How can this literary ode to all things lustful bring me closer to God? I mean, you probably won't find James Dobson writing the book, Finding God in Fifty Shades of Grey, though if he did, I'd be the first to buy it.
But here's the deal; I'm a writer. My first novel comes out in a couple months, and I've worked very hard to make that happen. It's been six years of labor. I've done everything right: prayed, meditated, written for long hours, pursued publication, gotten feedback, and desired to present the truth about God through my writing. I've been a literary angel.
Then I encountered Fifty Shades of Grey, and read about how this self-published book, which cost little to write, shot the author to literary stardom and made her a multimillionaire almost overnight. Well, I needed to see what it was all about, so I dared venture into its pages and only got through chapter one. The smut didn't really start up until chapter two, anyway, but I did learn a few educational things about S&M sex that I never knew before. What I also learned was that the book was still riddled with bad grammatical phrasing, terrible metaphors, and spelling errors, in addition to sex, sex, and more sex. In my mind, it was good for learning human anatomy but not much else.
Then I had a revelation: I was jealous. And just like that, I'm not so righteous anymore. My intense hatred wasn't so much a virtuous desire to save literature from cruddy writing and spare poor, easily impressed Christians from exposure to moral filth and private parts. It was a burning anger that all that success wasn't more easily happening to me. I had worked so hard and still faced the possibility of years without success, coupled with the fact that I knew other Christians whose works were just as good, if not better, who had already published novels that weren't doing one half of a percent as good as Fifty Shades of Grey. I mean, what the heck, God? What are you thinking? How can you bless this page-load of crap, while Christians who know how to write are still struggling? And do you know what I would do with that much money, how many charities I could contribute to?
And so it was. A novel about S&M erotica just became a parable about God's grace. Of course, it was the world that "blessed" the author of this book; a world which loves sin, sex, and anything forbidden. I'm an Arminian Christian, so I lean towards the free will argument for sin; all God did in this situation was allow the book to flourish and the author to grow rich. God does not speak for Fifty Shades of Grey.
Still, I was the son back at home (or, I should say, back in the library), muttering against my brother, who was filthy from wallowing with pigs and cavorting with prostitutes, but who was received by the father and showered with blessing. In regards to writing, I'd done everything right: I stayed home, worked hard, tried to be virtuous, but this sinner writes an overnight success, and I'm still left with student loans and an unpublished book.
The whole situation is a parable of God's grace, because in reality, I'm the book, Fifty Shades of Grey; my soul has certainly not been a literary Christian masterpiece. Some of you might be. Many of my friends, who grew up in Christian homes, were blessed with self-control, good moral integrity, and were untouched by much of the world's darkness. I, however, threw caution to the wind, reveled in every kind of unclean activity, and spit in the face of God.
But here I am in the process of getting a re-write by God, given a second chance to go out into the world. The Scriptures say, "we are God's epic poetry," but who would have thought that some of that poetry started out with so much smut? Perhaps if I had a righteous older brother, someone who was working hard to be a good Christian and who didn't have my sinful past would be complaining about me just as I've complained about Fifty Shades of Grey.
Anyway, it's all something to think about the next time you're at a bookstore and wonder at the state of a world that rockets a book like that to the number one bestseller spot. Wonder, too, at the kind of people God chose to save. What kind of world is it where prostitutes, homosexuals, adulterers, murderers, and tax collectors all get a chance at redemption, while the religious clean-cut folks so often get left on the shelves by a God who is looking, not so much for performance, but for the internal cry of a sinful heart?