Feb 2015 16

50 SHADESI’m pretty sure I would have and you know what? I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. I probably would have secretly seen it with a girlfriend or worse, let the Man of the Month persuade me to see it with him. But in either instance, I would’ve felt dirty but sure would’ve been there on the front row of church the next morning all cleaned up in my Cathy Christian persona. Such a fraud, wanting it both ways.

Since then, I’ve learned about second chances as grace released me from the ick of my hypocritical self, and it has driven me to live not a perfect life, but an honest one. But back then, I struggled with self-worth so low that it would cause me to do things a healthy person would never consider. Where it showed itself the strongest was with men. 

BuddhaThink

Buddha said  ”What we think, we become”. Science tells us that what we believe starts with what we think. I would’ve seen Fifty Shades of Grey and it would maybe have aroused me, it certainly would’ve confused me, and for sure driven further into the belief that what was good for ME was not on the menu. I saw the similarly controversial 9 1/2 Weeks in 1986 and walked out halfway through, but it was too late; even by then, damage had been done in my psyche and for years after, every time I connected with a man, I was haunted by the images I saw.

Although I never got caught up in real life situations as horrifying as this movie describes, I often entered into secret relationships and compromising situations with the same kind of disrespectful man, one who withheld love or was just a blatant narcissist. I routinely exposed myself to his selfish message and after awhile, was convinced I was unworthy. This is interesting because I have a loving father who, though very strong, always made sure I knew he loved me and wanted the best for me. But there were other male figures in my early life from whom twisted ideas about love were planted in my mind. Experience tells me that the shame from those ugly experiences drove me to hide the truth as I believed the lie that I was somehow responsible and ultimately didn’t deserve respect.

As I got older and made decisions of my own accord, I would often go in and out of wishing someone would talk turkey to me about my duplicitous tendencies but I wonder: if they had, would I have listened? Would I have heard the interventions of the caring soul who might’ve told me that exposing myself to these kinds of influences would wreak havoc on my emotional soul later in my life? I actually think I would have and in hindsight, wish someone would’ve taken the risk to get in my face.

But that was then. In recent years I have focused on trying to help other young women, hoping to help protect them from the pain I endured and from making the same mistakes I did. I’ve wanted to share how broken things can be put back together again with God’s help. For five years, I had the privilege of being the “spiritual mom” for a passel of gorgeous and bright young women in their early 30s, some of whom struggled with difficult childhoods resulting in low self worth. I took that role very seriously as weekly I tried to provide a safe place to explore things from a spiritual perspective that they didn’t feel they could ever talk about with parents or God forbid, in church circles. So when 50 Shades of Grey came out in book form in 2012, I felt compelled to steer them away from reading it.  I wanted them to understand that God saw them as perfect and that He wanted the best for them, as any loving parent would. I wanted them to see how their actions now as single women could deeply influence their future married life. I explained how feelings are formed from what we think, and how our thoughts are influenced by what we allow in to our minds but at the same time though, wanted to be careful not to be “that” Christian who protested so much that they would want to read it just to prove me wrong. Sadly, a couple of them did and I cannot help but believe there is a part of them that regrets it.

Anyway, I just learned today, the Monday after the movie was first released, this movie has already done over $81 million in box office sales… in just two days and they expect it to hit $100 million this week.  Millions of people have paid good money to see it… young people have gone to see it on a first date, groups of girlfriends have hosted FSOG parties where whips and handcuffs were given as party gifts, and some married folks have felt pressured by their spouses to go. What? And more importantly, why? 

I’m no prude, but I know I’m not alone in my protest from both atheist and religious folks.

Popular erotic romance author and Huffington Post regular Jenny Trout blogs ”I cannot, for the life of me, understand how it would be enjoyable to fantasize about a man who takes control in all aspects of your life.” Jill Savage, Hearts at Home president and best selling author and friend describes some of the dangers with ”The problem with that is a slightly skewed perspective away from the way God wants me to live can easily become a slippery slope.” And Dannah Gresh, bestselling Christian author of Lies Young Women Believe and Pulling Back the Shades, wrote this just a couple of days ago in anticipation of the film’s release: “The romance you’re hungry for requires a strong man, but not one with whips and chains. So pass up Christian Grey and find a man who is so strong that he’d have the guts to lay his life down for you.”

