Is Fifty Shades of Grey Biblical? Well, Sort of Kind of …
How Fifty Shades Affirms the Biblical Ethic of Sex
Would you believe me if I told you that Fifty Shades of Grey ends up being sorta kinda biblical? It does, indeed, in a back door kind of way, but you have to read all the way to the end of the third book to see it.
In fact, if you didn’t know any of the background story, and if you could stretch your imagination a bit, one of the final scenes from the epilogue could pass for an addendum to the roughly three-thousand-year-old ode to love, the Song of Solomon. Here’s what happens:
On a beautiful spring afternoon, Ana lies back on her tartan picnic blanket and gazes upon the beauty of nature around her. She and Christian have been married almost three years now. They have a two-year old son named Ted, and the young family is enjoying a sunny afternoon on a flower-strewn, grassy meadow on their estate. For Ana, six months pregnant with their second child, it is “a moment of pure and utter contentment.” Here’s the scene, as she tells it:
I jerk awake, woken by a high-pitched squeal of delight from my son, and even though I can’t see him or Christian, I grin like an idiot with my glee. Ted has woken from his nap, and he and Christian are romping nearby.
“Let’s find Mommy. She’s here in the meadow somewhere.”
Ted says something I don’t hear, and Christian laughs freely, happily. It’s a magical sound, filled with his paternal joy. I can’t resist. I struggle up onto my elbows to spy on them from my hiding place in the long grass.
After some playful hide-and-seek, they find her:
“Hey, baby boy!” I cradle him against me and kiss his chubby cheek. He giggles and kisses me in return, then struggles out of my arms.
“Hello, Mommy.” Christian smiles down at me.
“Hello Daddy.” I grin, and he picks Ted up and sits down beside me with our son on his lap.
“Gently with Mommy,” he admonishes Ted.
Christian hands Ted his Blackberry to keep him occupied for a bit, and Ana watches the interplay:
… my heart swells to look at them both. My two favorite men in the whole world. …
Christian grins and kisses Ted’s hair. “I can’t believe he’ll be two tomorrow.” His tone is wistful. Reaching across, he spreads his hand over my bump. “Let’s have lots of children,” he says. (Fifty Shades Freed, pp 533-539)
Let’s have lots of children. You probably won’t see any hint of this marriage and family shade to the story in the promos or the much-anticipated film. But it’s all there in the end – the happily ever after denouement for Ana and Christian.
Why is this significant? Because it affirms what the Judeo-Christian tradition has held all along, which is this: The most satisfying context for love and sex is marriage and family.
Now, please note well, this does not make Fifty Shades of Grey recommended viewing or reading. For one thing, it is a story filled with pornography, and pornography is very damaging, both to individuals and to relationships.
More important, although the story does end up affirming the biblical ethic of sex, the way it gets there is highly deceptive. You have a young, vulnerable, naïve girl who consents to a violent, sexual liaison with an avowed sadist, and what does she get out of it? A good-looking, rich man who loves her more than anything in the world and gives her everything she ever wanted. They end up getting married, having children, and living happily ever after. That doesn’t happen in real life. In real life, a girl who consents to abusive sex ends up getting abused and then probably discarded. Abuse is devastating for a girl.
I doubt there’ll be much made in the film of the marriage and family twist at the end of this story. It’s not racy, and it’s not as apt to fill theaters. But isn’t it interesting that what ends up bringing Ana and Christian their greatest joy is not extreme sex but their marriage to one another and the natural outcome of it, their children?