February 12, 2015

50 Problems with Grey

Gary Thomas — 

50 Problems with Grey final

A Husband’s Random Thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey

I’m not into creating lists of “do’s” and “don’ts” that aren’t in Scripture. If anything, the Bible is relatively silent about such lists within marriage. It’s not my intent to disparage any appropriate act that a husband and wife enjoy in their private moments.

Yet every once in a while, popular culture comes up with yet another—let’s be honest—silly expression of sexuality that is supposed to make the rest of us feel like perhaps we’re missing out on something. So, with a little bit of fun and just a little bit of insight, let’s rethink what is being so celebrated this week through a poorly written trilogy and a major Hollywood release.

1. A man or woman who gets pleasure by giving you pain isn’t really someone you want to fall asleep next to, is it?

2. The way our brains operate, if you need pain to get sexually excited, that level of pain becomes normative and routine, so you have to increase the level of pain to get the same excitement. In a long-term, lifelong marital sexual relationship, that’s a problem.

3. When sex recreates past abuse instead of providing a healing alternative, it cements the soul in dysfunction rather than releasing the soul into healthy intimacy.

4. If your sex life requires a secret “back” room and you have kids, you better not be raising your children in a studio apartment.

5. When sexual relations require a hardware store’s worth of product, it’s evidence that the couple hasn’t learned how to use what they already have: their hands, their hair, their lips, their fingertips.

6. A woman who has been pleased and sexually served by her husband for many years doesn’t need handcuffs to surrender. Memories of past pleasure will hold her to that bed with a much greater force.

7. If a couple ignores the spiritual side of sex, their satisfaction in the bedroom is living on borrowed time.

8. Just about every wife wants to occasionally be “taken”—but by a man who has her pleasure in the front of his mind, not her pain.

9. The husband in the Song of Songs compares his wife to a mare harnessed to the Pharaoh’s chariot (1:9), but he doesn’t actually try to harness his wife to the Pharaoh’s chariot.

10. It’s simply foolish to feel intimidated by or envious of the sexual relationship of a couple that requires a billionaire’s income and schedule to sexually excite each other.

11. Far more exciting than seeing a woman in a blindfold is when a man creatively pleasing his wife watches her eyes open wide in surprised ecstasy and then shut tight to enjoy the moment.

12. Daily kindness will get a woman in the mood far more certainly than sanitized metal.

13. A woman finds her “liberation” by being completely dominated by a man? Is this 2015 or 1815?

14. When a woman is psychologically healthy, knowing that her husband won’t hurt her if she surrenders will pleasure her far more than the thought that he might.

15. A spiritual connection—knowing each partner is supported in prayer, and that both husband and wife bow their knees to God before they touch each other, gives spouses the spiritual freedom to surrender their souls, not just their bodies.

16. For long-term sexual satisfaction, a woman is pleased far more by knowing any “yes” will lead to her being carried away by her husband’s touches, not used by his demands.

17. The “scandal” of pure marital sexuality is that the “tools of the trade” are in full view for all to see—nothing has to be hidden because everything is already celebrated in the biblical Song of Songs.

18. Soul-satisfying sex without commitment is as real as chocolate cake without calories.

19. An abused man who expresses his hurt with violent sexual acts against a woman is “healed” by his sexual partner being willing and submissive? The last time that happened in real life was never.

20. True surrender comes when a wife knows that she can slide into her husband’s arms with the full confidence that he’ll soon make her momentarily forget everything bad going on in her life and feel everything good, not vice versa.

21. Love isn’t expressed by accepting intentional pain; it’s built by giving and receiving unselfish pleasure.

22. While an occasional blindfold might be enticing, far more satisfying to a healthy wife is to see in her husband’s eyes how much he desires and adores her.

23. A sexually creative wife doesn’t need a whip when she knows how to use her hair. On second thought, a sexually creative wife doesn’t need a whip, period.

24. Healthy men and women want to be desired for who they are, not for the toys they can afford.

25. Watching or reading about an unmarried couple having aberrant sex doesn’t lead to a more exciting sex life; it leads to irrational dissatisfaction with normal marital sex.

26. Is this really how you want to define a fulfilling sexual encounter with your mate? “I survived. That wasn’t so bad. I’m more stoic than I thought.” (Yes, that’s a direct quote)

27. When sex is at its best, the husband wants his wife and the wife wants her husband even more than they want pleasure, and infinitely more than they want pain.

28. It takes zero creativity to surprise a virgin; it takes an intentional, creative and thoughtful husband to surprise a wife.

29. The best mark of fulfilling sex isn’t a bruise or a scratch—it’s that special glance between husband and wife two hours later.

30. Before husbands wonder if there’s something “wrong” with their wives who are hesitant about this kind of sex, they would do well to ask themselves if there’s something a little dark about wanting to do these kinds of things to a wife.

31. It takes far more bravery to commit yourself to one partner for life than it does to commit yourself to a new sexual encounter.

32. If you think your “inner goddess” is found through sexual pain, you have a very tiny deity indeed.

33. What’s nobler? A married couple thinking up new ways to give pleasure or a dating couple thinking up new ways to give pain?