HeartKnifeCornell and UCLA psychiatrist and sex expert Miriam Grossman, MD wrote a compelling piece this week which said “The bottom line: the ideas of Fifty Shades of Grey  are dangerous, and can lead to confusion and poor decisions about love. There are vast differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, but the movie blurs those differences, so you begin to wonder: what’s healthy in a relationship? What’s sick? There are so many shades of grey…I’m not sure. Listen, it’s your safety and future we’re talking about here. There’s no room for doubt: an intimate relationship that includes violence, consensual or not, is completely unacceptable. This is black and white. There are no shades of grey here. Not even one.”

Rom 12 2

It does start in our mind.  It is science. It all starts in the brain. It is black-and-white… and indeed, there are no shades of gray. For me a great deal of healing has come since those days as a young woman as I recognize God sees me as a beautiful, perfect daughter. Although I am deeply loved today by a gloriously unselfish, respectable and respecting man, there are still some marks that remain but  I am no longer haunted by the past. But oh, what I could have protected myself from if only I had stayed on this side of the line when I drew it between where I stood and looming evil!

So, if you’re thinking about going, I hope this has caused you to pause if only for a moment. And hear this: no matter what the trailers say, no matter what the misguided author attests, and no matter how much your giddy friends might say otherwise as they try to entice you to a girls night out to see it, 50 Shades of Grey is no love story. It is a cheap thrill… nay, unadulterated porn.  Nothing more. And you know what? No amount of perfume sprayed on a pile of poop will make it stop stinking. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

I, for one, don’t want those images polluting my mind. Ever. When I am with my darling husband who loves me deeply, I only want to see us; our love, our way- the way God gave it to us… not some stranger’s twisted fantasy. So call me a prude, but I think I’ll just stay home tonight, blissfully ignorant, and bask in the only pure Love Story* I’ve ever known.

 

* “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

Romans 8:38

 

 

 

 

50 Comments

  1. John Skirgaudas says:

    Thanks, Sylvia, for sharing so honestly and boldly. The huge number of people viewing this movie are “looking for love in all the wrong places…” as in the song from the eighties. I did the same many years ago and it almost destroyed our marriage. Only the Love of God (JESUS) never fails and is forever. Sharing this kind of Love with my wife and others enables deep intimacy with true joy and happiness. Jesus Culture sings it so well in “Your love never fails…”, one of my favorites.

  2. Demi says:

    I think one of the things I love most about you and your writing is that you are so real! I had no interest in seeing the movie and did not read the books. I did, however, know just enough to have the conversation with my son. While it’s critical to make sure our girls knows it’s just as important to make sure our boys know that this is not the way to treat a woman. Today’s society makes me work overtime as a mom to raise my son right!

  3. Erin says:

    I agree Sylvia. I will not ever see or read that book. Instead I will read Songs of Solomon if I am ever in need of romance when I get married:)

  4. Don Addiss says:

    Back in the Garden of Eden God instructed Adam and Eve to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This was not because God wanted to test them, it was not some form of entrapment or way for them to prove they were obedient. It is because God wanted to protect them from the affects that the knowledge of evil has on us. God knew that even the knowledge of evil and the associated images that dwell in our brains as a result rob of us of complete joy. The knowledge of evil leads to sin (self-deprecation or devaluation) and our own evilness. If only we could purge our brains of the evil images that lurk in the shadows. Avoiding them in the first place is the best approach. In your writing you have put on the mantel of God wanting to protect anyone who will hear your message. Thanks for being bold enough to do so!

  5. Cindy Brown says:

    “to live not a perfect life, but an honest one”. Well said! Thanks for being honest and true to God, your husband, and you!!! Love your heart! Glad you got fired up and shared.

  6. Karla Adams says:

    Well done, Sylvia! This was a movie I had no desire to see, but I know it is having an influence on many lives. It was good to hear your perspective. Thank you for standing for truth. It’s sad that we live in a society that perverts what God intended to be pure and beautiful. You can also add the fact that these people had no business engaging in ANY form of sexual intimacy (kinky or not) as they were apparently not married. Most movies and TV programs nowadays don’t seem to even flinch at that basic Biblical guideline. Thank you again!!

