Fifty Shades: Not Your Mother’s Romance Novel

I’ve been asked by several people if I would please address the [current] #1 New York Times bestselling erotic fiction, Fifty Shades of Grey and it’s series of counterparts.

As someone who has not read it and as someone who has no plans to read it, it’s difficult for me to denounce an entire series of books without anything more than the understanding that it’s a sexually graphic fictional novel.

But that’s actually enough for me.

As we know here at Dirty Girls Ministries, erotic fiction or  romance novels (as many like to call them) are a gateway to other types of pornography, extramarital affairs and sexual behavior uncharacteristic of women prior to having read them.

What differs Fifty Shades of Grey from the romance novels that say… our moms read when we were kids… is that it’s packaged like Twilight and other popular books of today. You wouldn’t know it from just looking at the cover that it’s erotic material. In fact, I had no idea it was an erotic novel until I began to hear from women in my inbox about it. And this is even after I had seen it on a large display at my local Barnes & Noble.

It’s not a shirtless man with a big busted woman on the cover anymore. And it’s not a woman being seduced by the stable boy in the barn. From what I’ve researched about this series of books, the main sexual themes throughout are BDSM (bondage/discipline/sadism/masochism), control, violence, damage from childhood abuse, etc.

Why these themes have become mainstreamed enough to become the content of a bestselling novel is greatly disturbing to me. But it sums up to me that the desensitization of our culture is greater than any one of us could have imagined.

And before one argues that reading a book can’t change a person or make any difference in how a person lives their life, according to a leading fetish company, there has been an increase in their sales as a direct result of this book (article linked may be too graphic for some).

Quote from the article: “In recent weeks, we’ve received literally hundreds of calls thanks to this book… about 90% of them are middle-aged ‘soccer mom’ types who never imagined themselves calling a fetish sex toy company.”

What makes this book exactly like the romance novels of the past, is that it creates a fantasy world for women to escape into. A world that doesn’t include their husbands and one that certainly isn’t God-honoring. I don’t know about you, but my fantasies, the things I long to receive from my future husband, don’t include being violently abused and sexually humiliated.

There is nothing fun or cute about sexual violence and now that it’s becoming acceptable in the mainstream through the purchases women are making at the checkout stand (or secretly from their Amazon account), where do we go from here? It’s too terrifying to even imagine.

Above all else, guard your heart,  for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23

Crystal Renaud
Founder of Dirty Girls Ministries

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For more reasons not to read Fifty Shades of Grey, read this post by Dannah Gresh.


  1. AmyChristine Proctor

    Thank you Crystal for addressing this book.

    I have not read it nor do I intend to.

    I am a flight attendant who have seen soooooo many female passengers reading it on the airplane. It’s really no difference to men reading Maxim.

    If I thought it couldn’t get worse for me, my own colleagues are reading the book on the airplane during our downtime . They are so engrossed in it. Makes me so angry!! I know the book is extremely heavy erotica and sexual tones.

    I really can’t imagine women on the plane whether they are passengers or fellow flight attendants would want to get all hot n bothered on the airplane in public view..

    I agree with Crystal 100% about this book being a gateway to porn or other destructive behaviors.

    Please ladies DON’T READ THIS BOOK!!

    On decent the other day my colleague was reading it upon landing as we are buckeled up. I turned my head, started out my little porthole window and started recite the book of James that I am trying to memorize. It helped clear my head an stay focused.

    I am not going to risk my 42 days of sobriety over a Best Seller! No thank you. !!

  2. Kristi

    Yup. This is well written. Thank you for your thoughts. I too had no idea what all the hype was about. We were standing in line at Target the other day and a lady had 3 of the books in her cart…so I started talking to her about it because I love to read and didn’t know anything about them or the author. She didn’t say much other then all of her friends have been reading them and LOVE them. So we get out of hearing distance from her (and her teenage son who was with her) and Dan filled me in on what it was about. He had been in a conversation about them at work and somebody told him…anyways, the whole thing is disturbing and breaks my heart. Yeah, don’t get me wrong – I love me some romantic comedies but seriously? Violence and bondage and abuse. No thank you. Guard your heart indeed!

