The new movie Fifty Shades of Grey opens today, just in time for the Valentine’s Day holiday.
The book that inspired it already sold over 100 million copies worldwide. The movie is on track to break records this weekend and already has the record for the highest Thursday night of any February opening ever. It’s going to make a lot of money. And, just like the original book did, the film will inspire countless other variations on a theme until the market is oversaturated and Hollywood looks elsewhere for a box office hit.
Honestly, I don’t care at all. I could care less about this film.
I know I’m supposed to, since I’m a pastor.
But I’m not going to tell you why you shouldn’t see the movie or read the book.
Not because I’m a fan of the book. Or the movie. (For the record, I’m not.)
What concerns me isn’t the fact that the book and the movie exist.
What concerns me is the number of people in the world who have made the book–and now the movie–into huge successes. I can’t speak for Jesus, but I do think that when He looks at a world where Fifty Shades of Grey tops the bestsellers and rules at the box office, His heart breaks.
What kind of heartache leads someone to search for relationships based on pain? What kind of struggle do you face in your marriage or relationships when you have to read or watch something like this to find pleasure or fulfillment? What kind of brokenness drives mothers and wives to enjoy a story where a woman chooses to be treated like an object?
I think these are the questions Jesus would ask.
And if I ask those same questions, then that causes me to respond differently to Fifty Shades of Grey.
Instead of attacking the ones who are going to see the movie, I’d like to reach out to them and encourage them to find something more in life. Instead of talking about all that is wrong with the movie, I’d like to talk about what is what is right about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Instead of trying to make people feel shame, I’d rather help them find hope.
This weekend, the multiplexes of the world are going to be filled with people looking for the latest version of love. Instead of standing outside the theatre and telling them that they are messed up and wrong, I believe anyone who calls themselves a Christian needs to be ready to do something different.
It’s easy to yell.
It’s a lot harder to follow the example set by Jesus when the woman caught in adultery was brought to Him. He was silent, doodling in the dirt with His finger. Then He looked at her. She was caught in the act of having sex with a man who was not her husband. He had every right to call her what others had.
But He didn’t. Instead, He looked beyond the sex and saw a person who was hurting, broken, and ashamed. And He offered her grace, compassion, and love.
It wasn’t until He reassured her of His grace and compassion and love that He even mentioned the sin. And then, finally, He told her not to do it anymore. Today, Christians often start by focusing on the sin, telling people not to do the bad thing they are doing, and then getting to the love of Jesus. I think that’s backwards.
I think our response to anyone who sees Fifty Shades is to do what Jesus did: offer them grace. Offer them compassion. Give them a picture of real love. Maybe then you’ll have the ability to help them see that there’s a lot more to love than what they just saw on the screen.
Help them look beyond Christian Grey and see Jesus Christ.