Fifty shades of Christianity

Published 10:37 pm Friday, July 20, 2012

By Chris Surber

I am really out of the loop. I didn’t know until only a few days ago that there was such a thing as “mommy porn.” You know the movie “Magic Mike.” Even a large group of Christian women I know recently flocked to indulge in it. Some of the same women are reading a book by E.L. James called “50 Shades of Grey.”

I did a little research and learned the book is wildly popular and famous for its overtly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.


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This kind of thing is really nothing new. Hollywood has catered to men with such films as long as I can remember, offering overtly erotic scenes that have nothing whatsoever to do with the plot line. They are inserted just to sprinkle a little flesh and sell more tickets.

The thing that is deeply troublesome to me is the acceptance and even celebration of this on the part of both men and women who follow Jesus.

If I sound like a boring Bible thumper, perhaps we need to reconsider what we consider exciting. Puritan preacher Thomas Hooker once remarked, “The man whose heart is endeared to the woman he loves … dreams of her in the night, hath her in his eye and apprehension when he awakes, museth on her as he sits at the table, walks with her when he travels…. She lies in his bosom, and his heart trusts in her, which forceth all to confess that the stream of his affection, like a mighty current, runs with full tide and strength.”

That’s exciting, actual intimacy, not drool on a movie screen or the pages of a novel. Why does the church run like a pack of scavenging hyenas to devour the leftover scraps of the flesh that is slain by the flesh butchers of the world?

What do Christian women have to do with “Magic Mike” or “50 Shades of Grey”? What do Christian men have to do with the meat market of the entertainment media? Should Christian women flock like geese to see the film? Should Christian men be OK with it?

This really isn’t a tough one. Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

A Christian woman I know said, “What if a new film is released tomorrow called ‘Magic Morgan?’ Will Christian women be OK with their husbands, younger brothers, or other young men in the church flocking to the theater to see the film?”

I would not, but after the response of so many Christians to mommy porn, I’m not so sure.

This isn’t about being a collection of prudes. This is about Christians living in a way that is consistent with what we say we believe. Why trade the purity of our Christian walk and witness for a cheap thrill or a peek at Matthew McConaughey’s abs?

Fellow follower of Jesus, what are we doing singing “I once was blind but now I see” on Sunday morning if we are going to turn a blind eye to the rotten fruits of our sex-hyper culture on Saturday night at the movie theater?

It seems that there are not only “50 Shades of Grey” but also 50 shades of Christianity these days. However, on this issue, the Bible is black and white.

 CHRIS SURBER is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at