50 Shades Of Dignity


You’ve probably heard about the New York Times best-seller 50 Shades of Grey. It’s absolutely unreal that a story about the abuse of a woman has become sought-after entertainment. I haven’t read it, won’t read it, and actually never planned to write about it, but the popularity surrounding this trilogy and the trend toward books such as this one presents an open door to talk about a much more important issue, the dignity of women and the beautiful gifts they bring to relationships and the society. Allow me to illustrate with a brief story:

When my oldest daughter was baptized, the officiating priest, Father John, imparted his wisdom to us in a sermon before the baptism took place. He was holding my baby girl in his arms and he announced that she was a princess. Not a princess in the prissy, selfish sense, but she was a princess because she was a daughter of the King, Christ the King. He said, “It is her parents’ responsibility now to raise her in the Catholic faith and instill in her the recognition and understanding of her inherent nobility, received through the sacrament of baptism. Never let her forget that she is a daughter of the King.”

I have done my best so far to instill this in both my daughters, and I would like to pass Father John’s wonderful words on to you, as well.

All women should recognize themselves as daughters of the King and this is my primary issue with modern fiction written for bored housewives and business women alike. Stories like these steal the ideas of nobility and honor and replace them with the thoughts that we’re no better than animals. That happiness is all about how deviant you can be instead of how grace-filled you can be. They undermine the truth that people in general and women in particular have dignity and self-worth that are gifts and meant to be used for great things.

As God’s creations, we are all precious and beautiful in His eyes and we should live our lives using the gifts He gave us. For this reason, I wish the world would wake up from this erotic delusion. People need to recognize their beauty, strength and dignity that are all God-given gifts.

If They Knew The Gift of God!

In Blessed John Paul ll’s Mulieris dignitatem, he wrote:

“If you knew the gift of God” (Jn 4:10), Jesus says to the Samaritan woman during one of those remarkable conversations which show his great esteem for the dignity of women and for the vocation which enables them to share in his messianic mission.

The present reflections . . . have sought to recognize, within the “gift of God”, what he, as Creator and Redeemer, entrusts to women, to every woman. In the Spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a “sincere gift of self” to others, thereby finding themselves (Mulieris dignitatem, Pt. IX, #31).

The dignity of women and for that matter, of every human person needs to be upheld and recognized for the great gift that it is.

As I watch women of all ages flocking to stores and libraries to get their hands on a copy, knowing that they will pass down these attitudes to their daughters, I wonder what kind of girls will be making friends with my daughters? What kind of girls will be out there when my son begins dating?

We Christians have a tremendous task in front of us – to live according to our faith in a society that wants to take that away. So, fight the good fight and let the world witness in your personal life and your dating relationships what it means to have dignity and honor.

So, instead of 50 shades of grey, let’s separate the light from the dark and live our lives in the light of Christ.

Feel free to send your questions and comments to asklisa@catholicmatch.com and follow me on Twitter @lisaduffy.



  1. Alejandro-159799 August 8, 2015 Reply

    50 shades of gray is just porn for married women.
    It is filthy and it is unbelievable the amount of young women that read this kind of stuff.
    I hope priests would denounce this kind of garbage more firmly. This filth is destroying women’s hearts and souls.
    Maybe we think that we are passed the era when filthy book were burned at the stake, but at least in that times people knew what they could read and what they couldn’t read.

    Nowadays, everyone is scared to denounce evil, and what do we have? atheism, witchcraft, pornography, new age being as normal and common as a sunny day.

  2. Rachel-1164616 February 1, 2015 Reply

    Thank you!!!!

  3. Esther-532964 April 21, 2013 Reply

    The priest mentioned it in a sermon one sunday. He basically said, it wasn’t a good idea to read those kind of books. Catholic women don’t need to read those books. Marriage between a man and a woman is holy, and both should be treated with respect and love. Stay holy people in a holy marriage with blessings.

  4. Meesch-691047 January 31, 2013 Reply

    Where can I read “50 shades of dignity?”

  5. Caterina-828390 August 29, 2012 Reply

    Well put! I think our society would be much different if we had more people that had God in their lives. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Cathleen-888944 August 25, 2012 Reply

    Jose, what sort of literature would you publish? Make me want to read yor lit. I agree that. Lots of crap isublished for the mindless. But?

