Clearly Black & White

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.”[1]

If I let you take advantage of me, does that make it OK? If I let you have your way with me, does that make it OK? These are the questions that move through my mind as I mull over the box office hit, Fifty Shades of Grey.[2] For ethicists this movie must be like caffeine, stirring them to talk late into the evening. As for me, I’m a village theologian. I try to illuminate that which fascinates the community through my understanding of God found in the Scriptures. This being the case I must take this note to the subject of sin. Now I doubt Christian Grey, the main character of this novel by E. L. James, is concerned about sin. His main concern is the young and attractive Anastasia, the focus of his obsessive diversions (Sorry, that‘s as detailed as I will get for this note.) But I want to really consider, if I consent for you take advantage of me, is it no longer sin?[3]

Grey brings forth a contract for Anastasia to sign that describes the limits of their relationship, but what stands out to me is Grey’s words, “This is consensual, Anastasia.” Then Anastasia is reminded that if she does not want to do this, it is off. Why?  Christian says, “This is the only sort of relationship I’m interested in.” Anastasia gives her consent. So, I go back to my initial questions because it seems Grey’s behavior is okay if Anastasia consents. That’s where I have to speak up because Christian Grey is not alone. I’m not going to go off on my feminist rant, though the timing would be right, but there are a lot of people assuming that if they are allowed to do something their actions must be okay. When it comes to sin, they’re wrong. It is the intentions of our heart that condemn us, not the lack of consent by a lover.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart comes evil intentions.”[4] Jesus is speaking to Pharisees and scribes that may have lived more like Christian Grey, honoring with their words and contracts, while their hearts were far away. To this point Anastasia consented, though early on she realized Grey had a dark side. Jesus is saying it is the content of the heart that makes our dark side. No human can clear another of sin. For the novel, no contract will make Grey’s actions right. For a Christian, no consent by another will remove our sinfulness, our brokenness. Scripture informs, only Christ can absolve our sin, render us right, making it clearly black & white.

[1] Matthew 15:18 (NRSV)

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty_Shades_of_Grey

[3] Sin is defined as “actions by which humans rebel against God, miss His purpose for their life, and surrender to the power of evil rather than to God.” Holman Bible Dictionary

[4] “For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.” Matthew 15:19

About Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Hodges is an ordained minister, pastoring a church in central Virginia.
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