So a certain polarizing film was released this weekend. Plenty of articles have been circulating on social media telling you why you shouldn’t see Fifty Shades of Grey. I agree with what I’ve read; based on what I know, I don’t think you should see it. But I also don’t think the cyber-sphere needs one more article addressing all of that, so that’s not where I’m going with this post.
But the whole craze surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey has prompted a line of questions I’d like to pose to my fellow Christians:
- As a follower of Jesus, are there certain films or shows you won’t watch?
- As a follower of Jesus, are there certain books you won’t read?
- As a follower of Jesus, are there certain songs you won’t listen to?
- As a follower of Jesus, are there certain video games you won’t play?
You get the idea.
We all have a relationship with certain types of media. This is undeniable and not necessarily a bad thing. After all, I like to think those leather-bound study Bibles are good forms of media. But the overarching media-related question for those of us who follow Jesus should be, “Where are the boundaries?” Does following Jesus have any direct bearing on my media consumption? If we find ourselves engaging certain forms of media each day, how can we reconcile this with Christ’s call that we take up our crosses daily as we seek to follow Him (Luke 9:23)? Does Jesus have anything to say about where the boundaries should be in my life?
I think many Christians suffer from perceived invincibility here. Deep down, we know that engagement with certain forms of media isn’t necessarily good for us, but we also falsely believe we can handle it. Perhaps this line of reasoning is common to you: “Yeah, I know so-and-so is violent or crass or worldly, but it’s just entertainment. I can handle it.” I see this kind of mindset particularly among Christians my age or younger. And I have to concede that it’s at least possible that some of us are able to “handle it.” But I’m afraid that when we do this, we turn a blind eye to the very real danger that many times we simply can’t handle it.
Which prompts another question for my fellow Christians: If you weren’t able to handle it, how would you know? What metric would you use? I think this is a question we need to be able to answer. Discernment here might help us more properly appropriate Christ-focused and Christ-centered boundaries in our lives.
Predictably, Fifty Shades of Grey is a box-office smash ($90 million and counting). It’s up to you to decide whether or not to see the film. But as followers of Jesus, I simply ask that we exercise discernment in establishing the kind of boundaries that help us to live as salt and light — as a contrast community in the world.