The Hunger Games is a novel trilogy that’s wildly popular with teenagers. They’re being made into movies and my local Sam’s Club had a themed display for the books. In fact, the series is so popular that this Sam’s Club sold enough of those books that there was empty space on this end cap and the staff had to fill those shelves with another series. What did they suggest for those teen readers? 50 Shades of Grey.
This post isn’t likely to win me many friends. The 50 Shades trilogy has sold 40+ million copies, it’s pornography, and it’s being sold to our teenage girls. That’s right. Today, we’re talking youth, sex, and some hard truths.
What is 50 Shades of Grey? You might have heard the title and a few flitting rumors. It was based on the wildly profitable Twilight series. It features some unconventional and explicitly detailed sex that’s got the married-with-kids-30-something-year-old-wives whispering and raving. It’s being dubbed “mommy-porn” and too many Christians are silent about it.
The story centers around a female protagonist and her love for a man that wants to control her. Control her thoughts, control her actions, control her body, what/how much she eats, where she goes, who she sees, what she does and more. He tracks her movements on her cell phone. He tries to engage her in a sex contract and he does all these things, why? Because he has issues and he “loves” her.
And our women are eating it up.
The author, E.L James, hides all this abuse under an extremely misused umbrella of BDSM. Boiled down, BDSM is a consensual practice of two partners in which one partner is in control of the sexual pleasure. The hinge word is consensual.
Because at some point in this series, the female protagonist tells her “love” interest no, and he ignores her. That’s right. He rapes her. Let me remind you again, this series has sold over 40 million copies.
This is the cover of the first book. It certainly doesn’t look like something the media could dub “mommy-porn” does it? I mentioned that the author was inspired by the Twilight series, but that’s not entirely true. 50 Shades started as an erotic fan fiction of Twilight. The protagonist was Bella Swan and her love interest was Edward Cullen. The cover photos of the two series even look similar. Both have a black background with one object serving as a metaphor or theme from the book. I encourage you to take a walk through the Young Adult section of your local book store sometime because the vast majority of those titles have the same style covers. It’s a marketing stratedgy.
And Young Adult books are for ages 15+.
And now we arrive at my core heart of this post. This abusive, XXX detailed novel series is being marketed to our high school girls. Godly and Christian mothers are unknowingly buying their daughters porn because their church stands silent.
Erotica isn’t new. But before 50 Shades, the covers were half naked men with long hair, riding stallions and holding roses on a beach. The covers of 50 Shades are a neck tie, a mask, and a pair of handcuffs. Twilight was an apple, a bloody flower, a ribbon, and two chess pieces. The Hunger Games is different incarnations of a bird called a Mockingjay set against a solid color background. 50 Shades looks like all the other books teens are reading right now.
And what message are these books giving our youth? That abuse is normal. That if a man loves you, he will control your life, what you do and who you’re friends with. That if he can’t control his sexual need for you, that if he rapes you and sends you lavish gifts, that’s love.
Whether your definition of love comes from a Christian perspective or not, no one should consider this love or something to be glorified and reveled in. This is abuse. This is not a story about a woman that fixes a broken man. This is abuse. This is not about kinky sex, or having a handsomely rich man love you, or finding your happily-ever-after. This is physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. There is nothing “grey” about it.
The silence of our churches and Christian leaders on this series disgusts me. If this were a XXX movie with the same plot and scenes that prominent male members were watching and sharing with their guy friends, our pastors would be outraged at the pulpit. But it’s in a book, not a movie. (Yet. The 50 Shades movie is in development.) And it’s for women. It’s a difficult subject to talk about not least because its popularity is such an odd phenomenon.
The question can be raised that if a married woman is reading these books and finds them erotic, is it really harming anyone? If we assume that she’s lusting for an imaginary character but taking her bolstered enthusiasm into her marital bed, is it that really sinning?
Matthew 5:28 tells us, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Adultery and lust are not sins exclusive to men.
Wives: Would you encourage this same behavior from your husbands? Reverse this and turn it into a man lusting after a female XXX film star. He’s coming to his wife, asking her to replicate things he watched another woman do, chasing a high created by sin. Again, the picture becomes a lot clearer. We’re dealing with something that is black-and-white Christianly immoral, not something meandering in grey area.
What can you do? Send this post to your friends. Send it to the women in your Bible Study, to your sisters, to your daughters, to your granddaughters. The women most at risk to being taken in by this series are those who are not of this world and buy these books without knowing what’s between the covers. Send it to your pastors. To your elders. To your youth group leaders. Help break the Christian silence.