50 Shades of (Dorian) Gray

I admit to being puzzled by the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book of the best-selling soft porn fantasy trilogy.  Having perused only the synopsis I have no interest in reading the book, and I am convinced that modern feminism has been dealt a serious setback.  For those who may not be familiar with the book’s plot, it involves a college coed who meets an attractive, wealthy businessman twisted by an abusive childhood.  A romantic relationship ensues, but soon takes a disturbing turn as the young woman agrees to a written contract that stipulates the man will dominate her sexually–as well as in all other areas of her life.

With all the progress our society has made in extending the broadest freedoms and equality to women, how could any thinking person take this plotline seriously? And yet, the book has been purchased primarily by young to middle-aged mothers and thus has been dubbed “mommy porn.”  What draws predominantly female readership to a graphic story about a female who consents to debasement through bondage, domination and sado/masochistic sex (BDSM)?

One theory comes from a Lord Henry Wotton, a despicable character in another “grey” book about sensuality written over 100 years ago: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde.

Students of literature will remember this dark cautionary tale about hedonism and its ugly, destructive consequences.  In brief, Dorian Gray is a remarkably handsome upper class young man who is influenced by the utterly worldly, amoral and egocentric Lord Henry Wotton to pursue a life of pleasure.  Dorian’s artist friend Basil has painted a captivating portrait of Gray.  Jealous that his painted image will never grow old, the naïve and narcissistic Dorian wishes aloud that the portrait would take on the ravages of age instead of him.  Mysterious forces grant that wish.

As Dorian descends into decades of sordid pleasures his youthful good looks remain unchanged.  However the face in the painting not only grows older, but also becomes progressively more hideous in reflection of its owner’s increasingly depraved soul until the story ends with Dorian reaping the horrifying consequences of his choices.

While reading this classic novel recently on my new Kindle, I came across a stunning, timely quote from Lord Henry in chapter 8:

I am afraid that women appreciate cruelty, downright cruelty, more than anything else.  They have wonderfully primitive instincts.  We have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all the same.  They love being dominated.”

Could this explain today’s “50 Shades” craze?   Is Lord Henry Wotton right that women willingly relinquish freedom to submit themselves to a cruel master?  The book’s profits suggest that modern readers at least approve of this behavior.  Wotton’s cavalier commentary actually echoes the truth about our sin nature stated in John 3:19: “. . . Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

With its meteoric rise to the top of the best seller list, 50 Shades has successfully mainstreamed a deviant “relationship” based on BDSM proclivities that are the antithesis of God’s design for fulfilling male/female relationships.  We need to instill in our young daughters the Bible’s message that women are to be loved, cherished, respected and protected.  Cultivating healthy perspectives at home and speaking candidly about unhealthy relationships in trendy books will empower our young women to eschew the trashy ideas espoused in 50 Shades and its ilk . . . and maybe someday they’ll help a college roommate escape sin’s bondage.

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3 Responses to 50 Shades of (Dorian) Gray

  1. omd says:

    Our culture is continuing to turn its back on God through the outright rejection of of our Lord, Jesus, the Christ. Books such as “50 Shades of Grey” are being read by purported Christian women & young women. The church is being successfully squeezed into the world’s mold and without much complaint from the church.

    I’m reminded that the behaviors you mention that are degrading to women, physically, emotionally & spiritually are ALSO degrading to men, physically, emotionally & spiritually. Sin knows no boundaries and is an equal opportunity abuser. It causes the same wounds to the ‘Soul’ of all who partake.

    We are informed and instructed by the Bible what we are up against as humans in:

    Ephesians 6: 11-12
    11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

    12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

    This world is under the rule of satan as is the 2nd Heaven. 2nd Heaven is where Satan roams to and from 1st heaven.

    Well, I kind of got of track there, for a bit, but I’m back now.

    We have to be careful when speaking of the matters you have brought up because the male is the head of the woman. She is his helpmate [as is he hers]. As far as willing to be dominated goes… it take two to Tango.

    When we begin to talk of sinful behaviors both male and female are equal targets for satan’s schemes.

    Great post Linda

  2. Linda says:

    Thanks OMD for a thorough evaluation of my post’s theme. Yes, I could write another whole commentary on the corrosive effect of BDSM sex on men. Its male practitioners are likely not willing or able to carry out biblical headship which directs them to love, cherish, respect and protect their wives. As such, both the men & women involved in this perverse torture-based sex cannot know the deep union & fulfillment God designed for intimacy in marriage. One reviewer of “50 Shades” noted that the cruel male character dismissively referred to normal intercourse as “vanilla sex” . . . in other words, bland and unexciting compared to BDSM. Those who take that view are spiritually impoverished and have not experienced “the real deal” as God intended it. . . and without redemption they never will.
    Thanks for checking in!

  3. omd says:

    Perverse sexual behavior is rampant in human history. We only need to look at Sodom and Gomorrah to witness the depravity in the hearts of humankind.

    In Genesis 8:21-22, God promises that He will never again destroy the Earth because of mankind.

    “The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done”
    “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

    This gives further validation to the Scripture you posted from John 3:19 as does John 1:5 “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

    Our culture is running towards the darkness. I praise God for your witness.

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