red flag and no romance-blogpost

Before I watched the trailer for the 50 Shades of Grey movie, I expected it not to be too overt about what the film’s really about. And you know what? It’s not. In fact, if you watch it on mute, it seems more like a Nicolas Sparks production more than anything else.

Lots of kissing.
Lots of gazing in the eyes.
There’s even some helicopter riding.

And perhaps, it’s all of the opulent fantasy that has roped (no pun intended) women into the story.

However, as a 40-year-old woman who used to be notorious for only hearing what I wanted to hear with men, there were also red flags in dialogue.

Anastasia Steele: “He was polite. Intense. Smart. Really intimidating.”

Christian Grey: “I had a rough start in life. You should steer clear of me.

Christian Grey: “I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular. You wouldn’t understand.

It’s the kind of story that keeps counselors’ and therapists’ mortgages paid. (Tweet This!) Someone tells you who they are, oftentimes before the relationship even begins… but do you really listen?

And you know what’s really a trip? As I thought about Mr. Grey, he actually sounded a lot like the second guy I had a sexual relationship with back when I was in college. He was uber-attractive, charming and witty, and a grad student (I was a freshman at the time). I’ll keep it PG and just say that I learned a lot. And he used to create these “fantasy theme rooms” in his two-bedroom apartment.

He was also really intimidating.

He also warned me that it wouldn’t be what I expected.

He also wasn’t big on romance. He told me that the exchange was going to be a series of physical encounters with maybe some snacks and jokes in between. No more, no less.

And just like Anastasia, I signed up. For more than I bargained for. (Tweet This!)

There were times when I stood in the closet when his girlfriend (at the time) came by unexpectedly.

There were times when he would have sex with me and then leave me in his room as he went to watch a game on television with some of his friends.

Oh, and don’t get me on the time when I called to tell him I was pregnant. He hung up on me, avoided me, and then called me months later from another country to tell me that I better not tell his girlfriend what went down between us.

It took years of healing (and also several conversations with him about a decade later) to make peace with that time in my life. Oh, it had its thrills. It had its moments of sexual pleasure. It was also very overwhelming, emotionally debilitating, and when it comes to my second aborted child, something that in some ways, I’m still dealing with. (The death of a child, no matter how it happens, is something that the mother always deals with. One way or another.)

Yeah, I have no idea how 50 Shades the movie ends, but if you want to know the “reality cut” of similar stories, I just gave you one.

I John 2:16 tells us that all that is in the world is lust and pride. And honestly, this movie is just one indicator that the world is doing its job. It’s working overtime to try and make us believe that, so long as sex is physically pleasurable (or at least highly intriguing), then that’s all that really matters.

And yet, all throughout Scripture, the Bible speaks to sex making two people one (Genesis 2:24-25, Matthew 19:4-6). Even if you do research on oxytocin, the hormone that kicks in during orgasm, it’s been proven to help two people to feel closer. (This is why a lot of people confuse “good sex” with a healthy relationship. It also helps us to understand why God frowns on fornication. It tends to cloud our judgment.-Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6:9-10)

One of my favorite quotes of all-time is the one up top by author Eric Jerome Dickey: “Sex without love is violence.” Yeah, a lot of us may not want to look at it that way, but one definition of violence is “injurious treatment” and Romans 13:10 tells us that “Love does no harm to a neighbor.”

Aside from the spankings and whippings that seem to be a part of Christian and Anastasia’s experiences in “the Red Room,” something we must also keep in mind is the fact that Christian was Anastasia’s first. She was a virgin before being introduced to his world. And in the real world, there are many studies which indicate that our first time tends to set the tone for what we expect in the future. (Tweet This!)

During the time when so many women were ranting and raving about the book, it got categorized as being “Mommy Porn” (a term that always makes me feel a bit icky) and also a favorite read for college gals.

I’m not sexually cynical. Therefore, I’d like to think that at least some girls in college are virgins. When you think of them being introduced to sex via 50 Shades, what kind of message does that send as to what they should expect in the real world? When it comes to relationships? And yes, sex?

Don’t they deserve romance?

Don’t they deserve to be held and cuddled? Or do they have to settle for no more than tied up and spanked?

Don’t they deserve love without harm rather than sex without commitment? (Tweet This!)

The thing about characters in books and movies is that they only tell a part of the story.

I think we have a responsibility to think about what happens to a person—once the “Red Room Experience” is over.


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