50 Shades of Grey Part 1: Explaining the Craze

Yes, everyone and their uncle has written something about 50 Shades of Grey, but I’m not going to say what they said, just another voice to say it’s bad.

What I am going to do is ask a question. Because, I’ll tell you the truth, 50 Shades of Grey confuses me.

No seriously, it confuses me because it seems to me that it contradicts every value and achievement that has been established for women in our culture. Women aren’t viewed as property anymore, and that’s how it should be. We understand women are equal, and thankfully they are becoming more so in practice in society at large.

So why, when a woman is clearly not treated as equal in 50 Shades of Grey, is it so appealing to so many people, especially to women? I mean, it’s not like the violent nature of the romance goes both ways, right? It’s only the man being violent toward the woman.

Now this is where I could easily begin going down the path of questioning the morality, decency, or humaneness of 50 Shades, but like I said, that’s not my point. My point is to ask my question and to follow it up with this: Why aren’t all the women of the West completely offended by this? Why aren’t they all up in arms, decrying the inequality and devaluation of women portrayed in this story? And really, where are the men who would stand up for the value and dignity of women?

Why is this trilogy so appealing that it has sold 100 million copies? Why?

It’s a good question, and I’m going to propose an answer: I believe that each one of us is hardwired with a desire to give ourselves wholly to someone else.

This is why men and women alike enjoy this story in which a man literally possesses a woman.

I know, it sounds almost perverse for me to suggest such a thing about the entire human population, but think about it. Every happily-ever-after story only gains that ending because of the love that binds the figurehead couple together throughout enduring time. Every man or woman asking the question about “The One” they might someday find and marry, even the hope of marriage itself, is that we would be able to give ourselves entirely to another person and have them give themselves entirely to us.

We long for a relationship in which trust is so deep and love so complete we can lower our disguises, disarm our boundaries, and fully give ourselves heart, soul, and body to another person. Yes, it’s scary, but we all want it.

Billy Joel described this longing that requires us to give ourselves to precious risk, penning these words:

So I would choose to be with you;
That’s if the choice were mine to make.
But you can make decisions, too,
And you can have this heart to break.

Joel writes about the pain of past broken hearts, yet recognizes his need for companionship requires him to give all of himself again, even if it means his heart is broken again. He knows the relationship will never become what he desires unless he gives all of himself.

Men and women have had this desire hardwired into us from the moment of creation. You can hear it in Adam’s voice when God brings Eve to him and he says, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (emphasis added). He says, “At last” because he recognized a desire for relationship that wasn’t even fulfilled by God.

Remarkably, God immediately speaks up to describe the longing man discovered, saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

50 Shades of Grey appeals to men and women because God made us for a relationship in which we give ourselves so completely it can be defined as union—oneness. And, yes, sex is the ultimate expression of this oneness, the intentional act that brings two together as one.

God created this longing and God has a plan to fulfill it—both relationally and sexually—but it isn’t what Christian Grey models for us. It’s something infinitely better, and it’s what we’ll talk about in Parts 2-4, debuting over the next several days.

Join us for this series as we destroy every disempowering view of marriage and give wonderful information to help you build real intimacy—the intimacy you were created for—and the sex life that comes with it.

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Nathanael White About Nathanael White

Nathanael White is a pastor and teacher with a gift to understand the heart of God. His teachings move revelation from the head to the heart, unveiling the depths of God’s love and empowering the saints to become who they are in the freedom of a true love relationship with their Heavenly Father.

Driven by ongoing encounters with Father’s heart, Nathanael’s desire is to see the glory of God released throughout the world as God’s children discover His love for them, believe the identity He’s given them, and experience the fullness of life that comes within His heartbeat.

Nathanael is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, an ordained pastor, and author of the book Nobility. He lives in southern Minnesota with his wife and their five amazing children.