The movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, is scheduled to debut in theaters across America on February 13, 2015. Note well: on the eve of...Saint Valentine's Day. This is a particular sacrilege. Some will say, don't give it attention, you'll just magnify the interest. From what I gather, the trailer has gotten wide viewing already. Neither this statement by the Archbishop, nor my highlighting of it, is going to add anything to this film's publicity.
The story line is presented as a romance; however, the underlying theme is that bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism are normal and pleasurable. No doubt they can be pleasurable. Two points worth making here. First, that we can learn to enjoy something we would have found detestable otherwise. Not just in matters of appetite; but consider how people can become inured to evil, such as guards in concentration camps. Second, the fact that something is pleasurable doesn't make it something to pursue. There's a particularly charming song I wish I could forget hearing, featuring the line, "you and me ain't but mammals..." Think just a bit about the full implications of that.
In the story line, a young Miss Steele is urged to sign a contract becoming a sex slave and agreeing to an abusive and degrading relationship. This movie is in direct contrast to the Christian message of God’s design for self-giving and self-sacrificing love, marriage and sexual intimacy. What the Archbishop says here is correct, but something implicit here needs to be made very clear. This is not limited to the "Christian message"--it's revealed in nature, and grasped by all people of good will and right reason. Stop and think about this. Marriage was not invented by the Church; either God "invented" it, or else humanity discovered it on its own. Men and women weren't sitting around, wondering what to do, until Christian missionaries showed up and explained marriage to them.
Marriage, in any and every culture, is either a sacrificial, self-giving, mutual partnership, or else it inevitably becomes exploitative and coercive; or else it fails. I.e., the truth about marriage is not limited to Christian revelation.
The movie is a direct assault on Christian marriage and on the moral and spiritual strength of God’s people. Amen! We need to inform our people about the destructive message of this movie and to highlight the beauty of God’s design for loving relationships between a husband and wife in the bond of marriage.
-- Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati
OK, what follows are my words, not the Archbishop's. This movie is filth; it is evil. I'm sure it's pretty, and has lots of fine production values, yadda-yadda. I can think of no excuse for anyone to buy a ticket to it; or, for that matter, to buy the book. It is also intensely degrading, particularly toward women. The jaw-dropping ironies abound: the author of the book is a woman; and the book has been gobbled up by a lot of women. Meanwhile, we have lots of so-called advocates of women's rights who have nothing but energy to demand the right to kill unborn girls through abortion; but their silence about this smut is, as the saying goes, deafening.
Update, circa 5:45 pm...
I forgot about one of the more notable ironies, which I saw in the Wikipedia article (I know--but I checked the source, it seems legit.): "The Fifty Shades trilogy was developed from a Twilight fan fiction series originally titled Master of the Universe and published episodically on fan-fiction websites under the pen name 'Snowqueen's Icedragon.'"
Isn't that rich? This was the result of someone drinking deeply (and then wallowing about in) the woman-degrading nincompoopery of the Twilight series. Half this country is women (and I'd guess the viewership of the Twilight films--excepting dragged-along dates--was about 85% women). If feminists wanted to strike a blow for women, shaming and boycotting that sorry excuse for a series of movies would have been a useful thing. I confess I watched the first one--on TV!--just to see what the thing was about. It didn't take me long before I was rooting for the vampires and werewolves either to eat that idiot girl Bella, or else just walk away in disgust. The notion that they would all fight each other--over her!...defies description.
Thank you, Archbishop, for speaking out.