Is there room for ‘Fifty Shades’ in Christianity?

A version of this post originally appeared on RelevantMagazine.com in 2012. I’m re-posting now, in advance of this weekend’s release of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

I knew there wouldn’t be a second date the moment the guy asked this question: “How do you feel about strip clubs?” Not for ‘em, I said. “What about porn?” Are you kidding?

The cover of yesterday's Latitudes section in the Tampa Bay Times.

In the conversation that followed, I rebutted his defenses of both. He, a Christian (nominally, at least), was a consumer of erotic media, convinced that using it can be good. He is the only Christian I’ve met who has defended pornography. But he is not the only Christian who defends other kinds of erotic media.

When bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey and the movie Magic Mike, about a male stripper, simultaneously swept the female half of the U.S., Christian women spoke up. Some criticized the book because it promotes lust and sexual violence. Some criticized Magic Mike because it promotes the objectification of men. Others criticized the critics.

Popular erotic media is good, proponents said, if it can sexually excite a couple whose sexual relationship otherwise would be lacking.

It is good, one woman wrote in a blog comment, because “giggling over guys in thongs gets women to talk about what they like and don’t” in sex.

What erotic media like Fifty Shades does for sexless marriages and sexually frustrated women is important, some said. One said that if erotic media objectifies people, it’s only a problem when women and men are unequally objectified. Another said that erotic media designed for women validates female sexuality in a world that rarely does, that it acknowledges the existence of desire where churches often have denied it. And that as such, erotic media can be a powerful weapon in the war against sexual oppression.

In the wake of the fanfare that sparked the fight for erotic media, I am left with a realization: That there are followers of Christ among the women who latch on to erotic media is, indeed, indicative of the existence of a need.

Click here read the rest of my post at RelevantMagazine.com. (Search for “so I understand why” when the link loads to pick up where you left off).

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.