What to Do If You Feel Guilty After Watching 50 Shades of Grey

Feeling guilty

Three years ago the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy became a publishing phenomenon. And 10 days ago the movie version made a box office splash. Christian bloggers, speakers, and talk-show hosts have offered strong criticism decrying the graphic portrayal of sexuality and male-female roles in a way that they find offensive.

But Christian woman have been reading the books and watching the movie. And at least some of them have felt dirty, guilty, or otherwise uncomfortable afterwards. If you’ve watched or read and feel in some way guilty after watching 50 Shades, then this post is for you.

Our society provides many opportunities to become desensitized to ungodly things. Messages relating to both violence and sexuality are present all around us. Perhaps one might think, “Why not become familiar with what everyone is talking about? Then I can engage intelligently. And surely there’s redeeming value even in what seems somewhat negative. I’ll focus on the good parts.”

And then you read. Or you watch. And something in you changes. If you read the entire book (or series), you undoubtedly had a more difficult time reading the first explicit passages, and things became easier as you continued. Just that experience alone should demonstrate to you how easy it is to become desensitized.

If there’s something in you that feels uncomfortable after engaging with 50 Shades of Grey, that’s a good thing. That demonstrates you are not closed to the Holy Spirit’s tug on your heart. I encourage you to listen, to follow that discomfort, and hear whatever God might want to tell you.

And let me point out that if you’ve struggled to justify watching or reading this material, that very fact should remind you that something in you knows it’s not OK with God.

Here are a few suggestions about what to do with the discomfort you may be feeling:

  1. Take your discomfort to God. There’s nothing more healing than to bring our brokenness, nakedness, or uncleanness to God, experience Him seeing us for who we really are, and accepting us anyway. Sometimes we feel even worse initially, when He shines the light of His presence into our dark souls. But He always does so to encourage us to let Him exchange our darkness for His light. (John 6:37)
  2. Ask God to wash your soul clean. We don’t have the human ability to un-remember something that has made such a notable impact on our brains or bodies. But there IS a way out. God has a way of cleansing our souls with his presence. Stick around long enough in His presence for Him to do so. (Psalm 51:7)
  3. Consciously choose positive things to fill your mind. Think of your mind and heart as a glass of water. Dirty water, perhaps. You don’t have the ability to turn the glass upside down and pour the water out. But you DO have the ability to put your glass under the clean water spout, turn it on full blast, and replace the dirty water with what is fresh and clean. Go overboard in filling your mind with nature, God’s word, or media promoting truly loving relationships. (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Share your story. If you’ve struggled with how to address these issues, know that others are struggling also. If you have preteen or teenage children, talk with them about this aspect of the culture. Don’t think for a minute they aren’t being exposed, and having a harder time than you are knowing what to do. Or perhaps other women you know are struggling. Talk about what you’ve learned, and help each other go forward.
  5. Address the vulnerabilities in your soul. Why did you feel drawn to watch or read this material? Are you feeling lonely? Is your marriage unsatisfying? Put some significant effort into learning what your heart needs, and filling those needs in godly, wholesome, nourishing ways. It may take you some time to learn how to do so, but it’s worth the effort.

If you’ve felt bad after reading or watching 50 Shades of Grey, know that God’s not finished with you. He does His best work when we’ve made a mess of things, and then allow Him to use that experience to do more of His amazing transforming work in our hearts.

Your Turn: If you felt uncomfortable after watching 50 Shades of Grey, why do you think that is? Leave your comment below.

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