50 Shades of Domestic Violence

If you’re like me, you might get tired of the headlines that create themes on social media. Lately it’s been vaccines, the President’s comments on Islamic terrorism, and in the evangelical community: yoga pants. (Lord have mercy. :o) Now that 50 Shades is set to hit theaters today, my news feed exploded in Grey. 

There are so many clamoring, unloving voices out there, and I usually tune out the drama to focus on what’s good and true. If I don’t feel like certain content is profitable to me, I simply follow that conviction with an action, and that’s all there is to it. After all, I really really really don’t want to be known for what I hate.

For that reason, I hadn’t previously paid much attention to the popular book series 50 Shades of Grey. I’m making an exception today because I feel like it deserves a word or two.


I risk being accused of judging a book (movie) by its cover, but in this case, I will gladly judge without watching the Grey tale. I have read enough plot scenes and summaries to know it is a pathetic, far cry from healthy sexuality that God designed us to enjoy.

In a world where rapists go to prison, media is slowly starting to portray coercian and outright violence against women as a completely normal and healthy sexual experience. Doesn’t that portray a double standard? Pain is pleasure, but sexual assault is a crime. Really? This kind of twisted thinking will only lead to moral disaster and a whole lot of trauma.

In America, we criticize the Muslim nation for their oppression of woman, who dress in head to toe fabric. Women are reduced to select roles and explicitly controlled by their husbands. Yet ironically, on the flip side, I look at America and see the wounds of similar oppression: women catering to men- except in the name of “freedom.” While American women may not be bound to husbands, females are controlled by the desires of men. In our country, it simply requires less clothing to reduce ourselves.

We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave where women have gained equal rights with men, yet somehow sexual bondage and coercion is now an expression of sexual liberation for American women. Oh, how the bells of freedom ring!


The actors of 50 Shades of Grey even dish negatively on their acting experience for the movie.

Lead actor, Jamie Dornan, visited real life sex dungeons to prepare for his role as abusive Mr. Grey. “Then going back to my wife and newborn baby afterwards… I had a long shower before touching either of them.”

“There were times when Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman.”

Jamie stated that his wife doesn’t want to watch him onscreen. “She wants to support me and my work. I won’t be able to sit there myself. I am not going to put any pressure on her either way. It’s her decision. She’s well aware that it’s pretend, but it’s probably not that comfortable to watch.”

72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

Dornon and his wife.

“I wonder what it is about this set of books that has, excuse my pun, penetrated the global market. Mass appreciation doesn’t always equate to something good. Think of Hitler!”

Female actress, Dakota Johnson:

“I don’t want my family to see it, because it’s inappropriate. Or my brother’s friends that I grew up with. Also there’s part of me that’s like, I don’t want anyone to see: this movie. Just kidding.” (Of course actors are expected to promote movies they start in.)

“There were some painful moments.” “I got whiplash once from him throwing me on the bed; so f–king painful.”

“It was emotionally taxing. At first I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,’ and then I was like, ‘All right, let’s get on with it.'”

“The drive home from work always helped me snap out of it. And a big glass of wine.”

How about that for gray shades?

The fact that porn culture is being more blatantly displayed in everyday media, not to mention the lives of the average American is incredibly detrimental because degredation is sold as love. Anyone who has ever battled a porn addiction knows that an overwhelming percentage of pornographic content displays violence against women. 

It’s one thing to struggle and by God’s power and love overcome a porn addiction or unhealthy fetish one knows isn’t reflective of God’s love, but is a different story when bondage sexuality is embraced as healthy fantasy and healthy behavior in relationships.

Domestic violence is already an enormous crisis in this country. The type of coercion and abuse portrayed in Grey actually happens in real life. Do we really need a blockbuster portraying an abusive relationship as a romantic love story? Do we really want men in society to farther act out on what they see? 

Sexual freedom and healing from trauma  is close to my heart, and the amount of women who will lower their standards even farther because of this movie is heartbreaking to me.

Grey behavior is not normal! Good men don’t manipulate and dominate. Don’t settle. If you are in an abusive situation, get out.

