Is Fifty Shades of Grey Okay?

The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey is quite insane. Well, maybe not so much in in today’s culture. Still a lot of Christians have read the books or are thinking about it. Heck, many are going to see the film. So we asked ourselves a simple question, “Is Fifty Shades of Grey okay?” What we mean by that is, it is okay for us to read or watch as followers of Christ?

 

Lari Burkhart

I’ll admit that I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, all three of the books in fact. A friend sent them to me. She thought I would be offended by the truly awful writing, and I definitely was. The grammar was painful in many places and the author’s inability to decide whether to use British or American terminology kept me frustrated. The premise was laughable to the point that it really didn’t make sense a lot of the time. I won’t even go into the various plot holes, because that’s not what this article is about.
So, why did I keep reading them? Considering how bad the books were on a purely literary level, what kept me turning the pages until I had read every word?
The books were exciting. I had never read anything like it before and I have to say that I got caught up in the weird romance of it. By the time the steamy parts came around, I knew I should put it down, but I still kept on reading. It was exciting to read scenarios that portrayed things I had never even thought about before. I never would have considered myself someone who struggled with lust, but reading the Fifty Shades of Grey books and my reaction to them showed me just how susceptible I am.
Honestly, I regret having read the books and I won’t be going to see the movie. It’s been three years since I picked up the first book, and I don’t plan to walk down that road again.
In the end, I think the question of whether or not Fifty Shades of Grey is okay comes down to two things:
  1. Why do you want to read the books or see the movie? By now, everyone is pretty aware of what they’re about and no one is talking about the great storyline.
  2. Is it something you’re going to feel good about afterwards? From personal experience, I suggest you really think about it. There is a reason I haven’t talked about reading the books before now: I’m uncomfortable admitting it.

1410897554_greys-landing-640

Silas Green

“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” (I Cor. 10:23)
Is it okay to read Fifty Shades of Grey? It depends what you mean by “okay.” There’s no Bible verse telling you not to read it. I mean, sure the book wasn’t written yet but there was plenty of racy entertainment in Biblical times. The Bible could easily have said, “Don’t watch this kind of play” or “Don’t read this kind of scroll.” And it doesn’t. Entertainment is not condemned in the Scripture. I want to stay away from legalism when talking about what is and isn’t “okay.”
So the simple answer is yes, it’s okay to read Fifty Shades of Grey. As an avid fan of Game of Thrones, I’m certainly not going to be throwing stones at anyone for what they read and watch. Incidentally, I don’t believe watching Game of Thrones is sinful, either.
I must confess, I’ve not actually read Fifty Shades of Grey, so I’m no expert at what exactly is in the book. I know enough to know I’m not interested. Flipping through it at my local store, I can see plenty of reasons not to read it even before we get to the stuff you need Content Warnings for.
Is the book something you really need in your life? Probably not. The writing is bad, the characters (from what little I saw of them in my flipping through the book) are shallow, and there doesn’t seem to be anything spiritually uplifting in its pages. But then, the same is true of most of what’s on TV.
There are things that are not sinful to do that are still not okay for you. It’s like eating junk food and refusing to exercise. Sooner or later that stuff catches up to your body. Something similar goes on in your soul. The stuff you expose yourself to has an effect on you. Reading Fifty Shades of Grey is like eating really horrible food. It may not be straight up poison (a good example of truly poisonous entertainment is pornography), but it’s kind of getting into that territory.
What kind of effect is it going to have on you? Well, it’s probably not going to turn you into a kinky sex-crazed pervert, any more than playing a violent video game will turn you into a remorseless killer. What it will probably do is dampen your sensitivity to the kinds of things going on in its pages. It may be imperceptible. You may not even notice.
Lots of gamers don’t notice how desensitized they are to violence. We fans of Game of Thrones don’t even flinch at the beheadings anymore. And even if we think we aren’t affected, these things take a toll on our empathy. This kind of entertainment is part of the world. They can turn into what Jesus described in his Parable of the Sower as the thorns that choke out the Word of God in our lives. Also, some people are going to be affected in ways that others are not. If you struggle with lust and dehumanizing others in your imagination, you might not be able to read stuff that others can without being hurt by it. We are all different. If it’s a stumbling block to you, you should stay away from it.
I’m a great lover of entertainment. I watch movies and television, read books that have no educational value, play video games, and listen to music. I don’t limit myself to so-called “Christian” entertainment. I do so without guilt, so long as I don’t allow it to draw me away from my relationship with God. I’m not a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey, so it would be the easiest thing in the world for me to list all the reasons why you shouldn’t read this book, all the while reading and watching things that are no better because they happen to have magic or zombies in them instead of kinky sex.
I may not recommend reading it, but I won’t judge you if you do. For those that may want to go beyond reading this stuff to actually living it: just remember that it’s not meant to be realistic in any way. It is a fantasy. People don’t usually act like that. Your wife/husband is probably not going to want to do the things the book describes, and letting this work of fiction affect your expectations may lead to some incredibly awkward situations… and bitter disappointment.
Also, remember that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally Twilight fanfiction. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that basing real-life romance on vampire fiction is a bad idea.

