It seems everyone is reading it–and I mean everyone. 50 Shades of Grey. I first heard about it on FB when someone posted a question about “any good book recommendations?” and the overwhelming response was 50 Shades of Grey. These weren’t just strangers, they were people I knew (though I’m glad I’ve now forgotten who they were, lest I be judgmental, now that I’m more informed!) so I thought maybe I would read it too. I love a good book, and as my tastes tend toward the old writers, I’m completely out of touch with modern fiction and appreciate a helpful recommendation.
As I started reading about the book, I suddenly remembered why my tastes run toward the old writers…I don’t get embarrassed when I read old books (and by old I mean late 1800′s, early 1900′s – so many of my favorite authors wrote about that time). There are, admittedly, some great modern books (I’m talking about secular books), though every one I can think of that I, personally, have read and would consider great has either been a true story or one written for a much younger audience. (Oops – I take that back, I thought The Help was really good, and it was adult fiction…so make that all but one!) I freely admit that I’m not well-read when it comes to modern books – but again – this is why…when I try to read a modern piece of literature, I am so often mortified by the explicit sexual content.
As I researched I found out that 50 Shades of Grey was actually classified as erotic fiction – WHAT? Had I known that I wouldn’t have even bothered to look it up! Then I read that it had to do with BDSM – which I had to look up as I had no idea what that meant. Now I know, but wish I didn’t. If you don’t know either, you can look it up too–but really, ignorance is just a beautiful thing sometimes.
The thing is, it’s not just a matter of taste, style or preference. It’s not just that some of us are more accustomed to reading certain levels of description than others. If that was all that mattered, if taste was the heart of the debate about this book, then I might pick it up and expand my horizons and see what all the talk was about. This isn’t about taste though. It’s not a simple question of chocolate or vanilla. I have no doubt the book is compelling and that if I started it, though I might be embarrassed and even repelled at points, I’d also be completely intoxicated by it and unable to turn away–strangely mesmerized by it, much like the irresistable pull of watching a horrific accident. The question isn’t whether or not I would get sucked in by it, the question is whether or not I ought ever to start it. The issue we need to be asking is if there is a right and wrong to what we read/see… and if so, what defines that?
For anyone who is on the fence about whether or not they should read it, or who is wondering what’s wrong with it… For anyone who thinks that it is just a matter of taste… For anyone who senses that there is more than preference to consider, but isn’t exactly sure what the real issue(s) is (are)… I found this little article and wanted to pass it on to you: I’m Not Reading 50 Shades of Grey from Dannah Gresh at Pure Freedom. It deals with the specifics of that book and some of the very real dangers of reading erotica fiction. Interestingly enough, I also just heard a sermon by Mark Driscoll called The Porn Path which was incredibly relevant to this discussion and absolutely worth listening to in its own right, especially in this day and time. Both talk about the way our brains work and the “ruts” that are formed by stimulation…and both say that romance novels are often no different for a woman than porn for a man. Driscoll also interviews “Crissy (iamatreasure.com), a former pastor’s daughter who grew up to be a porn star and has since returned to a vibrant relationship with Jesus, [and] shares her story and realities of the porn industry.” As I said, it’s worth listening to for its own sake, but it also has some very relevant applications to the discussion of 50 Shades of Grey.
Along with that, this article about Why Do We See What We See gives some general,Biblical guidelines about how we ought to think about/evaluate what we see, read and/or listen to. It was originally written in response to the release of the movie Watchmen, but the principles apply to any and every movie, book, etc. I encourage you to take a minute and read it to recalibrate. Sometimes we all need to just stop for a minute and let God and His Word push the reset button in our minds regarding how we evaluate and respond to our culture.
-by Stacey Tuttle-