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On Friday when I was in the shower I was thinking about all the things I had planned for Valentine’s weekend instead of going to see 50 Shades of Grey. One thought led to another, dry kindling stacked and doused with kerosene, and before I could properly rinse the shampoo from my hair, I was in front of my laptop. My insides were on fire and words are water to burning fingers.
Fifty Shades got on my radar a few years ago when my friend Stephanie told me all about it. A l l about it. I remember thinking then, I wonder how they could make a movie out of t h a t, which was ridiculously naive, because Of Course They Can.
I thought about why I have zero interest in seeing the movie and only mild curiosity about how they could adapt the book to an “only” R-rated film. Readers will insist the book is better than the movie, but men will just be glad their woman had a need to compare.
I have thoughts.
I wish I could say it was my faith convictions that are keeping me from seeing the movie, but that isn’t it. Maybe I should feel bad about that, but mostly I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty.
I claim grace.
I won’t go because I know what a movie like that does to me. It takes up residence. It hijacks my ideas and implants its own. Images become a lingering haunt, rude ghosts who refuse to leave or that show up when I’m not expecting company.
I can’t unsee them.
This isn’t me judging or condemning anyone, not at all! None of us is righteous, but there is one who is for our sake. Reading the book or seeing the movie won’t send you to hell any more than going to church will bring you salvation. So if I know what a movie like that does to me, it means I’ve seen movies like that, I see movies or shows like that. No judgment, no condemnation. I understand.
I just happen to be drawing a line because of all my knowing.
A movie like that takes on flesh – yours…mine – and if you say otherwise I won’t believe you; or maybe you’re just much, much better than me. It crawls under skin and looks for a way out. It’s gonna show itself one way or the other because that’s its nature. Show, in the secret places; but Tell…the Tell will be something that you know, whether or not you ever admit it to yourself or confess it to another.
And I was imagining how a movie like that teaches you things. Sure it does. I mean, if you aren’t already practicing what it’s preaching.*
And I was thinking how a wife might try a move or two on her husband because she’s learned a thing or two, and what she tries might not even be anything related to the movie or book. But she’s willing to try because, like I said, it gave her ideas.
It primed the pump….
Spoon stirring passion.
And a husband might even appreciate the gesture – variety, spice and all that – but if I were him I’d resent it just a little, that it takes something like a stupid movie to get his wife all hot and bothered and willing to try something new.
And I thought Valentine’s Day…sweet, sweet Valentine’s Day, and then, What in the hell is romantic or loving or good about watching actors having fake kinky sex on a 30-foot movie screen with a theater full of people?
No thank you.
And it’s not that I’m as judgy as this sounds, but I wish it were a different world sometimes, that’s all.
I want more for the women in my life. I want more for the men in my life.
My daughter, my sons. My family, my friends.
Sex is an incredible gift born in paradise when the world was perfect.
I can’t fully appreciate Song of Solomon – comparisons from another time and culture falling short – but of this there is no doubt: it is an intense expression of love and fidelity, longing and desire. The bride and groom are ravenous, and they notice everything about each other. There is no shame in their appetite, their affections undivided. They call out beauty and respect and the kind of intimate knowing we all crave.
Oh, yes, don’t we hunger to be known and loved and seen as beautiful in another’s eyes?
When will we realize we already are by the One who matters most?
I love what my wise college roommate said when I told her what I was writing about:
Song of Songs could be seen as a correction to what the Lord knew we were capable of doing to his beautiful gift of intimacy between husband and wife as He spells out in Genesis. He knew we could either treat it as something to be ashamed of (desire, our bodies or enjoyment), or we could perverse sex and take it out of the context of God’s design, using it to manipulate, control, or share with people outside of His will.
The scripture gives us a beautiful picture of what He meant it to be, between a husband and wife, intimately shared together and with no one else. There is passion, desire and intimacy that declares the deep union of a husband and wife; yet also gives a picture of the Gospel.
Grace God gives, and grace we desperately need.
There are women in my life, friends I cherish, a daughter by birth and more by love, and I want more for them. I want the best for them.
How could it possibly be best to learn about sex from watching actors act out sex? In a movie (or book) that reduces a woman to an object of pleasure, regardless of her eventually finding pleasure herself, and particularly when the form is abusive, demeaning and at times violent?
In a culture where we’ve already become desensitized to sexual perversity on varying levels, I refuse to continue lowering the bar to normalize or accept deviant behavior.*
So what to do?
What if we went to the Creator of sexuality and pleasure and studied His way and will? What if Ancient words informed our ideas and the way we see our mates and our roles in marriage? My goodness, take a few minutes to read Song of Solomon with an open mind and a willing spirit and free your imagination to figure out what it means for you, your marriage.
And I know marriage is imperfect, and we’re tired, and we aren’t treated the way we want to be treated or we aren’t seen the way we so long to be seen or we feel like we’re growing apart or we sense that our spouse doesn’t even know us?
What if we let that go?
What if we respected our mates the way they so desperately long to be respected? Love is one thing, respect is another.
What if we released any sense of entitlement or rights or, this might be the hardest, our wants and needs?
What if we made it our business to be a student of our spouse, to know him in a way that feeds his soul, that esteems him and extends grace?
What if we appreciated the way he speaks love, so often in a language foreign to our own tongue?
What if we received the way he speaks love as love?
What if we tried to speak it back?
What if you believed that he loves you?
What if you believed that your spouse wants you?
The porn industry generates almost a trillion dollars primarily for one reason: men like to see naked woman.
The only naked woman a husband should be looking at is his wife.
So, are you withholding that from him?
I understand…it’s hard.
Age takes it’s toll.
Pregnancy changes our bodies.
Photoshopped images of beautiful women with perfect bodies assault us everywhere we go, and we’re defeated before we begin.
Why is it so hard to trust that a husband views his wife through love-tinted glasses and still sees the girl he first fell for?
– – –
I shared part of this post with a few close friends and I was surprised that most of them saw it as a stand against a movie; understandably, because that’s what started the whole thing. While it wasn’t my intention to climb up on a soapbox, I want to make sure you know which one I’m standing on:
The hot-sex-in-marriage soapbox. That one.
It’s titled 50 Shades of Play because originally I thought I’d write a piece with general suggestions and encouragement for spicing up the bedroom sans the help of Hollywood.
I guess I reached for the wrong glass of water.
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You are not alone in this! When I heard what the book is about I got furious that Christian women and men would want to read or even see the movie!
I, like you, want more for our younger generation! They need to realize sex is something sacred to be saved for marriage! I’m on the same soapbox right there with you!
I will not go see the movie or read the book! I pray none of my friends will either!
Blessings to you 🙂
Hmmmm, Beth…I’m not furious that Christian men and women read or see this…I’m just sad that it’s appealing and I’m curious about motive. (The result of watching or reading can make me furious…)
When I think about the younger generation, I wonder what is forming their perspective, and what are we (the older generation, ME) are teaching them; those in my very close sphere, hear thoughts from me :). Sometimes invited, sometimes they wish I’d keep my mouth shut!!
I have no plans to see or read the book; I know too much already. :/
Robin, thank you for writing this. Life on earth is not perfect, all has been tainted… even the most beautiful, intimate parts of life. Sexuality has come so far from what God intended it to be that the whole world seems hopelessly broken and confused and following after “the wrong gods” or perversions.
Song of Solomon is a great place to learn God’s original intentions… what could be… with God’s grace we may get closer and closer to it…
if we turn to the world for answers to finding greater intimacy we will be left with an emptiness than only those who made that mistake can truly know and even the smallest mistakes can create major soul holes.
We have mad God’s gift of sex into a mere biological act. Like sneezing. That is not what I believe, but things I have heard from others.
All of the world is groaning and waiting for God’s return to make all as it should be. 50 Shades of Grey is not the answer. It makes me so sad that so many lost souls or wandering children of God are lining up for an hour or two of misguided ideas that will grow into big soul holes and broken hearts and heaps of disappointment.
I want sooo much more for all of us… but especially our children. This life is a battlefield. Ideas do harm us. Prayer and living out what we believe is the only way to combat such things.
We don’t need to be the judges, the ideas will cause pain on their own.
But we can warn of the dangers and tell of the truth that is so much more.
Wow Bonnie Jean, so measured and grace-filled. Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful response!
Robin, I am a going on 64 y/o wife/mother/grandmother. Married 43 years. This was BEAUTIFUL, & I wish I could have read it years ago.
“The girl he first fell for” Touched my heart & soul.
I didn’t see this as a stand against the movie at all. You’re expressing your heart & convictions. You go girl.
I am HONORED for you to read and comment–thank you for both! I’m very open with the women in my life (in person); on the blog, it’s a little trickier…I have to be so restrained, believe it or not :).
And it sounds like you HEARD me in this; that’s a blessing. It is all too easy to misunderstand intent, and I honestly hope that doesn’t happen with this piece….
Brilliant piece of writing! Thank you so much! 🙂
Oh, Betsy–thank YOU. It was one of those times I was in the “zone”…except I had to keep stopping to DO LIFE! It didn’t take long to WRITE, but it took a while to finish because of all that :).
Loved the post Robin!! Great soapbox stance ???? and I’m with you on the “just say no!” To the words and images… I’m too PTSD and have been healed too much to go back THERE. And yes, the married kind of fun is totally attainable. Even better with 31 years of practice.