Wait, what’s my Safety Word again?

The American hive mind (oh sorry, journalism) has jumped on the bandwagon of discussing the morality of Fifty Shades of Grey. Christians everywhere have also decided to make this movie their moral crusade. My entire Facebook newsfeed is covered with the discussion of a book/movie I never cared about.

It’s becoming clear to me that this tactic of using social media to denounce immorality is the new way for Christians to prove their “religiosity.” It’s easy to post about something that everyone in your culture group thinks is wrong. Double points if your secular friends disagree with you.

There are a few good points scattered in some of the articles I read, like the Relevant article on how this movie promotes abusive violence against women. I liked the solid reasons for why we should oppose this movie, but it rings a little hollow in my ears because I don’t think the modern church has fully embraced this fight for violence against women. We’ve made some fantastic leaps and bounds, but I still see some discrepancies.

I see conservative politicians condemning women who want abortions due to sexual abuse without offering them alternative resources or compassionate help. I see Christians saying that girls should “dress more modestly so as not to tempt their brothers” when we learn that another college co-ed was raped at a University. I see Christians more preoccupied about the Biblical accuracy of the movie Noah than the horrible truth behind the statistics of sex trafficking in our country. I see Christians leaders wisely fighting porn and the lust it creates, but I rarely hear about it from the perspective of the abuse and degradation of women.

There is clear cognitive dissonance within the church. We are exhorting others to avoid an immoral movie based on morality we are not all convinced of ourselves. Unfortunately, many outside the church will perceive this sudden interest in women’s rights as a hypocritical platform to denounce a sexually charged movie. And we Christians are infamous for denouncing sex of all kinds.

The worst part about all this is that I keep hearing within these Christian articles and these Christian pleas phrases like: “Christians shouldn’t” or “Don’t go if you are Christian”, or “No self-respecting Christian would…” Sometimes it feels like if you do not give into the hive mind of publicly agreeing, you are silently branded and shamed.

Based on these articles and the purposeful shaming that some employ, it feels an awful lot like I am a slave to rules rather than to Christ. It makes me wonder if Christian Grey, the male character in Fifty Shades of Grey, is an analogy for the modern day church.

“He controls her behaviors, her food intake, and dictates who she is allowed to spend her time with, isolating her from friends and family. He belittles her, threatens her and blames her.” – Relevant Magazine, The Real Abuse at the Heart of Fifty Shades of Grey

At the worst point in my spiritual journey, the church was my Christian Grey. At one point, I was convinced I had to spend the majority of my time among Christians because non-Christians could sway me “to act more like them.” I was convinced I had to avoid all media rated above PG to remain pure. When I sinned, I was filled with shame and self-blame rather than Christ’s conviction and grace.

Who among us has not heard a behavior-modifying sermon or topic that has little to do with Christ and more to do with blending in socially? Fundamentalism within the church was something I struggled against for a while. For a time I gave in, supposedly like the Ana character in this movie.

I want out. What’s my safety word again?

“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 7:14-18

Grace. Grace is my safety word.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us return to grace and stop this madness of hive-minded social media shaming. Let us be the church that exhorts its believers to seek after Christ with all our hearts. Let us be the church that teaches its believers to think critically about making decisions rather than following a set of predisposed set of rules that are “church approved.” Rules lead to a hollow expression of faith based on works, but faith that is exercised through love for Christ leads to obedience. 

Please don’t mistake this as me saying Christians can’t exhort each other against the evils of this world. We can, we should, and we must. I would caution you against the temptation of using this movie as a platform to prove the superiority of your morality.

Use your God-directed passion to talk about something your friends would be interested to hear your personal thoughts on: your passion for recycling and protecting God’s world; your conflicting thoughts as you learn a fellow Christian was martyred for their faith in a country far away; your support for your awesome missionary friend who helps sex trafficked victims in the slums of Mexico.

As a believer in Christ, we do not follow rules: we follow the Almighty God. Whether or not you intend to watch this movie, I hope you find grace and peace in Jesus.

For those of you inside and outside of the church fighting against violence inflicted on women, thank you. Let us know how we can help by commenting below.

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  1. I have avoided all things Grey but clicked on your post because, well, it’s yours! I will “Share” your post on Facebook.
    God bless from your secular, feminist, potty mouthed, uncle-in-law!

  2. I think it’s important that we represent a Christian viewpoint in the
    whole debate. We can’t just be opposed to it, we need to have something to present that engages those hoodwinked by the original 50 shadesenough to show them that Christianity has a valid (better) alternative.
    I’ve talked to people til I’m blue in the face about the movie and domestic violence and respect etc etc but it’s hard to make them listen. I did though find a Christian fiction alternative that is mirrored on the story but presents God’s love not the fake and manipulative 50 shades love. I’ve found a few of my secular friends have said, oh okay if you’re just giving me a novel I’ll read it whereas they wouldn’t have engaged in a full blown debate over it. (Or read an insightful blog about it!)
    Two of those friends have now started to (periodically) attend church. One said to me ‘I didn’t knowyou had a bigger love until I read that book.’
    Drawback is it’s only on kindle though

    I guess what I’m saying is we need to find the opportunity in it to share the good news rather than just rallying against it in our own Christian circles.

    • Amy, I completely agree. As Christians we’ve got to find a way to genuinely draw light out of darkness the way Jesus did, rather than just standing on the sidelines and hissing at anyone who we think has crossed the line.

      I had not heard of this Fifty Shades of Christ book, I am glad it’s having an impact! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

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