why you would be concerned that I didn’t read it. That is why I partnered with a Doctor of Psychology who DID read the book. My opinions are informed. And yes, they do call me an expert. You are correct, Bran. Someone has to be I guess! I do love my job and studying sexuality and helping people find fulfillment. It is very rewarding.

    • Hey Bran, just wanted to weigh in on what you said. Firstly I have read fifty shades okay not all three books but parts and all most all of the first one, and if I’m honest it did nothing bubut hurt me. You say it’s a love story okay I get were your coming from, but what is love? Yes, Christian (weird name choice) has been abused and moves past it all with An as help, which on the surface appear beautiful, but how did they get there? Is their relationship really love? On this point I turn to the Bible, love is: patience, kind, does not insist on its own way, does not envy, does not rejoice in wrong doing. It seems to me having read the book that Christian and AnA’s “love” violates all of those things as it is clear they are both supposed to love.each other while their still in that abusive rlatioship. But she leavwe “like a strong woman” and he agrees to change because he “loves her”. This is harmful for so many reason, firstly our minds and yes our hears have taken us to some pretty nasty places to get to the “romance”, stuff which is clear contrary to Scriptural instruction. Our hears and our minds are supposed to be pure, I would have a hard time believe that anyone would be comfortable reading fifty shades with Jesus sitting across from Them. second it imply that out of a relationship like this something beautiful can be found, this is such a destructive lie. This is how many women end up in abusive relationships and this books is raising a whole.generation.of women to see that as sexy and romantic. Finally, Christian and Ana say things like “where have you been all my life, and I can’t leave you alone, which initiatial sounds sexy but when you think it through this is not the language of love . If Christian loved Ana than the moment he realized that he would have stopped what he was doing he doesn’t, showing that contrary to what the story portrays he is a weak man picking his wlown desires, whether that be his love or sex, over Ana’s good. Ana allow Christian to do all these things to her, thereby feediby the pattern to his behaviour, why does she stay? It’s clear she’s in love with him, and she only leaves when she believes she can’t fit into the mold of what he wants. WhIle 8 would commend her for leaving the bases of her actions are her own desires, and she turns.once being assured he loves her and things will change, all these actions are of a weak not a strong woman who rates the desires.of her heart above the value if anothere soul or being. Bit it’s just a book right? Right, but books are powerful. Uncle Tom’s Cabin fed the fire offabolition, To Kill a Monkingbird highlight the harm of racism, both of these are positive examples if the power.of a book, and Mien Kampf, on the negative side served as the manifesto for some of the most disgusting crimes in history. Books are powerful, they shape are minds, they shape our actions. Having read Fifty Shades of Gray I can tell you it is not selling like hot cakes because it is great literature, no offense to E.L.James but even fans of the book admit that the writing isn’t that great, and it is not selling because it is a love story, there are dozens of better written more interesting love story that never sold so well, let’s be honest its selling because of the gratuitous, over the top, steamy hot sex, that oh yes is wrapped up in a love story so that it connects emotional and is more “tasteful”. Youay think I’m judging you for reading it, I’m not, I get why it’s appealing, but that doesn’t make it helpful, healthy or holy. No I’m not an expert,maybe that’s why I felt like I had to give my opinion I’m just a person, who is frankly ashamed that I ever allowed myself to read fifty shades, and surprisingly it’s not because of what Dannah or dozens ofter godly women like her have said it’s because I helped feed the fire of something destructive, and I’ve hurt the heart of my Saviour, treating His sacrifice as less important, this breaks my heart that is why sharing this, and I truly believe that’s what motivates Dannahs heart as well, not condemnation but the call to something so much better to wholeness rather than a broken selfish kind of love, marred by sinful desires, motivations and thoughts.

      • Wow CJ. What an honest, transparent, and loving post. You have set people free tonight with your kind and humble post. I pray continued healing and blessing and ministry authority in your heart.

      • CJ…an update…my staff prayed for you by name this morning in our Wednesday morning prayer time. We believe there is great healing for you.

        • Hey Dannah, thank you for your words of sisterly love. It brought tears to my eyes to hear that you and your staff prayed for me. I’m so grateful. I hope you are right and that God might used my mistakes to help others. God bless you. (I do apologize.for all the typos, its hard see what your writing on a mobile.)

    • Hi Bran,

      I just wanted to say that some of us are not willing to read this stuff because we are guarding our hearts and minds against impure thoughts. An unpopular concept, but nonetheless, biblical. The apostle Paul was clear when he said that all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. I just don’t see why reading this stuff is beneficial or necessary. It’s fiction and sexual in nature. The Bible is so clear about fleeing lust. Reading about the sexual experiences of others can cause lustful thoughts which can then lead to impure actions. Thank God there are still some Christian women like Dannah who are bold enough to stand against the tide.

  • “If I hear one more Christian woman defend her choice to read Fifty Shades of Grey based on the fact that it “awakened her sexual desire” I promise you will hear me scream! The road to great sex is not physical and/or mental titillation”

    Hmmm, so not only are you an expert on all the evils of a book you’ve never read, but also you know know more about how these other women can experience great sex than they do.

    • I think they call that hyperbole, Bran. Hopefully most took it that way. I actually am an expert in the field of sexuality and sexual theology. So you have pegged me! 🙂

  • This is so good, Dannah! Thank you for sharing “truth.” I think we as women so often forget that as we are crying out for our daughters (and sons to remain pure), our Heavenly Father is crying out for “women” to be pure. BE the change we wish to see in the world! How can we possibly raise a generation of pure girls if we, women in the church, compromise? Praying many read this post, friend.

  • I am so glad your speaking up about this.

    I am a Christian women who was at a hard place in my marriage when a friend sent me email copies of the books. I read two and it was horrible. It awoke in me a fantasy world that I had once had and given up. I was molested as a child, rapped as a young teen and made to watch porn; I then became very sexually active as a teen. These books excited me sexually because my marriage intimacy was dead and I began to self please but then felt horrible. I didn’t care to work on my marriage because I just wanted to read the books to get my sexual fulfilment and then I stopped reading them because my life was spiralling out of control. Wanting my husband to be that way with me. Thinking about other men. I ended up deleting the emails and never attempted to read the books again. The books are more than erotic they are porn (poison). They can ruin a marriage, I am so thankful that God has delivered me from self pleasing and wanting that false satisfaction. Because I never felt fulfilled. I still felt empty and still longed for intimacy in my relationship. I got away from that and am thankful my husband didn’t leave me over it. But I know it could havr opened a door that I wouldn’t have wanted open and my
    marriage and family could have suffered worse

    I am more fulfilled growing in Jesus, which has helped my marriage relationship grow,

  • Its interesting that you all seem to boycott something that in reality you have no chance of stopping. Christians have ruined millions of woman’s sexuality buy telling them that masturbation is bad, sex outside of marriage is bad being aroused by anything not registered by the church is bad your all brainwashing people. How about let them think for themselves how about let them enjoy there own bodies there own minds and be the unique individuals that your apparent God made. You think that by saying this movie is bad that you will remove it from peoples minds no you won’t you havent a clue. Though let me tell you something this movie isn’t correct it is a movie it’s fake it’s made up real fetish real kink is surrounded by consensual rules and protocol. It does include whips and chains. But it dosnt make out that woman or men are weak or unholy it shows them to be strong and dedicated to a lifestyle of pleasure and respect for each other if that’s unholy then I’ll book myself and everyone I know a one way seat to hell. You all need to stop reading the outdated lies of your religion and look at yourself and the world around you. From someone who makes Mr Grey look like a amateur and proud of it.

    • Dear Mr Sensual:
      Accordingly to the University Of Illinios at Chicago which conducted one of the most liberal sexual studies to date (and would advocate your views on sexuality), the most sexually satisfied women were middled aged women in mutually monogamous lifetime partnerships who were RELIGIOUSLY ACTIVE. Specifically, they had fewer (many of them only one) lifetime sexual partner and were evangelical Christians. What made them more happy? They were the most orgasmic women surveyed. 2. And…the men benefitted from monogamy and age, too! An Indiana University study found that having more partners in their lifetime was a predictor for men of less sexual satisfaction. You are correct that I cannot stop everyone from having bad sex lives. But it’ll make a big difference to the ones I do stop! Here’s to vibrant sexuality.

  • Dannah, I sincerely appreciate your article. I never read the book simply because a friend of mine said it was a boring book! LOL! I know very little about this book, which is precisely why I briefly entertained the idea of seeing the movie. Curiosity was getting the best of me with all the hype. Although, I’d already decided two nights ago not to open pandora’s box, your article disposed any lingering curiosity I might’ve had. I wholeheartedly agree with what you said above. You are exactly right. Thank you for sharing your insight on the subject. God bless you.

  • Excelent comments about this popular but not usefull book, and to Bran you yourself said the answer :whould you read this book in front of Jesus, of course not , Jesus would understand sexuality infact his Father created it for us, but he never leaves anything unclear he instructed us very clear on how that sexulaity sholuld be, and ive allways say if youre ashamed of doing something infront of Gods eyes its beacuse its not good!
    my humble opinion!

  • Hi. Just stumbled across this website and I have been binge reading your posts…at work…moving on… I really love your articles especially these ones on this book. A couple of my friends have read the book and invited me for a “girls night out” to go see the movie. I haven’t read the book and I didn’t want to see the movie and I didn’t think it would hurt to go see it but I see now that it is a much bigger deal than I thought. Even through some of the comments that people have made, I see that it would do more harm than good. Thank you Dannah and everyone who shared <3

  • A line from above reads. “The mantra that “you don’t need a man” has created a culture of strong women and weak men.” I disagree with the idea that men become weak as women become strong. This statement blames women for a man’s weakness. Please explain if I have misinterpreted this statement but I disagree that men are so pathetic as to need to be depended upon by women.

    • Ariel, you have misunderstood me and as I have shared this with others, my intentions have been clear to them. However, for your sake and the sake of others let me explain. A woman can grow strong in an atmosphere of strong men, but that has NOT been the overriding case in North America. The strength of women has usurped the strength of men. Third wave feminists have been threatened by strong men and have actively emasculated them. This does not have to be the case. I love that I can vote, own property, and make more money than my husband but it does not have to be at the expense of men. Let’s grow strong TOGETHER.

    • Ariel,
      I was once blind to the destructive nature of feminism, me being a post movement baby it was just how things were. I didn’t know better, I bought into it hook line and sinker. God opened my eye’s when my church did a women’s bible study using the True Woman 10: Divine Design bible study. ( http://www.truewoman101.com/ ). In that study (I forget which week) they talk about how the feminist movement did not aim for equality rather they aimed to better. The tactics used to accomplish this are everywhere. We emasculate men with shows that portray them as “stupid” or “incompetent”. Shows like ” Everybody loves Raymond” and “King of Queens” (shows I loved btw thanks, lol) It’s extremely eye opening and I highly recommend it. I know I’m about a month late to the convo but this is something I used to be blind to so I can understand how so many still are.

  • I have not and will not read this trash. Nor see the movie.
    That being said, now that I have read through your post (thank you) and many of the comments and have learned what else, other than the obvious, this book entails, more thoughts have come to me as to why this reading is so damaging and pernicious. A few of these are (thank you Holy Spirit):
    1. This is fiction. Granted. Anyone can write what they want and make it seem as if it is acceptable and “real” at least momentarily (for those who realize that that is what it is.) But for others, this text might acquire the lure of a true revelation and commentary on modern life and its complications. That is dangerous.
    2. This is pornography dressed in the added seduction of a “love story.”
    3. More danger.
    4. Who in their right mind could possibly buy that someone as lost and corrupted as the male character will one day leave all that because he has fallen in love?
    5. Who enters into a dangerous relationship thinking that after being subjected to demoralizing and degrading acts he or she will have the moral stamina to retain a shred of righteousness and be a righteous change agent for the other?
    6. Who in their right mind thinks that he or she can actually change anyone especially in the course of two or three years? And especially, supposedly, someone who has been the subject of sexual abuse? It just does not happen that way or that easily.
    7. In what bubble does the female character live that when presented with the “choices” she stays. Is there no sense of self-preservation, moral and physical? If this were a more reality based story and the main character ended up being even more tortured and/or murdered this might place this book into a somewhat more useful category. Because that scenario is a more likely outcome of such dalliances.
    8. Prurient curiosity? If you go to see this to spice your own love life …. you and your love life are in a very sad state and seeing this will only make your sin induced bored and empty life even worse than it is already. I know the word sin or any word with any religious connotation is a turn off for those whom one might try to reach and prevent them from seeing this, and this is just one more indication of how far we have strayed from purity and goodness. But I don’t know how else, at this point, to say it. Society may want us to think no such thing exists, sin that is, but it does. And sin is death.
    9. This also comes to mind. Behaviors so central to a person’s essence do not exist in a vacuum. They pervade all other aspects of one’s life. Corruption does not stay in one tight little corner. It permeates all of one’s psyche and choices until nothing is left but corruption itself.
    0. How is seeing this movie something that can be analyzed without a context? In isolation? Given the sordid realities with which we live from child and adolescent trafficking, to torture, to murder, to terrorism, to molestation, are not the cries for “be careful, be watchful, be vigilant” resonating loudly within us as we are yet exposed to another reality that weakens our ability to stay the course? This pornography, erotica, awful movie, trash, whatever you want to call it is, as are all those sordid realities, a drug that keeps many attached to infantile and narcissistic ways of dealing with reality and … with life. Is not much of what surrounds us sufficient to have us constantly praying and asking for forgiveness? If nothing else, the time you give to this movie is time misspent, time that should be spent begging for grace and for some light to come into the confusion in which we live. This confusion is so malevolent and so insidious that even two minutes spent glorifying it by our acquiescence to it is two minutes too much.
    1. Seriously. As a parent you have time to see this and then look into the eyes of your children and not be horrified if when they leave the nest this or some other form of such unacceptable behavior is their future? Is the pervasiveness of pornography not sufficiently alarming in and of itself?

    So much for what I think. I needed to vent. I am not trying to change anyone. Or to insult anyone either. But my heart is wounded and in pain. I look around me, listen to the news and wonder at the world we are bestowing to our children. And. My eleven year old granddaughter announced to me recently that this was a movie she wanted to see. Just the fact that its title are words coming from her lips fills me with absolute fear and disheartening sorrow.

  • I come from an abusive relationship
    of BDSM. My ex husband was a cop too. He used gaslightening, manipulation, my depression and more. He came to me asking to change or life and make him Head of House. No working and stay home with my two kids under age 2 1/2 & buy me gifts smother me with attention, sure. It was ideal for me but it came with a lot more!!! Chasity belts, chains to beds, myself, used as a stool, peed on, slept on floor as I was not worthy of the bed, kneeled at his side no furniture, etc.
    I read 50 shades until I realized my life was not turning out like hers, mine was getting deeper and darker. I stopped reading book 2, it was making me feel worse. But I was supposed to like it cuz this is how I served him.
    WHAT I WANT TO SHARE..BDSM itself is one thing if it is planned and communication happens for an evening. I was hostage to BDSM 24 hours a day 7 days a week= abuse! He is a cop and if I pressed charges I am the bad guy to our kids.
    I got away and healthier. I have the kids most the time (major internal battle) He is now living with his submissive he had an affair with…she can have him!

    • Wow! What a story. Dear friend, how is your healing going? It is great that you got away and your story gives courage to so many others. I just want to be sure that you’ve been able to get good counsel, find the love of Christ to be a great healing balm, etc. How is that going for you?

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