Today, I want to speak directly about a troubling cultural phenomenon. Hollywood has released films like Fifty Shades of Grey. This movie is based on the book series by E.L. James that promotes a view of sex that is far from the will of God. The buzz about this movie is huge. Maybe you’ve seen ads that ask the question, “Are You Curious?” As your pastor, I want to urge you to not let your curiosity trump your character. Please do not go see this movie. Let me walk you through some Biblical reasons why.
There is no doubt that God designed sex in marriage to be pleasurable. If you don’t believe that, read the Song of Solomon. God likes sex—He invented it. The husband and wife in the Song of Solomon praise each other’s bodies, explore each other’s bodies, and find pleasure in each other’s bodies. The apostle Paul commanded husbands and wives, “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5). God intended pleasure to be part of the experience that husbands and wives share in marriage.
However, there are a number of problems with Fifty Shades from a Christian perspective.
First, God created sex to foster relationship, not domination and submission. The film’s story focuses on Christian Grey, who ‘conquers’ virgin Anastasia Steele through demeaning sex that is more about power and control than genuine intimacy. God designed sex to create connection and intimacy, not to degrade or objectify one’s partner in marriage. Unselfish intimacy seeks to fulfill the other person, not to simply gratify one’s own desires. Biblical intimacy is careful not to hurt the other person, physically or emotionally.
Second, God wants us to treat each other with honor. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This means that every day, as we make Jesus our first priority and desire, we elevate each other and look for ways to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). Fifty Shades is about a self-centered man who uses a woman as an object for his own pleasure, and a woman who uses her sexuality to exert control over a man. He associates her pain with his own sexual arousal. This is a dangerous pattern. When the pattern continues, it actually forges neural pathways that seek to be repeated, which can lead to an unhealthy and even violent view of sex.
Third and most importantly, God calls each of us to seek a relationship that honors His holy character. We are called to guard our thoughts so we don’t stray into areas that compromise our sexual purity. This week’s reading from the gospel of Mark is relevant in this respect. Jesus says in Mark 7:20-22, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Fifty Shades lures the human mind into realms that constitute evil thoughts. If these thoughts are entertained, it is impossible to have the mind of Christ.
My strong opinion about this movie is that it violates the holy nature of God the Father. It dishonors the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for your sins. It grieves the Holy Spirit, who lives within you. Whether you are married or single, there is nothing to be gained by seeing this movie, and there is much to be lost. Our culture will likely welcome it and even celebrate it. But as followers of Christ, we are called to live counter-culturally. I pray that in all your choices, including what you choose to read and watch, you will be fiercely committed to protecting your purity and living the abundant life God wants you to experience.