February 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic bishops and feminist activists disagree on virtually everything, but an unusual coalition has united on one theme: “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a slickly packaged, glamorized tale of sexual degradation that mainstreams violence against women. The bondage, domination, sadism and masochism-celebrating film “Fifty Shades of Grey” is drawing unlikely contingents to the same side.
“It certainly is not helpful to battered women who have been through similar experiences depicted and glorified in a certain way in this movie,” El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz said in an ArizonaCentral.com report. “It's not something we should consider entertainment.”
The bishop’s words were echoed by a Madison, Wisconsin, feminist activist who planned a protest of the movie there.
“I think most feminists agree that this movie is harmful to women who have experienced sexual abuse in their relationships and harmful to women in general,” said Thistle Pettersen, according to a report by The Daily Caller.
“It’s Valentine’s Day, and violence against women is not sexy. It’s not loving. It’s not romantic, and so I feel like we need to speak out against that,” she said.
Reaction continues to the controversial film which debuted last weekend to poor reviews and big box office returns. A LifeSiteNews petition has surpassed 100,000 signatures on Valentine's Day and continues to gather signatories.
Given the money raked in by the film so far, “a staggering $94.4 million” over four days, according to Variety, feminists and faith leaders are also in the same boat with their message of upholding the dignity of women unfortunately appearing to fall on a lot of deaf ears.
Still Bishop Seitz was forthright in his identification of the reality that comes with the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon.
“To be a consumer of pornography is to participate in it,” said Bishop Seitz. “And that's a sin.”
“It's not helpful to building the human spirit,” he said. “For people of faith I want to point out it's something God has made very clear is not acceptable behavior.”
Feminists and men of the cloth may or may not have a lot to agree on, but apparently keeping abuse out of sexual relationships is a likely intersection, and it’s been brought to light by the “Fifty Shades of Grey” spectacle.
“Feminists are not prudes,” Pettersen said. “And it’s not that feminists are anti-sex. They’re just anti-violence being part of sex.”
In addition speaking out in the media, Bishop Seitz took on the film in his own column as well, saying that pornography perverts the true purpose of sexual expression, which by its nature as a gift from God, is the highest physical expression of human love, unconditional and lifelong.
The true nature of this gift is to allow a person to give himself or herself for the sake of the other, Bishop Seitz said, and with pornography, as with other misuses of this gift, the end becomes not self-giving, but self-gratification.
He clarified what is an often-misinterpreted aspect of Catholic Church teaching, that sexual relations exist only for procreation.
“This is not in any way to say that sexual expression is not intended by God to be enjoyed,” said Bishop Seitz. “But it is to realize that the greatest joy comes in the act of self-giving, not in self-seeking.”
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops is providing an encouraging replacement option for “Fifty Shades of Grey” which has been dubbed “50 Hues of Holiness”. It gives 50 Scripture quotations or references to material from the USCCB about marriage and love.
Bishop Seitz steered away from calling on people to boycott the movie, feeling that would become an incentive to go see it. But he spoke frankly about sin and the implications of consuming pornography by seeing “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
“To sin is to deliberately go against God’s plan and His will for us – to expose ourselves to something that denigrates sexuality and glorifies the abuse of this gift,” he said.
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“All sins appear good and even pleasant from the outside or people would not choose to commit them,” said Bishop Seitz. “It is sad to see pornography mainstreamed to a new level in our society and women, who through the centuries have been the victims of men’s use as sexual objects, now glorifying the abuse.”