As the media goes mad for the release of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, we revisit our guest blog post written by Becky Francis, a christian relationship & psychosexual therapist and friend of Time for Marriage …
A topical film/book at the moment, and controversial amongst Christians. Maybe one of the reasons it’s controversial is that sex is a topic that is rarely discussed in Christian circles, and yet it is something that is either enjoyed, feared, relished or despised by anyone in a couple relationship. In other words, its a topic that should be highlighted and discussed more freely in church and Christian circles. However, sex is also a deeply personal and private aspect of a couple relationship and of course should remain so; but perhaps as we are often given little direction or teaching on it, we become judgemental and enforce human boundaries we think appropriate with little knowledge or understanding of the gift of sex and a physical relationship that God has given us.
Fifty Shades of Grey, of course challenges our views on obvious emotive topics as basic as sex outside of marriage as well as possibly more complex, lesser known topics such as bondage and sexual play. However, if we were to enforce limitations on what we read as Christians then I believe we are stepping into the realms of preventing freedom of choice and allowing our personal relationship with God to guide us on an individual road of discovery in what God has destined for each one of us. Apparently Greece has banned the gay sex scene in Downton Abbey, much to the dismay of the English production team. I wonder, as Christians whether we agree with Greece’s decision on another controversial topic amongst Christians, or were we accepting of the scene portrayed on English channels and safely stored it in the miscellaneous or unanswered questions box, that we all have and hope to open when we meet Jesus face to face.
We are all susceptible to sin, whatever that is, and therefore we need to take responsibility ourselves and safeguard what we watch, read or take part in that may lead us into something away from God. Fifty Shades of Grey challenges views on bondage and sadomasicist sexual exploration. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 highlights that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore as such, we should safeguard what we absorb both physically and emotionally into our bodies and repent of anything that is dishonouring to God. I don’t believe therefore, that inflicting pain on another human being or taking pleasure from receiving pain (sadomasicism) is something that God destined and takes pleasure from us doing. What I do believe however, is that God does take pleasure from us enjoying a fulfilling sexual and physical relationship within the boundaries of marriage. This is a gift that he has given us. If we are able to read Fifty Shades of Grey and not be drawn into the realms of sadomasicism, then perhaps it may enlighten personal aspects and views on sexual functioning. What Fifty Shades of Grey has highlighted, without question, is that there are many of us who are interested in exploring and identifying new and different ways of achieving sexual fulfilment, and surely this applies to Christians and non Christians alike.
Like any fantasy however, whether in a film or in a book, we again take responsibility for the differences between reality and fiction. The male character in Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, is described as being both physically fit and attractive and the author gives some detail and description about his body and appearance. If this is not reality, and I suspect it is not for most (!), then we need to be careful that it does not impact negatively on our own exploration and reality within our marriage.
Personally, I was not drawn by the characters in Fifty Shades of Grey and perhaps frustratingly I became disinterested in the outcome of their story. However, if we remain rooted in God’s love and are open to our weaknesses and susceptibility to sin, surely we can explore literature and films alike that may outwardly challenge Christian beliefs and theories. How else are we to stand up for what we believe in and have meaningful discussions with those around us in this fallen world we live in?
It is worth investing in our sex lives as a couple. I know that Time for Marriage weekends include a session on the highs & lows of sex within marriage and would recommend them a as a great place to start.
Becky is a Christian relationship & psychosexual therapist.