Pastoral Epistle: 50 Shades of Abuse

Christian Grey Grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, although you may have forgotten in your preparations for another major snow storm! My kids have been busy making crafts and goodies to celebrate, but the greatest part of my day was delivering trays of cookies for each of the fourteen adult and youth clients at Turning Point Safe Recovery in Amesbury. Turning Point (partner of Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center) is a transitional home for women and children escaping dangerously abusive homes. You can view some valentine cookie donation photos here.

But a few hours later I was out around town and overheard four teen girls talking about their Valentine plans; they were going to see the movie, Fifty Shades off Grey which opens this weekend. I thought about how the women and children at Turning Point would react if they went to see this heavily advertised “romantic movie” (or read the best-selling book), which glamorizes sexual violence and domestic abuse. I thought of how I’d feel if my own teenage daughter went to see this movie or read the book and it just about made me sick. You can read one Psychiatrists’s assessment of this movie for young people.

In an interview with the actors, the male lead said that after watching the things he’d be expected to do to his costar, he returned to his wife and newborn baby feeling dirty.  “I had a long shower before touching either of them,” he told Elle UK. The female lead, Dakota Johnson said she doesn’t want family and friends to see the movie, and “there’s part of me that’s like, I don’t want anyone to see this movie.”

The movie portrays the lie that women enjoy domination and rape, and that by patience endurance will help her abuser overcome his violent tendencies. The fairytale ending is not reality; domestic violence, with very rare exception continues and often escalates over time until the victim leaves or is murdered.

On the other hand it is interesting to consider WHY this book and movie are so popular. There’s an excellent article on the topic, The Real Reason 50 Shades of Grey is So Wildly Popular. The article points out that so many of us can relate to a deep down sense of unworthiness, yet a driving desire to be loved for who we are even at the jeopardy of our safety. In each of us is a “God-sized hole,” which we try to fill with all kinds of things (alcohol, drugs, success, money, control, hoarding … as well as pornography and sexual violence).  “Ultimately, the secret to the success of Fifty Shades is that it puts the reader in the role of both the saved and the savior.  But that’s also precisely what’s so dangerous about this story – because Christian Grey is not God, neither is Ana, and neither are any of us. ”

But as Christians we do know a Savior, a true Savior and faithful Lover!  Jesus died on the cross in grime and shame to make us clean and worthy, and he was raised to woo us with God’s eternal love that is the only thing in this world that can satisfy what we lack.

I am boycotting the movie, but more importantly I am affirming my identity in Christ alone, that he alone makes me worthy, and he alone is the true lover of my soul … and he does the same for you!

Together in Ministry for Christ
Pastor Gwyneth