Lately, amidst the 50 Shades Darker movie buzz, I have noticed A LOT of Christians speaking out against the fictional series and it's multi-million dollar films. People are highly offended by the films (and novels), saying that they are inappropriate, uncomfortable, trashy, pornographic and so many other less than flattering adjectives.
The erotic fictional trilogy has sold roughly 100 million copies worldwide, passing up other classics like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and The Davinci Code by Dan Brown. The first film of the series, 50 Shades of Grey, made nearly $550 million in the box office in 2015. And they are expecting those numbers to rise even higher with the release of the second film. So if it is such a high grossing and evidently popular series, then why are Christians so angry?
In my "social circle", I have observed that Christians (predominantly females) are outraged by the raunchiness and the controversial relationship the two main characters portray. For those who have been living under a rock, the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy is about a very unusual dynamic between two consenting adults. I say unusual, but maybe a better word is taboo; the two are involved in a BDSM relationship. BDSM could be explained in a number of different ways, including, but not limited to bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism.
Though for some Christians, these practices are a bit too liberal or extreme for their tastes. They have called for boycotts, demanding that Christ-followers flee from the temptation of seeing the films or reading the books. Some Christians even refer to the relationship between the main characters (Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey) as abusive, coercive and overall morally corrupt, going on to say that the novels/films PROMOTE abusive behavior within a romantic relationship. What these out of touch individuals do not seem to grasp is that the relationship is 100% CONSENSUAL, distorting any argument claiming that this dynamic would be considered inappropriate or abusive.
I have had my consent overtly violated when I was
sexually assaulted raped in 2015, and trust me when I say that it looked nothing like the scenes from 50 Shades of Grey.
While I will admit that their relationship is different from what most people are used to seeing in the traditional romantic comedy of the 21st century, the staggering difference does not automatically make it abusive or coercive. The films are appropriately rated R for things like strong sexual content, unusual behavior, graphic nudity and language. It is crystal clear that these films are not made for the eyes or ears of children, but does that really mean that we as adults should cast the idea aside altogether?
I can respect someone's right to disagree, misinterpret, misunderstand or dislike a film or novel. I believe in a beautiful concept called choice that allows individuals to watch or not watch whatever flick their heart desires. What I don't agree with, however, is forcing your beliefs on an entire population of people. I believe boycotting a film (because it contains BDSM) is a bit over the top if you ask me.
To an extent, I feel that it is absolutely NONE OF MY BUSINESS what somebody chooses to do in the privacy of their own bedroom. Obviously, I have certain objections to things like sex trafficking, prostitution, anything that objectifies, exploits or harms children, and anything involving animals. But BDSM (if done correctly and above all CONSENSUALLY) is not my business at all, nor is it my place to tell someone if it is right or wrong.
Years ago, we experienced similar reactions from Christians over the Harry Potter 7-part series. People made crude comments saying that Harry Potter was promoting things like witchcraft, evil, darkness, satanism and various others among the children who read the (youth) fictional novels. But years later we learned that this was not the case at all.
In 2014, a study was done by the Journal of Applied Psychology and they determined that children actually turned out better overall, due to reading the "evil" Harry Potter series at a young age. Reading the books "significantly improved young peoples’ perception of stigmatized groups like immigrants, homosexuals or refugees.” Apparently, all of those little avid readers didn't turn out to be Satanists after all. I would never have guessed!
Who knows if reading 50 Shades of Grey will have any effect in making you a better human being or not. Chances are, it might change your sex life (if nothing else). But regardless, I will stand up confidently for our right to read these dirty novels, if we damn well please.
So to clear up any confusion, yes, I am a Christian and I have read and thoroughly enjoyed both the Harry Potter series and the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. No, this does not make me a believer/supporter of witchcraft, and it certainly does not mean I am in an abusive or inappropriate relationship. It simply means that I can appreciate a wide array of fictional novels, that's all.
Lastly, I want to encourage my Christian friends to maybe pick up a book or two that might pull you out of your comfort zone. It does not have to be sexual, it just needs be different than your norm. Because trust me when I say that "banning books" as a religion, a church or a nation never leads to freedom or any real positive change in the community.
Let's allow our non-believing brothers and sisters to decide what they want to read or watch, and let's stop judging the people who disagree with us. You do not have to love trashy novels or taboo chick-flicks, but you should probably learn to accept them. If you don't like the content of a film, don't see it. If you don't like to synopsis of a story, don't read it. It could all be so simple, people.