Grey is the Devil’s Favorite Colour

It hit the racks faster than any other work of literature in the past ten years. It sold more copies quicker in more countries in more different currencies than ever before, and it drew women and girls of every age group like never seen before. In short, it was nothing but a phenomenon.

We heard about Twilight, and warned our youth against it. We saw the draw for The Hunger Games, and publicly spoke out against it. But, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this particular book snuck in, ensnaring women with its captivating plot, alluring psychological warfare, and explicit sexual content. Under the cover of ‘erotic romance,’ 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels have infiltrated our society, catechized our youth and attacked our Biblical, God-given views on love, purity and the sanctity of marriage.

What is it about 50 Shades of Grey that we are so concerned about? Is it the dominance, the abuse, the excitement, the fear of the unknown, or is it gripping tale that have had women confessing that they read all three books in just two days? Is it the kinky, ironic ‘love story’ that has females, from middle school age to senior citizens, on waiting lists at their local library waiting to get their hands on this latest sensation? Or perhaps is it the glamorized rape that violates all biblical commands and morals that has had women across the globe, Christian and atheist alike, glued to its pages?

Proverbs 5 reads: “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets, let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (15-18). Clearly talking about marriage, which God designed and sanctified to be between one husband and one wife, we would be lying to ourselves if we condoned anything other than God’s design for sex. Sex was meant to be exclusive to marriage, should be valued and viewed as a holy part of marriage, and is a precious gift from God to be shared between husband and wife.

From the beginning, God made it known to man that adultery was a sin (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5), and that it is grievous if we take pleasure in something He abhors (Gen 6:6, 7). Therefore, it is palpable that in partaking in deeds that condone this action, we are also guilty of condoning the action. What is more, we are now guilty of the sin ourselves.

E.L James, author of 50 Shades of Grey, very obviously disregards God’s blessing of marriage, and actively promotes the disregard for this covenant between husband, wife and the Lord. Instead, James portrays a relationship as nothing but sexual, disregarding chastity, disembodying the covenant, and disclosing the relationship to be nothing but a contract.

James also very explicitly violates the biblical concepts of authority and submission in her novel. With BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism & Masochism) being the root of the erotic thrill in her novel, James has, knowingly, told millions of people lies about the nature of relationships. Biblical standards of relationships clearly speak of loving service to one another, violently contrasting her view of an egotistical power trip. The Song of Solomon, written to mirror Christ’s love for His church, does not speak of domination, abuse, control and humiliation. Instead, it speaks of Christ’s overwhelming love, more evident in His agonizing death on the cross to save His people whom He cherishes so dearly.

Not only does BDSM provide full, cruel access to the male in authority, but it also portrays the biblical directive to submit as a direct link to brain-dead, passive, weak-willed doormats who comply with the whims of dominant, controlling men. Distorting and misleading, BDSM mocks the beauty of what true submission is all about—first and foremost, living a life in service of the Lord, and in so doing, to those around us, and in marriage, to one’s husband or wife. The command to submission is not a command to subject oneself to abuse, disrespect, and passivity. It does not mean the lack of independent thought, or letting oneself be trampled over in daily decisions. In using “dominant” and “submissive,” James steals the gift of true respect, in Christ, to one’s husband.

In addition, 50 Shades also encourages the sin of sensuality. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he warns them as follows: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness… of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:16,19-21). Directly referring to the sin of sensuality, Paul commands the church to “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

The apostle James also speaks about resisting temptations in his letters. Speaking of our magnetic nature to things that displease God, he warns to resist these desires, and to “not err, my brethren.” Contrarily, 50 Shades not only trivializes, but encourages the sin of sensuality, which is “anything that is characterized by lust, expresses lewdness or lust, and tends to excite lust.” Not only does Scripture tell us it is wrong, but it also commands us to flee from all things, much less willingly indulge and expose our minds to such perverted content (1 Timothy 2:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:22).

The old expression ‘curiosity killed the cat’ might not be too far off where 50 Shades is involved. Curiosity has led to the downfall of multitudes- trapped in the destructive, downward vortex of sexual sin. We think only of alcohol, drug and pornography addictions. Plaguing curiosity, it dangles behaviors in the foreground of society that are forbidden, unfamiliar and titillating. The widespread media hype about 50 Shades has led society to rationalize the behaviors it suggests, which are nothing short of graphic torture porn.

