Her eyes widened then quickly shifted down at the table as she moved uncomfortably in her seat. I had asked one of those awkward dad questions.
“So have you and your friends heard about this new movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey?'”
She paused, then sheepishly acknowledged.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going where you think I am with this dialog. Relax.”
Photo Credit: Craig Swatton
She exhaled and I began to wax parental eloquence. It went something like this:
When I was kid, we ran from culture. We shielded ourselves from it and even created our own Christian versions that we could embrace with safety and piety. Christian books, music, magazines, and events allowed me to live in a somewhat cloistered world of sexual abstinence and hard core replicas with a biblical twist.
(Let’s just ignore 1980’s Christian television and movies).
And while it’s fun to make jokes today, I didn’t completely hate it. In fact, you can listen to my favorite high school throwback Spotify playlist by clicking here. That’s some quality stuff (don’t judge).
There’s no doubt, one of our most popular Christian reactions to secular culture was to withdraw from it, recreate it in our own image, and then condemn what was left behind from our place of manufactured purity.
But then a new wave of Christianity came along. One that was tired of “Pharisees” casting self-righteous condemnation on the “Common Grace” of the world. God was manifest in the creativity of all human beings, regardless of whether those creatives acknowledge His Lordship or not. Let’s be honest, many of the best musicians, and artists, and storytellers, and entrepreneurs profess no faith in Christ, yet they are making some of the most beautiful impact on the world around us. That can’t be easily discarded, nor should it.
So many of us swung from the pious constraints of the sheltered re-creation in which we had been raised and began hysterically consuming this unexplored culture with little critique or caution. While faith remained vital for many, life became easily compartmentalized into the sacred and the secular. It was time to enjoy all the things we had been told were wrong for so long.
And in our attempts to lay down the sanctimonious idols of man-made morality and doctrinal purity, we embraced new idols of enlightenment and sophistication. We simply created a different, more socially acceptable brand of self-righteousness.
So what does this have to do with 50 Shade of Grey?
Stay away from it. Far away. No contemplation, no hesitation. Not because it makes you more righteous and better than, but because the One who gave you His righteousness has much better things for you. We can love the “common grace” of this world and find grace and love for sinners without naively consuming its perversion.
The Gospel doesn’t hide from culture, but it doesn’t blindly consume of it either. It engages. It brings life. It resurrects what is dead and distorted.
May the same be said of us.