 

Francis King Jr.

(Laughs) No. I don’t think it’s okay for anyone, except to some as a joke. For Christians, you have the obvious problems of a story centered around premarital sex nested within an abusive relationship. According to numerous sources, the relationship between the two main characters is tremendously unhealthy at best.
The male, Christian, is jealous and violent. The plot has the female, Ana’s loving patience help Christian overcome his violent nature. But in real life this kind of relationship does not have a happy ending. It ends with people being scarred for life, seriously injured, or even dead. Many anti-domestic violence and abuse groups are protesting the movie. Even if they are not a Christian, any decent human being can see that the type of relationship portrayed in the story should not be romanticized.
The story is even offensive from a literary standpoint. Pick out any review of the book, and there is 99% chance that it says that the book is nothing more than poorly written fanfiction/smut. Overused phrases, ridiculous scenarios, and child-like exchanges abound. If not for being given a high-profile from being a thinly disguised fanfiction of Twilight, Fifty Shades would be nothing more than another dirty romance novel on the shelves at your local bookstore.
As it stands, no one should go see this movie. Not as a joke, not as anything. It’s inappropriate for humans.

Wesley Wood

Wesley Wood is an aspiring film director. He would love to make GOOD films to help spread God's word and help Christians grow.

5 Comments

  1. LugNuts22 on February 7, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I’m with Francis King here.

    Regardless of if you feel tempted, abusive relationships are simply unhealthy whether you read about or participate in them. It can’t do any good for you one way or another.

    To really gain something from this mess, it might be a good idea to learn the psychology of abusive relationships and how to get people out of them.

  2. questdrivencollie on April 2, 2015 at 2:11 am

    Interesting thoughts from Lari.
    I do not think FSOG is okay, but it is true that a lot of the things we watch really include a lot of immoral stuff. One thing to keep in mind is that characters are not going to reflect your beliefs and may act in ways that you do not agree with. This is how I justify watching anime, really, and why I don’t feel guilty for it.

    That said, I see FSOG as porn, which invites the reader in to lust. I don’t think that’s okay. But then, I’m no better as since my teens I’ve struggled with temptation to read smutty fanfictions…usually out of curiosity, but now and then I’ve come across one that was actually well written and have been tempted to view it again. I don’t condone that, but it’s no better than watching or reading FSOG.
    The thing about FSOG, is it’s easy for me to condemn it because it’s out in the open and everyone knows about it. But what I’ve done in secret is no better.

    On FSOG, I haven’t read it myself and don’t plan to, but another factor is the relationship it portrays is really not one I’d want to glorify or have in my life. BDSM is one thing, but from what I’m told it goes beyond that and the guy seems pretty actually abusive.

    • questdrivencollie on April 2, 2015 at 3:08 am

      That said, a lot of the stuff I watch has what my dad would call “redeeming qualities”. Often I like the characters for their idealism, morals, or other positive or inspiring qualities. (This being why I’m a Suzaku fan when it comes to Code Geass.)

      Of course, some of the stuff I like or watch is little more than humor or just there for fun and has little else to offer that actually benefits or encourages me.

  3. Daniel on February 17, 2015 at 1:48 am

    To me, it all boils down to this verse:
    Philippians 4:8
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    These books are not justifiable in any way. They are not honest, just, definitely not pure, or lovely. There is no virtue in any of these books, so no. No Christian should see these movies.

  4. David Beck on February 12, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Great article guys! Always good to hear more than one opinion at once.
    As for the book/movie, I got about a quarter of the way through the first book and had to stop. The content was purely disgusting, yet I have to agree with Silas. If you are OK with the content, I believe that you can go ahead with reading the books, but you have to thing “How will this benefit/uplift me?”

Leave a Reply