  3. Cindy

    Thanks, Crystal…depressing to turn on my kindle and go to the bestseller list and see these books always listed first. Total opposite of the old-fashioned Grace Livingston Hill books I love! :)

  4. Emily Boville

    You posting threads like this makes people want to read the book more.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
    Matthew 5:27-32

    I guess I better start gauging then, just need to take off my gimp mask which I HAD to buy simply beacuse I read a book and therefore could not stop myself from making a concious decision into whether this type of lifestyle was for me… its all ridiculous.

    Song of Solomon! Your husband IS your master, and willingly submitting to his desires is a blessing. Your body DOES belong to him, you don’t have to pretend.

    She gets married to the guy! (You’d know that if you had read it) she is simply fufilling her duty as the bible states.

    1. Sonja

      Yes, there are verses that talk about wives submitting to husbands, but there are just as many verses telling husbands to love and respect their wives. Most of these verses, for both the men and women, also state to submit, respect, or love their spouse as the Lord relates to the Church.

      Ephesians 5:28 is one of these verses saying:

      In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

      We also do not live in a society (providing you don’t live in some countries that do still practice this) where you can be killed for not submitting to every whim of your husband and you have no say in who you get married to.

      You should submit and respect him, but respect and honor are to go both ways.

      Your reference to Matthew 5:27-32 makes even a greater point for men and women who struggle with adultery and porn to avoid the books.

      Not every one who reads those books are going to run out and suddenly be into hard core BDSM, and as far as I know, there is no harm is experimenting within your marriage to keep things different and exciting. You need to also remember that different people struggle with different things. Just as you would not tell an alcoholic, “The bible references Jesus drinking wine, so I don’t see how you should have a problem if you drink wine.”, you cannot say to somebody with an addiction to porn or sex that “God created sex and says to submit to your husband, so I don’t see why you can’t read this book and maybe get a few ideas.”

      This is my first experience with this website, but it appears to me that most people on this site have struggled with a porn or sex addiction, so an article advising them on a story that is exactly what they are trying to avoid does not seem out of place or a bad article to have.

      You also mention that the main characters get married, so it’s not a problem. I have to disagree. Porn is porn, no matter the form it takes. Anything that graphically displays sex, be it written, pictures, or videos, is porn. If you were to watch a porno and the couple in the video was married, it does not suddenly make it not porn.

      I have gone through being addicted to porn, and BDSM (to my knowledge what most of the books are about) was something I was drawn to for a time. This is not a form of sex about love and respect, or simply submitting to a husband to fulfill his desires. What I saw tended to be more brutal and humiliating. There are always exceptions to the rule, but most people do not feel loved when they are abused and humiliated, even if it’s just ‘pretend’.

      You are entitled to believe and act as you wish, but please understand when I agree with this article in saying that if you are a Christian, it is not good for your walk with God to read it, and if you are struggling as a porn or sex addict, it is not good for your struggle with that addiction.

  5. Great post Crysal! I’m so glad to see such a wonderful rebuttal of a book that so many women think they NEED to read. It saddens me to hear Christian women chat about it as if it were just a silly soap opera or reality show like they watch on TV (which in my opinion is bad enough). But this book opens the door to a dark and sinister closet that will wreck havoc on their marriages and their thought lives. I John 2:15-16 warns us about the lust of the flesh, the eyes and pride. Remember the little saying, “Be careful little eyes what you see” – once you’ve looked upon a visual sin (or read it on the page) your mind retains it and replays that image. God gave us imagination for good and lovely things – but as it goes with the world – that can and does become perverted and destructive to our tender spirits. Thanks for giving us an article with helpful links and godly advice.

    It’s all about HIM

  6. Great article. I am a Christian blogger who wrote about this book and the popular movie, Magic Mike. I firmly believe Christians should not be reading/watching this kind of entertainment. We are sliding down a very slippery slope if we do so. -M.K.


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