As you may remember, Fifty Shades of Grey opened in theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. The irony is that the Bible is clear that sexual immorality is a demonstration of hatred, rather than love (Ephesians 5:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-6). I knew Fifty Shades was a big deal a few summers ago when I looked up at the pool with my kids and saw a couple of dozen women reading the novels. When the film finally released, millions of people lined up in theaters to see it.
The only thing I know about the movie is from a few reviews I have read about the film and the book. That has been enough for me to figure out that the movie was filled with graphic and gratuitous sexual acts. The kind of sexual immorality depicted in Fifty Shades hurts people literally and physically.
I have been reflecting on the release of this movie, the biblical call to love, and our calling as Christians to fight against lust. I wanted to share three quick thoughts as Christians head into a weekend supposedly focused on love with hate plastered across movie screens all across the country.
Matthew 5:28: “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
I usually try to stay away from really technical language in blog posts, but I want to tell you what this passage means in Greek. It means that you should not watch Fifty Shades of Grey. Please. Don’t watch it. We all know that this movie will be filled with the kinds of images that will lead you to disobey Jesus. No amount of curiosity, no desire to see “art,” no interest in the actors, and no pressure to accompany your friends is worth disobeying Jesus. The stars of Fifty Shades are Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. God made those two people in his image. He made their bodies to be seen and admired by their spouses. Not you. Please don’t help them sin, and don’t sin yourself. Don’t see Fifty Shades.
Matthew 5:29, 30: “If your right eyes cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away . . . If your right hand cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.”
This passage means that, for some of you, not watching Fifty Shades of Grey will be a difficult and costly fight. Maybe you’re curious about all the hype. Perhaps you read the book, enjoyed it, and want to see it on the screen. You might love the actors. You could have friends pressuring you to go. It’s possible that you’re tempted to indulge lust. Those struggles and a half dozen more might have you trying to figure out how to quietly see this movie. If that’s you, Jesus does not just give you a command. He gives you a strategy. Jesus commands you to get aggressive. He urges you to remove—even amputate—the source of temptation. There would be many ways for you to do this. Here’s one: tell a Christian that you trust about your temptation and ask them for help. This might feel uncomfortable (so is cutting off your hand), but Jesus is clear that you will not obey him without being aggressive.
Matthew 5:29, 30: “It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”
Do you know what this passage means? It means that if you go to see Fifty Shades of Grey you might just go to hell. Seriously. If that sounds harsh then consider what Jesus is saying. His point is that heaven and hell are on the line in our fight against lust. He is saying that a true follower of his eventually is on the winning side of lust. This reality does not require perfection. We all stumble and fall in our fight against purity. What it does mean is that—over time—a Christian is characterized by an aggressive fight against lust rather than repeated giving in to lust. It means that if you’re repeatedly giving yourself over to lust you are in trouble. With all my heart I do not want this for you. Please, if you’re trying to find a way to see Fifty Shades then now is the time to fight. Consider that your eternal destiny is on the line in whether you take up this fight.
Christians, in particular, should be interested in celebrating a holiday that is focused on love. But one of the best ways we can celebrate this holiday of love is by avoiding a movie that will use graphic sex to portray hate and lead many astray.