Does “50 Shades” Really Matter In Light of Beheaded Christians?

There’s a question swirling inside me: Does 50 Shades of Grey really matter in light of the 21 beheaded Christians? Both stories are circulating in the Christian community, and are both the subjects of Christian bloggers, Christian commentators, and Christian readers. What happened on the beach in Libya to these Christians and what happens in Christian Grey’s “play room” are front and center right now.

21 martyrs for Jesus

So in light of these 21 young men losing their lives, does the “50 Shades” question really matter? Does it really matter if Christians watch it, does it matter if movie theaters run by Christians show it, and does it matter if Christian leaders speak up about it? This is the question I’m wrestling with.

They were Coptic Christians who had gone from Egypt to Libya to find work to support their families. But their names were on “the list,” so one day ISIS terrorists showed up, beat them, bound them, and took them away. And according to the director for Focus on the Family’s Middle East outreach, “in the days and weeks leading up to their deaths, their ISIS captors tortured them and attempted to persuade them to deny Jesus in return for living.”

But none of them did. They refused to deny Christ and were beheaded on that beach. But, says the director, “they died singing songs to Jesus.”

21 martyrs for Jesus

Whenever I hear stories of Christian martyrdom, I wonder if I’d choose the same. Had I been among the 21, would I have honored Christ or would I have denied him? Open Doors says that every month, about 180 Christians are killed for their faith and I’ve heard higher statistics of 300 per month. Whatever the number (and how can we be sure?), the fact is that every month, hundreds of our Christian brothers and sisters are choosing Christ over living.

And so does a movie really matter when people are losing their lives for Christ? Should the time and energy spent by Christian leaders in thinking, researching, writing, and speaking about 50 Shades of Grey be spent on more pressing issues? Should movie theatres run by Christians ask themselves if they should show the movie? And should Christians even worry about watching it?

Perhaps we are making too much of a little thing when we should we making more of bigger things. But then I think back to the 21.

Did they choose Christ just once or did they choose Christ every day?

It seems to me that martyrs aren’t made in the moment when the blade comes down, but rather in the everyday moments when they choose to honor Christ.

These blessed 21 did not wake up one day and decide to become martyrs, but instead woke up every day and decided to honor Christ. That’s what killed them—not the one big decision in a solitary moment, but the thousands of smaller decisions made throughout their days. They didn’t die this past weekend, they died all the days before.

When I read the Apostle Paul, I come across words like, “I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31) and “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Php. 1:21). And when I read Jesus, I read, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). These are daily die-ings to honor Christ.

So I am left with this conviction – every moment is an opportunity to honor Christ, so what seems like the little stuff really does matter.

Chris Heinz is the Founder and CEO of Munyay, which creates coaching tools to help you love your life and work. He's also the Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc. and is an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation, a Certified Professional Life Coach, and a Certified Gallup Strengths Coach. Chris enjoys coaching people, writing, and speaking on the topics of engagement, coaching, and strengths. He blogs often at

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7 thoughts on “Does “50 Shades” Really Matter In Light of Beheaded Christians?

  1. Chris this was the most thoughtful article I have read on these topics…to tackle both together was very powerful…it challenged me to be more intentional about each day…I am going to share this one…well done

  2. Chris, this is a great post. It really made me slow down and think. What came to me is that it’s not an either/or. Which I think is kind of where your post landed in the end because the little/lesser things do matter. I was struck by the thought that some of the people who are speaking out against 50 Shades are facing their moment of truth. They feel a line in the sand and for them it might very well be a complete denial of Christ if they don’t speak out.

    What’s most poignant for me about this article is your observation that martyrs aren’t made in a moment. It’s the day to day decisions we make now that shape our character that then later define the big decisions. I have often said you can’t cram character.

    Thank you for this post and blessings.

  3. Great thoughts, Chris. I would add (and probably, you would too) that in “dying daily,” our response is always love. And maybe our reaction is going after root causes. Choosing not to go to a movie or read a book because its content is contrary to the way of the cross is fine, but if the fruit of our resistance is merely a boycott and a diatribe of condemnation, how have we advanced the kingdom? What if our reaction could be to align with efforts to free girls and women from emotional bondage? To support efforts to teach boys and men what love is and is not? Do we let our hearts break for those who have never known agape? Do we respond with kindness and reason to the world around us? We do have the opportunity to die daily to our own egos and to respond to the world around us with a kindness that is completely foreign to them. I think this is when the small stuff can really matter, not just in our interior life, but in the way we interact with our Father’s world.

  4. Great points, Chris. It’s not either-or. It’s both. I was at a marriage conference last weekend with hundreds of other couples, and the ministry leader and his wife were VERY concerned about the fact that 50 Shades will be introducing what is essentially pornography to a third of the U.S. female population. Given the addictive and destructive nature of porn, and what 50 Shades is really all about (deviant sexuality), it is easy to understand the significant concerns. I thank God for giving the gift of discernment to His children.

  5. Yes, it matters. What we put “in” us is what we become. What we consume, is what we become. Really? You even had to ask that question?

  6. Many times the radical groups are judging not just Christians but the country they call home. They want their entire dominion to be their religion and follow their principles. If people in our country showed more interest in principles as a whole, perhaps this would help the radical groups see beyond their own ideas of right and also their judgements of a country and it’s people as automatically wrong because they may practice a differing religion or set of principles.