By Ruthie Flaa
Assistant Lifestyle Editor
E.L. James’ controversial novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” has been a topic of discussion since hitting the shelves in 2011. More recently, however, it has been a topic of moral debate among fans and the opposing side. Since being made into a film and coming to theaters on Valentine’s Day of 2015, society has been faced with the decision of either watching this pornographical “love story,” or avoiding it completely.
The story depicts a sexually driven relationship between main characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. While some fans may admit to a deeper, more involved plot within the pages, many simply see it as an amoral and sexually-based novel. Although the book and movie are highly consumed and even considered culturally acceptable to some of society, the question which arises in Christian circles is where the line should be drawn and how to discern what God desires for them in regards to viewing the movie or not.
“It’s tricky, because I know that even if I am giving negative attention to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ I am still giving it attention. What I am hearing, though, is that no one seems to like this movie. It’s poorly written, it’s abusive, it’s perverted, and it’s unbiblical,” said Lindsey Warkentin, a senior communication studies major at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul. “I think that it boils down to idolatry. The cliché ‘God-shaped hole’ really is in all of us, and we are constantly trying to fill it,” Warkentin added.
The story of “Fifty Shades” shows a man who desires his own sexual fulfillment with a younger woman, but at the same time, shows a woman trapped inside of a verbally and physically abusive relationship. As this is happening, she is convinced that everything happening to her is okay.
Warkentin also noted an article she had read which discussed “Fifty Shades” and compared it with the reality of women involved in sex slavery. “I don’t think [those women] would find this movie very entertaining,” Warkentin said.
“Fifty Shades” has often been advertised as a love story. From some perspectives, that is not what the story truly illustrates. For Justin Spice, a sophomore children and family ministry major, the story does not exemplify a relationship based on true love. He encourages Christians and non-Christians alike, to be wary of a story filled with so much sexuality.
“There is no respect to [Anastasia] or her body. It is disgraceful to the men in our society to see that this is actually something that is a problem. It’s not something that should be idolized. It is something that should be avoided at every cost,” Spice said. “I think trying to sell this movie as an entertainment factor is a huge flaw because it is no way shape or form, entertaining, unless you are oblivious to the problems that the movie makes real. Physical and mental abuse are things that are not to be taken likely because they are so destructive between people and relationships,” Spice continued. “It is definitely permissible for you to watch this movie, but it may cause you to stumble and it may cause others around you to stumble.”
Miriam Julian, a senior psychology major at Northwestern, believes it is important to take to heart the messages that audiences might receive when watching the film or reading the book.
“I don’t necessarily believe in speculating on something that I haven’t read, or a movie I haven’t seen, but I think that the [story’s] portrayal of love and sex and relationships does not line up with what a majority of Christians would believe love to be about, or what relationships should be about. It definitely does not line up with the loving relationship that Jesus Christ has with us or wants for us,” Julian said.
Those who are fans of the book may think it unjustified for those who don’t know much of the story, to judge and speculate its content. For many Christians, guarding their hearts and minds is important, especially when it comes to different forms of the media. While it can be tempting to watch the movie or read the book in order to understand the hype, people may want to consider how a story such as “Fifty Shades of Grey” could affect them.
“I know for me that words have an impact. They have a way of sticking in your mind, and once you read something, once you expose yourself to something, whether it be a book or a movie, those images are in your mind for a really long time, and it can be very hard to get those out,” Julian said. She continued by saying that any decision made in regards to the movie should be a personal one, but students should still know themselves and understand their limits.
“If you think that [watching] it is going to be damaging to [your] mental and spiritual health, then don’t. It’s not worth it.”