This weekend, the movie 50 Shades of Grey came out on Valentine’s Day. The movie, based on the wildly popular books by E.L. James, details the relationship between the two main characters, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, a relationship that includes, among other things, sadomasochism.
This is not a post about why I am against 50 Shades of Grey – although I am for a variety of reasons.
This is not a post to tell you how sinful it is to read and watch these books – although I do believe that it is. However, I’ll be really honest and say, I’ve probably both watched movies and read books that were not right for me to ingest – movies and books that I excused because I liked the story or characters or it made me laugh.
There have been a lot of people who have written excellent blog posts and articles about the dangers of 50 Shades of Grey. I don’t feel like I can really add to the well thought out arguments against these books and now the movie.
Instead this is a post about what real love actually is. I find it really interesting that those who are trained to spot counterfeit money don’t actually study the counterfeit – they study the real thing.
It’s when they know the real thing that the counterfeit stands out.
There is a lot in the Bible about the topic of love, and I find it really interesting that human love is often meant to be a mirror of Christ and His love for us and the church. For example, we gain a deeper understanding of the love of God the Father when we become parents ourselves. In our finite, imperfect way, we see how God REALLY feels about us, his children.
In the marriage relationship, there is a picture of Christ giving Himself up for His bride, the church. It is a relationship that involves sacrifice on His part, but its a sacrifice that Christ gladly gives – because He loves His bride so much.
Even in physical love, there is a picture of God, of how intimately He wants to know us. Unfortunately, when it comes to God and the topic of sex, we have this idea that God just wants to spoil our fun. Like He is up there, wagging His holy finger at us and saying, “No, no.” Or at the most, He tolerates it, turning His head in embarrassment or disgust.
But you know what – that isn’t actually true. I want to let you in on a little truth – God CREATED sex. He could have created it as a simply neutral thing, to allow for procreation. Instead, He made it this beautiful thing of passion and pleasure. It was meant to be this almost mystical way that two separate people become one – both physically and emotionally.
In Song of Solomon, God gives us this picture of passionate, erotic sex. In Song of Solomon 5:1, He looks over the young lovers and tells them, “Drink, imbibe deeply, O Lovers.” There’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on in this small book. Solomon and his young bride’s desire for each other steams the page.
But it is BECAUSE God loves us that He puts some boundaries around sex. It isn’t to control us or limit us or to prevent us from having fun or pleasure. It is because sex is such a powerful thing it shouldn’t be treated casually.
It is such an intimate, wonderfully strong thing that it should only be enjoyed within a safe, committed relationship, a relationship like marriage. God doesn’t tell us not to engage in casual sex because He is a killjoy. He does it to protect us. When you join with someone through sex, you aren’t just giving your body. You are giving a little bit of your soul. Do that enough times, with enough people, and your soul will start to feel a bit thin and threadbare.
God doesn’t just talk about love in the Old Testament. He gives us a beautiful description of love in I Corinthians 13. While this passage isn’t solely about married love, it does give us a blueprint of what love really is – obviously God knew we needed a primer because in our brokenness, we often make love about us and what we need, rather than something we give to others.
Using God’s blueprint for love (and sex), we can love well. Real love can even point a person to God by giving them a glimpse of what true love really is, but friend, please hear this – we can’t love someone whole. Only God can fill up that bottomless well of need.
God’s love comes in all kinds of shades from the crimson of romantic, passionate love to the deep blue of the friendship of love. The only shade you won’t find is grey.