An Open Letter to the Women of Watermark,
Unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware of the box office release of the blockbuster “Fifty Shades of Grey” based off the erotic trilogy written by E.L. James. The PR juggernauts brilliantly and strategically timed the release of this movie on the weekend most synonymously known for love (although I would argue the greatest weekend of love is Easter, but that’s for another time and place). Droves of women will be paying copious amounts of money to watch Christian Grey—an older, powerful businessman—use Anastasia Steele (Ana)—a young, naïve college girl—to fulfill his sexual conquests.
Here is my general synopsis of the plot: Christian meets Ana. He stalks her to find out where she works and shows up there. He asks her out. He asks her to have sex with him but only if she signs a non-disclosure agreement because his sexual preferences are horrific. He learns she is a virgin. So, instead they have “normal” sex. He tells her his first time is with one of his mother’s friends who dominated him and he was the submissive partner. He keeps badgering her to sign the agreement so they can have “erotic” sex. Finally she agrees (oh, good news she graduates sometime during this time from college). They do the dirty, she hates it, she leaves him. For those of you wondering where I got this info, Wikipedia.
This, ladies, is the plot of a movie that many women are normalizing, celebrating, and enjoying this weekend. I’m not naïve, some of you have probably read the book and are going to see the movie. So, what’s my point? My point is this: this movie is wicked, the actions in this movie are wicked, and it’s my role as a shepherd to remind you of Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good.” With the banner raised, “It’s all in good fun”, women—many of whom are confessed believers—are perpetuating the lie that sexual domination and conquest are acceptable subject matters for entertainment. Often when people learn of the ancient Greeks’ preferences for entertainment—watching men kill each other, watching lions rip men apart, selling women into the sex trade—they are appalled at our ancestors. How is this different? While titillated by six-pack abs and the excitement of the unknown, this movie asks the viewer to root for an older, domineering man to take the precious virginity of a young impressionable girl. She’s someone’s daughter, sister, future mother, future wife, friend, and more importantly than all—a daughter of the one true God. Although fictional, what does it say about our hearts when we desire for her dismantling?
Having the pleasure and the privilege of leading the Women of Watermark, I can tell you, this situation happens and it is incredibly damaging for all parties involved.
Yet, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom 5.20). Anastasia would be welcomed at Shelter (make no mistake about it, the content of the movie is grounds for sexual abuse). She would find comfort at ReGeneration when she stood to say, “Hello, my name is Anastasia and I am recovering from finding my worth and identity in men.” She would be greeted, loved, encouraged and accepted at Women’s Bible Study. Someday she could be on staff working with me—a recovering Co-Dependent who used unhealthy relationships with females to satisfy my longing for intimacy.
Christian Grey could find healing at MenD—our recovery program for men affected by sexual abuse. He could find the healing he needed from his mother’s friend. He would find acceptance at ReGeneration when he stood to say, “Hello, my name is Christian and I’m recovering from abusing women to hide from the pain of having been abused as a child.” He would someday link arms with JP, Todd, and others who recognize there is no brokenness God can’t heal.
And now, for you. If you are one of the many who have indulged in the book or the movie, or quite frankly, want to but the fear of people pleasing is greater than the desire. You will find love and acceptance at Watermark, too. This is not a letter of judgment. It’s a letter to do my part as the shepherd and proclaim a wolf is in the camp. But my role as a shepherd is also to love the sheep who have been harmed—whether by they wolf or by your own desire to run from the Good Shepherd. If you need help or have been wounded, please reach to our staff or your leaders. There is no salve for pain like the healing power of the blood of Christ.
Take heart, Women of Watermark, God loves you just the way you are. But, he loves you too much to leave you there. Let’s press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3.14).