Tag Archives: Book Review

Fifty Shades of Grey

Please note ~ the following post deals with sexually explicit material that may be offensive to some, or may trigger others.  However, my intent is not to offend or hurt, but to cast some light on a dark subject…

When the book came out, I was still working, and I remember many of my coworkers going on and on about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and how good it was.   Most would tell me how great it was, and then say, “But you shouldn’t read it, Cheryl. You wouldn’t like it.”  Most of my coworkers knew that I was a minister of the gospel, and that I wouldn’t enjoy this kind of book.  Most of my coworkers knew me well, yet I worked for a retirement facility, that employed more than two hundred people, so there were others, who were only casual acquaintances.

I remember this one woman who worked the evening shift.  She usually came on duty just as I was preparing to leave for the day.  One evening, before I left for the day, she stopped by the office, where I was working, to see if I knew where our boss was.  After telling her, she turned to leave, so she could finish administering medications to the residents she was caring for, but suddenly, she spun back around, facing my office mate and me again, as she asked, “Do you read?”

“Well,” I jested, “we’re not illiterate.”

Laughing at my comment, the woman gushed, “Then you just have to read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s so good.  It’s a love story with a little ‘soft porn.'”

After hearing so many people rave about this book, I was curious to know what the big deal was, and why so many people were talking about it.  Therefore, I went online, and looked to see what it was about.  Needless to say, I was shocked.  After reading an overview of the book, I wondered how so many good people call this book good?  Though it’s been touted as a “love story,” nothing could be further from the truth.

shades-covers-1024
Image Credit: People Magazine Evangelicals Offer to “Trade Your Shades” for “Christian Perspective” Intimacy Book

I really never thought too much about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” after that, until the movie was released, on Valentine’s Day, and yet again, people were boasting about this “must see” movie event, which raked in more money at the box office than any other movie has ever done.  Numerous people, from all over, flocked to see this “romantic film.”  Really???  Give me a break!  I’ve remained quiet about the subject until now, but enough is enough, and if I don’t share what’s on my heart about this, I just  might explode.

Therefore, let’s just call a spade a spade.  While I haven’t read this book or seen the movie (nor do I intend to), I still know enough about it to comment on it.  This serial (“Fifty Shades of Grey” is the first installment in a “Fifty Shades” trilogy.) is neither a love story, nor a romance.  Hence, in order for us to determine if “Fifty Shades of Grey” is truly a love story or not, we must first know what love really is.  To discover what love is, let’s look at the best definition of love that has been revealed to man…

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  NLT ~

But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

~ 1 John 4:8  NLT ~

Now, let us look at “Fifty Shades of Grey,” in light of this definition…  As we examine the relationship between the two main characters, Chrisian and Ana, it becomes obvious almost immediately, that there is no patience or kindness between the two.  As Christian treats Ana as his personal sex slave, there is not romantic or loving about their relationship.  It is both cruel and hurtful.  These two characters are involved in an unhealthy relationship, instead of a healthy and loving one, where both people treat one another with respect and dignity.  This is an abusive relationship where Christian domineers Ana.

Image Credit: The Busy Mom Heidi St. John
Image Credit:
The Busy Mom
Heidi St. John

I must say that I am really surprised that more Christians have not spoken out against this novel/movie, and I’m also surprised that most women’s rights groups seem to be uncharacteristically silent on the subject.  Such an unhealthy relationship should be denounced for implying that women actually enjoy being tied up, beaten, and verbally, sexually and physically abused.

… Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude…

~ 1 Corinthians 13:4b-5a  NLT ~

Love is not jealous…  The main character, Christian, is jealous of other men who are a part of Ana’s life.  Now, I’ll grant you that there are some women who think it would be nice if their boyfriend or husband was jealous of other men in their lives, but that’s because they’ve never actually experienced the jealousy of a lover.

Jealousy is ugly.  Those who are jealous are mistrustful and resentful.  Because resentment can quickly grow into hatred, it also often leads to violence.  Many times, when a man is jealous of another man who is involved in the life of a woman he cares about, that jealous rage will be taken out on the woman that he supposedly cares about.  Does this sound like love to you?

Love is not boastful.  Someone who truly loves someone else will not flaunt his/her advantages to the one that he/she loves.  The one who truly loves will not ever want to make his/her beloved feel as though he/she is unworthy.

Likewise, the one who truly loves, will not allow his/her pride to enter his/her relationship.  The partner who truly loves, will be willing to humble him/herself to the other person.  The one who loves will be willing to submit to the wishes of his/her beloved, just as the beloved will also be willing to do.  True love is a partnership, in which both parties are willing to give 100% to their relationship.  If only one party is willing to do so, then there is no relationship, for a relationship requires two people.

