Top Ten Reasons to Be Thankful for Fifty Shades of Grey

top-95717_640Here are the top 10 reasons that Christians should be thankful for the novel Fifty Shades of Grey. (If you don’t know what that is, scroll to the * at bottom of this post.)

Number 10: Bloggers now have a new trending phrase to use to boost blog traffic. (Wonder if anyone is wrestling with the ethics of benefiting from writing about something they feel should be condemned.)

Number 9: This novel revives the age-old debate about the ethics of censorship and book-burning. Haven’t had a chance to discuss that since, oh, last fall. Always brings about rousing discussion in the office cubicle to distribute flyers inviting others to your church’s combined book burning and marshmallow roast. Nothing like the smell of scorched paper and ink on a summer’s eve!

Number 8: Provides a new way for women to measure who is more righteous than whom.(Boy, did we need a new way! That whole stay-at-home vs working mom measure was getting soooo old.) Nifty way to sort the sheep from the goats. If you’ve read it, you’re a goat – if you haven’t, you’re still a sheep. (If you want to read it or have read excerpts late at night on line or read it as part of an evangelistic ministry, you’re probably a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You won’t be openly condemned but you will spend months under suspicion.)

Number 7: It provides a handy new way to measure the edginess of your Christian blog. If you outright condemn the book, you’re an old-fashioned, hymn-singing tract-distributing, out of touch Christian dinosaur but if you can find a way to be open to support reading the novel to reach the unchurched then you’re a relationally evangelistic culturally savvy too cool for school edgy believer who “gets it.” For extra fun, if you ignore the topic, maybe your blog is lukewarm, think about that!

Number 6: It can provide a great conversation starter in your women’s small group about how women are just as sinful as men and how all man-bashing should be curtailed. Go ahead. Bring it up. I dare you.

Number 5: The book promises to provide some tense moments for every woman who is in a book club or book group with women who don’t share their worldview. My suggestion is that it would be fun to throw out this discussion topic: Does Fifty Shades of Grey prove that we are hard-wired to submit to someone and when we don’t submit to God, that programming becomes twisted in disturbing ways? Throw that topic out and have fun seeing where the conversation goes! Sort of like evangelistic power aerobics.

Number 4: Could provide entertainment for the soul who is brave enough, when hearing others express shock and anger at the popularity of the book, to ask “Shouldn’t we just be glad that women are reading anything? If they’re reading, at least they aren’t out watching the Twilight movies, right?” (If you have the energy, you can draw parallels to kids reading the Harry Potter series.)

Number 3: Could provide some interesting sermon topics for brave pastors willing to take it on, extra points for those who include a point on the dangers of women lusting after the fantasy men of romance novels while not appreciating their own husbands. Whoooo boy, now you’ve got a message worth discussing at Sunday lunch!

Number 2: Since this book trilogy was a product of fan fiction of the Twilight series, perhaps there’s an opportunity for a follow-up fan fiction trilogy to spin-off the third book “Fifty Shades Freed” with a redemption story for Anastasia titled “Delivered from Bondage,” the story of how Anastazia finally finds true freedom through repentance and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Number 1: This fiction trilogy should serve as a reminder of the power that story still has in our society and move every Christian who writes to work harder at his or her craft and every believer to pray to support those who write to fashion stories that will, rather than celebrate our fallen condition, build and glorify God’s kingdom.

Note from me: This was, of course, a largely tongue-in-cheek post about this book that has sparked discussion everywhere from book groups to the cover of Newsweek. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t read the book and have no plans to read it, not because I’m offended by it but because, as you can see, it’s already too easy to twist my mind; I don’t need the images promised by this novel added to my brain’s bank of clipart.

*If you haven’t heard of this book, it’s on the New York Times’ Bestseller list and is categorized as Romance – Suspense – Erotica (literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire). Women readers have driven the popularity of this book, thus sparking myriad passionate discussions about all manner of related topics.

