Can We Learn Anything From
Fifty Shades of Grey?

by Mary Stephens, Feb. 2015

On Valentine's Day, 2015 the movie version of E. L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey opened in theaters in the U.S.  There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the book and now the movie.  Christians are not the only ones who have objected to this "romantic" glamorization of an abusive relationship.  There are even feminists and people in the BDSM life that have objected for various reasons.

What is it about this book and movie?

A Little History

The Fifty Shades Trilogy started its life as a "fan-fiction" story by Erika Leonard (pen name E. L. James).  The "real" series it was based on was Stephanie Meyers' Twilight series and the original main characters in Fifty Shades were actually Bella and Edward the vampire.  Considering the history and content of the  Twilight books, this shouldn't be a big surprise.  Abusive sexual relationships could be called a form of emotional vampirism.

Bad trees do bring forth bad fruit.  It is an unavoidable law that God has set in motion.

Matthew 7:17-20 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Fan-fiction is a genre of stories written based on existing books which give further details, alternate storylines, other characters' views, etc.  They are published now on web sites, but one key element is that they are noncommercial, meaning the authors don't make any money from them.  Erika Leonard departed from this "rule" rather widely when she made some minimal alteration in her TwiFic [Twilight Fiction] book and took it to press.

According to The New York Review of Books:

Leonard initially posted her AU [Alternate Universe] TwiFic, Master of the Universe, on, under the alias Snowqueens Icedragon, but it was eventually taken down, presumably because it violated the rule on explicit content. She moved the story to her personal website, and in the summer of 2010 she appeared with six other prominent TwiFic writers on a panel at Comic Con, the comic-book convention in San Diego. By 2011, after she transformed Master of the Universe into the Fifty Shades trilogy and published it with The Writer’s Coffee Shop, in Australia, Leonard had an organized fan following. She also had detractors. Some argued that sanitizing a fan fiction for publication, an act known as “filing off the serial numbers,” constituted a betrayal of the genre’s noncommercial ethos and an invitation to legal trouble. Writers had published TwiFics before, typically as ebooks, but none had readerships anywhere near the size of Leonard’s, and some accused her of exploiting the Twilight fandom...for her own gain. (source: [WARNING: This page has some explicit content.  I don't recommend reading it unless you feel you really need to.]

[By the way, I find it more than curious that Leonard/James changed the hero's name to "Christian".  There's more there than meets the eye.]

Some Observations

From a biblical perspective, of course, this trilogy and movie are wicked and shameful.  So much has been written and said by others on the books that I didn't feel it necessary to add my thoughts.  Some things changed that for me with the release of the movie.

First of all, as seems to be common, people who would never read a book will sometimes go to see a movie - as if that were a less offensive format.  I don't understand it, but it happens.  This gives the message of said book a much more far-reaching influence, and in fact can introduce really bad things to people who might not otherwise have searched them out.

Secondly, I've read various things this time around that were bothersome and really motivated me with the need to speak up.

There were two things I read by secular, unsaved women. 

The first one was written by a doctor and psychologist who specializes in youth and adolescence, Miriam Grossman, MD. Dr. Grossman clearly spelled out the fact that acceptance of or desire for abusive relationships are a sign of a psychologically unhealthy woman, and that in real life those relationships never work out well for either party involved.  Real life tells us that abusive relationships lead to unhappy endings, not happy ones.  Dr. Grossman wrote a letter to young people explaining why they should not see this movie and should resist its message.  Among other dangerous ideas presented in the movie that she exposed in her letter this one really hit an important mark:

3. Anastasia exercises free choice when she consents to being hurt, so no one can judge her decision.

Flawed logic. Sure, Anastasia had free choice – and she chose poorly. A self-destructive decision is a bad decision.

(To read the entire letter, which I recommend, please go to her own post of it.  I will remind you that she is not a Christian and some of her observations are contrary to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Be forewarned on that.)

The second woman whose article I partially read is a member of the BDSM community.  I'll not link to it for obvious reasons.  I didn't even read the whole article myself because it was too sickening.  She was trying to build a case that Fifty Shades of Grey is a "misinterpretation" of BDSM and that this deviation can be practiced in a "loving relationship", so to speak.  She claimed that she had grown up in a loving home and her choice was purely her preference and not based on any psychological deficiencies.  Yeah.  Well.  Anyway, even the parts I did read emphasized several things in my mind, the main one being what Dr. Grossman said - a "free choice" to do something self-destructive and abusive is still a bad choice.

