February 14 is the traditional day to celebrate love. Valentine’s Day is named after a priest in ancient Rome whose memory lives in many legends. One version says he presided over secret Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Valentine was such a popular name in old Rome that the stories of Saint Valentine may come from the lives of more than one loving man.
A huge media campaign has already begun to let us know that this coming February, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the opening of the movie “50 Shades of Grey,” based E.L. James's book that celebrates sadomasochism.
Valentine’s Day…love...sadomasochism…seems there’s something mixed up here.
In the book 50 Shades of Grey, Christian Grey tries to convince his inexperienced lover, Ana, to sign a contract permitting him to control her and inflict pain. She resists signing the contract, but eventually experiences a spanking at his hand and a beating with his belt. The blows are hard enough to cause pain that shocks her, physical pain that lingers.
Why is the book (and its two sequels) hugely popular?
1. Easy reading.2. Money porn (Christian Grey is filthy rich).
3. Graphic sexual description.
4. Something out of the ordinary: sadomasochism.
Every cultural phenomenon has an effect. There is fallout from these books and from all media that promote the idea that it is acceptable for one human being to dominate another. Some local fallout I've noticed:
· Shortly after the book 50 Shades of Grey became a best-seller, I listened to a report on Milwaukee radio about a woman who had been beaten by her lover. She went to the cops. The lover’s defense: “We had a contract.”
· Last June, the corpses of two women were found stuffed into suitcases about 35 miles south of Milwaukee. Police investigators linked their deaths to a man who had found the women through a bondage website. Apparently the slave and master game went too far.
I don’t want to read about more fallout. This coming Valentine's Day, I plan to say no to the movie "50 Shades of Grey," and I'm hoping that others do too.
I think that the real Saint Valentine (any one of them) would have liked this kinder view of love than the hitting version of E.L. James:
Love is patient, love is kind.... It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.... Love does not delight in evil.... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)