For several weeks, I have read blogs and other articles that anticipated the release of a movie called “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The impression I gained from what I read, even in articles that had a somewhat positive approach to it, was that the movie’s idea of sexiness included violence, stalking, and other abusive behavior. The movie opened in our area on Valentine’s Day weekend; my wife and I chose instead to watch another movie entitled “Old Fashioned.” Our choice also includes conflicted characters who struggle to find working relationships with the opposite sex and who have been scarred by involvement in lifestyles that glorified the kinds of choices purportedly made in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” They seek integrity and consistency from people who claim to have answers grounded in faith; sadly, sometimes their failure to find leads them to withdraw. One of the primary characters has decided to build his life around his “theories,” which include never being alone with a member of the opposite sex. Obviously, that wrinkle in character development takes “Old Fashioned” in quite a different direction than the other movie mentioned. Its characters still face difficult moral dilemmas. It is not a “pat answer” type of movie. It did, however, receive an ovation from the audience at the packed viewing we attended.
People in our world are searching for answers to moral questions; often they seek those answers while engaging in behaviors with others that damage both parties emotionally, and sometimes physically. It’s time to remind one another that other alternatives exist to finding enduring love than drinking, drug abuse, casual or abusive sex, or on-line dating services. Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Seeking first the kingdom includes praying, calling out to our Creator, when we are angry, confused, lonely, and hurt. People who read the books of the Bible that include episodes from Jesus’ life sometimes are surprised to discover that he reached out most to help those who were hurting most, those whom the religious establishment had counted out, those whom had been written off by society because of their choices. He did not tolerate people who took advantage of others. He touched the untouchable. He called us to follow him, to walk in his steps, to suffer as he suffered, to love as he loved. After busy days of teaching and healing large crowds of people, or when he himself encountered temptation, he often would go by himself at night to pray. He made it a habit to meet with others to worship God and study his scriptures. From what I read, “Fifty Shades of Grey” does not reveal the path to healthy relationships. “Old Fashioned” suggests a path that may do so. Ultimately the answer is seeking relationship with the One who designed us and with people who seek to please him. Not every moral choice is a shade of gray. Some choices are clear-cut. Pray hard and study long, my friends.
O Lord, our God. Our culture confronts with alternative lifestyles that often damage. Toxic leaders plague organizations, even churches, in ways that cripple those already weakened. We need love. We need forgiveness. We need wisdom. Help us to hear your message and to apply it in healthy ways that encourage the disenfranchised and heal the hurting among us. Show us the path to holiness and health. In Jesus’ name, Amen.