    • Jose L.-792917 August 31, 2012 Reply

      Dear Cathleen:

      I like your question and think it is a good one. It has made me reflect and re-awakened my fire and passion for integrating the best of religion/spirituality, social justice, and the arts/creativity.

      I would publish literature along the lines of the literature classics. During a recent 30 Day Silent Ignatian Spiritual Exercise Retreat, I was able to re-aquaint and/or meet these amazing religious/spiritual writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Leo Tolstoy, David Henry Thoreau, Percy Walker, and others. These were writers who were not only conscious and aware of their religious/spiritual tradition and also, consciously weaved the best of religious/spiritual values into their work!

      I also read contemporary books primarily on spirituality, psychology, masculine spirituality, self-help, etc. Currently, I am reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed about a woman who is seeking meaning, purpose, and healing by going on an eleven hundred mile trek on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT). Though “Wild” is not overtly religious/spiritual, thus far, it is infused with deeply religious/spiritual values, i.e. hope, redemption, love, etc. It is like a contemporary version of story of the Prodigal Son except the central character is a female or woman.

      When I sit down and read these material, I feel peace, joy, and love. The same is with a good movie and/or artistic creation. I saw “The Campaign” starring Will Ferrell a couple of days ago, and I did not feel joy, peace, hope, and love, in fact, quite the contrary particularly with the sexual scenes and nude references. “Oh my God,” I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here watching this.” I took the day off and wanted to watch a good, clean, safe, and funny movie. I thought this was it and I was wrong.

      Presently, I am focusing on writing fiction and short stories. Within the past five years, I have written and published a couple of articles in the weekly publications and/or newsletters of non-profit religious institutions. For example, I wrote an article entitled, “Why I Chose Jail” about my experience in preparing and getting arrested at a non-violent, civil disobedience protest outside a Hyatt Hotel here in Los Angeles. I’ll be glad to email you a copy.

      Last year, I also wrote two articles for The Tidings, the local weekly news publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Here is a link to one of my articles: http://www.the-tidings.com/index.php/news/newslocal/2387-archbishop-protecting-religious-liberty-is-focus-of-fortnight

      Again, thank you for your question. Hope you’re well.



  7. Jose L.-792917 August 25, 2012 Reply

    I recently took a creative writing course earlier in the year and this book or trilogy came up. We discussed it within the context of the publishing world and what possibilities we have as writers to get our material to the world. The publishing business has changed dramatically to the point it is dominated by corporations who prefer profits over people.
    As a writer, it is very difficult to get published. It’s almost like playing and winning a mega-buck lottery…unless you get to the point of “selling your sell to the devil.”
    50 Shades of Grey, per my understanding, is porn and/or soft porn.
    And let’s be honest: sex sells.
    Madison Avenue and the advertisers knows this which is why they spend millions upon millions of dollars on research & development.
    Look at the ton of magazines on display next time you pass one. Most of the covers, topics, and articles are about egoic, narcissistic, selfish things/people.
    Or even our movies and tv shows. There is an occasional good film/movie and most are spectacle, explosions, killing, violence, sex, bloodshed, etc. The average television show is geared toward the 11 year old mind. Did you know this?
    50 Shades of Grey sells. We live in a sick society otherwise, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  8. Sheryl-887981 August 24, 2012 Reply

    I have read all three books. It is a story of an abused little boy that was adopted and then abused as a teenager by his adopted mother’s friend. The books contain strong sexual content but it’s really about a man that learns to love a woman and overcome what was done to him as a boy. The triology is not for everone to read, you have to make that decision for your self. if you choose to read it as I did you might take something from it different that I took from it. The only part that I didn’t really like about the three books is the last book, when the characters had children, somethings that the author wrote disturbed me a little. I have to say that it was a good fictional story.

  9. Cathleen-888944 August 23, 2012 Reply

    I have read all three books. The sad part about condemning them is that they are really about love after all hope is lost. She falls in love and he is rescued from a life of emptiness. The kinky stuff is entertaining but not the main plot. It’s a joke to think these soap opera novels have a real impact on our adult lives. Maybe restrict them from young people. But then again I read the story of O. In high school. Much more graphic. How can we adequately educate young people on love, sex, romance, commitment? All the things we want and can’t conquere as adults? God help us!!

