The Self-Checkout Line and 50 Shades of Grey

50 shades

So I have a confession.

I encountered the 50 Shades of Grey DVD stand at Kroger last night.

And I was tempted for a good while about whether or not I should get it. Especially since it was so appropriately situated next to the self-checkout line. How clever.

As I walked around the store the thought kept circulating in my mind.

And so did all of these excuses…

…Well you can just start watching it and turn it off if it gets bad…you’re roommate just flew home for summer…no one will know about it…you can throw it away after…you won’t have to have an awkward exchange with the register employee since it’s the self-checkout line…it’s really not that bad…do what you want to do…

I’ve never been so tormented over something I thought I wasn’t even tempted by to begin with.

Before, I was never really tempted with the whole 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon.

When I saw the book I was never tempted to read it.

I don’t like novels anyway and would rather read other things. So it didn’t really phase me. I remember being at a friend’s house, seeing the book lying on her floor. I kept thinking why would she read that.. doesn’t she know how much it’s gonna hurt her heart. I used to be very prideful thinking that I was almost better because I wasn’t reading 50 Shades and didn’t feel the desire to read it.

Then when the movie came out I wasn’t really tempted to go see it. I knew there was no way in heaven or hell I would let anybody catch me in that movie.

But then…

last night when I saw the DVD stand, I started to think about what it would be like if I watched the movie.

And I was very surprised at myself.

A little too surprised. I was embarrassed that I was even looking in that direction and started to look around hoping I didn’t see anyone I knew.

But I had managed to avoid the whole 50 Shades trend ever since it began.

I thought I was doing pretty good.

But of course on a Sunday night, right after work, just wanting to get some groceries and go home, I got bombarded by it.

Without warning.

Right there by the self-checkout line.

Part of me was curious about what all the hype was about and part of me wanted to see it. Just being honest.

I used to say I can’t believe people would wanna read or watch 50 Shades of Grey.

But I guess I got a dose of my own medicine.

Because I was just as tempted as anyone else when the opportunity presented itself.

What I’m realizing is that I’m just as vulnerable as anyone else is. I’m just as vulnerable to sexual temptation. Especially as a single girl. So I have to be very careful about what I allow in my mind. But God is showing me that being human is okay. He just wants me to understand what His view of love and sex is. Not the world’s.

We shouldn’t be surprised that people want love and sex, but rather we should be disturbed by our own deception to buy into a false illustration of it. We need to advocate for sex God’s way because that is where true fulfillment is found. Just read Song of Solomon. God isn’t trying to cheat you out of what you think would bring you pleasure. He’s trying to bless you if you would let Him.

So what I’m realizing now is that I’m just as vulnerable as anybody to a movie like 50 Shades of Grey.

I have no room for any kind of judgment.

Did I buy it?

No.

Thankfully.

Why?

Because I know that I can’t un-see it.

That’s what I kept thinking in my mind as I went to checkout and started scanning all of my stuff. I was hesitating as I paid. I considered walking back over there to pick it up real fast. Then I saw more people and felt so guilty and I kept telling myself, you cannot un-see that once you’ve seen it. You cannot un-see that once you’ve seen it. I know what trouble that will cause me because I know how my mind works.

And that was the main reason that kept me from getting it.

I wish I could tell you that my faith in God was the main thing keeping me from getting it.

But it’s not.

Let’s just say that God was not on my mind at the time.

Because in the moment when sexual temptation catches us off guard, our faith sometimes can’t be strong enough to help us escape.

Sometimes our fleshly desires are stronger than our spiritual desires to want to do the right thing because of our own sin.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying God can’t help us or that our faith is ineffective. That’s not what I’m saying at all. But what I am saying is that in the very moment of temptation, our immediate ability to recall what God says is right is not always very alert. If it were, we wouldn’t still sin the way that we do. And our world wouldn’t be in the mess that it’s in.

Last time I checked, sinning was still a dominant character trait among all humans.

And I know that I get it wrong a lot.

This is why we have to prepare ourselves before we are ever tempted with what our reaction will be so that we don’t let ourselves make the wrong choice.

So even though I didn’t get the DVD, I’m still very concerned.

Because I don’t trust myself.

I don’t trust myself at all.

And I don’t want to walk into another store caught off guard again and end up failing and buying the DVD because I feel good about the fact that I didn’t give in the first time.

No.

I need to not be okay with that.

I need to not give in every single time that I see it in a store or anywhere else.

So I’m just not gonna let myself linger by the DVD’s. I’m not gonna let myself pick it up. I’m not gonna let myself entertain the idea. I know it’s wrong and I have to ask God, now that I’m aware, to remind me why and let His Spirit help me.

In these moments, we have to learn to ask God for help. We may be able to get by on our own the first few times but after a while we will no longer be strong enough. I’ve experienced this in many other areas of my life where I thought I was doing good on my own without asking for God’s help only to be caught off guard and giving in again. So we have to ask God to help us right now and we have to continue to ask Him for help even when we think we don’t need it. Because we do need it.

Jesus says in John 14:13-17,

“Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commands.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.  He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you” (emphasis mine).

We, as those who follow Christ, have the indwelling Spirit of God who has been given to us by Jesus Christ.

We can know what is true.

We can know what is right.

And in moments of weakness, we can ask God for help and the Spirit will help us when we don’t even know how to pray to God (Romans 8:26).

We have to ask Him.

We have to ask Him to equip us in the areas that we don’t even know are vulnerable places.

Thinking about this situation, among others, God is giving me compassion for people who struggle with this because I’m seeing just how strong sexual temptation can be for us as human beings. I used to be very judgmental and had no awareness or empathy. I’m very glad that God has been showing me this so in the future I won’t be so judgmental of other people who struggle. Because I see that I also struggle myself.

So I pray for you and I pray that all you’re struggling with will be brought before the Lord in weakness and vulnerability. I pray that we would all develop an awareness of our sin and that we would want for God to help us. If we don’t want for God to help us, He can’t do anything for us. But I pray that God would soften our hearts to cultivate a desire for repentance and a desire to do things His way. May God lavish you with His grace. And know that Jesus is praying for you right now. He does care about you no matter what you’ve done. And He longs to impart to you the real thing: real love. Let Him.

“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom You have given me, for they are Yours.” – John 17:9 –

“Spirit of the Living God” by Vertical Church Band