One day, my child will let me sleep again. It is not this day. 5 months of almost no sleep starts to make you a bit crazy! What year is it? Why do I walk on the ground and not the ceiling? Why did I put a picture of a Snowy Owl on this post? Anyway, I got myself coherent for long enough to assemble this great group of posts for your reading pleasure, dear readers! Read enough about 50 Shades? So did I, until I ran into the post I share below. It sets quotes from the book alongside definitions of abuse and stalking to some dramatic effect. We also have a great look at some egalitarian black women, young earth creationism, apologetics, and women in fiction. Check them out, and let me know what you thought! Be sure to also let the authors know!
5 Black Women Every Egalitarian Should Know– This is just a fantastic post that outlines the lives and impact of 5 black women who are major voices for egalitarianism (and other issues).
Issues of Abuse and Consent in 50 Shades of Grey– Here’s an excellent post that has specific quotes from 50 Shades alongside the definitions of abuse and stalking and the like. It’s quite disturbing to realize what’s in the book, and I wouldn’t have personally thought to write a post like this myself. This is a good resource to have on hand. There is some ADULT CONTENT in this link, which the author does a good job of warning beforehand.
Life in a Glass House: Diatoms Shatter Young Earth Flood Geology– What do diatoms tell us about the plausibility of young earth creationist models? Can Flood Geology really stand up under scrutiny?
The New Frontier in Apologetics: An Open Letter to the Apologetics Community– How do we move towards a broader integration of the Christian worldview into the culture and perhaps move back to the direction that Christianity is where the intelligentsia operate?
Oh No She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character Deconstructed– What does it mean to have a “strong female character”? Do we need to have specific tendencies for such characters? Can women just be women? Check out this interesting post from sci-fi publisher “Tor”‘s blog.
The only thing (probably) I’m going to write on 50 Shades of Grey is this post. I know, there are literally hundreds of Christian responses to the book. This is not another. It is a response to an article from First Things called “Fifty Shades Against Gender Neturality,” which I found to be deeply problematic.
Let’s get the basics out of the way. No, I haven’t read the book. No, I’m not commenting on the content of the book because I haven’t read it. All this post is trying to put forward is the notion that 50 Shades of Grey somehow reveals an unspoken longing for gender hierarchy, as alleged in the aforementioned article, is mistaken.
This article will not be explicit but by nature its content is more “adult” than my site normally is.
The author of the article on First Things writes:
[T]here’s a hunger that’s not being satisfied: Namely, for men who are unabashedly masculine, who aren’t afraid to take control, and to lead. That is, there’s a longing (even a lusting) for men who aren’t afraid of what’s classically been called “headship.”
A major difficulty with the article is the premise that women’s desire to be dominated somehow reveals a more basic gender hierarchy ingrained into human nature. One difficulty with this is that it is not only women who desire such things. There are men also who are “into” things like being dominated. Thus, should we draw the conclusion that there is a basic hierarchy of women over men in human nature? Clearly not. Moreover, what response could the author of the article on First Things say in response to this? That human nature is broken? Obviously! But it is clearly special pleading to say that women’s desires in this realm point to intrinsic human nature while that desire of men is a reflection of the opposite. The standards need to be the same.
But the author never even mentions or acknowledges awareness of men longing for the same type of activity. Why not? Perhaps it is just ignorance, or perhaps it is the desire to push an agenda. But the reality of men who want to play the role of submissive demolishes this absurd premise. Surely the author wouldn’t agree that this reality means:
There’s a hunger that’s not being satisfied: Namely, for women who are unabashedly feminine, who aren’t afraid to take control, and to lead. That is, there’s a longing (even a lusting) for women who aren’t afraid of what’s classically been called “headship.”
But if women lusting after these kinds of relationships entail this for men, why would it not entail the same for women? It seems that the only reason is because this would go against the argument for male headship. That, indeed, is special pleading.
There is a kind of brokenness here, but it is not a hidden desire for men to be in a relationship of headship of women; it is a brokenness of the fallen human nature–lusting after characters or even activities which we don’t have. The women and men reading 50 Shades is indicative of something: broken human nature.
What Are We Attracted To?