  10. Nilda-834707 August 22, 2012 Reply

    Great article Lisa. I think it was providential that I came across your article. I was just recently lured by a book via history and my ethnic heritage to buy a book called Conquistadora. Well, the book was good in the fact that it was rich in culture, history of the island I was born. However, nowhere on the cover of the book did it give an inkling that the main character practiced lesbianism at the age of 12 or that the two men — also key characters in the book (the 2 men are twin brothers) had a homosexual relationship! Buyer beware! I should have first researched the author/book. The name of the author is Esmeralda Santiago.

  11. Sherrill-anne-13557 August 22, 2012 Reply

    Our dignity as humans is something we don’t seem to pay attention to.Songs,movies,tv shows.the lifestyle of the rich and famous often clouds this over.We as Christians have to look critically at what the world dishes out at us and see if it lines up with God’s way.WWJD?Would Jesus say these words or act this way?He’s our guide.It may be difficult of time however, I hope he gives us and our families the grace to do so.

  12. Richard-143340 August 22, 2012 Reply

    The girls at work have copies they brought in. I thumbed through one. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…They thought so too.

  13. Carolyn-882868 August 22, 2012 Reply

    I read the book and the girl was not forced to do anything that she didn’t want to do. She ended the relationship because he was unable to truly love a partner. What goes on behind closed doors is not unGodly between to people that love each other.

  14. Darlene-449249 August 21, 2012 Reply

    I completely agree with Amethyst. It should not be on the shelves with free access for anyone – especially impressionable and curious teens, and I think most people have heard enough about the books to know that they are not anything that God would smile upon. It seems like everyone I work with is reading the series and I have definitely heard about the story line. I don’t think these people realize the damage they are doing to themselves by reading something that does just the opposite of feeding their soul.

  15. Amethyst-888903 August 21, 2012 Reply

    Well said! My sister read all 3 of those books in one week. She couldn’t wait to get each new book in that series. I had no desire to read it myslef, but the little bit she told me about it shocked me! I think what bothered me the most is that, any time I’ve seen these books in the store, they are NEVER sealed! I feel like material like this should, at the very least, be shrink wrapped or something (like adult magazines). Anyone can go into a store and sit down and read its contents; yes, this includes very impressionable children and teenagers! Iam so disappointed in pop culture these days. The extremes people have to go to to fit in blows my mind…..

    I agree with Philip’s statement that unless we’ve read something ourselves, our opinion can not be taken very seriously; to a point. I think that in this case, just the fact that it is explicit enough to have made the news for no other reason but to talk about how explicit it was, one does not have to read it to get an accurate idea of what it’s about. In my case, my sister filled me in on more than enough details (going so far as to read bits and pieces to me) for me to feel I’ve made an acurate analysis; and from what she told me, it was even more racey then the news could’ve reported!

  16. Philip-735366 August 21, 2012 Reply

    I think it’s good to have a thoughtful opinion about something but one cannot really do that unless one has read the book for oneself. It could be that the book is trash and morally degenerative, but in order to condemn and judge it we need to have first read it. Otherwise we risk basing our opinions on ignorance and hearsay.

  17. Stephen-725391 August 21, 2012 Reply

    I haven’t heard it being CONDEMNED from the pulpit – Is the Archdiocese of Seattle and Archbishop Sartain, who has been charged with overseeing the Nuns in this country, is AWOL on the issue! I wonder WHY?

  18. Tessa-694373 August 20, 2012 Reply

    I agree…this definitely not a book that a women with high self esteem, confidence and has self respect would even be interested in reading…real, professional, and successful business women don’t waste their time on such trash…

    • Michael-842873 August 22, 2012 Reply

      Garbage in, garbage out. It makes me wonder what kind of person delights in other’s suffering. Probably other suffering people. That is hard to deal with. We tend to want to judge them. I do not want to be around these people, but I am commanded to “love my enemies”. Sometimes we just have to let it be ( Beatles).

  19. Tara-539245 August 20, 2012 Reply

    AMEN! As an educator who likes to read, I’m often asked about this book. In fact, two relatives of mine who are very involved in the Catholic church have been reading this together. They have a teenage daughter, and I made it clear to her that I felt the book was inappropriate. Even my chiropractor said that when he sees patients reading it, he thinks, You freak!

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