We are all capable of deceiving ourselves, even when the people around us know we are self-deceived.  Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 

Just because you choose something and like something, it does not follow that you have made a good choice or liked a good thing. 

Here's an example: I like Little Debbie Swiss Rolls.  They are sugary, chemical laden cakes.  They are bad for my body, nutrient deficient and give me a false sense of satisfaction.  They also are fattening.  Do you see where I'm going?  Just because some people find an abusive and demeaning relationship or lifestyle "satisfying, sweet and desirable" it does not mean that it is "good for them".  Our wicked hearts will lead us into all kinds of error and ugliness. Just because we like it doesn't mean it's OK.  Just because we choose it doesn't mean that we're still free!

Proverbs 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

This brings up another whole line of thought.

The Christian Perspective

Do you realize that there are people who have been or will be saved out of BDSM? 

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Yes.  There are undoubtedly those among us who have lived this lifestyle before they were saved.  We read in 1 Corinthians 10:13, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man...  That means that accepting or choosing abusive relationships is a common temptation.  It doesn't matter whether the person is miserable in it or thinks they like it.  It is still a bad choice and it isn't uncommon.  You probably know someone who has fooled around with this, if you haven't yourself.

If this is a temptation then we might ask:  Should Christians be choosing to be entertained by this kind of deviant behavior?  Obviously, the answer to that would be no.  Not only are we told to think on things that are pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8), but we also should not be putting ourselves in the way of this temptation because it could affect us.  Watching a movie or reading a book that glamorizes abusive and deviant relationships is obviously going to introduce thoughts and temptations that we shouldn't be dealing with.  This would be willfully seeking temptation instead of God's way of escape.

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

There is another aspect of this that bothers me as well.

There is this thing in Christianity which in my own mind I refer to as "the purity cult".  I really should write a whole article on it because it's a little hard to explain so that someone won't misunderstand.  But, in essence what I see is a lot of people who have idolized the concept of "purity" as they interpret it.  It often revolves around young girls and young women.  Virginity is not the only objective as it emphasizes keeping hearts, thoughts and bodies pure until marriage.  In theory, there is nothing wrong with this, and there is a lot right with it, which is why it's so deceptive.  The thing that bothers me is the self-righteousness that enters into it and the idolatrous view that some Christians develop around it.  Some of the things I see and hear smack of the parable of the publican and the Pharisee.

You see there are those who make it sound as if you are extra special, extra pure, extra lovely, extra clean if you have never done certain sins or thought certain thoughts.  They have built up a certain set of requirements for young women in particular, but young men also, which, if kept, supposedly makes that young person appear to be a better Christian than those who have not met the requirements.  Michael Pearl has made it clear that no boy who has ever viewed pornography will ever marry his granddaughter (which means she's more likely to marry a liar). [NOTE: Don't read Pearl's article unless you have a strong stomach and a good understanding of what it means to be regenerated in Christ!]  Bill Gothard, James Dobson and many various groups have exalted "guarding your heart" and purity covenants to the point of making it an idolatrous obsession for some.  They feel like they are being extra "holy" and "godly" if they manage to get through their younger years having never "liked a guy" or member of the opposite sex.  But, what would Jesus say to these things?

Luke 18:9-14 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

I think it's pretty safe to say that all of us have been in both of these situations at various times.  It's easy to despise others for sins we haven't committed, but it's humbling to realize the extent of our own sins before God.  In dealing with BDSM and the whole issue of Fifty Shades of Grey, I'm afraid that too many Christians will be tempted to trust in themselves and despise others.  In fact, I've seen it.  I've run across those who were "thankful" that they hadn't allowed such things into their minds.  Really?  Doesn't that remind you of the passage above?  "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other women are, adulterers, viewers of perverse movies and readers of wicked books..."  Well??  Isn't it the same thing?

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Now, this doesn't mean that it's OK to read and view this type of filth.  It isn't.  Anyone of us could witness to the fact that we have things in our memory bank that we wish weren't there, whether it was something we chose to put there or that was introduced some other way.  But, I think we fail to understand some important things when we exalt people who have never committed certain sins as better than others or as having an advantage over Christians who have "done those things".

Let me put this bluntly so there's no mistake.

Is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ sufficient to remove all sin?

Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

1 John 1:7-9 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Whom did Jesus come to call to repentance - the righteous or sinners?

Luke 5:31-32 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Is pride a sin?  Is it just as much a sin as deviant sexual behavior?

