Christian women know better love story than 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Pre-sales for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie are reportedly at record highs in conservative states. | Fifty Shades Of Grey - Official Trailer (Universal Pictures)

DETROIT (Christian Examiner) -- The movie "Fifty Shades of Grey," set to open Valentine's weekend in theaters is not about romance but is being billed as anything from boring to "mommy porn" for its sexual content and sadomasochistic scenes. And that message doesn't sit well with those who believe the story of love is best told through the power and grace of Christ.

Widely anticipated by some, the film, based on the New York Times best-selling trilogy "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed" has been hugely criticized by domestic abuse advocates and Christian ministers. Fox News compared scenes in it to gruesome acts of Cleveland's Ariel Castro, who imprisoned and sexually abused three women in his home for years.

Emily Matuszak, senior director of programs at Haven, a Detroit area non-profit organization for victims of domestic abuse voiced concerns that the film "glamorizes men's sexual aggression and violence."

"It romanticizes controlling behavior sending that message that somehow romance, violence, being controlled, being overwhelmed is something that is glamorous or exciting," Matuszak told her local ABC affiliate WXYZ.

Even the movie's leading actors reportedly have equivocal opinions about the film. Jamie Dornan, who plays the leading male told Glamour Magazine his real-life healthy perception of women conflicted with the character he played.

"I've always had a deep respect for women. I have two sisters. My father spent his career as an obstetrician-gynecologist caring for women," Dornan said. As a result, "I don't think I would like him if he was a real dude and we met," he noted about the role of Christian Grey.

But while reviews run the gamut of praise and criticism, a well-known Christian blogger who shares a portion of the film's fan base and target audience -- Christian women -- is directly pleading with her followers not to see the movie.

"I hear so many Christian women argue that going to see this movie is simply entertainment and may even help their marriage," Becky Thompson author of the blog Scissortail Silk writes in a recent post entitled Christian Women and Christian Grey.

Thompson, who has a marriage book due out in 2017 told Christian Examiner that her message, written without judgement for those who choose not to heed her advice, is intended to spare women from the "potential hazard" to their spiritual life.

"The wonderful thing about God's endless grace is that there is no hierarchy of sin. There's nothing that we could do that would separate us from God's love for us, but there are things that we can do that damage our heart and how it responds to the Lord."

In an interview Thompson noted her surprise that so many Christian women "had positive feelings" towards the Fifty Shades and attributed it, in part, to struggling marriages.

"I have gotten so many thousands of women contacting me that their marriages are struggling or hearts are hurting," she said.

And while some secular therapists are pushing the books and film to rekindle romance, Thompson says, it is not the answer.

"This is not a solution for our hurting hearts and to bring wholeness to our marriage. The answer is in the wholeness and completion of Jesus."

On her blog, she writes: "It is a complete lie that going to see the movie will help your marriage. And an even bigger lie is that it won't affect you it all. Because it will. The things that you see cannot be unseen. The feelings that you experience from being entertained by those scenes cannot be unfelt. And if marriages aren't under enough pressure already, going to watch pornography is only throwing gasoline on relationships experiencing fire from all directions."

Still another writer Kirsten Anderson, a Washington correspondent for the Christian online publication LifeSiteNews in a lengthy review of the story, the genre, and the movie itself, observes that Christian conservatives may be looking only at "sounding the alarm about its glorification of pornography, domestic abuse and degradation.

"But there's another front Christians need to be fighting on, and for once, it's not one where we're on the defensive. Forget the porn for a minute; forget the abuse," Anderson said after sharing the opinion that in Fifty Shades the reader is put into both the "role of the saved and the savior."

Anderson suggested Christians pay close attention to that same need that drives so many -- "a hundred million people" -- to pay for a paperback edition of "love we live every day" and how much more we should be willing to share God's redemptive love.

"In Fifty Shades, we have a story that has touched the hearts of millions of women, and underneath its filthy exterior, at its core, it's about unconditional love and redemption," Anderson writes.

"Love is our story. Let's tell it better," she concludes. 

The LifeSiteNew website promotes a boycott of the movie that had been signed by nearly 75,000 Thursday, Feb. 11, with a goal of 100,000. The boycott is addressed to "Executives at Universal Pictures and Focus Features," and expresses "outrage" at a movie it says promotes "misogyny, abuse, and sado-masochism under the guise of "romance."

Jay Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, according to a story in the International Business Times, said the movie should be avoided.

"There is absolutely nothing good that could come from exposing your mind to that which will lead to sinful sexual thoughts and temptations," Dennis said.

The interfaith Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP), a group of Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders, said in a statement the movie stands in contrast to "God's design" for love.

"The books and the movie undermine everything that we believe as members of the faith community," RAAP wrote, according to IBT.

As pre-sales for the R-rated move come in for the film's Valentines Day release, surprisingly high numbers are being reported in conservative states like Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.