What do Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Alabama have in common? To state the obvious, they are some of what we usually call Southern States. Perhaps most would recognize they are states in the Bible Belt. Did you know that they are also some of the states with the highest presales of tickets to 50 Shades of Grey? Apparently, the Bible Belt is interested in leather belts.
So what’s the deal? Why were pre-sales so high in Bible Belt states for a movie that many Christians argue is not appropriate viewing?
We haven’t done any research. We have no statistics. What we know is where we’ve come from (we are both southern born and bred) and what we hear (we are marriage coaches). Here’s our concern.
It’s possible that people in the Bible Belt are blowing up the pre-sales because most of the message about sex they hear is so inadequate, they are thirsty for anything – and like a man chasing the mirage in the desert, they’ll drink the sand if it’s all they see.
The church’s message about sex has largely focused on clarifying the boundaries.
- “Sex is a sin unless….”
- “God will punish you if….”
- “It’s wrong when….”
- “It’s evil every time….”
- “You’re impure if….”
These messages flow out of the Bible’s verses about sex, but these are not the only messages from the Bible. If, then, they are the only message from the church – or the message so prominent that it seems like the only message from the church – then the message is inadequate. And people will drink the sand.
What if we talked more about the gift of sex in a positive way?
- Suppose our message to young people changed from “No, it’s wrong,” to “Not now, it’s sacred”?
- Suppose instead of making women continue to feel guilty for having a strong desire for sex, we encouraged them to unashamedly give themselves to their husbands with reckless abandon?
- Suppose instead of continuing to develop a predatory, “I have to get mine” approach to sex in our men, we taught more about the beauty of mutual submission and sex that gives instead of takes.
- Suppose we led the change from, “Good girls don’t…” to “God’s girls do in a holy context”?
The Song of Solomon paints a beautiful picture of the sexual relationship – from setup to climax and beyond.
Proverbs directs a young man to his home with his head nestled in the comfort of his wife’s breasts.
Proverbs encourages a man to love a woman who is attractive because of her character instead of her body parts and flattering words.
Genesis emphasizes the unity and connected of the sexual relationship with the choice of the words, “One flesh.”
Paul reminded his readers that a man and woman belong to each other and their sexual relationship has the power of distracting them from the temptations in a sexually charged society that doesn’t grasp the holiness of intercourse.
Scripture addresses the ecstasy of orgasm, the excitement of sexual touch, and the holiness of a husband wife pleasuring each other in what is the best physical experience this side of heaven.
But we don’t talk about that. People – including Bible Belt people – think they’ll see the truth in 50 Shades. Why? Because 50 Shades is talking about it more than we are.
And we fight it the same way.
“You’ll go to hell if you go.”
“It’s a sin to promote such filth.”
Get off all the negative. Can’t we see that our approach is not working for our culture?
Encourage a husband and wife instead to skip the movie, open up Song of Solomon, and spend a couple of hours and no box office cost doing everything they read in those chapters for a few hours.