34. A strong man isn’t looking for a young woman to dominate; he’s looking for a woman who inspires him, a partner to share life with, and a fellow parent with whom he can build a family.

35. As my friend Deb Fileta states, why walk the fine line between pleasure and pain when as a married couple you can give yourselves up entirely to pleasure?

36. If a guy is “fifty shades of [messed] up,” he’ll bring you far more misery than pleasure as soon as you step out of the bedroom.

37. Let’s be honest. If your lover leads you into a place that looks like the “Spanish Inquisition,” you’re in a horror movie, not a romance.

38. A guy who has to control you in the bedroom won’t stop trying to control you in the living room… Or the kitchen, or the car, or anywhere else, for that matter.

39. The best marital sex doesn’t require one man “training” a woman; it requires sharing and learning and growing together.

40. A woman who is truly cherished doesn’t need the comfort of a helicopter on standby to take her away at a moment’s notice; she rests in the comfort of knowing there’s no there other place she’d rather be than in her husband’s bed.

41. A wife who has been married for twenty years and who gives her husband an anniversary “present” he’ll never forget has a far more inspiring book to write than a virgin who gave herself away to become a controlling boyfriend’s semi-violent fantasy.

42. You have to use rough leather on the back only when you haven’t discovered the exciting power of kind words softly delivered to the ears.

43. Explicit or violent sex may make some people overlook truly deplorable writing long enough to read three books, but it won’t allow most women to overlook a truly deplorable relationship or man for more than three years.

44. Sex needn’t always be about conception, but when it’s never looked at that way, that’s when the couple is truly missing out on something pleasurable, powerful, wonderful and fulfilling, all at the same time.

45. Sex for a few months with someone you barely know is about as much an accomplishment as rolling a ball downhill; sex for a few decades with someone you know inside out and have loved for twenty years is poetry put to music.

46. The most effective tools of lifelong marital intimacy and interest between two sinful people are grace, humility and kindness.

47. When a lover tells you there’s a “fine line between pleasure and pain,” he’s making excuses; he’s not planning to fulfill his promises.

48. Proverbs 5:19 prays that a man might be ever captivated by his wife’s love, not enraptured by her pain.

49. Would a man who truly cherishes a woman’s body ever want to leave a mark on it?

50. When the husband in Song of Songs declares that his bride’s “lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb,” (4:11) he found that out from kissing them, not from biting them.

When you subscribe to Gary’s blog, you will receive blog posts directly to your e-mail inbox. You will be one of the first to learn about the latest in Gary’s writing.

38 responses to 50 Problems with Grey

  1. You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation however I to find this matter to be really something which
    I feel I’d by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely large for me.
    I’m looking forward for your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get
    the grasp of it!

  2. John Felix Koziol June 11, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I try to keep an open mind in every which way possible and will not say no to anything that I feel I can learn something from. If someone tells me not to do something it makes me want to do it all the more to see why that person told me not to do it. Many a time when someone has told me not to do something I know that that person has my best interest in mind. There are also far too many times when a person who tells me that I should not do something doesn’t even realize that the way he or she comes across in telling me is more of a common than a suggestion because the tone that is given to me is in a “do-as-I-say” way. I find that many a time I truly have a positive learning experience by doing something that another felt was negative and, therefore, told me not to do it. As such, I grow more in my walk with God because of it and struggle less because I have ventured forward and checked what I was told to stay away from and got my own perspective of it. This is the approach that I took to the book “50 Shades of Grey.” I read an essay that a woman wrote stating why she wouldn’t read this book and, as such, because of the way she wrote the essay, it came across as her telling others that they should not read the book because she didn’t and because she didn’t then others shouldn’t either. Hearing all of the hubbub pertaining to “50 Shades of Grey,” I decided to read it and get my own perspective of it. I also have a writing and English background and, as such, also have a strong literary background as well. I came to the conclusion that it amazes me how much sex will pique a person’s interest the way that it does, especially when a new version go it or a version that may not be new but approached in a new and unique way the way that the author of the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy, E.L. James did with pain being used in a sexual way. With it, she found a gimmick that would sell many copies of these books. Sex, for better or for worse, is a tried and true gimmick that some writers will use as an angle to garner readers the way visual artists will use it to get more people in to watch their shows because as that old saying goes: “Sex sells.” People need to see the true purpose of sex and that it is to be used between a man and a woman AFTER they are married and NOT anytime beforehand!!! In the Bible is I understand 1 Corinthians 10:23 correctly, God never said anything was forbidden, just that sometimes something could make a person struggle and if that happens then stay away from it. Anything can have consequences if not handled in a way that makes a person lose control with it. Therefore it is best to handle all things within moderation. If something comes addicting then stay away from it altogether. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself from going down the wrong path. I, myself, keep in mind how Joseph was tempted sexually by Pharaoh’s wife and ran away before the devil could entice him to want to do something he would regret. Though, he was imprisoned due to Pharaoh’s wife lying and telling her husband that it was Joseph and not her who did the tempting thus getting the innocent Joseph put into prison though he had committed no crime whatsoever, it all worked out in the end because God knew that Joseph did the right thing and blessed him for it and did so in a tremendous way. How many people, after all, go from prisoner to second in command of a country? (The Joseph I am referring to is, as I just mentioned, the one who was imprisoned and then became Pharoah’s right-hand man, not the Joseph who was husband to Jesus’ mother Mary.) Be open-minded in your walk with God to help you walk more closely with Him. Just tread carefully so that nothing is done in a perilous way that will be regrettable. I have learned that even something designated as “bad” from someone can actually do more good; it has been this way for me. Go with God in whatever approach you take with anything and you won’t have to worry about the devil getting in there and turning what could be a positive experience into a negative one. Remember, too, that sex without love is hollow. Only when a man and a woman are united in matrimony before God will they experience the highest kind of love known as agape (which is pronounced, agápē.). I feel I have it with my wife and I cannot possibly thank God enough for allowing me the pleasure of the experience of this type of love. May anyone and everyone who reads this comment get to that type of love. God bless all of you always in all ways.