It is not God’s design for humans to be aroused by their partner in pain.
It is not God’s design for humans to find pleasure in experiencing pain when He literally paid to free us from shame and oppression.

Sexual bondage role play in a relationship might seem harmless if it’s consensual, but who are we role playing? Has God, (the loving Father) Jesus, (who died to save us) or the Holy Spirit (the gentle Comforter) ever bound, beaten, or found pleasure in humiliating us? 

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and SELF-CONTROL.” Love does not manipulate and dominate. 

Furthermore, one can not give informed consent if it is not clear what is being consented to; that is called coercion. Grey consistently manipulates Ana into things that make her feel uncomfortable or violated. He is a stalker and a possessive control freak, who even admits his need for control and punishment stems back to his abusive childhood. Their relationship is not a liberating love story. It is a story of an incredibly dysfunctional man who refuses to deal with his issues, and instead, drags a vulnerable young intern into his broken world, making her the victim of his sexual gratification and control complex.

It’s a cycle that she doesn’t end because her legitimate feelings for him keep her from realizing that she is a victim. When she feels confused or undervalued, he comes around with sweet and comforting flattery that makes her melt, then goes back to dominating and convincing her to do things she’s uncomfortable with. 

It looks like this: “Do as I say or else.” (I’ll get mad, do XYZ to you, punish you with violence or by withholding love, etc.) If she expresses dislike, here comes the selfish manipulative, good guy act: “You wanted to” or “You knew what what happening and didn’t stop me.” That is exactly what abuse looks like. She puts up with his treatment because she finds pleasure in “belonging.” It keeps her coming back for more until her innocence to the toxic behavior is lost and she embraces the bondage lifestyle as normal. 

Ana’s comment in the new trailer, (“He’s changing”) is exactly what a woman in a verbally or physically abusive relationship would say. I have heard it. Grey’s behavior is a classic example of the manipulation that very often leads to (emotionally, verbally, physically, and/or sexually) abusive relationships, prostitution, and yes, even sex trafficking. 

I never claim to be married to a perfect man, but by jolly, I am married to a man who loves God and loves me with actions to match. He may be much larger than me, but he has never raised a hand to hurt me, even for fun. He is not invincible or without flaw, but I am never afraid of him because I know His heart is towards God. He is committed to gently love and protect me. He does not manipulate, dominate, or punish me, inside or outside of the bedroom. 

If I am known by the greatest Gentleman to ever walk the planet, (Jesus) why would I settle for so much less in a partner? Jesus esteemed women highly, and God is raising a generation of holy men who willingly empower women and cherish their hearts with great love. Grey is not that man.

Dressing and living and being and doing as a response to God instead of catering to men and our flesh probably doesn’t look like male Islam or American”Grey liberation.” We are a wounded people who have fallen far from the innocent bliss of the garden. But because of the cross, God is restoring our hearts to original purity and pleasure, and with it comes a deep healing. I want to be a part of that.

If you are considering watching 50 Shades of Grey, I beg you to reconsider. For the sake of victims of emotional, verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse. For the sake of men who want to be like the gentleman, Jesus.

This Valentine’s Day, I will not be celebrating Grey love. I will be celebrating agape love- the kind of love that put me before Himself. The kind of love that took the stripes for me instead of dealing them. Love that is Jesus.

I will celebrate a love that protects. A love that is patient and kind. A love that dies a seed and resurrects a plant. Love that reproduces life.

Note I: (Please don’t let this post influence you to read the book, watch the movie, or search bondage practices. It just doesn’t lead to anything good. BDSM is the sexual activity portrayed throughout the series. The abbreviation stands for Bondage/Domination/Sadism/Masochism

The first two words are self explanatory. The others broken down with actual dictionary definitions:

Sadism: the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.
Masochism: the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from one’s own pain or humiliation.

Note II: For the sake of defenders arguing that Grey is not abusive, for your convenience, I’m linking an article, listing 5o detailed examples of emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse from the book. Have at it. 50 Abusive Moments in 50 Shades of Grey

© Brenda Kanagy


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