image courtesy of examiner.com
After the box office record-breaking weekend for Fifty Shades of Gray, the dust is beginning to settle. You have heard the hype, perhaps eyed the trailer, and by now, you've likely heard that this movie is not a sweet romantic story as depicted. It is a movie centering around violent sex, abuse, and pornography of proportions that even Hollywood struggled to assign it an "R" rating.
But let's say you convinced yourself that "it couldn't be that bad." Or a group of girlfriends were going together, and you were in need of "girl time" so you went along against your better judgment. Maybe your curiosity got the best of you, or you just plain wanted to see something steamy.
While loads of people went to the movie fully prepared (they read the book) and hungry for explicit content, many others came away feeling shocked, violated, confused, sad, horrified and well, dirty. What, now?
**This is written to Christians, those who believe in Christ and have had their lives revolutionized by Him. If you haven't met Him yet, or aren't sure, read Would you like to know God personally? here.
A few truths for the day after:
1. It's right to be disturbed after seeing this movie.
Feeling dirty or guilty after watching this movie is appropriate. To look upon and ingest vile content is a form of mental and spiritual defilement.
"Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1
Paul writes extensively about this in Ephesians chapter 5: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret." Ephesians 5:3-12
2. Although you may feel dirty, Jesus has made you clean.
Jesus bore the sins of the world, including abuse, sexual perversion, mistreatment of women, as well as anything and everything you and I have done wrong. These sins were standing between mankind and the Creator who loves us. Jesus willingly suffered a horrific death on the cross to provide atonement for you and me. We can now be restored to a real, vibrant relationship with God because of Jesus' death and resurrection.
"Come, let's talk this over, says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!" Isaiah 1:18
If you have already come to Christ for your salvation, then He forgave all of your sins...including this one of partaking in the darkness that is Fifty Shades of Gray. He asks that you confess it to Him, admitting that to see it was wrong. Not, "I didn't mean to see it, I was out-voted by girlfriends and it was majority rule, it was just a movie..."
To confess sin means agreeing with God about what He says about right and wrong. He instructs us to "put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed." Colossians 3:5
Because Christ's blood covers our sin, we now agree with God concerning our sin and thank Him for the forgiveness that is already ours!
3. Renounce spiritual darkness.
In Scripture, we learn that there is more than meets the eye in our earthly experience. The battle isn't against Hollywood, the author of a depraved book, or a society that has lost its moral conscience. We are battling evil forces in the invisible realm. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12
The Evil One, Satan, has a plan to target each of us, and he does this through our minds. If you watched this movie, there are specific lies of the Enemy that need to be rejected and renounced.
Lies to Reject, such as:
X "Perverse or abusive sex is an acceptable means of pleasure."
X "Violence against women --or anyone--is permissible if it is consensual."
X "Anything goes, because I make the rules for my own life."
X and many more...
The act of identifying and rejecting lies is an important step in the restoring of your mind. Ask the Lord to show you other false messages you encountered from Fifty Shades. As you work through them with God's help, the next step is to actively replace lies with truth from Scripture. The following are truths, among many others, from God's Word that will frame your life with a healthy, holy perspective.
Truths to Confess, including:
+"Sex is designed by God to be uplifting, not degrading; bringing blessing to the body and soul, not destruction or harm."
Ephesians 5:28-29 says, "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church."
+"Sex is a gift from God to husbands and wives, to be enjoyed within the safe boundary of marriage."
"Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body." I Corinthians 6:13-18
+"I do not rule my own life. I belong to God, and I am His."
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." I Corinthians 6:19-20
***Spend time in prayer rejecting specific lies and making your confession of the corresponding truths. You may want to pray through the list of lies, truths, and Scriptures I've written out here. I encourage you to speak them out loud (following the model of Romans 10:10).
4. Take a spiritual bath.
While Jesus washes our hearts clean, the reality is that once you see some images, you can't "unsee" them. Continue to seek God for cleansing of your mind.
He renews our mind when we spend time reading His Word. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2. See also Ephesians 5:25-27.
Fill your mind with light. "Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." Philippians 4:8
5. Become attentive to the Voice of His Spirit within.
If you are a believer in Christ, His Spirit lives inside of you. He is a very practical help in every life situation.
Did you hear the Voice inside telling you it was not a good idea to see the movie beforehand? If we ignore, try to downplay or shush the Voice, we sometimes receive another opportunity. While watching the movie with its' graphic sex and violence, was the Holy Spirit inside of you quiet? Or was He stirring your soul, making you uncomfortable in your conscience and aware that this was not right? A second chance, a "way of escape" was given as a choice to stay and watch or walk out of the movie. Often, the second and third opportunities to make the right decision are harder than the first. But it will always be worth it.
(One other note: While only Christians have the Holy Spirit, many nonbelievers had a bothered conscience regarding this movie, too. God gives everyone a conscience at birth, the sense of right and wrong. However, if over time someone continually goes against their conscience, it becomes much quieter. See Romans chapter 1. "Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what not ought to be done." Romans 1:28)
6. Lastly, if this movie didn't bother you, I prayerfully urge you to take a soul inventory.
"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." I John 1:5-10
I close these thoughts with Ephesians 2:1-6 which beautifully reminds us of the 'before' and 'after' of meeting Christ.
"It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah."
If you are still awaiting the experience of His incredible love, it would be my pleasure to introduce you.