So Valentine's Day is coming up and with it the opening of a certain movie, based on a certain book series about a certain...romance. Of sorts. And it seems like we, as a country, are waiting with bated breath for its release.
The fact that it comes out on Valentine's Day, a holiday in celebration of love, makes me wonder about what, exactly, we think we know about love. Is this what we all imagine love can look like? Do we think this is a fun movie to see with our dates after a charming meal at a nice restaurant? One we can discuss afterward with each other as we drive home....? I really loved the part when he tied her up. And the part where she didn't really want to do that one thing but he convinced her to anyway.
I haven't read the books. I don't know how they end, and I don't know if there is any character development or heart change. What I do know is that this story seems to be glorifying a violent and manipulative relationship while trying to imply that this is somehow a love story. It is also making rough, at times abusive, sexual preferences seem acceptable. Even something to be desired.
This isn't love. A movie with its advertisement poster being of a woman clearly tied with her hands above her head and a man going in for her like she's...well, like she's prey may be racy and keep you short in air supply, but please, don't for a second buy into the lie that this is love you are witnessing. In real life, there is nothing glorious about being taken advantage of sexually.
Here is what is true about love.
Love does not dishonor others. Love does not seek to satisfy its own desires at the expense of another. Love does not delight in the dark, the shameful, the abusive, or the greedy.
Instead, love is patient. Love is kind. Love is self-sacrificing.
Love always protects.
Love builds up and never tears down.
Love repairs and heals; it never leaves scars.
And sex. Sex is meant to be true love illustrated physically. It is meant to be fun and exciting and pleasurable, but at its heart it is a beautiful image of two people mutually giving of themselves to one another.
Giving and not taking.
If you're looking for something gritty and raw and controversial, this is it.
Because true love is hard. True love doesn't come naturally. And true love isn't constantly glamorous or sexy or heart-pounding.
True love is both people kneeling in front of each other not in humiliation but in humility and saying, You are more important than me.
This Valentine's Day, please don't give Fifty Shades of Grey the opportunity to be important.
Instead, do something selfless for someone else. Tell them how much they mean to you. Treat them with kindness and tenderness. Stand up for someone when they can't stand up for themselves.
That's what getting your hands dirty with love really looks like. That's true grit.