CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT
No Grey Area
By Mark King
I have long been an advocate of Christians knowing what is going on in popular culture. This includes reading popular books that promote non-Christian world views and even seeing movies that promote some very non-Christian ideas.
I was serving as a pastor of a small church in Chicago when The Da Vinci Code movie came out. The book had come out some time before and was a best-seller, but had not generated the kind of buzz that the movie did. In response I decided to do a 4-week series on The Da Vinci Code to coincide with the release of the movie. In preparation for the series, I read the book and went to see the movie.
A producer from the local CBS affiliate in Chicago saw ad for the series and asked to interview me and to film the first week of the series. During the part of the interview that aired, I was able to articulate the fact that the deity of Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity.
I realize that some Christians would disagree with me here. They may think that I should have boycotted the movie and not wasted my time on the book, but I thought it was worth it. I did not discourage my congregation from reading the book or going to the movie, especially if this would give them the opportunity to interact with unbelievers. If they knew unbelievers who were going to see the movie anyway, it would have been a great opportunity to invite them to the movie and go out for coffee afterward to discuss it.
The point is that as believers we need to understand ideas before we can correct or refute them. Paul the Apostle seems to have been at home in the worlds of both Jewish and Greek literature and ideas; and he used points of commonality to appeal to his audiences.
This brings us to the most recent blockbuster book and movie Fifty Shades of Grey. Based on what I just said above, you might expect that I have read the book, gone to see the movie and think it is a good idea for other believers to do so as well. However, that is not the case. The difference between The Da Vinci Code and Fifty Shade of Grey is that Da Vinci promoted ideas that required intellectual analyses and refutation. While promoting certain ideas about sexuality that need to be refuted, Fifty Shades is essentially erotica/pornography. This type of literature and the images that go with it are not meant to engage the mind. Rather, they bypass the intellect and arouse the passions.
The witness of Scripture is clear when it comes to this kind of stimulus. Joseph, when he was tempted by Potiphar's wife would not allow himself to be alone with her and when he was finally cornered, he fled even as she clutched at his clothing (Genesis 39:6-12). David's sin with Bathsheba started when he saw her bathing on the rooftop, and lingered to watch. Then, fixating on her beauty and against his better judgment, he pursued an illicit relationship with her. Had he gone back inside and turned his energies to something else, the story would have been much different (2 Samuel 11). Paul tells Timothy to "flee youthful passions" (2 Timothy 2:22).
In some cases we are to stand and fight. In some cases we are to reason, engage, and refute. And in some cases we are to get out as quickly as possible. I believe that Fifty Shades of Grey is in this third category. For the purpose of refuting the arguments, I might read or encourage others to read a book that argues that pornography is a good thing. That would allow me to engage the issue on an intellectual level and perhaps interact with unbelievers on the issue. However, I would never view pornography for the same purpose because I would be allowing myself to be ensnared and enflamed.
There are a few Christians who have a ministry of reviewing movies and writing reviews. I assume that the handful of people who do this have already seen the movie and written their reviews — and I have benefitted from a couple of them. For me, and I believe for the vast majority of believers, there is nothing to gain and a lot to lose by watching or reading Fifty Shades of Grey. If I were currently pastoring, I would do everything possible to discourage any in my congregation from indulging in either the book or the move. While there is individual liberty in grey areas (Romans 14), I do not consider Fifty Shades, or any erotica/pornography to be a grey area.
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Current-Issues
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