This post originally appeared on Kieran’s old blog in October 2012
Ok, so I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor do I plan to. However I have read enough reviews and heard enough comments about the book to get the gist of the story line. The book is being affectionately labelled as ‘mommy porn’ and it is indeed pornography in the truest sense of the word, ‘Pornography’ literally meaning writing about sexual immorality. Martin Saunders who heads up Youth Work magazine summarises the story:
Here it is, then: 21-year-old virgin Anastasia Steele meets charismatic billionaire Christian Grey, and falls for him. He’s not just stunningly handsome and rich, he’s also trying to save the world and stop famine. What a hero! Well, except that, thanks to an abusive childhood, he has a severely twisted sexual appetite. Despite this, Ana is drawn into his world, and into his arms, via lots of gasping and swooning – and begins a long-lasting liaison with him. He’s not really capable of a healthy relationship, however, so instead introduces Ana to a world of controlled violence, submission and, of course, lots of (very badly written) sex. Within a few short weeks, Ana goes from repressed virgin to sexual deviant, and despite – or perhaps because of – the violence, falls deeply in love.
But why is this book so successful? Why are so many people reading it? Why is it one of the fastest selling books at the moment? At the New Christian Media Conference that I attended last Saturday Vicky Walker spoke about what we can learn from 50 shades. It was a very interesting talk and it highlighted some very important issues surrounding the success of the of the books. So why are so many people reading it? FOMO! Fear Of Missing Out. One of the main reasons that people are reading this series of books is down to peer pressure. People are afraid that they are missing out. Its being talked about in the staff rooms, the twittersphere, the coffee house and Facebook. People just don’t like to feel left out, do they? Now I am by no means saying that that is a good reason to read it. But I do think that this is an important factor in the incredible success of the book. Sex Sells Of course we know that sex sells. It always has done. No doubt that is one of the leading factors of the success of this book. However Martin Saunders closes his article with a very powerful comment:
…why has Fifty Shades, a poorly written sex story by an unknown author, become the publishing phenomenon of the year? How come, in an age where gender equality is finally looking achievable, millions of women are turning to a book that seems to suggest that, deep down, they actually want to be oppressed after all?
How should Christians respond to 50 shades? Often our response as Christians is to make a noise. Complain. Grumble. Moan. But perhaps that’s not the correct response… As Christians we should be known for what we are for rather than what we are against. Let me be clear, I am not saying, that we should not be discouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ from reading these books. As Christians we need to be fleeing from sin. However instead we should be modelling, relationships, marriage, singleness and sexuality to the world. As the church we have a responsibility to be speaking to the world about what sexuality should look like. Christians should not be blushing behind the pews. But instead, speaking up about sexuality and the redemptive power of Christ. As Christians we should be leading the way in the discussion not hiding away from it.
“When it comes to sex, the Bible provides a far more fulfilling framework than EL James’ sadistic anti-hero.”