Love is not rude.  Love would not even suggest that one partner submit to being tied up, whipped, gagged or sexually abused.  Love understands that these actions constitute rape, which is a violent act committed against someone.  Rape is not fun or sexy.  It is extremely damaging and harmful to the victim, long after the act has occurred.  Indeed, most people say that rape is not a sex act, but an act of violence.  Violence is not love.

or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

~ 1 Corinthians 13:5  NLT ~

Love does not demand its own way.  Women, girls, men and boys, hear me now.  Love does not demand its own way.  If someone truly loves you, he/she will not demand or insist that you participate or allow him/her to sexually abuse or exploit you.  If this person truly loves you, he/she will accept it when you say, “No.”  If the person you loves demands that you participate in sexually deviant acts, (any sexual act that is not condoned in the bible), even after you’ve said, “No,” then he/she does not love you.

If the person who claims to love you becomes angry or violent because you have told him/her, “No,” they are not treating you with love.  If the person begins to list all of the times you’ve failed to do what he/she wanted you to do, this person is not acting in love. Instead, he/she is acting selfishly, which is the polar opposite of love.

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 

~ 1 Corinthians 13:6  NLT ~

If the person who claims to love you takes pleasure in hurting you, (physically, sexually or emotionally), he/she is rejoicing about an injustice that has been done to you.  This is NOT love.  It is not fun.  This is cruel and harmful to you.  If the person you are in a relationship with does not rejoice in the truth of these words that I’ve written, then he/she does not truly love you.

Now, I’d like to share a few words with those of you who read the book and/or went to the movie, 50 Shades of Grey…  How would you feel if your daughter, your sister or perhaps, even your mother was involved in this type of relationship?  Would you talk to her about it?  Would you worry for her safety?  Would you worry about her emotional stability?

Or would you find it tantalizing?  Would you think it was exciting and sexy?  Would you encourage her to go ahead and do it, if she asked for your advice?  Would you want her to tell you all about it for your pleasure?

If you would find it disturbing for your beloved daughter, sister, or mother to be involved in this type of relationship, then why would you take pleasure in a book or movie that celebrates this type of behavior?  Suppose your daughter, sister or mother, knowing that you had read and enjoyed this book, shared that she was involved in a relationship like this?  How would it make you feel?  How could you argue against your loved one taking part in this?

Suppose your son, brother or father was involved in this type of relationship.  Would you feel proud of him?  Would you trust your daughter to be alone with him?

Maybe you’ve read what I’ve written here, and you think I’ve carried it to far.  I don’t think so.  This needs to be discussed.  We need to examine our hearts, for none of us should take pleasure in these things.  If this is something you wouldn’t want your loved ones to be involved in, then ask yourself why you’re involving yourself in it.  For when you purchase books such as these or go to see this movie, you’re condoning it, and welcoming it into your own life.

Perhaps you’re angry at what I’m sharing.  I can live with that.  For the fact is, that there are young women, wives and girls who are involved in sick relationships like this, and they would give anything to get out of it, yet they are trapped.  And then there are those who will copy what the movie or the book showed, and they will end up raping and hurting other women, and feel perfectly justified in doing so.  After all, the movie implies that women like to be treated this way, and every man and woman who bought the book, or a movie ticket also signified this was okay.  How would you like it if your spouse or boyfriend treated you like Christian treated Ana?  By taking pleasure in this book and/or the movie with him, haven’t you sent that message to him???

Do you think I’m exaggerating the dangers of this movie? If so, I urge you to read this newspaper article taken from the Chicago Tribune on February 24, 2015, by clicking the link below:

Prosecutors: UIC student charged with assault said he was re-enacting ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Finally, I urge you, therefore, my beloved readers, to do something that many, especially those within the Christian community, are often reluctant to do.  Talk with your children, both male and female, and let them know how much God values their lives.  Let them know that they are worth too much to devalue themselves as someone’s sex slave or whipping boy/girl.  Make sure they know how much God loves them, and how much you love them, and let them know that they will always have a safe place to come to, if they do get involved in an abusive relationship.

And if you, my beloved reader, have taken pleasure in this perverted story, you are not so far away from God’s mercy and grace that you cannot be forgiven.  You have only to repent and confess your sins to Him.

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

~ 1 John 1:9  NLT ~

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

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Heaven is for Real

Image Credit: www.movpins.com
Image Credit:
www.movpins.com

My daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters and I watched “Heaven is for Real” a couple of nights ago, and though many have said how wonderful it is, I can only assume they were watching a different movie with the same title, because the movie my family and I watched was far from wonderful. Indeed, I was saddened because the film makers, who produced this movie, showcased heaven, while ignoring Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. To ignore the King of kings, who reigns over both heaven and earth, is to negate His kingdom, for if the King of a kingdom is overlooked, then the kingdom itself has very little value.

Image Credit: www.ubfriends.org
Image Credit:
www.ubfriends.org

As a born-again believer and follower of Christ, I do, indeed, believe that heaven is for real. Therefore, I am in complete agreement with the title of both the book and the movie. However, that is where my agreement with this low-quality film ends. You see, my belief in Jesus Christ, Messiah and Son of God, also known as the King of kings and Lord of lords, is based on what the bible says about Him and His kingdom, but sadly, this movie and the book fall short of the truth recorded in God’s word.