The central premise of the author’s argument is that that which we are attracted to must reveal something about human nature. Our desires must somehow show a “hunger” “not being satisfied.” In the case of 50 Shades, the author argues that it is male hierarchy. But how fluid are these hungers? Who decides what the “hunger” ultimately points towards?
As one commentator on the article shared when I posted it to a Facebook group, what do human desires for pornography, materialism, or mind-altering drugs point to? The permutations of what we could arbitrarily assign to these things are nearly infinite. Materialism–the desire for more things–points to our need to dominate the earth; to outdo our neighbor; to love our neighbor by buying them things; to assert our authority over those who can’t buy things; perpetuation of immoral systems of wealth; etc.
The arbitrariness of assigning interest of 50 Shades to an unspoken desire for gender hierarchy is clear and tells us more about the author’s presuppositions than about the reasons behind the book’s success.
Looking for the Brothel
The author writes:
If Fr. Smith, the titular character in the Bruce Marshall novel, is right that “the young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God,” what are fans of the Fifty Shades series seeking?
This line reveals how the author’s presuppositions have guided their article.* Think about it:
Men seeking brothel = looking for God
Women seeking pornographic books = looking for men
How does that follow? The article is blatantly male-centric and yet offers no reason for thinking that this strange split should be believed. Why think that men seek after God while women must seek after men? Are women incapable of also seeking God? Could women’s desire for similar sins also be a kind of replacement for God? Perhaps men seeking a brothel are in fact unconsciously looking for women to love and care for them. Perhaps they are looking to perpetuate a sinful cycle of violence against women.
But according to the author, when it comes to men- they seek God. Women? Apparently they have to seek after men.
There is something happening when we go after sinful desires. We are seeking to replace God with an idol. Whether that idol is a brothel, a dirty book, accumulating wealth, or something else, we can unanimously affirm that all of these desires point to a replacement of God with something else. There is a God-shaped hole in our hearts, and we as fallen people will seek to fill it with anything. These desires don’t reveal the way things should be, as though our sinful longings were somehow pointers towards the good. Instead, these desires are themselves evil. They are a replacement of God with something which is not God. The fallen world does not show how things should be; it shows them as fallen. To arbitrarily psychoanalyze desires and assign to them our chosen pet issues is to do injustice to the real impact of sin on human nature and in society. Rather than trying to put forth our agendas of what preferred stance we take on gender issues or something else, we should seek to reconcile with God and point people towards God.
*Another commentator on the article when I shared it helped develop this point.
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Wow, there are some really excellent posts out there. I am constantly blessed by reading or viewing great material from others. This week, the topics covered are all over the board: abortion, Leviticus, 50 Shades of Grey, apologetics methodology, and more! Check out these really recommended posts.
Grey Areas: How explicit literature went mainstream– You’ve heard of 50 Shades of Grey. What’s all the fuss about? And what kind of junk are we putting on the bookshelves?
The Mistake of Leviticus– Leviticus is one of those books in the Bible many balk at reading. Check out the insight provided here by Credo House. I really, really recommend this post.
Some Standard Definitions From the Doublespeak Dictionary– Bigot, Christian, and Intolerant tie together so well! Check out this great apologetic cartoon.
The Bibliographical Test Updated– Clay Jones, a professor over at Biola University, offers an update to the number of ancient manuscripts available for the various “bibliographic tests” for the accuracy of the New Testament. A brief, readable, and important post.
Is Abortion Really Wrong?– A great introduction to the debate over abortion.
Why I don’t reply to everyone (and neither should you)– It’s easy to get caught up in online debates or try to respond to everyone who comments on a blog or forum. Glenn Andrew Peoples offers an excellent post on why he doesn’t respond to everyone. He also gives some good guidelines for deciding whether you’re going to respond to someone.
The Atheist War Against Logic and Philosophy– I’m not sure this video is fairly named, because it seems like it is more the extreme views on philosophy of a number of people dismissed by the vast majority of others. Good watch if you want to pull your hair out at people rejecting logic while using it.
Apologetic Taxonomy: Methodological Approaches– Readers of my blog know I’ve been exploring a few other apologetic approaches. Here’s an excellent post which outlines the various methodological approaches to apologetics in a brief, readable format.