*I wrote this post several years ago, when the first 50 Shades movie came out. It was deleted while transferring sites, but I thought now would be a good time to re-post.
Oh great. Another Christian woman writing about about 50 Shades of Grey. The only reason I'm even attempting to discuss the social phenomenon that is this movie/book is because this month, my Bible study has been in the book of Ruth. It's kind of ironic that I'm studying this book about a man and woman, of which I find striking similarities to Christian Grey & Anastasia (the main characters in 50 Shades of Grey), at the same time the movie is released causing a hail storm of discussion. So aside from all of the obviously negative things we can talk about inside 50 Shades of Grey, I just want to discuss the main men in these stories : Boaz and Christian Grey. These two many have many things in common and I'm going to break them down for you now.
*necessary disclaimer : I haven't read the books or seen the movie, nor do I intend to. My information about the book and characters comes from various online sources and blogs. *
Both Christian and Boaz are men of influence, power, and wealth. Christian, a self made billionaire and owner of his own corporation. Boaz, a wealthy farmer, well known in his town and highly respected. The most significant similarity, in my opinion, is that both men were interested in weaker, vulnerable women.
Ana, Christian's "love" interest, is a 21 year old virgin. She has little relationship experience, has yet to graduate college, is shy and resistant to his advances. Ruth is a poor widow. She has no means of income and has to "glean" (collect grain that has fallen on the ground) to be able to feed herself and her mother in law. She is a foreigner with no rights to land or property, living in a society that is not friendly or respectful to a woman without a husband. Both women are vulnerable and weak, from a certain standpoint.
So we have two wealthy men, two weaker (so to speak) women. Now let's talk about how these two guys are totally different.
Christian uses his wealth and power to assert his authority and control over Ana. He goes as far as to buy the company she works for so he can keep tabs on her and control her even more than he already does.
Boaz uses his wealth to help the poor, giving generously to Ruth, even telling his workers to purposefully drop extra grain for her to pick up and harvest so that she'll have more than food to eat.
Christian completely and shamelessly takes advantage of Ana's weaknesses. He exploits her sexual immaturity and uses it to his advantage. When Ana expresses her nervousness about having sex, Mr. Grey lets her know that he intends to "rip through" her virginity and that he wants her to be sore afterwards. When the deed is done, he becomes even more possessive than he was before their relationship began (he had already bugged her phone and found out where she lived at this point) and tells her, "Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I've been here. Only me. You are mine."
Boaz has a slightly different approach. He never pursues Ruth, she offers herself to him and asks him, in a very cultural and kind of odd way, to take her as his wife. Boaz is humbled and honored by her request and tells her that while he'd love nothing more, he was not first in line to take her as his wife. In those times, when a woman's husband died, the closest of kin would then take the widow as his wife. Ruth's husband and his brother both died around the same time, leaving Boaz and another relative as the "kinsman-redeemer". Boaz acknowledged that there was a relative who was closer in blood line to Ruth's late husband and he must first go to that man and receive his blessing to take Ruth as his wife. A man of respect and honor. He tells her, "All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of nobel character. Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I .... if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it."
Christian is verbally controlling and abusive. Here are just a few of his comments to Ana :
“Don’t start with your smart mouth in here, Miss Steele. Or I will f*ck it with you on your knees. Do you understand?”
"Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone-remember?"
"So help me God, Anastasia, if you don't eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant and it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification."
I'll just stop there. Let's look at some Boaz quotes.
"May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."
"The Lord bless you, my daughter. This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier. You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask."
Oh hey. Swoon.
So here we have two men, safe to say they're equal in stature and wealth and social standing. Both men have a younger, more vulnerable woman interested in them, and they have two totally different reactions to the situation. So when I read all these articles online from all these women saying Christian is the perfect man and they wish their husbands/boyfriends/sex partners were more like him, I'm just baffled. Because he sounds like a big abusive jerk. To say the least.
I'll take Boaz over Christian any day because I deserve more than that. Every woman deserves a man who respects her, honors her, and cherishes her. We don't know much about Boaz outside of the few chapters in the book of Ruth, but we know that he was a man of honor, that he didn't take advantage of a meager widow, and that he honored and respected the traditions and laws of his culture.
When did our standard become so depressingly low that Christian Grey would be an arousing fictional male character? Is it because he was abused as a child and that abuse is the driving force for his disgusting and repulsive behavior? Do we pity him? Do we want to be the woman that breaks the abusive cycle and teaches him to truly love? Is that really appealing to women? To be abused for the sake of true love?
In high school, I hopped around from guy to guy. Nothing serious. Never anything that I would ever deem a "relationship", but two specific guys stand out. I actually "dated" them (if that's what you want to call it) at the same time and kept it a secret from them both. Neither one of them had a car, one of them was jobless, and both of them were verbally abusive. It was like a drug to me. I took it as a challenge. I loved the emotional vulnerability I experienced when they called me names, when they got mad because I wouldn't have sex with them, and even when one of them threatened to rape me if I didn't consent to having sex with him, I didn't break it off. I loved the attention. It was addicting. Until it wasn't. Until I was actually afraid that the one who had threatened me would actually follow through and I had to rush from his house in a panic while he was in the bathroom. (I've never seen or talked to him since.)
So when I hopped from those destructive relationships to my first serious, long term relationship, you can understand that my standards were kind of low. During the relationship, I didn't notice the emotional hold the guy had on me, or how his words manipulated and controlled me, but looking back on those years of my life now, I'm repulsed. Not just at him, but at my response to the stupid and offensive things he would say. His cruelty (whether intentional or not, I'm still not sure.) is what kept me attached to him. I wanted to try harder, to be better, to be prettier, to be somebody worthy of him. I never once asked myself, "Is he worthy of me?" Eventually I broke up with him, but the damage was done.
But then I met my Boaz. My well respected and honorable man. I was weak. So weak. I was vulnerable and afraid and considerably messed up. He saw it, acknowledged it, and gave me my space. As much as I wanted to jump into a relationship with him, he took a step back, and let God work in our lives separately, before we even tried to walk together as a unit. He didn't try to fix me. He prayed for me. He didn't take advantage of my neediness, he turned away from it and pointed me towards the Cross. He drew lines and established boundaries and while it drove me crazy at times, it set our relationship up for success. He respected me. He respected my past. He respected my fragile heart. He was strong and assertive and sexy, but he never used his obvious power against me. If anything, the idea that he could control me based purely on my fragility and weakness turned him away and made him become more intentional about helping me focus on things other than him. On positive things like friendship with other people, on my schoolwork, on my relationship with Christ, on my prayer life, on my ministries, on my calling. I married my Boaz. He earned my love and I earned his. And by the way he treated me, honored me, and respected me, he proved himself to my family and in turn, earned their respect and honor as well. (I'm pretty sure they prefer him over me these days.)
It breaks my heart that so many women find the persona of Christian Grey appealing. It's heartbreaking and tells me that there is clearly something deeply wrong with what our society deems a loving and respectable relationship. Christian Greys are a dime a dozen, but a Boaz? He's worth waiting for. He's worth so much more than you can ever imagine.
And you, young woman reading this, are worthy of him.