Hotel owner Jonathan Denby explained: “Tonight millions of women will be curling up in bed with a good book and you can bet your life it won’t be the Bible. More likely than not it will be Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven’t read the book yet—I’m not in the target audience—but I’m told it’s a ripping good yarn and everyone who’s in the target audience loves it. This made me wonder about the sense of providing a book, the Gideon Bible which no one reads, and many dislike, in the bedside cabinet of our hotel rooms, instead of a book which everyone wants to read.”
He also told NBC News that he’s providing the erotic book for guests who were “a little bit shy about buying it because of its reputation.” He believes that religious books are “wholly inappropriate” for private bedrooms in England’s modern, secular society. However, Denby said in his blog that he’ll still have copies of God’s word around: “I’ll keep a couple behind the reception desk” for guests who request them.
My wife recently wrote a blog post on the popularity of E. L. James’ bestseller—she titled it appropriately, “Fifty shades of sin.” My focus this morning is less on the novel and more on what its popularity says about our culture. There was a day when England was on the leading edge of Christian progress. William Carey, the founder of the Modern Missions Movement, was British. Charles Spurgeon, the greatest Baptist preacher in history, was just one of the “megachurch” pastors in the England of his day. Baptists, Methodists, and Episcopalians all have their roots in British soil.
Today in England, four times as many Muslims go to mosque on Friday as Christians go to church on Sunday. A Muslim is now head of religious programming for the BBC; the previous person in that role was agnostic. Christian adoption agencies are now forbidden from considering sexual orientation when enlisting adoptive parents.
We may think the demise of Christianity in Great Britain can’t happen in America, but we’d be wrong. The number of atheists and agnostics in this country has quadrupled in the last 20 years and now outnumbers Episcopalians two-to-one. The fastest-growing religious demographic in America is the “non-religious.” The vast majority of America’s churches are plateaued or declining.
Has the Western world ever needed a moral and spiritual awakening more than today? Have you prayed for such an awakening yet this morning?