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Karla, you’re so right. That isn’t one that’s talked about much but oy, what pain so many could avoid if such an “old fashioned” principle WAS followed, eh? Thanks for your comment – it means a lot!

  7. Jack Cardoza says:

    I would like to ad to my last commentary that: The character in Fifty Shades of Grey made a request. She asked Christian to show her what an extreme was like. He obliged but with a slight reluctance, in my opinion. Again, she made a request. She was curious and found her limit in the process. She was “in love” and likely, had overtrusted.

  8. Bobbi Boubonnais says:

    Way to go … speaking truth with love from a pure heart and sincere faith which is the goal of our instruction.

  9. Jack Cardoza says:

    Thanks Sylvia. Nice of you to take an over the shoulder view to do your best to impart wisdom from your life experience to help others along the way. I saw this movie, reviewed it and liked it more than I thought I would have. First off, I love helicopters….:o) I also enjoyed how the woman/actress played her part. She was in a process of discovery. The movie is greatly about sensuality. It is tame in the bedroom scenes. Until it is not, in one scene only. The character reacts in an honest, human manner once pushed too far. She said that he would never do that to her again. This point told me, the viewer that this woman was in charge. This, to me was the lesson in this movie that women and all of us can learn from. To honor our instincts and knowing of what is right for us. It is an individual thing. It is a point of empowerment to recognize and to act on. The movie is more like something from Europe. It is a shocker for many reasons to our tender United States sensibilities about bedroom concerns. So to see so much on the big screen is and adjustment. We are moving to a greater sexual understanding. The pendulum needs to swing wide until it can find that happy mid point. This movie is showing and telling us a lot about the extremes and offering a spectrum of what we might or might not choose along the path.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Thank you for your comment, but I must respectfully disagree. Love doesn’t need for someone to be “in charge”. Real love is safe; it gives itself sacrificially, respectfully, unselfishly. I have just heard from someone in progressive Berlin who shared how she thought it took things too far. I have received two emails from young women who said they wished they had heeded the warnings not to go there, one even saying she now felt “dirty”. Real unselfish love… Pure Love doesn’t do that to us. It makes us feel clean and SAFE.

      If we “honored all of our instincts”, we would do all kinds of hurtful things to ourselves and others– that’s where self-control comes in. I guess it’s a little like choosing to drink a tall glass of water that someone has just pee’d in. It’s only a little bit of pee and technically, the water is still “drinkable”. But it’s still tainted. Why would we drink such a glass of water when a tall glass of pure mountain spring water is right there? No thanks. I’ll take the glass of Clean Water any day.

  10. Nancy Troll says:

    Well said Sylvia, I totally agree!

  11. Sandra Lossau says:

    Thank you Sylvia! I feel and think the same way. As a mother of a vulnerable 15 year old girl I’m especially alert to this topic. I will make her read this, it is so beautifully and well written!!!!

  12. Martha Carter says:

    Thank you for speaking healing truth that can be shared with others.

  13. jay wickman says:

    Brave, honest, soooooo needed. It is sad how torrid has become par with love. You’ll be jeered for sure but hold your head high and know that your honesty and perspective will help dispell the lie that masagany is not love. Well done.

  14. Glenda Harr says:

    Awesome read Sylvia! Beautifully expressed. Your words are carefully spoken, direct and powerful! Thank you!

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Thanks Glenda. It’s an awkward subject, but COME ON PEOPLE. Lines not only need to be drawn, but we need to stay on the other side of them!

  15. Susan says:

    Hi Syl,
    Nice diversion from doing my taxes.
    Funny, until I read this I did not know of the hoopla surrounding FSOG. I have not read the books or have any intention of seeing the film, and I marvel at the masses of women whipped into a frenzy over something so darkly erotic. Anyone can find any kind of pornographic material a mouse click away, but perhaps enjoy an “acceptable” outlet in a an R rating at a theater or a book on Amazon. I suppose a cultural sanction grants us social permission to openly discuss a subjects that would not otherwise find their way into casual conversation. I agree with your point that what we focus on grows; and we ought be mindful of what we are feeding our hungry hearts. It begs the question; why are we hungry for this? Does a bit of pain make us feel alive? Do you think I’m writing a blog in your blog? Sorry.
    And no, you wouldn’t listen… ;)

