Should Christians See 50 Shades of Grey?

By Erin Smalley
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Although it seems logical to think a book like 50 Shades of Grey could possibly reignite life—even in the bedroom—I’m not convinced the outcome will be as women hoped.  Seeking excitement through reading about sadism, masochism and sexual bondage can truly end up causing more harm than good.

Recently, I discussed “sexual intimacy in marriage” with a group of women. I walked away from that conversation grieving. It was so clear to me that something the Lord had given to us in marriage as a gift was being completely distorted by the enemy.

Many of these women talked about their disinterest in sex or low libido, past sexual abuse, their husband’s struggle with pornography, boredom in the bedroom and ultimately, the negative impact these things were having on their marriage relationship. Between these ladies’ experiences and what our culture is leading us to believe about sex–no wonder the enemy can so easily lead astray.

False sexual intimacy

With the popularity of Harlequin romance novels ($1.08 billion in 2013[i]) and now the new movie “Fifty Shades of Grey,” our culture is being impacted with a false view of sexual intimacy. The books are being read by women of all ages—both Christian and non-Christian and, thus, they have been taken to the top of the bestseller lists. After my chat with this group of women, I had a better understanding of “why” women across the world might be turning toward these types of books.

Although I am sure there are many reasons, I clearly see that women are seeking an intimate connection. We were created to be the more relational, care-giving spouse in a marriage. And sadly, as a marriage hits difficult seasons or the mundane, routine married life doesn’t seem so exciting anymore—women can be led to a place of disappointment and dissatisfaction. With this, both physical and emotional intimacy can begin to fade. Often women can begin looking to fulfill this righteous desire for intimacy through “counterfeit” methods and it just doesn’t work.

A distorted, dangerous image

Although it seems logical to think a book full of erotica could possibly reignite life–even in the bedroom–I’m not convinced the outcome will be as they hoped. Seeking excitement through reading about sadism and masochism and sexual bondage– can only end up causing harm. The bottom line is this creates an unrealistic, distorted, dangerous image of what should be happening in the marriage bed. It sets up the average married woman to experience a disconnect when it comes to comparing intimacy in a disturbing “fantasy world” with the reality of intimacy with her hard working, caring, “human” husband. Although sex in a marriage can be extremely exhilarating (as it was created to be by the Lord)—just remember you are now comparing fantasy with reality. The movie provides an avenue for seeing images of something that is “new and exciting” and, much like other kinds of porn, it changes the chemistry of the brain and thus changes the view of the routine, ordinary married life.

Knowing your spouse intimately

Sexual intimacy in marriage is the most powerful picture of our relationship with the Lord and how intimately He knows us. Psalm 139 speaks to this in depth “You have searched me and you know me,You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar…You are familiar with all my ways.” The Lord desires to know us intimately and therefore, in marriage, He gave us the most exhilarating way to experience this gift by knowing our spouse intimately.

If you are currently being tempted to read “50 Shades of Grey” or see the movie, I encourage you to think twice before you do. Instead:

  • Seek the Lord and ask Him, “Would this be beneficial to me or my marriage relationship?” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). Turn away from anything that the enemy might be tempting you with that could lead to destruction for you personally or in your marriage relationship. (John 10:10).
  • Instead of seeking a false, counterfeit intimacy–seek true intimacy with Him and allow Him to fill the desire for deep connection in your soul. (James 4:8).
  • Focus on building intimacy with your husband through planning new and exciting date nights; plan a time to dream about what your marriage will look like in 5,10 or 15 years; serve together on a missions trip or at a local soup kitchen; plan to pick up a new hobby together such as hiking, working out or healthy cooking. Amidst the busyness of life, taking time to pursue your spouse can ultimately lead you to a very intimate place in your marriage– both emotionally and physically. (“Marriage should be honored by all.” Hebrews 13:4).

For a more in-depth look at how 50 Shades of Grey is impacting intimacy within relationships, there is a great book called Pulling Back the Shades by Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh. For a gift of any amount, you can get your copy here.

Copyright 2015 Focus on the Family. Originally published on

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About the Author

Erin Smalley

Erin Smalley serves as the Marriage Strategic Spokesperson for Focus on the Family’s marriage ministry and develops content for the marriage department. In addition to her work at Focus, Smalley is a conference speaker. She presents with her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley, at marriage enrichment seminars where they guide husbands and wives in taking steps toward enjoying deeply satisfying marriages. …

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