The Black and White Lines of 50 Shades of Grey
I feel it is important as a pastor that I weigh in on the discussion about the newly released movie, “50 Shades of Grey”. I really think that the decision to watch a movie like this is not that difficult and it comes down to the idea of how we draw lines. We all draw lines. We all set standards of behavior for ourselves. We draw lines in the areas of telling the truth, cheating, stealing, and in this case, sex. We draw lines that we are unwilling to cross. Now, sometimes where we draw the lines changes over time, but in the moment, we all draw lines. Since the movie at issue deals mostly with sex, that’s where I’ll comment.
There are two different people in the world, followers of Jesus and those who don’t follow Jesus. Those who don’t follow Jesus will draw their lines somehow. If you don’t claim to follow Jesus then you might use personal preference or societal norms or some other standard to draw lines. For example, I’m pretty sure that almost all of you reading this post would say that having sex with children is forbidden. You’ve drawn a line there. But, you also know that there are many people in our culture and around the world who do not draw a line here. For them, sex with children is permissible. Others of you would draw a line at adultery. But you also know that many people don’t draw such a line. Many are willing to cross that line each day in our society. My point is that you choose some basis to draw lines which serve as boundaries for sexual activity in your own life.
But the follower of Jesus has given up his/her own right to draw the lines in relation to sex and other areas of life. As a follower of Jesus, we choose to live by the lines drawn by God. Yes, it is true that followers of Jesus can differ on how to interpret the lines drawn by God in many areas, even the area of sex, but in the matter of a movie such as “50 Shades of Grey”, the line is clearly black and white. I won’t bore you with the multitude of Bible verses that would say to the follower of Jesus that a movie like “50 Shades of Grey”, and many other movies and shows like it, clearly crosses a line regarding sexual activity that a follower of Jesus cannot cross without sinning. If you are even remotely familiar with the Bible’s call to sexual purity in both action and thought, it is impossible to see this movie and think that is falls within the acceptable bounds of sexual activity for the follower of Jesus. If you think it does, you are simply not aware of what the Bible says, or you are in denial of what it says as it applies to you.
Now, the truth is that every follower of Jesus gets it wrong sometimes. I have certainly seen many things that have crossed the line in the areas of sexual content. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. What concerns me as it relates to this movie is the attitude of “freedom” that some seem to say they have to watch a movie like this. If I yield to temptation to watch something that is sinful in relation to sexuality, I’m not proud of that. I’m not going to boast about it. I’m going to do my best to not let anyone else know about it. I’m concerned about an attitude that says something to the effect of “I can watch this movie and if you think I’m wrong you are judging me.” That concerns me. It is clearly sinful for the follower of Jesus to watch such a movie. That is not me or anyone else judging you. That is just the truth; at least as the Bible teaches. Probably not a line for those who don’t follow Jesus, but a line that the follower of Jesus has put himself/herself under the authority of willingly.
Finally, please don’t think that exercising your freedom to watch such a movie doesn’t have an impact on those who do not follow Jesus and their opinion of you. Oh, they may say they applaud your decision, but deep down, they are seeing that your relationship to Christ is not something that changes you in the area of sexuality. At least that’s the way I see it. If you choose to see this movie, I’ll still love you. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t at work in your life; perhaps even in a significant way. However, I do think that if you can watch the movie and not feel a need to repent afterward, there’s a problem. As I see it, that is not a gray area, it is pretty black and white.
If you would like to discuss this further, I’d be glad to talk to you.