50 Shades of Grey – Should We Read It? Part 1 of 2

50 Shades of Grey or Red?

My husband Josh and I were talking one evening after he returned from a business trip, when someone on TV mentioned the book, 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

Josh said, “What the heck is that book even about? Because of the nice looking business tie on the cover, I picked up a copy to buy at the airport, thinking it was a leadership development book.”

I then turned 50 shades of red trying to explain to him the concept of this pop-culture book

I then turned 50 shades of red trying to explain to him the concept of this pop-culture book, as best I could, based on recent reviews I had seen. Afterwards, I chuckled to myself, completely amused at the conversation that could have arisen between the checkout girl and my husband if he had purchased it. More than likely she definitely knew what the book was about.

Mommy-Porn. It’s Culturally Popular!

The book has experienced soaring popularity, recently appearing on both the Dr. Oz and Ellen Show. It’s spent 8 weeks on the New York Times best seller list and is the number one downloaded book on Amazon.com.

Some questions I started to ponder:

  • How has this book gained such a rapid following with women (and yes-Christian women) from all walks of life, married, single, liberal, and conservative?
  • Are we just re-discovering “The Joy of Sex” or are we just more comfortable talking about it?
  • As Christians, is it okay to read the book IF it helps our sex life with our spouse?
  • Are we over-thinking the whole moral issue with it?
  • And what’s the deal with the description: Mommy-Porn? Is this perhaps the biggest oxymoron of labels? I dare any of you to picture your mom and porn together. Ew!

A Sex Book with a Magical Formula

First, I believe the popularity of the book can be boiled down to a magic formula that many authors use and one which requires great skill to master as a writer. In this magic formula, the plot is often complex and thought provoking, relying on back stories and divergent sub-plots that engage the reader’s mind and offer concepts that they’ve never thought of before. Well, not really.

The magic formula is actually incredibly simple and unfortunately exploits the shallowest parts of us all, and here it is.

I am exactly like this character, except:

  • I wish I could DO that!”
  • “I wish I could BE that!”
  • “I wish I could HAVE that!”

The magic formula is a relatable character with an un-relatable life.

People read fantasy books for the thrill of seeing a world through someone else’s eyes. How tempting it is to leave the mundane or harsh realities of the real world behind and become:

  • Anastasia Steele, meek and mild mannered virgin, encountering…
  • Christian Grey, high-powered enigmatic business tycoon.

A chance meeting between the two where hearts quicken, sparks fly, and the two secretly spend a 2-year courtship contemplating career decisions and financial obligations. They get to know one another and meet each other’s family until finally they tie the knot in a beautiful ceremony all neatly wrapped up by the end of the book. Yes? Of course not! Who would pay to read that? Relatable characters can only go so far before they’re too relatable.

Instead, between the steamy lines of this novel develops a story of a much darker discourse. Christian Grey has a jaded past that inclines him to bad-boy, S & M, dominating sexual tendencies. The kind of guy any sweet virgin girl loves for her first experience (insert sarcastic tone here).

Escape from the Mundane?

The book tries to connect with women on the somewhat relatable topic that many of us have: a shy inner insecurity particularly when it comes to sex. But this isn’t the problem really. Because let’s be honest, the book isn’t trying to help you resolve inadequacies in your marriage. The book is trying to capture the attention of women who are experiencing a real life crisis: that time in a marriage when it’s less about oooey, gooey feelings and more about how committed we are to each other. In other words, the boring part; life in the mundane.

Doesn’t this book sound a lot like pornography?

But fear not the mundane. This book has the answer to reconnect you to those lustful feelings, which according to the Dr. Oz show, is just what the Sex Doctor ordered. This book is revolutionary! But isn’t this book just a quick fix for a wandering desire? Doesn’t this book sound a lot like pornography?

OK, so should we read it? Read the next part of this series at http://www.changingthefaceofchristianity.com/popculturechristianity/50-shades-of-grey-should-we-read-it-part-1-of-2-2/

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  1. Kasey says

    Indeed, John, there is a great article at Gospel Coalition.com that discusses this perversion in detail. (it went alittle awry, but it’s a good conversation anyway.) actually, I just visited the website and it looks like they took down the link. But I agree…the perversity of sex with rape/abuse is another difficult issue.

  2. Mike says

    I have not read this book, nor will I based on what I have heard and just read. Why would I want to? One question for Kasey. Tell me Kasey (and I am not judging you) How do claim to be a ‘Long Time Christian” but only recently found Christ? For myself, I thought I was a Christian, professed to be a Christian (until age 51), then I “Found” Jesus Christ and I knew that I was not a Christian all those years. So, I am speaking from experience! I now evangelize to as many as I can, especially those that think they are Christians, but are not. I am glad you came to know Christ personally! Praise God.

  3. Kasey says

    Good question, Mike. I had to think about how to respond to this question, and decide if I needed to re-word what I stated. I think I still stand by my original statement, and here’s why; I grew up very aware of Jesus and what He meant to my life. As a child I recall having great faith in Him, praying every night and completely trusting in my personal relationship with Jesus by doing what I learned in Bible stories. In 4th grade, I recall having a conversation with a girl who said you couldn’t go to heaven, unless you were baptized. I responded that I didnt think that was true because of the verse John 3:16, where it says “whoever BELIEVES in Christ shall not perish, but have ever lasting life”. However, as I entered my teens and twenties, my family stopped going to church and I didnt continue to get any Biblical teaching to grow me spiritually. I then started walking a carnal life. Though I can tell you about a lot of mistakes I made…I see God’s protection over a lot of my choices. I also still believed in Christ and God very much, though I wasn’t aware that my belief should be affecting my decisions, choices, and lifestyles. One night, a friend’s boyfriend sat in my house and angrily told me that he didnt believe in “my God” and after a harsh fight I threw him out of my house. (I thought that was me being a faithful believer.) It wasn’t until I was 31 years old, and could see on my own through a series of really bad choices, that there was ACTUALLY more than just “being good” and going to church that made you a believer. As a child, life is so much simpler, and I believe I was sealed in my choices to follow Jesus, but when I got older…I walked astray without ever being corrected by anyone until God got my attention and I came back home. Now….if you ask me if I would have been in heaven, during the years of my life that I walked astray….I would have a hard time answering that. I believe that evidence of a Christian life is revealed in fruit produced and at the time I was not producing much fruit (I didnt know I was suppose to be!). But….I think that only God knows each person’s heart. And because He knew my beginnings and my end, perhaps He was patient with my transformation until I suffered so much that I had no other choice. Consequently, my prayer is to make sure my children fully understand what is required of them, according to His word. PS Interesting that you would read this article, the book is primarily targeted towards women. What caught your eye?

  4. Rafael Bocanegra says

    It’s not what we hear on sunday morning sermons,sex is the strongest drug human can obtain,even the LORD JEHOVA forewarns us of how intoxicating it can be,and due to our own misguided understanding of the word of GOD we have created 50 shades of gray in an other most rational of the LORD’s intentions

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