50 Shades of Grey {Is Not Gray}

Tomorrow’s the day.

The movie thousands have been waiting for:  50 Shades of Grey.

I can’t log on to Facebook without seeing “I can’t wait to see this movie!” My almost 15-year-old daughter told me yesterday that many of her friends (aged 14-16) are planning to see this movie with friends or boyfriends on Valentine’s Day.

Huh?

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Ladies, please help me to understand why you would want your teen girl to watch this movie.  Please tell me why you want to see this movie.  Before you bristle and leave this post…will you please stop and think with me a moment?

I originally posted most of the following on June 26, 2012, after reading the book.  Two and a half years later, I feel the same way – perhaps even more so because my daughter is dating.  Because she’s no longer a carefree 12-year-old, but a teen girl facing the challenges teen girls face. And, I am no longer married.  I am single woman who must guard her children and her heart as she navigates singleness again.

My friends and I  like to talk about gray areas, black areas, and white areas.  We like to say “that’s a black and white issue” or “that’s a gray area.”

When it comes to 50 Shades of Grey,  there is no shortage of discussion on the black, white, and gray of it.  Many authors, bloggers, and interviewers are chiming in – for good reason.

This book is a New York Times Bestseller and about to become a blockbuster movie. But, this is not a gray area – it’s very black and white.

I read book one.  Ok, “read” might be an overstatement.  I read the first five chapters then began swiping my iPhone screen in search of a plot (or anything redeeming).  I did at least scan every single page.  As a writing teacher, I could share about its lack of literary merit all day long, but the poor writing and lack of plot aren’t harmful to my soul.

The language and imagery are harmful.  The images flashing across the screen would be too.

50 Shades of Grey is referred to as “mommy porn” for a reason.  The book’s description and movie’s portrayal of sex and relationship are  not at all what God intended.  What God created to be beautiful, this book makes very ugly.

I regret reading it.  But, regret can’t wipe away those words from my eyes or those images from my brain.

Ugh!

Before you purchase this book or a movie ticket, I hope you pray.  I hope you search your heart and ask…Why do I want to see this? Is this good and right for me?

For me, it boils down to Proverbs 4: 20-27:  My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left;keep your foot from evil.

I want to guard my heart, giving careful thought to my path, keeping my foot from evil.  I am so easily swayed in some areas that I must look straight ahead with my gazed fixed directly on Him and the cross if I am to avoid drifting.

So, I hope you’ll guard your heart from this book and movie – and others like it. It’s best to dwell on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy… Philippians 4:8…although I know it’s hard and only possible with strength from Him.

Let me clarify one thing:  I am FOR you.  I don’t desire to make a point.  I’d like to make a difference.

I am not “holier than thou.”  Heavens.  I have logs in my eye that need removed before I can ever speak on many issues.  My heart is simply to share as one who has read the book and knows the content.  To tell those who have not read this book and want to see the movie:  Please do your homework before going.  To tell those who have read the book and feel guilty (like me) – or go to see the movie and feel guilty:  There’s grace and forgiveness.

And, please, don’t take my word for it.  Pray.  Read the stuff all over the internet.

Honestly, I simply could not – in good conscience – let tomorrow’s release day pass without speaking up.  It hurts my heart to think of all the young gals who will see it and think that is how a man should treat her.  It hurts my heart to think of all the young men who will see it and think that is how they should treat a gal.

(And, please don’t say…it’s just entertainment; no one really patterns behavior after a movie.  Yes, they do – sadly.)

I want better for my daughter.  I want better for this next generation.  I want better for you.  I want better for me.

If you have an opinion about 50 Shades of Grey, would you share it in the comments?  I think conversing – even if online – about this topic in a respectful, open manner can help us and our daughters.

Comments

  1. As a person who has experienced the effects of the sexualization of our generation, and who has dealt with addiction that is fed by so many seemingly harmless things- such as a book, or a pg-13 movie- I can’t help but hurt for those who will be exposed to a curiosity, resulting in an addiction or an abuse. You think that you’ll stop; that you can just simply say “that’s it, no more”, but when you start to be exposed to sex in a way that isn’t what God intended, it feeds an addiction that is SO hard to turn from. This is the result of a broken world, and I just pray that many of the people who see the movie will be disgusted with it, will feel broken because of it, and ultimately will turn to Christ.

