When does a Christian experience a sense of shame? When they make a choice that separates them from God’s will and blessing. Shame is what Adam and Eve felt in the garden, after they had chosen the serpent’s suggestions. There are a lot of sermons about forgiveness and grace and I am glad, but we need to fully understand God’s word. Psalm 103:8 reads, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” But to say that verse describes God’s character is only a partial truth. The Bible also says, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day” (Psalm 7:11). Those verses must be combined to describe the full character of God.
I wrote a blog post about the book, Fifty Shades of Grey in June of 2012. I had never heard of the genre of literature called “Mommy Porn.” Unfortunately, we will be hearing a lot about that book again because it has become a movie, scheduled to open for Valentine’s Day. I hope that movie will be a dismal failure, but advance tickets sales would indicate otherwise. One article discussed how “good for the economy” this movie has been. The same article mentioned that Mississippi led the other fifty states in advanced ticket sales. I wonder if those numbers reflect people who want to see the movie but don’t want to stand in line for the tickets. 1 Peter 2:1 says, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” There is shame in seeing a movie like this, there is added shame if seeing it requires deceit and hypocrisy. If there are fifty shades of grey, our culture will grow several shades darker with movies like this one.
We vote with our dollars when we attend a movie and I pray that every Christian will vote a resounding “no” on this movie. One entertainment website describes the plot like this: “Fifty Shades of Grey is the story of a college student, Anastasia, who begins a relationship with a 27 year old very successful and powerful businessman, Christian Grey.” I won’t write the rest of the description because it is disgusting. Normally I wouldn’t write on a book I have not read, but I don’t need to read this one to know it is wrong and shameful. All of us should take note of the name assigned to the main character. I don’t think the choice was incidental.
I wasn’t going to even bring this subject up again because I don’t like giving the book or the movie any attention. I’m writing because I want us to be sensitive in the days ahead. I’ve heard the book and movie discussed by people throughout the media. Some individuals report it brazenly with enjoyment. Most of the reporters speak their lines, follow them with a nervous laugh and look down. Most appear to be glad to move on to the next subject. I have seen that “shame” in many of those in our media, regardless of their relationship with the Lord. I wonder how long that will be true.
My greatest concern about Fifty Shades of Grey is this: Will the “Mommy porn” of today be the Harlequin romance of my granddaughter’s generation? Will the culture fade towards the blacker shades of grey or turn the other direction? Our ministry exists to help people choose paths that lead to Jesus, the Light of the world.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the people of Judea, preaching about what would be necessary if they wanted to remain “blessable” by God. When King Josiah died, the culture darkened and Jeremiah warned the people that God would discipline. I believe his words to the people of Judea are the same words a prophet would speak to our American culture. Jeremiah said:
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:13-16).
Every conversation about this movie and every trip to the theater is worth taking a moment to pause, and stand at the crossroad. Ask where the good way is and walk in it. It will take you to a brighter place because it will take you toward Jesus and the rest your soul desires.
The culture might grow a few shades darker, but that just makes the message of Christ even brighter. Shame is the result of choosing the wrong roads. Let’s choose the ancient paths instead and bring some light into the world. Conversations about this movie provide a good opportunity to do just that!