I'm just gonna get straight to the point here, ladies.
(Men, you are welcome to read on as well; just know it is written specifically for my women friends.)
We've all heard about it.
The book-now-turning-into-movie that's swept the nation.
Maybe the continent, globe, universe.
I honestly don't know because I don't pay it much attention.
But that's sort of the point... Even though I have no interest in it, there it is, smack-dab in front of me, everywhere I look.
On the endcaps at Target. (You know, where they place items that they really want to promote.)
All over Facebook.
In the news.
On the lips of my friends, family, aquaintances.
(And if it's everywhere and everyone is reading it, doing it, seeing it, talking about it, it must be okay, am I right?)
Not only have most of us heard about it; many of us have found ourselves in the awkward position of having a conversation about it at some point, and within that conversation there is usually some combination of the following viewpoints...
#1: The woman who has read the books and loves them unabashedly. If she's married or in a sexual relationship, she might say it has actually been good for their sex life.
#2: The woman who has read the books 'out of curiosity' and says 'it's not for her' but doesn't see any problem with it. She might say reading them did her no harm and it has not affected her relationships at all, and everyone has the right to make their own choices.
#3: The woman who has read the books but may be too embarassed to admit it to anyone.
#4: The woman who has never read the books but may be too embarassed to admit it (yes, this can go both ways) and/or wants to avoid the conversation altogether.
#5: The woman who HAS read the books to educate herself on the debate.
#6: The woman who has never read the books, has no intention to, and is not afraid to say so. (Hi! That's me. I did read a summary of the first book on Wikipedia, solely for the purposes of this post.)
I'm just speaking in generalities here, from my own experience and some good old common sense. I realize that we are all beautifully unique and complex individuals, but I think this gives a pretty good breakdown.
So, as a Jesus-loving #6 on the list above, from me to you, friends (because, as far as I'm concerned, no book is going to be the determining factor on whether or not we can be friends) who consider themselves a #1, #2 or #3 as listed above, if we somehow find ourselves on opposite sides of the '50 Shades' conversation, and I furrow my brow in concern, here's why: My heart sinks, quite simply, because I want more for you. I want more for all of us than to submit to the idea that there's nothing wrong with being in bondage to sinful behavior. I want all of us to know we're loved more deeply and intimately by a Savior whose sole purpose in life was that we might not live in darkness, nor any shade of grey, but instead in His glorious light.
"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5
Yes, I am a Christian, but my choice to not read these books has nothing to do with following any sort of religious 'rules'. On the contrary, it is for freedom that I have been set free (Galatians 5:1), and in my freedom I have the right to make choices, and my choice is to honor God... In my actions, in what I choose to view and read, write, meditate on, listen to and speak. I'm certainly not perfect, or even good at it. My sins aren't any 'cleaner' or 'better' than anyone else's. I don't make these choices because I'm a 'good Jesus girl'. It is because I have been there, in those dark places, those grey spaces, where I like to try to convince myself that a little sin here and there is okay, especially if it feels good, gratifies my own desires, and doesn't appear to hurt anyone (that last one is never true, btw). I've been under the oppressive black blanket of forgetting how much Jesus loves me. (Loves me even there, in the dark. Especially there.) Don't think I don't know temptation and sin. I know how good it can feel. And I also know the loneliness of shame, regret and emptiness that inevitably ensue and never fill those God-shaped holes in my heart. I've lived depression, rejection and desperation. It is because I do know those places, better than I'd like, that my heart cries out when I see another woman wallowing there, making choices that allow the devil to keep pieces of her there.
What I want for you, what I pray for you (admittedly, sometimes impatiently and in frustration... see? sooo not perfect) is to take a chance on turning away from any form of darkness, one choice at a time, because the light of Jesus... gals... this light of Jesus is nothing short of G.L.O.R.Y. He wants you fully, wholely and completely, not because He wants to control you or make you follow some list of rules, but because He wants you to know that you are fully, wholely and completely loved, and, just as soon as you ask for it, forgiven. He wants you to know every shade of grace. (Not just 50.)
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:11-14
So I have my right to choose, and you have your right to choose, right? Right. It's true. And that's one of the arguements I see and hear being flung around... "Everyone has the 'right to choose' what he or she wants to read or watch. It's no big deal. We should all just respect and support each other's choices." Or something along those lines.
Do not fool yourselves, friends. You cannot be of two minds about this. If you desire to profess to know and love Jesus, you cannot love or even be indifferent to sin.
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it - not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it - they will be blessed in what they do." James 1:22-25
This post is also for my #4, #5 & #6 gals out there, who are holding firm to their faith on this issue, shifting and shaky as it can sometimes feel. Don't forget... never forget... that you stand on a firm foundation. We serve an unshakeable, holy God "...though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day." (Psalm 46:2-5) He loves it that You are taking a stand for Him, whether it is outwardly or in your heart. 50 Shades of Grey and the things of this world will all pass away, but His love endures forever.
So, now what? Quite frankly, we're all going to go on being our imperfect selves, and that's okay. But I'm going to make another choice here, and that is the choice to BELIEVE that if you are reading this, and you don't truly know the love and grace that is in Christ Jesus, even though to me, my words seem small and unable to convey what I just know Jesus has for you... He is able. I am so utterly unable. But HE is more than able to spark some sort of change in your heart, some sort of small fire that begins to flicker and burn, fueled by even the weakest, smallest awareness that grace is alive in Him and it is FOR YOU.
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." Acts 20:24
If you find yourself craving more 'good news of God's grace', I soooo wish I could be with you to talk more, squeeze your hand in reassurance, and wade through this muck together. But since I'm not, I will entrust you to the power of God's word and encourage you find a Bible and begin reading the book of Colossians, and then, I would be humbled to help you simply pray:
"Dear Lord: Thank You for knowing me and loving me even when I don't feel like I truly know You. Thank you for Jesus' ultimate sacrifice of dying for my sin. Please open my eyes to the possibility of living in Your light, and help me to see sin in my life. Please help me to break free from the bondage of darkness and make right choices with You, one moment at a time. Please help me to accept forgiveness, and to know in my heart that if it is possible for You, Holy God, to forgive me, then I must also forgive myself. Lord, I long to feel Your grace, deep in the empty spaces of my heart, so that I might find security and contentment in You alone and choose to not try to fill those spaces with anything less than You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."
By God's grace...