BY KATHLEEN CHANG
Fifty Shades of Grey, released on Valentine’s day 2015, was marked by a $94.4 million debut during a 4-day weekend opening in the US alone, on top of the original novels by E. L. James that sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. This is a pandemic issue we are talking about here. This movie centers around an exploitative sexual relationship between a college student and a billionaire. It is a gateway to excuse domestic abuse, normalize pornography, glorify sexual violence, and cultivate a generation with a twisted view on romance. And it is not okay to think it’s okay.
I know I might be a little bit late to the game talking about this movie by now, but I think there is a more destructive issue that we’re looking at. A lack of action. There is already a lot of negative media attention from both secular and Christian perspectives. The star of the movie simply said that she doesn’t want her family or her friends to see it, “because it’s inappropriate.” Being a follower of Jesus Christ, I know we ought to say something or do something, small as it may be. Jesus calls us to love. Simple as that, yet what we often miss is that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.
$94.4 million during a 4-day weekend opening! All the books that were sold globally. Think about what message these numbers are sending to the world. Imagine the women and children in shelters who live with the reality of domestic abuse. This is the horror that many women have to live with. This is an endless cycle of emotional and physical torture. This is some women’s past; this could be some women’s future. Even your sister, your cousin, someone you know, someone close to you. Sorry to scare you, but there is nothing romantic about abuse.
In 2014, Robert Bashara, a real world Christian Grey, was convicted of murdering his wife after she refused to engage in an exploitative relationship. This kind of injustice and evil does exist! And more people are partaking in it because the idea is fantasized and praised through movies like this. There is absolutely nothing sexy about sexual exploitation. None. In fact, women who live under this shade usually end up on the run, in shelters, or dead.
Injustice like this is everyday and everywhere. If you don’t go out and walk around, or if you don’t watch the news, you can click through this website and you may read about things on poverty, persecution, human trafficking, etc. It’s so easy to be desensitized or defeated. And it’s much easier to give up, to turn a blind eye on it, and to live in our safe bubble while locking the mess outside of our church door. Yeah, we know these things are real, we’ve heard about it. But so what? Dear friends, we cannot live our comfortable Christian life, knowing that people are suffering from injustice and evil in the world, yet be indifferent about it. We are called to be light, and we have been lights in this bright place for too long. We go to church, we do small groups, we study our Bible, we have accountability group, we have prayer meeting, we worship… but that’s not all there is to following Jesus. Can we enter in those dark places? And when we do so, will we shine brighter, or will our flame die out?
In Matthew 22, Jesus spoke of the commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” When He calls us to love, we ought to love. We ought to choose love over indifference. Our faith shouldn’t and wouldn’t be shaken in the presence of injustice. At the very heart of the gospel, we see injustice and suffering poured out onto Jesus Himself. He tasted injustice. He knew the oppressed. He was the victimized. He experienced suffering and was not exempted from it. What we also see is God’s perfect love that resurrected death, redeemed suffering and restored His creation. We worship a God who cares about justice and whose heart is for restoration.
Because of the gospel, we have the reason to fight against injustice, the assurance to hope and the peace to rest.
You don’t have to be a social justice activist to act upon it. We’re all created differently to witness to the world. But first step, you have to care about it. Let’s get the conversation started. Let’s be informed. Let’s take a side. Let’s re-imagine our way of combating injustice, of combating Fifty Shades. Think about it, the money from the movie (and let me remind you again, $94.4 million plus!!!) could serve the victims of domestic abuse. 100 million copies of books could go into printing more bibles and bringing the gospel to the poor. There are many campaigns out there, such as #50dollarsfor50shades, stoppornculture.org and many other ways you can get involved with on this issue. This is just a starter. There are many groups out there fighting the same fight. We can begin by caring about the issue of injustice. We can take Jesus’s command seriously, and choose love over indifference. I assure you, our effort now will impact our world, and will affect our future generation.
Photo courtesy of Georgie Pauwels on Flickr.