Is It OK to Read the Sex Novel 50 Shades of Grey?

I didn’t manage to convince the editors that it would be a legitimate research expense, so I admit I haven’t laid hands on a copy myself! But all the news about this racy bestseller emphasizes that it contains lots and lots of unconventional sex. As you decide about reading it, here are a few things to consider. First, some basics from Church teaching: sexual intimacy is a beautiful gift meant to unite a married couple and help them express their love for one another; it should also be life giving, open to the gift of a child and to a greater sharing of their love with the world. The relationship depicted in 50 Shades of Grey doesn’t live up to this standard.

But it’s fiction, just a harmless escape, right? To the extent that some women have found it to be a tool for communication with their husbands — an angle that has led to the moniker “mommy porn” — it might actually prompt some honest, necessary conversations about sexual intimacy. But the second thing to consider is that putting ideas in your mind is like putting food in your body: it shapes who you are. Just as junk food clogs your arteries, junk ideas clog your moral faculties. They affect what we do and what we believe, sometimes subconsciously. They form our moral imagination, which in turn guides our moral choices. Is 50 Shades of Grey what you want in your moral imagination? You might find better choices for escaping with a great read.

The Busted Halo crew also examined this question in two popular Busted Halo Casts. Listen to them here and here.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.


DONATE NOW