You’re probably thinking one of two things: “another blog post about 50 Shades of Grey where the author is going to tell me that I’m such a heathen for seeing the film?” -OR- “Is she a Christian anymore?” I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should see the film, here. Those of you who know me probably know where I stand, but I don’t really care to discuss that here, right now. And yes, I very much love and follow Jesus. What I do want to talk about is human desire, what truly satisfies and how 50 Shades of Grey makes sense.
I think we can objectively look at our culture and see where the majority of our hearts are by the response to the books and the film. We can see that lust, escapism, “adventure”, and passion is something that sells. If we just think about the basic structure of supply and demand, we can see that this movie will sell on those premises because there’s a demand. That’s the reality of where a lot of these women’s hearts (and men’s hearts) are at. There is a deep rooted heart-craving for “something other than what is.” In that telling sense, the international phenomenon is for a lack of better words fascinating.
Isn’t that so weird (another lack of better words) that this movie is predicted to be the 4th most successful film worldwide for 2015? (imdb.com) Now let’s just think real quick, it’s 4th to The Avengers, Jurassic World, and Fantastic Four. Those are movies you have to buy multiple tickets for (you, your spouse, Timmy, Johnny, and little Becky) and have a wider range of audience. This narrow targeted audience will be number four in ticket sales worldwide. 50 Shades fans aren’t just some off-set, marginalized group in America. This is worldwide. And in large numbers, people will be flocking to watch a sadomasochistic love story where the lines of kinky sex and abuse are blurred. (I can’t believe I just wrote “kinky sex”. Gross, sorry mom).
Are you seeing here with me that globally, there is a core-heart issue? Whether you think the heart issue is a legitimate problem or not, I think everyone can agree that people want to see this film because there is a desire for something more-whether that’s a rush, some new ideas, a spicier sex life or because their friends are seeing it-50 Shades of Grey is more than just a movie. And people read books, see films, do life for heart motivated reasons. We do things out of desire.
So, let’s deal with the heart.
Jonathan Edwards, probably the greatest ever American theologian, expounds upon the fullness that Christ offers His creation in his sermon Safety, Fullness, and Refreshment in Christ. He first states that we are creatures that thirst. Our souls crave something more than what this temporal world offers us. We are truly in pursuit of it.
Edwards says, “First, the soul of every man craves happiness…” He says that this craving is innate. It’s something that every person on every continent wants. We pursue it in different ways. Edwards then goes on to say that some find their happiness in money, honor, or respect, but at the end of the day, they are still left with want because there is more money, more honor and more respect to be had. I can see this pursuit in my own life.
Edwards continues in point 4, “There is in Christ Jesus provision for the full satisfaction and contentment…” That’s amazing. Full satisfaction. Full contentment. Better than happiness, Christ offers joy. Here’s a very large, but beautiful excerpt from his sermon,
“First. The excellency of Christ is such, that the discovery of it is exceedingly contenting and satisfying to the soul. The inquiry of the soul is after that which is most excellent. The carnal soul imagines that earthly things are excellent; one thinks riches most excellent, another has the highest esteem of honour, and to another carnal pleasure appears the most excellent; but the soul cannot find contentment in any of these things, because it soon finds an end to their excellency. Worldly men imagine, that there is true excellency and true happiness in those things which they are pursuing. They think that if they could but obtain them, they should be happy; and when they obtain them, and cannot find happiness, they look for happiness in something else, and are still upon the pursuit.
But Christ Jesus has true excellency, and so great excellency, that when they come to see it they look no further, but the mind rests there. It sees a transcendent glory and an ineffable sweetness in him; it sees that till now it has been pursuing shadows, but that now it has found the substance; that before it had been seeking happiness in the stream, but that now it has found the ocean.
The excellency of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the soul, and is sufficient to fill the capacity. It is an infinite excellency, such an one as the mind desires, in which it can find no bounds; and the more the mind is used to it, the more excellent it appears. Every new discovery makes this beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind sees no end; here is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper, and never come to the bottom.
The soul is exceedingly ravished when it first looks on this beauty, and it is never weary of it. The mind never has any satiety, but Christ’s excellency is always fresh and new, and tends as much to delight, after it has been seen a thousand or ten thousand years, as when it was seen the first moment. The excellency of Christ is an object suited to the superior faculties of man, it is suited to entertain the faculty of reason and understanding, and there is nothing so worthy about which the understanding can be employed as this excellency; no other object is so great, noble, and exalted.”
I love that this 300-year-old sermon still holds relevant. Edwards, a very formal puritan, saw these same things we see in our society. This has been a heart-issue since Adam and Eve. This will always be a problem until everything is made right in the world.
The “remedies” around us change throughout the ages, but the condition of the heart doesn’t. We are all in the same boat together with our condition that seeks happiness and contentment. The only difference is the world will sell us billions of things that will “satisfy” and cure the loneliness, self-esteem issues, depression, etc. The world will profit off of temporarily curing symptoms while never showing any attention to the source of the problem.
And that’s where Christ is different.
He does not profit from you walking around with bandaids, chasing aimlessly one thing after another. He enjoys and gets glory from healing the deepest wounds.
The 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon shouldn’t be fascinating. It’s normal. Not the whole “beat up your girlfriend and call it love thing;” that’s definitely not normal. I mean the whole this-doesn’t-satisfy-let-me-go-to-more-extremes-to-see-what-will-lead-me-to-satisfaction thing. Right? This Victoria’s Secret Magazine isn’t hitting the spot… Let me go to PlayBoy Magazines. That’s not enough, so the progression continues to porn websites. Right? This is the human heart, is it not? It searches and searches for more and more to satisfy it, but let me ask you this: How’s that working for you? Are you ever fully content and satisfied? If so, for how long?
Friend, I hear your struggle. I see the exhaustion of nothing ever quite being enough. Jesus is enough. And He is for you.
Christians, let us remember that place where we were before Christ was the satisfier of our souls. Let us also remember that we did not save ourselves. It was Christ that called us out of darkness and into His glorious light. So, when we have conversations with non-Christians or even young Christians about the Ultimate Satisfier, let us do so with speech that is graceful and seasoned with salt. It makes sense that people still under the domain of darkness walk in darkness. It makes sense that people exhaust all that the world declares to be a remedy. It also should make sense that we can be used by God to bring healing and restoration to a broken world.