Last April I wrote a book review of Pulling Back the Shades, an excellent book by Christian author and speaker Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist. After the popularity of the book and subsequent series 50 Shades of Grey, they felt compelled to warn the Christian community (and everyone else) about the dangers of reading graphic romance/sex novels, and the dangers in particular of 50 Shades of Grey. Now that the movie is out, I am hoping that I can (even in a small way) dissuade some of you from going to see the movie, and if you already have, to help point out the dangers of believing that this movie is a good influence for any of us.
I won’t go into any particulars, because so many writers and bloggers have already done such a good job. So, I’ll post my brief opinion, then a few things that our church leaders have said that I believe apply particularly to this movie and book. First, what is hopefully obvious: women’s hormones are well-driven by erotic novels. But even though some are saying that women will be more affected by the book than the movie, we already know that the movie involves on screen nudity and sex scenes. Hopefully most of you have heard by now that the male character stalks the female character and is extremely controlling. Readers and viewers may feel like this is “okay” because the male character is wealthy and handsome, and comes to some kind of “redemption” by the end of the series. This is not how controlling relationships usually end. It manipulates the feelings that we often have as women to want to “save” the bad boy, when we need to be running the other way.
I’ve read accounts online of LDS women who have read the book to see what the hype was about. If you haven’t done so, please don’t. There are many reviews online from psychologists, feminists, and other bloggers who will tell you what is in the book and what is in the movie, and give you specifics, so you can understand the fuss/controversy without having to deal with the book. I won’t judge those who have already read the book, but receiving pornography in any form will dull your spiritual senses.
From Elder Oaks, in a Priesthood Session, but we women obviously need it too:
Last summer Sister Oaks and I returned from two years in the Philippines. We loved our service there, and we loved returning home. When we have been away, we see our surroundings in a new light, with increased appreciation and sometimes with new concerns.
We were concerned to see the inroads pornography had made in the United States while we were away. For many years our Church leaders have warned against the dangers of images and words intended to arouse sexual desires. Now the corrupting influence of pornography, produced and disseminated for commercial gain, is sweeping over our society like an avalanche of evil.
Patrons of pornography also lose the companionship of the Spirit. Pornography produces fantasies that destroy spirituality….Some seek to justify their indulgence by arguing that they are only viewing “soft,” not “hard,” porn. A wise bishop called this refusing to see evil as evil. He quoted men seeking to justify their viewing choices by comparisons such as “not as bad as” or “only one bad scene.” But the test of what is evil is not its degree but its effect. When persons entertain evil thoughts long enough for the Spirit to withdraw, they lose their spiritual protection and they are subject to the power and direction of the evil one.
…Consider the tragic example of King David. Though a spiritual giant in Israel, he allowed himself to look upon something he should not have viewed (see 2 Sam. 11). Tempted by what he saw, he violated two of the Ten Commandments, beginning with “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). In this way a prophet-king fell from his exaltation (see D&C 132:39).
But the good news is that no one needs to follow the evil, downward descent to torment. Everyone caught on that terrible escalator has the key to reverse his course. He can escape. Through repentance he can be clean.
President Hinckley: do all that you can to avoid pornography. If you ever find yourself in its presence—which can happen to anyone in the world in which we live—follow the example of Joseph of Egypt. When temptation caught him in her grip, he left temptation and “got him out” (Gen. 39:12).