Fifty Shades of Grey releases in major theaters this Friday, not surprisingly — and yet ironically — just a day before our annual celebration of love. The series of erotic novels exploring sexual domination and even violence has (tragically) sold over 100 million copies and has been translated into 52 languages. Yes, America has exported these scenes and this message in 52 languages to who knows how many countries.
Full disclosure: I have not read the books or seen the movie, and I will not. I’ve read about the story and have seen a trailer. I believe I’ve learned enough to write and warn my brothers and sisters in Christ (the lead male’s name is “Christian” for crying out loud). In a society that downplays the evil of evil, and even glamorizes it, we need to be regularly reminded of the danger of sin. Like a child that discovers a needle on the street and thinks it’s a toy, we can be dangerously naïve about what’s happening in our American entertainment.
The message that sex is selfish, manipulative, and even playfully violent will abuse and violate you. It might feel like a fun and harmless fantasy, but it’s not so subtly redefining the power and beauty of sex, creating spiritual blockages in your heart that will eventually kill you, and impairing your ability to enjoy real and lasting pleasure.
Ten Promises Truer Than Any Fantasy
Before you buy a ticket and some popcorn — or before you talk to a friend who wants to read the books or see the movie — I want to put ten of God’s promises before you. My hope and prayer is that the clarity and power of God’s words will convince many of you to save your money and your heart, and help you do the same for others.
1. True love — the love for which we were made — sets aside selfish desires and sacrifices itself for the good and safety of others.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9–10)
The sexy, tantalizing “love” of Hollywood mixes seduction, scandal, and passion. It suggests that the best love is forbidden love. True love — the purest, fullest, most pleasing love — was designed by God for our good, and then displayed by God at the cross. If love looks selfish — if it takes, rather than gives — it simply isn’t love.
2. Sin promises to please, but subtly and destructively wounds.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply. (Psalm 16:4)
If you’re honest, you don’t really need to be persuaded of this. Anyone who has experimented with sin has known her to be a dishonest and unfaithful mistress. Sin presents itself — often persuasively — as fulfilling, reliable, and enduring. But it never is, and it never does. Instead of quenching the craving in our souls, it intensifies it. It doesn’t satisfy our hunger; it only breeds it. Sin promises to produce happiness, but it only creates and multiplies pain, sadness, and need.
3. Sin that looks and feels like pleasure is only a poor shadow of something much more intense and satisfying.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices. . . . In your presence there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:8–11)
There’s no question, when we indulge the desires of our flesh, we will feel some kind of sensation and even pleasure. Sin wouldn’t have any power over us if we didn’t. The promise we’re forgetting or rejecting, though, is that the thimble of pleasure we receive in sin is short and pathetic compared with the ocean of pleasure we will have in God’s presence.