Shades of Grey or is it Black & White?

By on September 5, 2012
Fifty Shades of Grey book cover

By Kathy Howard –

Recently two Christian women (one middle-aged like me and one a young mom) passionately shared with me their confusion over why so many of their Christian friends are devouring the New York Times best-selling novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Honestly, I have the same question.

Just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me quickly fill you in. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the first in a trilogy, is the debut novel by British author E.L. James released this April. Here’s a quick summary of the book I copied from Mary Kassian’s blog (I provide a link to her post below):

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

The books in question are erotica that explicitly describe sexual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM). The story follows an unfolding affair between a recent college graduate, the virgin Anastasia Steele, and handsome young billionaire entrepreneur, Christian Grey, whose childhood abuse left him a deeply damaged individual, and who enlists her to share his secret sexual proclivities. Steele is required by Grey to sign a contract allowing him complete control over her. Because of her fascination and budding love for him, she consents to a kinky sexual relationship that includes being slapped, spanked, handcuffed, and whipped with a leather riding crop in his “Red Room of Pain.”

I just checked Amazon’s stats. “Shades of Grey” was number one in books. Oddly enough, the book received some harsh reader reviews regarding the quality of the writing. So, how did the trilogy grab spots one, two, and three on the New York Times bestsellers list? Sex does indeed “sell.” Unfortunately, sex sells to Christians too.

“Shades” is classified as “erotica,” which by definition means “sexually explicit literature or art.” Let’s stop right here. Honestly, based on the book description and the dictionary definition of “erotica,” Christian women have no business reading this book. But they are.

I will honestly tell you that I have read books and watched movies that I later regretted because the content was inconsistent with my faith. Either the language or behavior mocked God or directly contradicted His holiness. Sometimes I turned off the television, left the theater, or threw away the book. But not always.

However, I believe I can honestly say that in recent years I have not picked up a book or bought a ticket or tuned into a program knowing in advance that the “entertainment” would defy God’s standards of morality and truth. And I do not have to read “Fifty Shades of Grey” to know it glorifies what God clearly says is wrong.

I’ve heard the arguments. It’s just fantasy. I’m not participating, I’m just reading fiction. I need to know how to speak to the culture. If you are considering reading this book, please, please read these articles I’ve listed below first. These posts were written by Christian women in ministry who know what they’re talking about. They explain how this written word affects our thinking and harms our relationships with our husbands and future husbands. How it fosters a change in behavior. How it desensitizes us to sexual immorality. Check these out:

Dannah Gresh on the True Woman blog first: Dannah gives biblical and sound scientific evidence why reading this kind of material is harmful to women and our marriages.

Crystal Renaud on her site for Dirty Girls Ministries. Crystal offers help, hope, and healing for women and girls with pornography and sexual addiction.

Author and Bible teacher, Mary Kassian on her blog Girls Gone Wise. Mary gives 7 solid reasons why a Christian woman – or any woman for that matter – should not read this book.

Lest you think this is just the opinion of “ministers,” check out this blog by Dana Suggs. She is a mom, photographer, and Christian blogger writing from the perspective of an average Christian woman who loves to read.

Here’s one more honest and entertaining view by Christian mommy blogger Melissa Jenna.

As long as I’m on my soapbox, I might as well work up a good lather and mention one other popular, but very worldly item Christian women are gobbling up – the movie. “Magic Mike.” “Plugged In” describes this film as “pornographically minded.” But should we expect anything different from a movie about male strippers? Yet believers are paying money to see it.

Here’s what I want all of us – you and me, too – to think about: What does holiness look like?

God calls us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Jesus said we are to be in the world as His sanctified ambassadors, but we are not to be products of the world (John 17:15-18).

Paul tells us to “Flee from sexual immorality” because we are not our own, we’ve bought and paid for with the blood of Christ (1 Cor 6:18-20).

Jesus clearly told us that lustful thoughts are the same as adultery (Matt 5:28).

God’s Word is black and white. So why do we keep trying to blend God’s truth. Holiness is not grey – not any shade of grey.

I know today’s post may sound harsh to you, but this topic is heavy on my heart. I really want to hear your thoughts. And I would love for you to share this post.


Kathy Howard calls herself a “confused southerner.” Raised in Louisiana, she has moved with her engineer husband around the U.S. and Canada. She says “pop” instead of “Coke” and “you guys” as often as “ya’ll.” But those things are just superficial – she’s still a southern girl at heart! Kathy and her husband have three children, two son-in-laws, and one precious grandbaby. When the family gets together there are also four dogs in the mix. Kathy helps women live an unshakeable faith through Bible teaching, writing, and speaking at women’s retreats and events. She encourages them to stand firm on our rock-solid God no matter the circumstances of life. Find out about her books and speaking ministry and get discipleship tools and leader helps at her website:

About Kathy Howard

Kathy Howard calls herself a “confused southerner.” Raised in Louisiana, she moved with her engineer husband around the U.S. and Canada. She says “pop” instead of “Coke” and “you guys” as often as “y’all.” But she’s still a southern girl at heart! Kathy encourages women to live an unshakeable faith by standing firm on our rock-solid God no matter life’s circumstances. Kathy, the author of eight books, including the new daily devotional “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents,” has a Master’s in Christian Education. She is passionate about Bible study and discipleship and loves sharing at women’s events and retreats. Kathy is also a regular contributor to, Hello Mornings, Arise Daily, and more. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, four grandsons, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at Kathy also connects with women at Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Shades of Grey or is it Black & White?