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Ahh, perhaps at 30 but certainly not a few years later. I was broken, then listened to you and a few others, and as a result, I am living a new life today. Thank God. I wouldn’t change the past for anything;God’s timing, God’s plan… it worked out just as it should. And yes, it begs that question! Blog away, sister. Blog away. :)

  16. Dolores Corrao-Marin says:

    Thank you for sharing your testimony. If only they would accept the voice of wisdom and experience. Keep on serving Him who loves us with a long-suffering love. ❤️

  17. Sam DuVal says:

    So right on, Sylvia. A better alternative is “Old Fashioned”. I wish every family would take their children (10 and up) to see this movie. Better yet, I wish they would show it in middle school and up!

    I wonder how many young people are going to see Fifty Shades and model their behavior after it?!

  18. This morning, I was just thinking this would be a great angle to approach this hot topic. I’m pretty sure I might have seen this movie in my younger days. Thank you for sharing your story, and investing in younger women to help point them to the Lord’s plan for their lives.

  19. Christine Burkhardt says:

    Interesting how much conversation this movie has spurred on. Wonder how many women out there are caught up in the bondage of this very thing and are now hearing conversation about it for the first time, calling it what it is. Thank you Sylvia for taking the time to eloquently speak truth on this matter. May your words bless those that now have some vocabulary to have this conversation. May the healing begin!

  20. Dawn Wood says:

    Hey Sylvia! Glad to hear from you…hope all is well! Just made a plans today with a few girlfriends to go see the movie Old Fashioned, which is based on the way God designs for a love story to go. Thanks for your bold insights into this sad and scary movie….it touched a nerve in you because your are filled with the Holy Spirit and it should touch a nerve in you! All I want to add is this…”be careful eyes what you see…and be careful little ears what you hear…the Father up above is looking down with love so be careful little eyes what you see.” Hugs!

  21. Mary James says:

    Thank you for sharing your bright insights Sylvia. While this film is overt and has received quite a bit of recognition, I am continually concerned with all the other “art” out there that is working just as hard, and even more discretely, at causing decline and tainting hearts. Thank you for taking those sweet young women under your loving Mama wings. We all should be on the lookout for opportunities to share truth. xo

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      You’re so right, Mary. It’s like the story of the frog in the boiling water. If you drop him in the hot pot, he’ll jump out. But if you put him in there and gradually turn up the heat, he won’t notice the fatal powers of the boiling water until it’s too late. That’s why we have to be “on the alert” and “guard our minds” against such hideous junk. Thanks for your comment!

  22. AMEN and AMEN – Perfectly put, Sylvia. No judgement of those who see it – simply sadness. What God made beautiful has been corrupted and too many women buy into the lies.

  23. Chelsey says:

    Thank you for this. The hype is over-rated and can place women in such dangerous situations and put ideas in men’s heads – they have enough. WHY, as a society, would we do that? The thoughts of my daughters even being exposed, being pressured, or being expected to carry out un-Godly behavior is disturbing. This erotica borders pornography but some how our society finds it acceptable. Disappointing sigh…..

    The best thing we can do is stand against by not partaking in it and standing up for what God has given us.

    (Sorry for venting!)

  24. Teri Forlizzi says:

    Well said Sylvia…Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight!

  25. Laurie says:

    Thank you Sylvia for putting my thoughts in writing!!!

  26. Tabitha says:

    What I think is what matters but I must admit it feels good to hear someone else agreeing with me. None of my friends understand why I don’t want to go but I don’t understand how they CAN. I saw you in concert once and you talked about your girls group. I wish I could come to that but I’m a little far (AZ).They are so lucky to have someone like you.

  27. Annie Pender says:

    There you are. My husband and I have often wondered where you disappeared to. This is great. Right on the money.Our next door neighbors have been pressuring us to go see the movie with them tonight and we kinda didn’t know what to say but this has given us the cahoneys to tell them the truth.We just don’t wanna.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      That’s so nice of you to say. We’ve had an unusual year which has kept me away from writing for a spell. I hope to fix that! :)

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