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.

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38 responses to 50 Problems with Grey

  1. Include #51 btwn #23 and #27: many humans know the pain of disabilities, ttaumatic consequences of war amputations or cancer baldness etc and find love, not assault, the healing expression. Then add #52: the difference btwn humanity and beasts of the field is that we are designed to love one another – especially cherishing and nurturing the young/innocent, the infirm/ill, and elderly — all categories considered by ‘beasts’ to be … prey. Ask any cop or hotline the emotional state of an assault victim more, ask any clinician what tepid porn leads to. Then read blue dot crime blotters.

  2. The enemy is using the lack of male leadership and the loss of sexual interest in wives to offer Alternative Sex, both in fantasy and in reality. As you know, the work we do must address those two issues or we are not in the fight and we are losing the battle. http://restoringsexualpurity.org/alternative-sex-is-it-really-an-alternative/

  3. I read the book because my curiosity got the better of me in an airport during a trip alone. I heard of the book but didn’t know why it was so popular. Guess I’m dumb. I had heard of a couple instances in news articles of husbands beating their wives and i wondered what content was in the book. As I read it on the plane, I was embarrassed someone would see me with this book. I kept thinking surely this gets better but it didn’t. It was drivel. It wasn’t creative or innovative in terms of sex. I kept thinking they were boring actually and felt so horribly sad for the people in this world that felt like this was interesting or enlightening.

  4. Thank you for blog post. I know many women who are running to the theatre this weekend to see this movie. With so much sexual violence and slavery our world suffers, it absolutely shocks me so many people would find this behavior acceptable.
    Wishing you and your wife a blessed Valentine’s weeknd.

  5. I feel so outdone. You came up with 50, and I only came up with 5! http://hopebydesign.net/marriage/5-telltale-signs-you-have-a-50-shades-of-grey-marriage/

    I couldn’t agree with you more. There is such a joy and a pleasure when you’re in lifelong pursuit of the good of your spouse. It seems that through the trilogy, the author is trying to walk this out to a “good” ending. That somehow through all the junk, a damaged, lost couple dabbling in abherrent practices can find their own way to true love and commitment.

    I have big problems with that conclusion. Healing, love, and soul and spirit-satisfying intimacy only comes when our hearts receive the grace of Jesus. If He’s not in the center, there’s no hope!

    • Well, your good list goes into much more detail! I agree with you on the “conclusion” being problematic. It really is fiction, When you have those dynamics at the start of the relationship, and that activity fueling it, any real-life counselor will tell it will end in disaster, not romance. This set-up is just one big lie.

  6. Did you read all three books, because for such a superior writer, you seem to have missed one of the conflicts and one of the journeys of the series? As for the superiority of Christian sex, don’t make me laugh. Your religion is based on a Roman Flavian anti-Messianic myth designed to con gentiles who could not read Hebrew into worshiping Vespasian the Father and Titus(“Dove”) the Son as gods.

    • Uzi, Christian faith was spawned from the beginning of time–with Adam, through Abraham, then Moses, until Jesus. It thus existed millennia before Rome had been invented. And the prophecies of the Messiah pre-date the Roman myth by millennia as well. Read the book of Romans–Paul is astonished at how well God pulled off His promises to Israel, while incorporating the Gentiles, so that the whole world could benefit from the Messiah’s death and resurrection. It’s Flavian, Vespasian and Titus who are knockoffs, not the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From a literary perspective, that’s just fact.

  7. Great post!! But #42 isn’t an either/or or if/then suggestion is it?

  8. Bravo, Gary! Thank you for bringing reality to sex inside of marriage. I love this post!!

  9. Thank you Gary for speaking up on this. I’m so tired of the press this movie and book are getting. My heart aches for those who don’t understand God’s design for intimacy between a husband and a wife.

  10. Excellent thoughts in a world that seems to be leaning so hard away from what God has provided.

  11. Fantastic. Couldnt have said it better myself!

  12. The spiritual aspect of sex in relation to the physical act is most hard to understand if you’ve never experienced it. After being married 23 years, we experienced it and never looked back. It doesn’t have to take couples as long as it took us! They can begin acknowledging in prayer the Holy Spirit’s Presence in their lovemaking. It not only heals and restores but invites a bit of Heaven to earth in ways that far exceed the physical pleasure. We don’t have it all figured out, but sex is merely one foreshadow of eternal pleasure……. “At His right hand there are pleasures forevermore!” Psalm 16:11

    Thanks for the profound and funny truths you’ve written.

  13. Thanks so much for posting this Gary! I’m just learning what this book and movie are all about and I believe you summed it up for me quite well! I’m going to share this however I can because I know this book/movie is so excepted in our culture and that is super scary to me. But, God will have the victory and I believe that He is going to turn all of this for good in many people’s lives!

  14. Thank you for posting this. I have not read any of the books not do I plan to. When the book first came out I couldn’t believe the amount of people that were reading it and worse, loved the book! Thank you for having the courage to write this. I respect and appreciate your perspective.

  15. This is great! A few chuckles and a few more raised eyebrows. Love it! Thank you!

  16. Excellent! I just KNEW there was more than one reason to NOT read the books and/or see the movie! You have articulated what I felt in my heart but had been unable to put into words.
    Thank you, Gary, for speaking so wisely through this blog. Wish all husbands would read it!

  17. Lindsey Pennella February 12, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Gary, thank you for sharing this! This was so needed. I have had women get upset with me because I refuse to read this garbage (yes even inside the church!). Number 12 is something I have said for years….sex is all day. Treating one another with kindness and respect as well as doing little things throughout the day will bring a loving union. I love to read your writings! Life Long Love is the goal!!

  18. Wow!!! All true. Number Nine made me laugh out loud. 🙂

    A word of encouragement for single women who are patiently waiting for a godly husband/lover:

    Rev 19:11 describes The Lover of Your Soul, your knight in shining armor. Riding a white horse, coming to your rescue, a tattoo on the rippling muscles of his thigh, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” His name is Faithful and True. His desire is for you and you alone, and He is captivated by your beauty. He is everything Gary described above — and even more!

    Jesus, give your precious daughters strength to resist the empty offers of the world and to discover the amazing, satisfying richness of Your Love. Amen.

    • Wonderful words. Thanks for sharing!

      • Whatever the topic (and I think you handled this one particularly well) I’d sure like to be gifted with your wit and way with words! (Not to mention, by-the-way, the wisdom I find in your writing.) Thanks for letting God use you through your writing!

  19. Angelique Cooper McGlotten February 12, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Thanks, Gary, for this insightful post. I really appreciate how you contrast a soul-satisfying sexual relationship with a dysfunctional one. I’m still scratching my head as to how you were able to come up with 50 excellent points that I’ll call, “50 Ways To Honor GOD And Your Wife In Sexual Intimacy.”

    • Thanks. I admit–I got nervous when I started to run out of ideas at about 30, but I sat on it, prayed about it, and eventually hit 50. I DID keep wishing that E.L. James had chosen Thirty Shades of Grey, however…

      • Angelique Cooper McGlotten February 12, 2015 at 10:50 pm

        You’re welcome, Gary! Thank you for the courage to speak out on this sad and most troubling sensation. I’ve heard of fifteen year old young ladies who saw the movie and my heart breaks for the lies they were exposed to. I pray that the Spirit of GOD will illumine truth to those who are blinded by the father of lies and the darkness of this world. My prayer is that countless many who have been exposed to this perverted view of sexuality will come to embrace the biblical teaching, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

        Thank you again for sharing and abundant blessings.

      • Great job, great reflections. I’m jealous I didn’t come up with your list. The best word to describe this mess is perversion.