  3. Great article and loved your comment about wishing it had been called Thirty Shades of Grey! Too funny!

  4. One thing that you miss though, is that much of this is based on deeply ingrained desires, not flippant adult choices. People get stuck, in young age, on a connection between pain and pleasure. It is difficult to separate later when they become an adult. Identifying it as sin helps, but doesn’t necessarily cure the underlying connection. Nor does logic.

    Once the connection is made, it is there. Your list is great for someone who doesn’t have that connection, but once that has been built into you, it is a very different matter. Logic doesn’t un-connect things. Your mind simply goes to 50 shades style, unbidden.

    It’s like you always thought a person was your mother, but then later found out that there was a mistake at the hospital. Un-coupling yourself from your false mother, and attaching to your actual real mother, would be very difficult. When sexuality is super-glued to 50 shades style, don’t expect a little logic to unglue that.

    I am an older single virgin. I have no experience to base normal fantasies on, no way to fantasize of real sex. Not fantasizing at all is a great goal, but virtually impossible. But since I was a child I could understand sexuality and spanking. The connection was their very young. It seems to be an easy to make connection, automatic for millions of people.

    I certainly label it as sin, repent, and strive to never make use of that connection, but it is a temptation that is difficult to handle. It is like holding an inner tube underwater, it often comes up, like it or not, when sexuality is tapped.

    Sometimes it even seems so “right,”even pure. Something to pray for in a marriage, clear-cut roles and loving relationships instead of the western society gender warfare that is the norm nowadays. So it seems linked in part to a desire to see God’s will be done, a ceasing of the gender destruction I see all around me.

    I’d rather spank or be spanked, in a loving biblical marriage, than to submit myself to yet another quasi-Christian USA madness marriage. I rarely, RARELY, see someone in a marriage that I would want to take their place, that they are in a relationship i would want to copy or be a part of. People settle for terrible marriages, then get angry when people desire better.

    Non-shades people don’t understand, don’t have that internal pull. Try to not blink for one hour, try to never go to the rest room.

    Your list is good for encouraging those not infected with this connection. But once the connection is made, a person can agree with everything you said, everything … and still find their next sexual thought to be 50 shades style. There are no off switches, no simple ways to disconnect things. Just a routine battle of ongoing repentance and frustration.

  5. I’d like to add another perspective. I think that what you say here is true.

    As a single, 50-yr old Christian who has never married, and knows that my single state is not from lack of effort, I think that I have a unique perspective.

    There is something about this Anna character (judging by the trailer I saw on YouTube) that made her vulnerable to this man. She seems to me to not have anyone paying attention to her life. She comes across as lacking confidence. She even says in her first meeting with Grey “There’s not much to know about me. I mean, look at me.” Along comes this man who pays INTENSE attention to her, appeals to her desires in multiple ways, not the least of which is being found so desirable that he virtually consumes her, and takes her in.

    He puts a whole lot of effort into getting her. He sees her. And he tells her right away. I have not read the book or seen the movie. I don’t have to in order to make a bet that there are some very erotic feelings he brings out in her. Whatever her background and/or inborn personality that formed her I don’t know. The same with him. But I have worked with a man or two (not recently) for whom I had such feelings. And all I could do is tell myself “Don’t. He’s not a Christian.”

    To paraphrase you, no, a healthy man or woman does not want this kind of relationship. That’s a great ideal. But there are a lot of unhealthy people who have the same desires to be loved and wanted as relatively healthy people.

    For those of us long alone, in a church subculture that draws attention to traditional female & male roles, celebrates marriage, parenthood, teenagers and college aged “youth,” and grandparenting, people like me disappear. No, I don’t want a Christian Grey. I don’t want to seek to feel good in a bottle of booze or in one-night stands.

    But I don’t like where I am, where all my & others’ prayers go unanswered in failed efforts to “put ourselves out there.” When it comes to a bad relationship, or just one with an unbeliever who treats me better than most of the “Christians” I dated, and some who are friends, I say this: there but for the grace of God go I.

  6. “3. When sex recreates past abuse instead of providing a healing alternative, it cements the soul in dysfunction rather than releasing the soul into healthy intimacy.”

    Makes sense to even me, the 50-year old never been married Christian.