I go to the movie theater often and inevitably sit through dozens of previews, which means I’ve seen the trailer for 50 Shades of Grey more times than I can count. I’m sure there are a thousand articles from Christian writers criticizing the book and movie, warning against its effect on our culture’s view of sexuality, and it’s true— things like 50 Shades distort the way we see sex, relationships, femininity, masculinity, love, and marriage. Even still, the fact remains that millions of people (inside and outside the church) flock to these books to satisfy that itch.
I read a brief synopsis of the trilogy in an effort to better understand its appeal, but the story seemed brutally empty to me. In short, a 21-year old girl finds herself in a BDSM (Dominance & Submission) sexual relationship with an attractive millionaire named Christian Grey. She sleeps with him after signing a nondisclosure agreement. He grows an obsession with her. She falls in love with him. He kind of falls in love, too, but in a creepy way. His childhood trauma is exposed and you realize why he is controlling and obsessive. She still loves him. They get married and have a kid. He changes his ways and they live happily ever after.
This is love?
This is romance?
This is what we flock to?
The problem isn’t 50 Shades of Grey, it really isn’t. The problem is us. To quote CS Lewis, “We are far too easily pleased.” Many of us have a miserably low view of love. The stories we flock to are Monopoly money posing as blocks of gold. They are mounds of sand acting as solid rock. They work against the design of our souls’ hunger yet we continue to engorge ourselves with books and movies that scratch the itch and leave us wanting more. But our craving for love cannot be filled by mounds of sand or Monopoly money or 50 Shades of Grey. We were not designed to be satisfied by silhouettes. We were designed to be satisfied by the real thing—by Jesus Christ.
“Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst” -Frederick Buechner
Oh that we might taste and see the satisfying love of Jesus. He does not selfishly manipulate us to get what he wants, but instead selflessly lays down his life to demonstrate his love for the world. He did not come to us as a dictator, but as a servant. He is not controlling, but kind. He is not self-seeking, but self-sacrificing. He is not an abuser, but a healer. He loves with loyalty and consistency. He broke through the dimensions of space and time in order to ravish our hearts. He relentlessly pursues us. He relentlessly pursues you.
He is not flaky. His affections for you do not spike up and down depending on the day. He is not obsessed with you one minute and uninterested the next. The only contract he signed was with his own blood to remain faithful to you despite your faithlessness. His eyes do not wander from you. He knows every detail of your life and childhood and mistakes and flaws and accepts you. He does not force you to do things that damage your soul. He fights for you. He is a safe place. He is not empty or shallow. He is not selfish. He loves you. Not because of your body or your job or the things you can give to him. He loves you because he loves you because he loves you because he loves you. It’s who he is.
This is love. He is love. And he is who you need to flock to.
Do not settle for a shadow when Jesus Christ is available to you.
Taste and see and be satisfied by a love that never ends.
Put down the book and grab hold of the real thing.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13