Fifty Shades of Grey opens this weekend, and while I personally haven’t read the book, and have no intention of watching the movie, I can understand why the story has found such an audience. Past the shock and curiosity, there is a cultural hunger for a love we can feel.
And if someone loves us so much that they’re willing to do anything, even hurt us to show us that love, then isn’t that passion? Isn’t that real love, a love that stops at nothing until it has all? We need proof that we are loved, and what proof is stronger than bruises, a lingering remembrance that we were deeply desired? At least the love that hurts is real.
The problem is that a love that hurts another is self-centered. Love that hurts is where rape comes from, where one person discounts the pain of someone else because his or her own feelings are so strong they can’t be denied. If our culture has accepted pain as proof of love, it only shows how far we are from understanding love in the first place. Human love has lied so often that we look for true freedom, love, pleasure, and passion in relationships about bondage and pain.
Or perhaps there is true love. It’s the white, and black…well, that’s the evil, selfish love. In between are fifty shades of gray, and that’s what we have to content ourselves with, because we’ll never reach white.
But in such relationships, are we really being loved for who we are, or just for how we make someone else feel? Do we give them pleasure, or is it our submission, the sight of our pain and the feeling of power that comes from causing the pain, from being the conqueror?
Myth and scripture both tells us of love that is strong as death, passion that is unrelenting as the grave. Its flashes are as flashes of fire, and many waters cannot quench it, nor drown it. But does this mean love is so possessive that it claims us at any price, even if in the claiming we are lost, destroyed or hurt? We tell ourselves love knows best, and if we are consumed, it is only to reveal our true selves. If we are hurt, it is a pain that purifies us…but how do we know this? How can another human, with a limited mind like our own, know that this pain shall purify, this bondage free us, this submission satisfy ourselves and not just them?
In generations past, we were told that when love knows everything, then it can make such a claim. When it comes, relentlessly, we should surrender, for life is found in our death, our freedom when another takes over. But this only works with true Love, and I don’t think it can be found in a human being who wields a whip in the bedroom. The truest love is the one that makes a claim, but then stands at the door, knocking. It’s up to us whether we answer and let Him in.
Copyright 2015 Andrea Lundgren Photo courtesy of Wax115, Creative Commons
Note: A Pilgrim in Narnia recently wrote an amazing post about Fifty Shades of Grey and our culture; if you haven’t read it already, I would recommend reading it. Some of my thoughts were inspired by thinking about what he’d written.