Few have been able to escape the “Fifty Shades of Grey” craze that has consumed our culture over the last several years. The story of an innocent college student’s sexual education from a wealthy, tortured billionaire has become one of the best selling, and most controversial, books ever written.
Fifty Shades of Grey is a story about dominance and submission and the roles women secretly desire to play in romantic relationships. The Christian world has reacted to the series’ popularity with disgust and judgment although these same ideas are central to traditional Christian teaching, which has long advocated for the submission of women to the authority of men.
Our culture has progressed far beyond the patriarchal practices that were once considered common sense, but for some reason the idea of submission, especially in romantic relationships, still appeals to women. If we’re being brutally honest, Christianity teaches many of the same qualities that are present in the Fifty Shades series. A dominant, controlling man is considered attractive while an innocent, submissive girl is portrayed as the ideal woman.
More than 70 million copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” have been sold. Millions of people who are not ashamed to admit they find these ideas sexually appealing, relate to this dynamic on some level, with many others remaining silent about their intrigue.
Christianity has created a culture where young women are taught that their lives should center around men and they can only be completed through marriage. Women are raised with the idea that their purpose is submission and service to the man who will someday be their husband.
The delivery of the message is obviously very different in both cases. Instead of graphic sexual descriptions, the Church preaches about purity, obedience and service, but the outcome is the same. Women are taught to believe that their greatest calling is to be a wife and that submission is sexier than equality and partnership.
At least “Fifty Shades of Grey” is honest about this worldview instead of disguising it as God’s will. The next time the topic of women’s roles in the Church comes up, think of chains and whips. That’s what they’re really getting at, anyway.