There is a story from a best selling book out there right now about a violent man and a naive woman. He was rich and powerful with a mysterious masculinity and magnetic personality. She was flirty and he took advantage. He used his position to put her in a compromising situation. It’s a sordid story of passion, lust, and power and it’s not Fifty Shades of Grey.
The story is David’s affair with Bathsheba.
I get why Evangelicals are up in arms about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie released this weekend. The movie is one-fifth sex scenes and is uncomfortable. Plus, the sex practices venture into realms that most Evangelicals consider kinky at best and abusive at worst. Such things ought not to be, so blog posts, articles, and books are written to indignantly respond.
But I’m more disturbed by Christian responses to the movie than I am by the movie itself. Some are so condescending and dismissive to anyone seeing the movie that you wonder if they have ever read the Bible.
In case you have forgotten, here is a partial list of Bible stories where sex is a major plot point:
- Adam and Eve
- Lot and his daughters
- Abraham and Sarah
- Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah
- Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
- Judah and Tamar
- Dinah and Shechem
- Sampson and Delilah
- The concubine at the end of Judges
- Ruth and Boaz
- David and Bathsheba
- Song of Solomon
- Esther and Xerxes
(To name a few.) Acknowledge that sex is just part of these biblical stories and then reconsider Fifty Shades of Grey. Is it really more explicit than any of them? And if not, then instead of criticizing, think critically about the movie and how to engage a culture enraptured by it.
Instead of ranting about the movie, channel your frustration into something positive. To that end, I offer fifty positive responses to Fifty Shades of Grey:
- Learn enough about the story to talk intelligently with a friend or coworker about its themes. You don’t have to read it, but check out the Wiki page and some bloggers who have.
- Write your own book showing sex in a healthy relationship.
- Start a neighborhood Bible study on Song of Solomon.
- Volunteer at a shelter for battered women and children in your area.
- Donate the price of a ticket and the books to a ministry that specializes in helping abused children.
- Hold a screening of the movie Calvary in your home and discuss the issues of child abuse (this film is less graphic but deals with similar themes).
- Start a Celebrate Recovery group in your church if you do not have one.
- If you have your own issues with sex or abuse (or both) get counseling.
- Start or join a book club so you can keep current with trends in literature and discuss them intelligently.
- Pray for people reading the book or seeing the film to find the true joy and pleasure of a healthy marital relationship.
- Open up to a friend about the shame you feel with regard to sex (this will build a relationship quickly).
- Pray that God would break your heart for those suffering from sexual abuse.
- Take a missions trip with an organization that helps stop sex trafficking around the world.
- Hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds to a ministry that helps abused people recover.
- Make love to your spouse in a new or different way.
- Practice contemplative prayer in Song of Solomon. (How do you think God would change your view of sex through this?)
- Start a same gender group to talk about Biblical sexuality and the struggles it brings.
- Subscribe to a blog like Hot, Holy, and Humorous. (This blog is genuine, helpful, and so funny.)
- Educate your children about healthy sexuality, including the joys, sorrows, and pleasures of it.
- Demonstrate a healthy sexuality in your marriage to your children which may mean not entirely hiding your sexuality.
- Write a journal entry about why this film makes you uncomfortable and share it with a trusted friend.
- Take someone who does not have a Valentine out for lunch.
- Minister to strippers in your town by taking them a meal or other things they need.
- Write a thank you note to someone who mentored you in how to have healthy relationships.
- Encourage someone you know who is in an unhealthy relationship by listening to them.
- Host a meal or play date with a family you don’t know well already. Ask them to tell you their story.
- Ask about and listen to the story of someone you feel is angry or downcast.
- Hold a family discussion about how to love friends when their family goes through divorce or abuse.
- Ask God to help you see people with His eyes and love.
- Talk to your children about the problems with pornography (keep it age appropriate, of course).
- Have the sex talk with your kids before their friends or siblings do.
- If you struggle with porn, ask a trusted friend to be your accountability partner.
- Read a book that deals with relationships honestly. Sacred Marriage is an excellent choice.
- Make a plan to improve your marriage with regular date night or late night conversations.
- Accept your spouse as they are and quit trying to force your relationship into someone else’s mold.
- Write a love note to your spouse. Be specific and erotic, verging on graphic.
- Mentor a newly-married couple who needs to hear how to overcome early challenges to intimacy.
- Read a classic love story like Emma by Jane Austen (or give me a better example…this was the best I could think of).
- Ask a godly couple to mentor your marriage.
- If you’re engaged, discuss your desires, expectations, and shame with your fiance.
- If you’re married, ask your spouse what they wish were different in your relationship.
- Teach a Love & Respect Sunday School class at your church.
- Write your story of overcoming abuse or shame to show others it is possible.
- Moms: take your sons on a date to show and tell them how to treat a woman.
- Dads: take your daughters on a date to show and tell them how they should be treated by a man.
- Have a family Valentine’s Day celebration and tell each member of your family what you love about them.
- Figure out what makes the important people in your life feel loved and practice doing that. For instance, my wife couldn’t care less about flowers on Valentine’s Day but she loves when I do the dishes every night.
- If you’re single, host a Valentine’s party for your friends.
- Meditate on Isaiah 43:1-7 and let God’s love define how you love the people in your life.
- Post 1 Corinthians 13 on your refrigerator or desk and ask yourself who needs you to love them in this way.
I know: some of these suggestions are hokey, or maybe too similar to others. But I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, too. Comment below and let’s fill out this list!