Now that Presidents’ Day is behind us we can be sure of one thing: “Fifty Shades of Grey” brought in a whole lot of green. According to box office analysts, the carnally erotic full length motion picture brought in $94.4 million over the extended Valentine’s Day weekend.Thanks to mass marketing visionaries, it seems as if the bedroom of society has been transformed overnight into a chamber of bondage. It seems as if the American culture has finally learned to normalize darkness.
But there is also one more thing that we can be sure of with the release of “Fifty Shades of Grey:” the black and white clarity of the Bible has strangely turned grey in the lives of many in the church. Perhaps the most visible example of this has been Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who hasn’t allowed his professed Christianity to stop him from “enjoying” the film. But he is only an example of a much larger problem within cultural Christianity. Somehow, someway, those who claim Christ have rationalized perversion as being normal. How does that happen? Through the slow and indiscernible process of cultural assimilation.
The Disintegration of Our Society
It’s important for all who claim the name of Christ to understand the massive influence media has on their world-view. Though one might say they are shocked by the sexual disintegration of our society they still must be cautious to not allow the trauma they once felt to become all too familiar. With the release of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” believers can now witness local news stations speaking of whips and chains as if they were an intriguing and acceptable genre of adult pleasure. Stories of sexual domination are being unashamedly promoted to bookstores and movie theaters as being so culturally acceptable that the film’s Valentine’s Day release was done intentionally with the hope that this twisted tale would become the new norm for date night couples all around the world. Even radio advertisers offered a “Fifty Shades of Grey” stuffed teddy bear for Valentine’s Day equipped with a black mask and matching handcuffs. The normalization of taboo has finally found its way into the American Dream.
Whether or not the church will embrace this forbidden tale is still to be seen. But regardless, the bizarre nature of its media acceptance has been staggering. Never has there been such a fully-engaged embrace of wholesale perversion from mainstream media as there has in this recent phenomenon. Instead of speaking of such distortion as being an act of shameful degradation, the self-appointed architects of today’s carnal culture have been allowed to sell their twisted brand of sexual sin with wicked winks and silly smiles. The same news anchors that we trust to scan our traffic and predict our weather have suddenly become accomplices in this newest American tragedy. If this concept were to be presented to families 30 years ago this kind of behavior would have be seen as clinically psychopathic and/or even criminal. What once was too evil to speak of is now broadcasted from coast-to-coast. Our culture has been molested and no one has reported it as a crime.
The Description of the Story
Without ever having read the book or having seen the movie, it is obvious that this story “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a corrupt tale of a man and a woman who engage in a twisted form of pretended slave domination and disguise it as sensuality. According to Time magazine, the main characters of the film are ironically named Christian Grey and Anastasi Steele. Both names are mockeries.
“Christian” of course is a name that belongs to theperson who loves Christ and holds to God’s truth to be black and white. “Grey” of course being a name pointing to the blurring of all distinctives in the world. His name signifies the symbolic fading away of right and wrong in a Judeo/Christian world. “Anastasi” on the other hand is a name that comes from the Greek word in Scripture for resurrection and the belief of afterlife in the world to come. “Steele” of course refers to hardest metal on earth; worldly, stubborn; man-made.
Their first names represent the world as it was; their last names represent the world as it has become. Again, I haven’t seen the film or read the book but the imagery is strong; they represent a new normal. They belong to a world where there is no longer a clear and cloudy, a right and a wrong; now the line has been intentionally smeared and the world is to embrace it as one of the ubiquitous shades of fading grey.
The Danger to the Saints
Though it seems surreal to comment on such a cultural corruption, it is nevertheless very important—from a biblical perspective—for the church to be aware of the stages of exploitation that are leading to the fall of the American culture. The loosening of cultural attitudes towards sexuality has the ability to create a subtle and almost imperceptible osmosis of the soul of everyone who is exposed to it—even the church. Though right-and-wrong is clearly black-and-white to the believer; over time the gradual greying of morality can corrupt even the purest of hearts. Therefore, the symptoms of spiritual cancer must be shown to be what they truly are; deadly and sinful.
Though the church’s mission is not to save the culture or even to preserve it (even though it does do these things), the church does exist to warn the culture and to come out from within it. Therefore my concern is not about the film itself or even the reasons it was made; evil has always existed and the culture has always been corrupt. My concern is directed towards what I consider to be the widespread and indiscriminate acceptance that it has received in the media, and the effect that message might have in furthering the erosion of morality in the church.
It is important for the church to realize that the media have become the indisputable self-appointee d gatekeepers of our culture. The sad news is that they have abandoned their posts. Not only have a handful of perverted, sadistic book publishers and film producers decided to single-handedly parade such filth before the American consumer as if it were appetizing, but they have encouraged even the most innocent and naïve to investigate what might be wrong with them since they don’t find themselves at least curious to consider their twisted form of thinking.
The Distortion of Sexuality
For generations the sadist/masochistic approach to sexual relations had universally been branded as a dark and perverted idea of finding delight in the concept of being involved in feigned scenarios of physical submission and dominance. Though this kind of warped activity makes its appearance from time to time in certain works of fiction, sadist/masochistic scenarios are typically portrayed as being a comically bizarre and perversely strange distortion of human sexuality even to the most hardened of people. No longer is that the case.
When deviant sexual behavior like homosexuality is not enough, then the engineers of mainstream media intentionally push the envelope to further pervert an already disintegrating culture. It is no stretch to say that the only thing left to the mainstream producers of perversion is to attempt the exploitation of children and animals under the same banner of acceptability. Evil has now become good and good has become evil. There are no more people who blush; and there is no more room for shame. It is a home invasion of the most violent kind.
The Declaration of Scripture
In the New Testament, Romans 1:18-32 speaks directly to the wrath of God being revealed against mankind and manifesting itself primarily in the sexual corruption that is seen in society. Though Scripture paints this corruption first and foremost through the disintegration of male and female relations as seen in the wholesale embracing of homosexuality, the corruption of all sexuality has now avalanched its way into society. Though the mainstream media may never know it, they appear in Romans. The wrath of God has come by giving man over in the lust of his heart to impurity and then allowing him to give hearty approval to those who practice such things, even though they know they are worthy of death (Rom. 1:26; 32). The media, as concierges of culture, have given this hearty approval and the due penalty must follow.
The Duty of the Sheep
The reason Russell Wilson could enjoy “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the same reason that a fish doesn’t know it’s wet, and a toad never noticed it was gradually being boiled to death. Slowly, over time, Wilson has allowed himself to become assimilated into the world through the process of desensitization. But he’s not the only one.
Russell Wilson has become a metaphor for the church-at-large. Professing Christianity somewhere along the way has allowed the glory of the cross to become peripheral to the pleasures of the world. Somehow the shame of perversion has been rationalized to become an enjoyable form of voyeuristic entertainment. Unguarded exposure to the dangers of mass media has ultimately deadened the spiritual nerve endings of many who claim Christ. Biblical discernment has been lost in the sea of cultural accommodation. American Christianity is dangerously close to having her lamp be removed from the land.
In Isaiah 5:20 the prophet speaks on behalf of the Lord when he writes, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil. Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” The warning still stands; it’s not too late.
It is time for all the families who love the Lord Jesus Christ and who believe in decency and virtue to fortify themselves in their thinking and be actively communicating to their sons and daughters about the difference between what is beautiful and what is shameful. We must teach our sons and daughters to blush once again.