Fifty Shades of Chains

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder of Voices Against the Grain

Bondage. Whips. Trauma. Romance. ??? Fifty Shades of Grey, the 2011 erotic romance novel written by British author E.L. James, criticized for its poorly written prose, sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 52 languages. In a world that pushes limits to constantly satiate the flesh, the book has been repurposed into a movie to release in theaters nationwide this Valentine’s Day weekend. “Fifty Shades of Grey” seeks to thrill audiences with erotica and sexual fantasy without true intimacy.

But there’s no storybook ending here. In society’s crush with the world, they’ll find they’ve cheated themselves out of true love and true intimacy. Long after the characters’ chains are removed, the chains remain for viewers.

While those in relationship with Christ Jesus enjoy the true love and intimacy He provides, our spirits are pricked with an urgency to address the state of emergency that plagues our world and its inhabitants: the persistent satanic agenda at work. A satanic agenda of counterfeit and deception. While Christ Jesus came to bring us true freedom and love, Satan presents counterfeit freedoms that destroy.

Many have been lulled into supporting more worldly freedoms such as fornication, porn cloaked in this satanic agenda—only to be perplexed by the unintended outcomes (destroyed families, broken childhoods, emptiness, objectification, etc.).

Sex is good because God created sex—in the context of a loving, God-ordained marriage between man and woman. Satan seeks to pervert everything good and of God, particularly sex. Our overly sexualized culture has bought into the lies, even justifying it as “entertainment.”

Excellently stated by our friends and ministry partner pureHOPE in their blog post “From Selma to 50 Shades,” about counterfeit schemes, “good” is viewed as “evil” and “evil” is viewed as “good” (Isaiah 5:20). We stand with pureHOPE to pursue a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness.

Voices Against the Grain delivers God’s truth to a spiritually blind, broken, deceived and dying world. We reveal Satan’s counterfeit schemes to help direct audiences to the One whose Word, who through relationship brings true freedom, true love: Jesus Christ. Like this song by Tasha Cobbs, our desire is to “break every chain” and bring restoration through the powerful Name of Jesus.


Authentic freedom (one that does not enslave) is found only in Christ Jesus. No other substitute. This is black and white. The world will always present counterfeit freedoms that operate in “shades of grey,” never delivering full freedom. They entice, offer temporary pleasure, then lead to life-long brokenness, enslavement and spiritual death.

Romans 8:5 tells us that, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Furthermore, Romans 8:2 promises us that “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (New International Version)

Are you truly free—or are you chained by shades of grey?

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating “Voices Against the Grain” is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.


The Real About “The Real”

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Inauthentic:  defined as “not in fact what it is said to be; not authentic; lacking full reality.” This is the real about “The Real.”  “The Real”  is a new Fox/BET daytime talk show hosted by Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley, that aired on September 15, 2014 after a successful trial run in July 2013. The five female show hosts discuss their relationships with their husbands, significant other or the person their dating or sexing that week. They also talk recipes, fashions and everything in between. The makings of a good talk show, right? Seemingly so, as its Facebook page has received more than 126,000 likes.

Relationship advice delivered to studio audience and viewers contained these “jewels:”

  • “If you tap this twice, we going out now (meaning going steady).” – Loni Love
  • Sexy Skype: send “sexy” visuals of yourself to your date, partner
  • ‘Trust and Check’- women who say they “trust” their man but still “check up” on what he is doing, check who he’s been talking to
  •  “Have a condom ready just in case, in nightstand drawer.”- Loni Love (referring to a one-night stand)
Hosts of "The Real" daytime talk show

Hosts of “The Real” daytime talk show

But the “real” about “The Real” and shows like it, is this: We can’t expect anything different from a fallen world. People of this nature will always seek to satisfy fleshly desires by embracing vehicles and “solutions” that support their deviant activities, behaviors or desires. They embrace the counterfeit and the inauthentic as a perceived shortcut to the authentic, to the real. They choose not to pursue the authentic paths because the results of the counterfeit appear more promising with presumed quicker rewards. They’ve prostituted themselves by seeking happiness in things that will never fulfill them.

What’s the difference between being inauthentic and authentic? Inauthentic sees only the utilitarian purposes they can get out of someone (how will they benefit me?). Authentic sees how they can contribute to that person’s life, serve them perhaps also spiritually—even if it means some of their own desires are not met. It takes guts and selflessness to be authentic.