Categorized under ‘erotic romance,’ the fundamental idea behind this alleged ‘literature’ is to make one crave more, thus the reason women have shame-facedly admitted to reading all three books of this particular series in less than forty-eight hours. Similar to pornography, erotica makes one crave increasingly graphic, perverse images over time. This slippery slope leads to deeper and darker erotica, which is known to destroy marriages, robbing people of joy and satisfaction of “ordinary,” non-twisted sex with an “ordinary” spouse. Not only that, but once the ‘thrill’ sets in, like a typical addiction, it is near impossible to get it out of one’s head. Psychological studies have proven that our very thoughts have transformational power, with the ability to lead us to good or evil.

Filling one’s mind with sin, sensuality, dysfunction, and the fundamentals of BDSM will not lead one closer to God. Psalm 73:28 reads: “But it is good for me to draw near to God.” Thomas Watson writes in his commentary on Psalm 73 that it is a duty incumbent upon Christians to draw near to God. How is that possible, when one’s mind is full of impure thoughts? How can we lead a righteous life before God, when we are willingly and intentionally partaking of such filthy behaviors?

Finally, 50 Shades of Grey glamorizes pathological relationships, twisting and distorting ones human nature into sympathizing with the protagonist, justifying the seriously dysfunctional, abusive relationship that fills the pages of this latest thriller. Dr. Drew Pinksy, a relationship expert comments: “Why women would pick this up as any sort of model for a reasonable relationship, I find just short of disturbing… the idea that women look at this relationship as anything other than absolute, categorical, profound pathology is more than I can imagine.”

This book is targeted at girls, but what kind of message does it actually send to them? In the age of internet pornography where many men think women “owe them something,” is it not extremely damaging to have a book that tells girls they should be giving these boys everything they want, even if it includes rape and torture? Is this the type of garbage we should be encouraging to teenagers and young women, many of whom may already be insecure in a hyper-sexualized society?

In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he writes: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8) Infiltrating our society with its graphic, sickening content, 50 Shades of Grey violates all the God given commands, delving deep into the murky waters the devil loves to see us swimming in—every shade of grey.

But this isn’t a grey issue. This is a black and white issue, an issue that needs to be faced today. Letting it go untouched, ignoring it, hiding it behind closed doors, pretending it doesn’t happen, and pretending we don’t read it isn’t facing it. Erotic romance should not be a 9th grade conversation. Erotic romance should not be the escape from an unhealthy teenage relationship. Erotic romance should not be the stimulant for a happy married life, and erotic romance should not be lining our shelves at home. Violent, twisted pornography isn’t going to make you feel better. But it will likely scar your mind and, God forbid, even destroy your chances at a healthy relationship or (future) marriage. The choice is yours. But remember, the devils favorite colour is grey.

Are All Sins Equal?

Doing pro-life work is often met with resistance, sometimes from where we least expect it. Whether we make the Biblical case for public pro-life action or for a boycott of companies that support Planned Parenthood, Christians have responded that there are too many societal sins to justify a focus on fighting abortion. And when we point out the urgency of God’s command to do all we can to save “those that are ready to be slain,” others defend their inaction by saying something along these lines: “Remember, all sins are equal!”

It is not my intention to vilify those people. Some have asked genuine questions about prioritizing pro-life work, and perhaps for others, the intent behind proclaiming all sins as equal is to assure fellow sinners that God is willing to forgive, regardless of the heinousness of sin. But for many, “all sins are equal” has become an all too familiar mantra, unfortunately used to excuse unbiblical behaviour.

It is because of such claims that we examine our own position. Is it fair to reject the call to save pre-born children from death because there are other, just as pressing evils to fight? To find the answer, our Reformed heritage suggests none else but the Scriptures as our starting point. What does the Word of God say? Are all sins really equal?

First of all, it is true that every sin deserves God’s wrath, both in this life and in the one to come, as we can find in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death.” The Bible is clear that our Creator’s perfect holiness demands justice for even the slightest transgression. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). This means we need the righteousness of another, of the Mediator, to escape God’s wrath and be counted righteous in the sight of the Lord.

