A US megachurch pastor is to 'baptise' a copy of the book Fifty Shades of Grey in response to the expected success of the film starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
Based on the book by EL James, the film features scenes of sexual violence.
Fellowship Church pastor Ed Young, who has just released a book entitled 'Fifty Shades of They' about healthy relationships, will 'baptise' copies of the book this weekend.
He said: "There is a cultural epidemic out there that is wrapped up in complete fantasy. The book Fifty Shades of Grey is a perverted attempt to trap readers and leads them to a misunderstanding of what intimacy and connection are all about. It is a pathetic distortion of a more powerful reality about relationships.
"God is not anti-sex, and he isn't grey when it comes to relationships. I want to wake people up to the reality that God's purpose and plan for their lives is so much greater."
Young said: "By baptising the fantasy of that book and raising to life the reality of God's plan, I want to show people that it comes down to one thing – fantasy vs. reality!"
The book and the film have provoked other reactions from the Christian community. Two authors, Dannah Gresh and Juli Slattery, are offering to trade copies of James' book for one of their own, 'Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman's Heart.' Slattery told Salon.com that while they are not calling for a boycott of the film they would not recommend that anyone went to see it. "We are more concerned that women are asking themselves questions about intimacy, sexuality and seeking an authentic relationship with God," she said.
According to Southern Baptist pastor Jay Dennis, founder of the One Million Men anti-pornography ministry, the film offers no benefit to the Christian life and should be avoided by followers of Christ. Referring to the showing of a trailer during the recent Superbowl final, he told Baptist Press: "The marketing of this movie by mainstream media is leading to the normalization of pornography. Make no mistake, Fifty Shades of Grey is pornography.
"There is absolutely nothing good that could come from exposing your mind to that which will lead to sinful sexual thoughts and temptations. This is not something where you go see the movie for fun or to see what all the rage is about."
The interfaith Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP), composed of Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Jewish representatives, has asked faith leaders to speak against the movie and warn the public of its harm.
"The books and the movie undermine everything that we believe as members of the faith community," it said in a statement signed by 29 leaders. "As members of the faith community we need to inform our constituencies about the destructive message of this movie and to highlight the beauty of God's design for loving relationships between a husband and wife in the covenant of marriage."