A Darker Shade of Gray
This Valentine’s Day a bombshell movie is going to drop into the consciousness of our culture. Fandango has already called it the fastest selling advance ticket movie in their history. Anticipation abounds as fans await the release of the movie version of EL James’ book “Fifty Shades of Grey.” (Ironically, the name “Grey” in the title is spelled after the name of the book’s main character. The double reference, however, is to the morally “gray” areas of what the book is really about).
But should Christ followers watch it or even read the book? This has become the controversial question swirling around what is now a cultural phenomenon, even before the release of the movie Valentine’s Day weekend. Is it appropriate for Christians to use, read, or view video erotica?
The UK has already banned children from seeing the movie (at least in theaters). While I wish the same would be done in the US, we are not going to see that. But then, the pros and cons of legislating morality versus freedom of expression is not my intent here.
I want to ask the question over the next few blogs, what does Christian morality look like? How much of the world do we imbibe before we are washed out into “a whiter shade of gray?” What does it mean, practically, to stand before the world as blood-washed, forgiven, transformed people of God? Does Christian distinction mean we have to live prudish, condescending, isolationist, and judgmental lives of holiness or is there “wiggle room” in our position?
Several texts inform our stand in relationship to the culture around us:
“Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4b)
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from immorality.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Each of these texts have something in common with us today: They were all written to Christians living in sexually saturated, seductive, and immoral cultures. It is clear from each of these texts that the expectation of Scripture is that it is both possible and expected that we live differently than the world around us. And that this specifically works itself out in how we handle sexuality.
Here is one of the main reasons I would advise you not see this movie: The movie will not be over when it’s over. It will remain with you (multiplied millions of dollars have been spent already to insure that). The images, concepts, and ideas will be sugar coated, airbrushed, and placed in an attractive, appealing, and oh-so-innocent seeming context. And they won’t leave you for a very long time.
In reality, they are not innocent. And they are not ok. It is not “gray.”
Spiritually….. they’re just black.