Love it or hate it, today is Valentine’s Day. Whether you see it as a Hallmark holiday that creates unwanted stress and unfulfilled expectations or as an occasion to let the romantic side of you shine, there is no avoiding it in our commercialized culture.
There’s also no avoiding all the media hype this year surrounding the Valentine movie release of Fifty Shades of Grey. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the erotic trilogy, coined Mommy Porn, has been transformed for the big screen and the movie opened this weekend. According to the Business Insider, the Shades phenomena became the fastest selling paperback (surpassing Harry Potter), and revolutionized electronic media sales, selling six times the number of e-books than print.
To be honest, that’s how I purchased my copy a couple summers ago. My curiosity had gotten the best of me and I decided I wanted to see what all the hype was about. It didn’t take long to get the gist of it and I stopped reading it – for lots of reasons.
My guess is that there are at least some of us around here who are somewhat intrigued by the movie and will, for one reason or another, end up viewing it. The feminist in me could argue that this film should be one of empowerment. After all, it is directed by a female, based on a book written by a female and adapted for screen by a female.
But as the USA Today reported yesterday, feminists, film critics, and religious leaders seem to agree that this movie may do more to degrade women than the unsuspecting movie goer might imagine. The plot centers on a vulnerable “good girl” falling for the wealthy, beautiful, and wildly successful entrepreneur. The twist in the typical fairy tale comes as we see Prince Charming’s psychological instability result in his desire to physically and sexually dominate the object of his affection, blurring the distinction between pleasure and pain (both physically and emotionally). For many, it’s this violent domination that is at the heart of the debate.
“It takes violence against women and re-brands it as romantic,” Gail Dines, a feminist professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston and founding president of Stop Porn Culture told USA Today.
For me, the debate is one with both cultural and personal implications. The excitement and hype over this movie is a testament to our over-sexualized culture. It’s easy to buy into this; in fact, it’s really difficult to separate from it. It is a clear reminder of what Paul meant when he said we were called to live in this world, but not to be a part of it. (Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12: 2)
Jesus was also clear about the goodness for which he created sex. Many people would be surprised by all that the Bible has to say on the subject. Sex, by design, was meant to be one of the most powerful acts in the construction of intimacy. And isn’t intimacy what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be all about? So, if you are looking for an alternative to the whips and chains romanticism offered by Fifty Shades of Grey, here are a couple of resources to consider.
- Check out the reading plans regarding sex at bible.com. God, Sex, and Your Marriage is a 21-day plan that offers great insight into scripture with practical application for you to study alone or with your spouse.
- Read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller. This book evaluates the scriptures and offers clarity on God’s calling for marriage and for singleness. Whether you’ve been married for 20 days or 20 years, or you are engaged or single, this book has something to say to you about God’s plan for sex in your life.