When I was a little girl I remember playing with a neighbor boy in his sandbox. We sat there contentedly, digging and scooping. Until suddenly it occurred to me to say, “Whatever you do, don’t dump sand in my hair!”
I’m sure you can guess what happened next.
Sand. All over me. In my hair for weeks.
I can’t help but think about the sandbox incident the more I read all the blog posts about Fifty Shades of Grey.
Christians are in an uproar over the movie hitting theaters this weekend, and it’s understandable. The film glamorizes violence, licentious sexual behavior, and unhealthy erotic relationships. It’s trashy and pornographic.
And yes, it’s hitting the mainstream, which sends Christians reeling as they lament the sad state of our society.
But I have to wonder — why on earth are we so surprised?
Why do we expect more of Hollywood than they’re willing to give?
This may come as a shock to some, but Hollywood is not bound by nor influenced by Christian moral principles.
Hollywood will make a movie about ANYTHING THAT WILL SELL.
It’s the American way. Capitalism at its finest.
And this one’s bound to be a blockbuster.
I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey a few years ago when the book came out. It kept popping up on Amazon and Goodreads. It never interested me because it’s not the genre I prefer.
But more than that, I’m a literary snob. If the writing sucks, I have no interest in reading it. And from everything I’ve heard about Fifty Shades, the writing sucks big time.
“If I were a member of the Christian right, sitting on my front porch decrying the decadent morals of working American women, what would be most alarming about the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena … is that millions of otherwise intelligent women are willing to tolerate prose on this level.” — Katie Roiphe, Newsweek
I didn’t care about Fifty Shades when the book came out and I don’t care about the movie. I won’t be going to see it, but I also won’t be writing a lengthy blog post telling others to abstain.
Because the whole thing is overblown and ridiculous.
Fifty Shades of Gray is just the flavor of the month.
Like yoga pants.
Or “Happy Holidays.”
And it’s been done before. There is nothing new under the sun.
(Am I seriously the only person who is old enough to remember 9 1/2 Weeks?)
What does all this have to do with the sandbox incident of my childhood?
Well, let’s pretend for a moment that I am a non-Christian.
I notice that all these evangelical right-wing fundamentalist people (who appear to be downright crazy judging by their Facebook posts) are harping on how I shouldn’t see this movie because of its raunchy subject matter.
Can we be honest for a moment?
I would want to see it out of spite.
In fact, with all the hype and the press, I’d probably be running to the theater as fast as my legs would carry me. I’d be all the more interested to see what the fuss is about.
I didn’t have to scroll down very far on a popular Christian blog to find this reader comment:
“All of this ‘Christian’ conservative rhetoric, has made me curious enough to buy a book I had no previous interest in reading. Thanks for that.”
There’s a pattern at play here. The more people hoot and holler about something and the more air time it gets, the bigger a sensation it becomes.
It’s the old “please don’t throw me in that briar patch” mentality.
A whole lot of Christians are going to end up this weekend with sand in their hair.
Will we ever learn?
This is the culture in which we live. Christians are called to be in the world and not of it.
We spend enormous energy and effort engaging in culture wars, trying to conform the world to our moral standards, and all the while neglecting the heart of the matter.
Because society will not change until hearts and lives are changed.
And hearts and lives are not changed in the clamor of culture wars.
It’s high time Christians quit caterwauling about the speck in the world’s eyes, and start excavating the giant plank in our own. It’s easy to feel super righteous when we’re protesting loudly about other people’s depravity. But all the noise makes it hard to hear the Holy Spirit speak in His still, small voice.
Vitriol over the latest “insult” to our society takes our eyes off of what’s important. The outrage makes us lose our focus. And it’s the wrong response to the world’s condition.
Despite what Fox News would have you believe, this is not a competition between “us and them” to see who can yell the loudest.
If you’re a believer in Christ, you should know that the battle against sin and evil is already won.
Want to change the world we live in? Want society to change for the better?
Here’s an idea: do what Jesus said.
- Humble yourself.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
- Let your gentleness be evident to all, for the Lord is near. (Phillipians 4:5)
Don’t get derailed from the Gospel because of one dumb movie.
Don’t dwell on the ugly, the sinful, and the vile, because it will pull you under if you let it.
Instead, take the Apostle Paul’s advice:
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. Phillipians 4:8 (MSG)
May your Valentine’s weekend be filled with beauty, joy and wonder. Every bush is burning. Let’s take notice, shall we?