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Ezekiel 16:49-50 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Can God make us new creatures in Jesus Christ?  Can we truly be cleansed from our sin?

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Revelation 1:5-6 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Sin is sin.  If we think that we are less of a sinner than the next person, we deceive ourselves, not God.  The ideology that teaches us that we can be better, less hindered, more vibrant, "wholer" Christians because we didn't commit some specific sin is idolatrous because it denies the power of salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ.  It denies the very thing that Jesus died to do - to cleanse us from all sin!  God forbid that we should belittle the power of redemption!

Ephesians 1:17-20 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

1 Corinthians 4:19-20 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

In Conclusion

Yes, we can learn something from the issues surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey.

As believers we have a responsibility to ourselves, to our fellow believers, and to the lost to always remember the enormity of all sins against God and to remember the greater enormity of His power to forgive that sin.  We must never indulge our own flesh either in deviant behaviors, or in pride and self-righteousness.  Both are wicked before God.

You know, some things in this world are shocking to some of us when we run up against them, but I wonder how that reflects the mind of Christ.  I don't recall Him ever being shocked or surprised when He came across something really deviant - the man possessed of many devils (Luke 8:26-39) who lived among the tombs and abused himself, the Samaritan woman who had had five husbands and was shacking up with the man she was with at the time (John 4:17-18), Mary Magdalene out of whom He had cast seven devils (Luke 8:2), Judas who was a traitor and a thief, and many others.  Is Fifty Shades of Grey a repulsive story that is capable of doing great evil in the minds of many people?  Absolutely.  But how are we going to ever reach the people who are trapped in this bondage if we are too proud to soil ourselves by ever getting near them - not the movie or the book, but the real live people who do those things?

You see there are hurting people out there who are bound in abusive, manipulative relationships.  They may even call it bondage and say they like it.  But, the day may come, and already has for some, when they will want out, and there is only ONE Savior who can truly deliver them.  If you are a child of God, you know who He is.  Are you willing and able to introduce them to Him?  Do you want to see them delivered?  I'm guessing that a lot of Christians could give the right answer here, but, my last question for you is this:  Do you consider their sin "worse" than your own?  If you do, you need to examine yourself and your own understanding of what it means to be a slave to sin and to be freed by the power of Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Again - John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

A Word of Hope

If you are trapped in BDSM or any other form of bondage and you would like to get out, the good news is there is hope.  His name is Jesus Christ.  He died on a cross outside a city called Jerusalem and took all of God's wrath and judgment against your sin upon Himself to pay for your salvation.  In fact, the Bible says regarding what God did when Jesus died on the cross,  "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."  2 Corinthians 5:21  Friend, that means you.  Because of what Jesus Christ did for you - dying in your place and suffering the righteous judgment of God on sin - because He did that for you, you can be made the righteousness of God in Him.  You can be free from your bondage. 

Three days after He died, Jesus Christ rose from the dead for our justification.  Speaking of Him the Bible tells us He  "...was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."  Romans 4:25  What is justification?  Well, to justify is "To clear from imputed guilt; to absolve from an accusation...To maintain; to defend; to vindicate...To free from past sin by pardon." (Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language).  Every one of us is a sinner, and every one of us deserves the righteous judgment of God upon our sin, but when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection we are justified in Him!

Jesus said of Himself,  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."  Luke 4:18-19  You do not have to continue to be a bruised and brokenhearted captive of BDSM or any other sin.  Liberty and deliverance and healing are available to you in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.


If you have been freed from this bondage already through Christ, please don't imagine that you are somehow dirtier than other Christians.

Psalms 103:10-12 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

As humans in this present life, we may not be able to forget past sins and may be tempted by them again, but God has said that He will not remember them.  Your freedom from those sins of the past is as perfect today as if you were already standing in heaven.  The flesh may trouble you, as it did Paul when he wrote,  "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."  Romans 7:18-25

But, how did he get the victory?  Through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Links for further consideration:

Disclaimer on all Bible translations other than the Authorized King James Version and possibly some content.

From Jo at "Finding Joy In the Every Day":
Mummy Porn, Part 1
Mummy Porn, Part 2
There Is A Lot Wrong with Porn
50 Shades of Grey: Glamorizes Sexual Violence - Quote: "One woman every week in Australia dies as a result of domestic violence..."

Intensity Vs. Intimacy - Be sure to read the words carefully in this article so that you don't get them mixed up.  Also, it's a bit of an advertisement blurb at the very end, but the main point goes very well here.



graphics and backgrounds by Mary Stephens