For some time I was puzzled by this seeming contradiction, but I’ve recently read some things that might help explain the popularity of such a warped story. It turns out that the book originally began as a sort of X-rated online fan fiction series derived from the Twilight books. While this book and movie are miles removed from Twilight, the parallels in the stories can be seen. Both Twilight and 50 Shades feature central female characters who are the very definition of ordinary. In both very little is actually revealed about the character beyond the fact that she is shy and awkward. In both the central character without even trying attracts the attention of an attractive and powerful man who has a secret. In one the man is a vampire, in the other he is a wealthy man addicted to violent sex
Both of these stories are appealing to millions of women because they speak to a desire that is embedded deep within us. That is the desire to be special, to be chosen. We all feel that longing to have someone single us out as special and to give us unconditional love. That is in all humans, male and female alike. In the end, though I am disgusted by 50 Shades, I find it remarkable that even in such a story there is a message that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been telling us for two thousand years. What we long for, what we need, is for God to choose us, mark us as his special children and love us unconditionally. Nothing on this earth will ever fill that hole, but God has filled it with his grace through Jesus Christ.