    • I know the heart this comment comes from, dear Sara. And what a step posting here is. I am honored to look on and see you’re perseverance…you’re surrender. It gives me hope in so many ways. I never considered a book or a PG13 movie could be a big deal. But, let us all be reminded that the Devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy – and he can creep in in so many ways. Praying for you!

  2. I’m with you, Sarah! It isn’t judgment..it is part of being a mom to worry about the impression this type of material, riding a huge wave of hype, has on our kids. I don’t want to shame anyone, but I can’t really understand it. I tell my kids to be careful what enters the eye-gate because once burned into the memory, images or words read cannot be un-branded. I know many whose marriages have gone up in flames because of addictions such as porn. It’s a bad idea to even flirt with that problem. Thanks for speaking the truth even though truth is sometimes unpopular, as I imagine it will be on this topic. Love your blog!

    • Thanks, Terri…pretty awesome how God has worked to intersect our lives again, huh? We must meet in person some time:) I think I didn’t fully understand any of this until a gal in my youth group at church came to me – addicted to porn. And, as a young wife and about-to-be mom, it’s still a struggle – a battle she’s winning, but a struggle nonetheless. And, it all began with things like this book. That’s good advice you’re giving!

  3. Julia Rohinson says:

    Hi Sarah
    My Emily (14) also came home and told me that “Everyone” was seeing 50 Shades. I simply said…”Not Everyone!” I also followed with something to the effect of- It will be a cold day in BLANK before I would let you see that. She didn’t say anything else because she knew I meant it and she knows why?
    With that being said, I AM going to see it with some girlfriends tomorrow night. I have read the books and although I know that it isn’t how I would live, I am a 45 year old woman and can separate the fantasy from reality. It’s just a fun thing that I don’t take seriously. I however, would never want my impressional teenage daughter to watch that movie because her young mind would not be able to handle what the movie will impress upon her. So Hanna can add one friend to the “Not allowed to watch it” list. ☺

    • I, too, was surprised how many of Emily and Hannah’s friends are seeing it, but I am sure most of them are “sneaking.” I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the movie. Let me know!

    • And, Julia, I am praying for you – daily – I know life is hard and transitions are coming. I am so glad you have a good group of girlfriends to see you through!

  4. Crysta Bourdon says:

    After much thought , and having read all 3 books ( it was painful…. a literary nightmare written to an audience who never surpassed a 4th grade education), I’ve landed here: We were created to be submissive, to long to belong to someone, to give ourselves sacrificially and live within guidelines, rules and boundaries. The problem lies in the fact that we’ve filled that void with twisted sexual nonsense instead of belonging to our creator; our God. If you find yours longing for the ‘thrill’ of filling that void, try directing your urges and longings to the one who will completely satisfy them.

    • This is simply beautiful, my friend. And I think it applies to MANY areas of my life . When I stress eat, I am filling a void belonging to my Creator. Just about any “addiction” or “bad habit” fits your view. I might share this in the future. I love what you bring to this conversation: instead of whining about the movie, let’s get to the heart of the matter. What are you “bandaiding”? We can talk about the symptoms all day long, but we really want to know – and need to know – what the disease is if we are truly going to treat it. Thanks so much! (And I am praying for you dad. I know it’s tough to decide whether to stay or go.)

  5. I’ve read a little over half of the first book…couldn’t read anymore…not bc of content, necessarily, but bc it was so poorly written…just almost laughable…the movie is rated R (right?)…I imagine, were the movie to be “true” to the book…it would have to be rated NC-17 or X…not to be dissmissive…but – that’s “something” to consider when thinking of young people seeing this movie…no – I would not want nor allow my daughter to see it, but – if she did – she would not be seeing everything the author intended…

    • That’s true, Sarah. It must leave much out for it to be rated “R” – although the ratings are getting lax in my opinion. Some things I’ve previewed for students that are PG-13 (especially Dance movies) SHOCK ME! My heart is to want better for all women…but especially our young daughters:)

  6. I have not read the books, so my opinion is based solely on what friends have told me. Over and over I’ve heard it called “mom porn”, which are two words that make me cringe to say them together. As a parent, I try NOT to live by the motto “do as I say, not as I do.” I want my actions to speak louder than my words. Teenagers everywhere WILL see this movie eventually (especially the ones whose parents forbid them to;), and they’ll believe its acceptable because they’ve seen and heard their moms swooning over it for months.

