Ennobling the Monster

Joe Carter over at TGC recently wrote about the link between Fifty Shades of Grey and the normalization of abusive behavior toward women. Carter (along with the study he cites) observes that while the books are popular with older women, their target audience “is young women between the ages of 18 and 25. The effect of targeting this young audience can be that it conditions them to accept abusive relationships in the future or to justify abuse they’ve already suffered at the hands of older men.”

He goes on to say that Fifty Shades is “also the latest blockbuster series to celebrate the attraction of young women to older, abusive predators. In an earlier era of fantasy stories, the goal of a hero was to protect a woman from evil by slaying the dragon. In many of today’s fantasy stories, the hero is the dragon, whose mission is to seduce a woman by his evil.”

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Taken from this angle, it’s easier to grasp why the postmodern mind has such a turbulent relationship with older tales – and hence, with the virtuous bedrock they’re built on. We’ve reached a stage in our cultural rebellion that sees our popular stories vilifying St. George while ennobling the monster he was sent to slay. Candice Watters’ remark about turning the moral universe upside down is most fitting.  (For another example, look to the upcoming film Dracula Untold, which casts the famous literary villain in a sympathetic and even heroic light.)

Two thoughts.

First, it cannot come as a surprise that celebrations of sin – yes, even “imagined” sin – yield consequences as practical as dirt under your fingernails. It wasn’t for kicks and giggles that Solomon wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) Taking your soul on walks through pornographic wastelands and then raising your eyebrow at the physical and emotional fallout is like eating Taco Bell and acting surprised at the diarrhea.

In his book Fidelity, Doug Wilson points out that “if God doesn’t want us to do it, He doesn’t want us to get pleasure from thinking about doing it,” and this is just good sense. But there are some things in this life that cannot be overestimated: one of those is the deceitfulness of the human heart.

Second, nature does indeed abhor a vacuum. In the absence of the healthy, the mature, and the morally robust, the diseased and the dying rush in. So it isn’t enough to avoid Fifty Shades and its plague-ridden dishes. Abstinence is less than half the battle. The right kind of food is needed. In a culture that feasts on ashes and filthy rags, we have a ravenous obligation to get fat on the good stuff – and to fatten our children with it, too.

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