This week is National Marriage Week, fitting given that the week culminates in Valentine’s Day (that’s Saturday, guys; forget at your peril).
It is oddly unfitting that Valentine’s Day is also when the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” is being released and marketed aggressively. One of the marketing tools being used for the film is a little Teddy Bear holding not roses or a box of chocolates but handcuffs. Another is jewelry: For example, jeweler Janet Cadsawan is selling a “double handcuff necklace” for a mere $150.
“Fifty Shades” is based on the best-selling book of the same name. The book and movie go beyond mere graphic depictions of sexual intimacy, which are, of course, pornographic and exploitative in their own right. As commentator Richard Swier notes, “It is a story of a girl being sexually molested, over and over again, by a male figure with all the power, all the control. It is the classic abuse scenario.” The movie features horrific scenes of violent sexual abuse, to the point that the female star of the movie, Dakota Johnson, says she doesn’t want her own parents to watch it.
The movie is pornography of a particularly vile type. It celebrates things – abuse, rape, violence against women, manipulation, male domination – our culture claims to protest.
Radical sexual autonomy is now society’s summum bonum. When combined with an ethos of moral relativism animated by the denial of an infinite, personal God Who has revealed His moral will clearly and with finality, this autonomy has led to growing chaos – and growing darkness.
In reports being released today by FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute, we learn that just 46 percent of U.S. teenagers ages 15-17 have grown-up with both biological parents always married. In the African-American community, “only 17 percent of black teenagers reach age 17 in a family with both their biological parents married.”
Marriage is in crisis. Human dignity, whether through promiscuity, pornography, homosexual behavior, or whatever other deviation from God’s standard for sexual intimacy, is being degraded. Is there hope?
Yes, in part because the conscience is not wholly dead: Even Ms. Johnson, who willingly subjected herself to what Yale cognitive scientist Joshua Knobe has called “animalization,” has sufficient shame and horror at her own cinematic acts that she does not want her parents to view them.
This is good news for followers of Jesus. Christians should take note that “the works of the law (remain) written on the heart” (Romans 2:15). That should give us a clue as to how to make public arguments during an era of moral disarray, and also provide an entry point for us to share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ.
With God, there no shades of grey, no “variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). His truth is always the same, and resonates in all but the most calloused of hearts. That’s good news for troubled marriages, broken hearts, and a wounded culture.
Family Research Council
P.S. Don’t miss my colleague Jessica Prol’s wonderful meditation on meaning, marriage and singleness, “Marriage Haves and Have-Nots Don’t Have To Square Off” in The Federalist.
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Marriage & Family
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Religion in Public Life
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