It is imperative that Christians discern the truth amidst the onslaught of the fake, the empty, the counterfeit and the fruitless. Authenticity is found in Jesus Christ—the real real.  In a world that embraces the counterfeit, Christians have been called to disperse salt, light and truth where there is confusion and darkness. This is the purpose of ministry: to boldly, compassionately and lovingly awake those with God’s truth who have comfortably fallen asleep with worldly norms.

This is no easy or popular task. For this reason, the laborers are few, but the work/harvest is plenty.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” –Luke 10:2-3

The world will always celebrate its own (large fan following). Therefore, the message and purpose of Christ confuses today’s wisdom. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.“ (1 Corinthians 1:18-19, New International Version) 

For real talk: Listen to our discussion with campus pastor Bryan A. Sands as we explain  “Why Hookups Are No Hook Up.” 


About Nicole D. Hayes

Nicole D. Hayes is committed to serve as a vessel of compassion, instruction, love and truth for Jesus Christ. Born and raised in Topeka, Kan., she is a member of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C.  Drawn to know Christ in her early childhood and saved at the age of 12, Nicole is a student and applier of God’s Word. She is also a successful public relations professional operating in Washington, D.C., with more than eight years experience of coordinating and delivering strategic communications and media outreach support for nonprofits and small business owners. During her career she has placed several nonprofits and small business owners in national, local and regional media spaces. She operates with a personal and business mantra of “making an investment in people.” Among many things, Nicole is also a motivational speaker. She has been invited to deliver messages to business leaders to not be misguided by the world’s view of success, to direct young people navigating through the world’s challenges, and to remind those who may have lost their way that joyfully, “God Has Not Changed His Mind About You.” Nicole’s purpose in creating “Voices Against the Grain” is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amidst confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

The Reaping of a Corrupt and Deceived Society

Reader: While many Christians love sharing the good and encouraging portions of Christ’s messages, few will boldly step to the line to dispense God’s Word when it challenges popular worldly activities, behaviors, policies or systems. At Voices Against the Grain joined by other unwavering believers, I am pleased to stand with folks who don’t shy away from delivering God’s Word in truth and in love. In doing so, God’s Word is designed to heal the broken, restore what was stolen, make the crooked places straight, free those who are bound, bring life where there is death and stem the tide of corruption. Pleased to share Ana’s message below.  -Nicole


Galatians 6:7-9.  7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (King James Version)

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

We live in a society that consistently sows to the flesh.  I am not here to cast stones but to speak truth.  If we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption, and if you open your eyes corruption is all around us: greed, lust, injustice, etc.  Sexual sin tends to corrupt our country the most, from the porn industry to human trafficking and same-sex marriage being forced upon us. As stated in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.”

Furthermore, abortion is presented as a lifestyle while the reality is that millions of babies have never received the chance to live—and a lifetime of guilt and remorse plague the mothers. According to Planned Parenthood, approximately 3 out of 10 women in the U.S have had an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.  Nearly 80 percent of abortion clinics are specifically placed in minority neighborhoods with African American woman having the highest abortion rate. Since 1973 and the passage of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, more than 55 million “legal” abortions have taken place.

The enemy comes to destroy one’s purposes in their infancy, and too many people have bought into the lies they are being fed.  I am a firm believer in forgiveness through Jesus Christ and that He can restore all that has been lost, but we must repent and turn from our sin.  I encourage you to pray for our Nation and pray for people to wake up and see things for the way they really are; so they may be restored from deception and confusion. We want to preach the love of Christ yet we sometimes forget that when He healed, He also said “go and sin no more” (John 5:14, John 8:11)  We must die to our flesh as stated in (Romans 8:13).  And he said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23 (KJV)


About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative is Georgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.


A Voice in the Wind

Nicole’s Note: Here at “Voices Against the Grain,” we are committed to uplifting the voices of those who are boldly advancing God’s Kingdom in a world whose actions contradict this pursuit. This past February, I was privileged to meet Herbert Bowen, Jr., whose blog post follows below (thank you Shannon Howey for coordinating the conference at which we met).  He is an exemplary young man who has held firmly to Jesus Christ since age 5. At his present age of 23, his relationship with Jesus Christ has helped him overcome many temptations and kept him on the path of “waiting for sex until marriage.” I am proud of him and pleased to share his post for your reading.  He is a great example for our young people of what’s possible with God. Stay tuned, as he’ll have more blog posts to share and will be a featured guest on the  “Voices Against the Grain” radio show this fall. