I remember growing up reading stories of prince charmings whisking princesses away to their happily-ever-afters and dreaming of real-life fairy tales. What little girl doesn’t dream of finding her very own prince charming?
I’m not normally a cultural commentator. It’s just not my thing. I prefer to write authentically about my own journey rather than analyze and debate the topics that are lighting up social media. But this is one something I just can’t stay silent about.
Maybe it is because my journey has crossed paths with many Anastasia Steeles over the years:
The young girl so abused she acquiesces to prostitution because at least she will get paid for the trauma that way. The wife who sticks it out with her abusive husband out of a belief she can reform him. The girlfriend who tolerates her overly-possessive stalker-like boyfriend and his controlling behavior because her self-worth is wrapped up in his approval. Women who have been told by the church to honor their sadistic husbands and submit to physical, emotional and sexual violence in a twisted rendering of New Testament passages.
No, I have not read 50 Shades of Grey. Nor do I intend to. Subject matter aside, the few passages I’ve run across online reveal quite possibly the most atrociously written vulgar prose I have ever seen. I’ve known 12 year olds who could write more coherently. And then there is the subject matter that flies in the face of everything I believe as a woman, let alone a follower of Jesus.
I have not read the books or seen the movie. I don’t need to. I have researched the phenomenon because I believe 50 Shades’ popular success is an alarming snapshot of our society’s underlying views on women and violence. How else does a critically ridiculed book series almost universally agreed upon as reprehensible in both content and style stay on the New York Times Bestseller list for 30+ weeks? Not to mention a record setting opening weekend for the movie version heralded as equally bad.
Anything that promotes sexual violence and degradation as normative or glamorous is dangerous. This is not a love story. This is thinly veiled pornography that sends a message to men and women alike that domination and manipulation are relationally acceptable constructs.
I have been stalked. Twice. There is nothing romantic about it. I’ve worked with victims of sexual violence and seen the shards that rip hard at their souls. Ladies, if a man wants to tie you up, control your choices, blindfold and beat you: that is called abuse, not foreplay.
Ephesians tells men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Jesus came to set us free not to shackle us. Jesus took our pain and shame when He was whipped, flogged, beaten, abused and put into bondage so we would never have to be.
As a follower of Jesus, the “BDSM lifestyle” is a perverse mockery of the cross and all that Jesus endured so He could give me the gift of a relationship with Him built on true intimacy. 50 Shades of Grey is, simply put, every shade of wrong.
There is a hunger inside each of us for a real love story. Deep down we know we are created for something more. Deep down we all desire to be loved and accepted and cherished. Because we are created for Love by Love through Love.
This Love is patient, gentle and kind. Love doesn’t demand, subjugate or dominate. It is not jealous or arrogant. And it is anything but grey.
I am so excite to announce WHOLEheARTed went live on February 14th. Please take a peek over there and join in this new and growing community as we journey on creative pathways to living and loving more authentically with our whole hearts. See you there!