But since one sin is enough to condemn us to hell, does that mean that all sins are evil to the same degree and that the consequences are all the same? And does that mean we have an obligation to fight every sin equally? The Bible shows the contrary.

The first piece of relevant evidence is a series of events in which God brings judgment on groups of people in Old Testament times. Consider the Flood (Genesis 6–9), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19), the Exodus (Exodus 7-12), the Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17), and the Babylonian exile (2 Kings 24-25). God bore with sin, oppression, and rebellion only to a point, until the measure was full. When the line was crossed, whether in degree or frequency, God treated the people, previously blessed with His grace, in a vastly different way. If all sins were equal, why the distinction?

Furthermore, when individuals sinned there were different sacrifices prescribed for each situation and different punishments required for certain sins. For example, a thief paid restitution but those who committed adultery or premeditated murder were put to death (Exodus 22, Leviticus 1-6, 16-17, 20). Thus, God provided a system of jurisprudence that reflected His will in taking all sin seriously but also showed that some were worse than others.

There is at least one more telling example in the Old Testament: Numbers 15. The chapter describes two different kinds of sin: the unwitting or accidental sin, which has an offering prescribed for it (vs. 22-29) and the defiant, premeditated, or haughty sin, which cannot be forgiven and therefore has no prescribed sacrifice.  This sin is persistent and goes beyond the breaking of a specific commandment to the point of a deliberate rejection of Word of the Lord (vs. 30, 31). Evidently, in the Law of Moses, not all sin is the same.

What about the New Testament? We see the same trend under the new dispensation, which becomes especially clear in the words of the Saviour Himself. For instance, in Luke 12, the Lord Jesus explains that those who know the revealed will of God but do not act accordingly “shall be beaten with many stripes” and that “it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for [Capernaum]” (Matthew 11:23, 24) because of its unbelief and refusal to repent. He also said to Pilate, “He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11). Hence, there are degrees of punishment, which implies degrees of guiltiness, which means that some sins are more blameworthy than others.

In summary, all sins are equal in that they all deserve God’s wrath, no matter how trivial they seem. No sins are small when committed against a great and generous God but beyond this, the gravity of each transgression depends on varying factors, as observed in both the Old and New Testament. It makes a difference whether those committing the sin know better, are in the public eye or objects of public trust, and whether one commits or omits deliberately (1 Kings 11:9-10, 2 Samuel 12:7-10, Romans 2:17-23, Romans 1:32, Matthew 18:15-17). The severity of sin is further determined by the persons offended or harmed, in particular the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also any fellow Christians or those who ought to be aided or protected by virtue of their vulnerability (Hebrews 10:28-29, Matthew 18:6, Proverbs 24:11-12). A consideration of these and many more texts shows that the Bible’s answer to our question is very clear. In the words of The Shorter Westminster Catechism, “Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.”

To deny these distinctions trivializes sin and may even serve as an excuse for one’s own behaviour. When the clear teaching of Scripture is rejected in favour of feel-good theology, the playing field is dangerously leveled. Murdering a child can then be belittled as no more sinful than stealing a cookie and as a result, lack of action in response to either of these wrongs hardly makes a difference. After all, all sins are equal, right?

Wrong. Not only do the Scriptures tell us that some sins are worse than others, it also tells us in no uncertain terms that God hates a certain practice: child sacrifice, also known as abortion (Leviticus 18, 20, Jeremiah 19). Considering the factors that aggravate sin, this means that the procedure that intentionally destroys the crown jewel of creation—a small child knitted in the mother’s womb, is the greatest evil of our time. As John Calvin said, “If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”

But before you point fingers at those who perform or undergo abortions, listen to the words of the Lord in Proverbs 24:11-12.If thou forebear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? Doth he not know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”

The implication? Once again considering the factors that aggravate sin, this means that failing to do anything about abortion is perhaps worse yet, especially when we know better and ought to be the salt and light of this world, but omit to save those who are being slaughtered. It also means that if innocent human beings are in danger, we are to come to their rescue in every possible way. That’s why, when it comes to abortion, we are confident that it should be a matter of priority, and that the Christian church bears the greatest burden of responsibility in fighting this evil.

As Martin Luther once wrote, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the devil are that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battle fronts besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

As long as the blood of precious pre-born children is being shed in our own backyard, this is the evil we must face with the greatest urgency. Why? Because not all sins are equal.