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The book series 50 Shades of Grey was hugely successful – if you go by the number of books sold. But how do you measure success when it comes to the relational impact of the books?
Do these stories of sado-masochistic extra-marital sex help those who read them in forming and sustaining healthy long-term relationships – or hurt them?
And now comes the movie version. Should you buy a ticket and fill your mind with the message of Grey?
Hang With Me On This – This Is Important…
What do you really want from your life relationally?
Have you really thought this through? You have a lot of choices.
The underlying message of 50 Shades of Grey is that sex between two people who are “romantically” interested in each other (attracted by feelings, a chemical response, as distinguished from real love) is not only okay, it is highly desirable and exciting.
There is a small element of truth – uncommitted sex for the sake of the physical/chemical burst of pleasure can be exciting. Due to the design of human sexual interaction – sex can provide a momentary and addictive deluge of chemicals to your brain that can ease depression and sadness. Such a casual encounter can provide you with warm feelings of attachment (the chemical oxytocin at work) and even delude you into thinking that this person actually loves you.
This is a dangerous delusion.
More importantly, the worldview of sexuality in 50 Shades can cause you to miss the amazing relational benefits of physical intimacy that can lead to a lifetime of true love and relational security.
So, to answer the question about whether or not you want to see the movie or not, you need first to decide what you want in your relationships long term.
Your Brain on Shades of Grey
At the most basic level, the sex in Shades ignores the relational intent of sexuality that was intended by the Designer.
In Shades, sex is sold for the sake of the great feelings and excitement it provides – as are the people. The people are sold to each other – they are physically attractive and can be used for pleasure.
The relationship in Shades between Anastasia and multi-zillonaire psychological deviant “Christian” Grey (oddly named, given his distinctly un-Christian behavior) quickly escalates to sex, before the two even really know who the other is.
This is an extremely dangerous but common relationship mistake in American society. Once sex is enjoined between two people of any gender – the resultant chemicals that flow result in a euphoric addiction between the two that can last for months or even a few years. In fact, there will always be an element of chemical bonding between the two.
But such couples have a very shallow and likely temporary relationship. They do not really know each other yet.
Sex was designed and intended to help provide greater permanency and bonding between two people who already know a lot about each other. Before sex, first needs to come a time of observing, investigating, and discovering who the other is. Is this a person that you can get along with during good and bad times.
There will be bad times in any relationship. Bank on it. All of us have problems within us that will cause problems in our relationships – but in a true love relationship (not one based on feelings but on a choice to do what is best for another person, regardless of how you feel at that moment, and regardless of how they respond to you) we work through these issues together.
But in a relationship such as that depicted in Grey, the intoxicating effects of the sexual chemicals begin a relationship based on, well, chemistry. There is no knowledge of who the other truly is, their likes or dislikes, their faults, or their history. The initial attraction is a shallow physical/emotional one, the chemical bonding that occurs because of the sexual engagement is exhilarating but – at some point the realities of life will cause the thrill of that to wane.
And likely, a relationship based just on the “whoosh” of chemical thrills will end – when one or both involved people long for the past excitement. They assume the American “romantic” relationship assumption; that love is indicated by some exciting and indescribable feelings.
And so, such shallow sex-based relationships are doomed to fail.
So how does your brain/heart respond to pornography such as 50 Shades of Grey?
It programs you to let down your guard relationally and you are more likely to seek the thrills depicted in the movie in your life. In fact, studies show that while men and women view or even read pornography that many of the same chemicals flow in the brain as in actual sex – thus the reason why porn is so incredibly addictive. You can become addicted to the act of sex or pornography or both.
Whereas sex was clearly designed to bond two people together beautifully, for life. It was not intended to be an ugly addiction.
You’ll Need More Grey, Eventually
Porn viewing/reading leads to some severe relational deficiencies. An wise teacher of antiquity asked his son the question, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned?”
When sex becomes a consumer product (the ultimate reality of 50 Shades of Grey), it loses the sacredness our Creator designed into it. Instead of sexual intimacy being a precious gift to bond two people together in joy, it becomes an event.
It become an event, performance based (“…was it good for you? Did you have a thundering orgasm like Anastasia in 50 Shades?) instead of act of lovingly ministering to someone that you are fully committed to.
And understand this; this porn-induced sexuality tends to need stronger and stronger stimuli in order to continue as time goes on. It is thrill based rather than relationally based.
Just like a drug addict who needs more drugs and stronger drugs to feel good – the person who is engaging in sex as an event in itself (as opposed to a relational process/fruit) will become increasingly desensitized to the person they are with and instead need greater and more perverted (and harmful) sexual thrills to feel anything at all.
The sexual world of 50 Shades of Grey is destructive, shallow, and ultimately will harm your relationships.
Oh Yeah, This is Awkward…
Of course, in line with our societal drift away from right standards of behavior (those standards which protect the dignity and health of those involved, handed down to us by our loving Creator), 50 Shades of Grey wanders into some sexual activities which are very physically (and quite often emotionally) damaging.
Anal sex, although it have become very popular among perusers of pornography – is a very dangerous activity. The HIV/AIDS epidemic initially ravaged the gay community – and the primary means of transmission was through anal sex.
As this risky form of sexual behavior became popularized by pornography the disease became more common among heterosexual couples.
Additionally, if you subscribe to health magazines, you will see advertisements for products that, well, are strange. The “butt patch,” that keeps you from pooping your pants uncontrollably – is primarily a product that has risen in sales due to the damage to the anal sphincter from anal sex.
Some gay men for years carried tampons for just this reason.
Is this something indicative of normal healthy sexuality? No.
A host of auto-immune and blood disorders, diseases, and loss of control of when you defecate are not “normal and healthy” byproducts of sex as God intended. He intended sex to be a blessing, not a curse.
The book Darker Shades of Grey glamorizes anal sex as some sort of pleasurable freedom – but for some reason I find the suffering of HIV, auto-immune diseases, infections, and the indignity of pooping your pants to be lacking in either pleasure or glamour.
Reject the Shades of Grey – Walk in Light
I’ve been married very happily for about 30 years now. My sex life is private – but I can share this one fact:
Neither of us has ever suffered anything at all bad from our intimate encounters.
We have experienced only good.
30 years of true intimacy and love.
And on the other hand, we have never received disease, hurt, or pain. Neither of us has to wear a butt patch.
That is not what you will get from the pornographic glory of this new movie. That is not what you will get from the view of sex that 50 Shades of Grey sells.
You are being sold a product – reject that product for your own relational happiness.