I could have tolerated the poor acting and the poorly written script, which placed the movie on par with other “B” movies…

“A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse.”  ~ Wikipedia ~

However, what I could not tolerate, was a supposedly “true” story about heaven that failed to glorify God.

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship Him. And they will see His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.  ~ Revelation 22:1-5 NLT ~

heaven2This description of heaven, revealed by the Apostle John, who visited heaven while imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos, describes heaven, the place, however, his main focus was on God and His Son, for their thrones are front and center, and all things flow from their midst. Not only that, John also tells us that the servants of God will be worshiping Him, and that His name will be written on their foreheads. The movie mentioned nothing of these things. Also missing from the movie’s description of heaven were the Crystal Sea, and the trees of life on both sides of the river.

In the book and the movie, the boy claimed that everyone in heaven had wings, including him. However, while the Lord and some angelic beings are said to have wings in the scriptures, it never once says that humans have wings in heaven. Furthermore, the saints who have visited heaven, either in a vision or a dream, have never done so while having a near death experience. And what’s more, in scripture, those who truly have visited heaven, were either prophets or apostles, who had a close relationship with the Lord, not children or people with no prior relationship with God. In fact, according to Jesus, you cannot even see God’s kingdom, unless you are born again. Therefore, every person who has ever claimed to see heaven prior to or without being born again is either lying or else they have been deceived…

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  ~ John 3:3  NLT ~

And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of His mouth and destroy him by the splendor of His coming.

This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies.12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.  ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12  NLT ~

Heaven is for Real 1In addition to what I’ve already shared with you, there were many other things about this movie that troubled me. However, to me, the most disturbing scene was when the embittered mother of a son (who was killed while in the military),  questioned her pastor. “Do you think my son went to heaven?”

His answer to her question was a typical Hollywood answer. While it seemed like a nice and comforting answer, it clearly went against the bible’s teachings, thus rendering it untrue. In the movie, Pastor Todd Burpo gently asked her if she loved her son. Then, when she replied affirmatively, he told her that he loved his son too, and that God did as well. Then, he told her that God didn’t love her son any less than He loved Colton (Burpo’s son who had supposedly visited heaven), implying that since God had allowed Colton to go to heaven, He would also allow her son to go to heaven. 

Without a doubt, God truly does love us and our children even more than we are able to, however, that God’s love for mankind does not guarantee our entrance into heaven. There was no mention of Christ or the need to be born again in Pastor Burpo’s response to this sad mother, and this is what both saddened and outraged me.

For Pastor Todd Burpo, who is supposed to be a servant of God, and therefore responsible for sharing the gospel of Christ with mankind, approved this movie, which deceives people into thinking that everyone has access to heaven, regardless of whether they have been born again or not. In fact, Todd Burpo is not the only minister to approve this deception, for T.D. Jakes, self-proclaimed Apostle/Bishop of The Potter’s House, a megachurch with a membership of close to 30,000 people, located in Dallas, Texas, was also one of the producers of this deceptive film. Remember, as a religious leader, these men are held to a higher standard than those who are not…

17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.  ~ Hebrews 13:17  NLT ~

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  ~ 1 Peter 5:2  NLT~

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.  ~ James 3:1  NLT ~

Beloved readers, those who are called or appointed to be leaders of the church must be careful in doing so, for they will be judged more strictly. Leaders of the church must be above reproach, sharing the gospel of Christ truthfully, boldly and lovingly. They must know and love God and His word, and they must never preach, teach or minister for financial gain.

Beloved, God would not have us ignorant. Therefore, it is also our responsibility to know and understand His word, so that we will not be deceived. Though the writers and producers of both the book and the movie, “Heaven is Real,” claim this story is being shared to bring comfort and hope to people, and though this sounds like a good thing, let us look at this realistically.

The authors and producers of this film and book did not participate in this venture simply in order to minister to men, women and children, but for their own financial gain. Pastor Todd Burpo has had much financial gain since publishing his story, and you’d better believe that T.D. Jakes wouldn’t have taken part in the production of this movie had it not been a lucrative venture. 

Beloved readers, let us remember these words of Jesus…

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”  ~ John 14:6  NLT ~

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  ~ John 3:3  NLT ~

If I were to grade this movie, I would give it an F, because though it was supposed to be a true story, when you hold it up to what God’s word says about heaven, it becomes clear that this story holds no truth. And though the movie attempted to glorify heaven; by failing to glorify God and His Son, Jesus Christ, the heaven presented in the movie held no splendor or appeal. Furthermore, although heaven is real, the heaven revealed in this movie was nothing more than a low-quality, fictitious fable.

To know what heaven in all its splendor and glory is truly like, I suggest you read the following scripture passages…

These are just a few of the scriptures that describe the only true heaven, created by Almighty God, for His glory. After reading of God’s glorious heavenly home, why would anyone want to settle for a low-budget imitation like the one presented in this movie?

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers