Confronting Culture with 50 Shades of Grace
Why “50 Shades of Grace"?
Earlier this spring while coaching my son’s T-Ball game I overheard several ladies who were talking about a new book entitled “50 Shades of Grey”. It was the first time that I had even heard about the book. Before too long I began to see women sitting by the pool, at the gym, and at places like Barnes and Noble unashamedly reading this book. I even dared to ask one college age girl why she was reading it. Her response was “because it is like porn for women.” Now for those of you who do not know, “50 Shades of Grey” is the first of three books that make up this erotic trilogy. This first book of the trilogy begins by tracing the deepening relationship between Anastasia Steel, a college graduate and a young businessman millionaire whose name is Christian Grey. The book is notorious for its erotic scenes that include graphic language and dangerous sexual practices known as BDSM which stands for Bondage/Discipline - Dominance/Submission - Sadism/Masochism. Sadomasochism is the receiving of pleasure—often sexual—from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain or humiliation.
The book has taken the world by storm as millions of women are now immersing themselves in what they are calling a “beautiful romantic” novel. For this reason, we feel like we, the church of Jesus Christ need to respond, not only to this erotic fictional novel, but our culture’s fascination with sex in general. The following are numbers gathered from a 2006 study on the status of the porn industry in the U.S. and around the world:
1. Every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography ($184,538.40/min) ($11,072,304/hour) ($265,735,296/day).
2. Every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography
3. Every second 372 million internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines.
4. Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the US
5. The porn industry is a 13.33 billion dollar/year industry with 89% of all porn movies produced in the U.S.
6. U.S. News and World Report says that more money is spent on pornography than country music, rock music, jazz, classical, broadway plays, and ballets COMBINED.
7. There are 4.2 million porn websites and 420 million pages of porn.
8. The average age of a child’s internet exposure is 11 years old with 90% of 8-16 year olds having already viewed porn (most are accidental while doing homework).
9. 80% of 15-17 year olds have had multiple hard core exposure to porn.
The CDC estimates that 17 million new cases of STD’s are reported every year costing our health care system $19 billion/year. Mark Dever states that “the main competitor that Christianity faces today in the west is not Islam or Judaism. It is not atheism or Hinduism. It is eroticism - the increasingly uninhibited search for fulfilling our sexual passions in whatever form we please.” (The Message of the Old Testament, p. 548)
The O.T. prophet Jeremiah prophesied about the people of his time that continues to hold true for our times. He declares, “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that hold not water.” The Apostle Paul also writes in Romans 1:25 that humanity has “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Our addiction to eroticism is troubling. It is not only troubling but wrong and sinful. We have taken something that is a good gift from God and made it a god or an idol (worshipping and finding pleasure in something other than the Trinitarian God of Creation). We have taken God’s good gifts of love, romance, marriage, and sex and abused them for our own self pleasure. We have worshipped God’s gift rather than the Giver of the gifts. We have sinned against a holy God, therefore separating us from him. However, the good news is this:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” - John 3:16-21
The Lord of all Creation is on a mission to redeem the lost. He is on a mission to redeem and heal those who are his. Our prayer is that those who are struggling in their marriages, who are currently struggling with sexual sin, or have been hurt by sexual sin may find hope and healing for their souls and for their marriage.
Finally, I want to make very clear that neither our church nor its leadership supports or condones “50 Shades of Grey”. What we are attempting to do is to lovingly confront culture with God’s word by preaching expositional sermons from the Song of Songs that sets forth God’s design and desire for love, romance, marriage, and sex (please note the order). We are declaring that God is love and that everything, including romance, marriage, and sex has been designed by Him in order to glorify him.