    • Jill…This is perhaps one of the best “points” I’ve heard – and one I didn’t think of. I understand that adults have privileges not afforded to children. (I drink coffee in my classroom, but my students can only have water. I say…I went to school 7 years to drink this in here;) BUT. Just because I can does mean I should. My Hannah emulates me, looks up to me, wants to be like me. Just as I emulate my momma and pray I am half the woman she is. So, if I see it – read it – then Hannah will think…this is ok – my mom does it. And as I read your comment, I was also convicted of many OTHER areas of life where my daughter is watching and copying – how I talk about others; how I treat my health – just to name a few. So, thanks for the reminder that we mommas are EXAMPLES in all areas. I needed that today!

  7. I am glad I didn’t read it and have no desire to see it. My sister, who is an educator and school administrator, like you, read some chapters and echoes your evaluation of the poor quality of writing (plot development, etc.) There is more quality literature in the world than I will ever find the time to read, nor do I want to fill my mind with smut.
    You are right, it is getting much attention. We talked about it recently at work. I was in the minority. Most of the gals “forgave” the behavior because the man came from an abusive past and thought it was redeeming that the female character “taught” him how to love.
    Degradation of women, sexualization, and abuse are prevalent in our society. Often the way we spend our money makes more of a difference than anything we can say. I have four sons, no daughters. I feel it is my obligation, as their mother, to teach them how to treat a lady (with respect, honor, and love.) Indeed, there are no shades of gray when it comes to how God wants us to treat each other. His Word is very clear. Love is patient and kind….
    I say, no thanks, Shades.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. You mentioned “how we spend our money”…so I wanted to let you know about a movement called #50DollarsNot50Shades. You donate $50 to a domestic violence shelter instead of spending it on a night at the movies to see 50 Shades. Neat, huh? And thank you from the mom of a daughter for teaching your sons.

  8. I have to say as someone who WILL go see this movie and someone who has read the whole series that I agree and disagree with you. First off, I do not agree with anyone under the age of 18 seeing this movie. AT ALL. In fact, if you’re above 18 and a virgin I wouldn’t recommend it either because of the ideas and/or expectations that it may result in. However, as an adult, a woman who has had a few partners and who has experienced sex in a few different aspects, as a woman who grew up in an abusive home, I can see this and enjoy it. I can see it and understand what I can agree with and what I cannot. I can see this movie and love that I have a man at home with me that gives me all the pleasures in the world (as Mr. Gray is portrayed to do) yet still get treated like a queen. It is the uneducated that and inexperienced that I fear to watch this movie or read the book. I am a believer, I have been a Christian my whole life and love God. If I felt that this was going to hurt my relationship with him, I wouldn’t consider it, but it is a movie. But I cannot agree more with your concern of your children and of the next generation. Sex is beautiful when done with love and with a relationship with God but at the end of the day, it happens without both of those very important aspects on a regular basis. In fact, I know that my life has had it’s handful of such encounters. But because of those experiences I can look at this movie and see if for what it is, nothing but a movie.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. That’s the beauty of this thing called blogging: We can hear the hearts of many! I appreciate you taking time to share your view. And after you’ve seen the movie, I’d love to hear what you thought – worse or better? good or bad? Please either comment her or email me at sarah.b.farish@gmail.com. I think conversation is good!

  9. I was floored that our 15 year old daughter had so many friends going to see it on Valentine’s Day. So sad.

    • Me too, Missy. Adults who see it are just that: adults. I hope they are praying and making informed, Spirit-led decisions. But, to let a child see it? My daughter says their parents do not know . I said…then how do they get in? She said they simply buy a ticket for a PG movie, then wait and switch theaters. Boo!

  10. Amen! Why would this not be called abuse? I have not read the book and will not see the movie. Some call it “steamy” but it’s nothing but society slipping deeper into sin. Ask yourself, where do I draw the line in my life? Is it okay even if you are married? It’s nothing more than sadomasicism dressed up as a passionate love affair. There’s nothing loving about it. No love in cruel torture games. It’s sin. Sin is tempting but please don’t open the door . Sin destroys love.

  11. Sometimes procrastination is a great protector! I never got around to reading the books and took them off my list as soon as they started getting labeled as “mom porn.” I say this as a wife who’s husband started dabbling in internet porn that eventually led to infidelity.

    Please don’t dip your toe in the water “just to see.” It’s a slippery slope.

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