Here’s what I think: It’s not hard to decide that reading erotica isn’t the best use of a believer’s time or mental space. What is hard is to make the effort to respond to this phenomenon, not with knee-jerk condemnation but by employing wisdom, love, Biblical truth, and creativity so as to give the Holy Spirit opportunity to twist the enemy’s tool back around so that it aims right at him.

When this conversation comes up around you, might I suggest that first, you listen. Try to hear the hunger in other’s hearts and souls that draws them to this book and make the conversation about THAT. Certainly, stand up for sexual purity and against rampant lust or deviant sexuality but most likely, you’re having a discussion about this book with a woman who is deeply loved by Jesus, even if she doesn’t know it. Ask Him to fill you with His love for her and give you words to communicate that love – then speak.

This stuff is hard, loved ones. Let’s work to love one another and maintain unity even in the midst of cultural curveballs designed by the enemy to throw us all off our game.

Now, go write an amazing book that draws people to Jesus or pray and support someone who does.

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    The Conversation

  1. Lori, good comments, for sure. Well thought out. It’s discouraging for writers–who try to offer good fiction–to see such garbage as this book gain so much success and titillation. It’s even more sad as to how this phenomenom reflects on our society. Love your tongue-in-cheek approach.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I enjoy your tongue in cheekiness, but even more appreciate your challenge to engage not avoid. Tina Hunt

  3. I couldn’t read this article fast enough; so well and wryly written. I needed that smile this morning, Lori.

  4. Loved it. Um, personally I have no interest, so I may fall under the lukewarm blog thing. lol. I am sharing your wit on my page. Thanks for writing- seems to be that everyone is sharing there thoughts …me, I’m pretty happy to stick my head in the sand. I get in enough trouble and offend enough people without touching this one.

  5. Lori,

    I love points 6, 5, and 3…You rock! Your post has sparked an idea for one of my characters in one of my WIPs. Thanks!

  6. Gutsy and brilliant as usual. ‘Fraid I’m not going to enter into dialogue on this one if it requires reading it, though.Mark Twain (I think) said something to the effect that you didn’t have to know where all the dangers in the channel were, you just had to know where the deep water was.

  7. Thanks for all your feedback. Normally, I don’t comment on things like this unless I’ve read them or watched them, etc, but having read as much as I have ABOUT the book, I’m fairly comfortable that reading it is tantamount to clicking on those porn ads that pop up on the Internet. I don’t need to check those out to know they’re a bad idea. Same here.

  8. Great approach, Lori, and thank you for being bold enough (as usual) to touch on a subject that is rather touchy. Heh!

    Watching you handle these topics is both confirming and reshaping some of my own thinking and approach. Thanks for being the iron that sharpens.

  9. Brandy says:

    Great post, Lori!

  10. Erynn says:

    Awesomeness as always. I especially loved #5 and your conclusion. So thankful for the way you continue to challenge us.

  11. I am just glad it is aimed at women and not men. We are much more susceptible to outside influences. Have heard the book mentioned in passing, but have yet to talk to anyone who has actually read it, or will fess up to having read it. Sometimes I think the media over hypes stuff to push sales. Especially when you consider many of the major publishing houses are owned in part by major media/new outlets. You can see that with the movie and book promotions that get media interviews and promotions. Sad but many people do not see through the hype. It is all about getting into your wallet. Like the blog though.

  12. Great blog, Lori. Did you see someone’s doing a mashup of 50 Shades of Grey and Louisa May Alcott?
    We’ve been discussing sex in Sunday school, so you’re on target. Wouldn’t you love to know how to get this much publicity?

  13. Loved this post, Lori. Had a great laugh. Witty.

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  15. I was asked by a couple if I had read this book. I confessed to not knowing about it, but thanks to this blog, I now do. I don’t plan to read it either-there is too much other good stuff to read-but like your recommended responses.

  16. Thank you for this great reminder that Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn it but to love it back to Himself!

    I appreciate your blog!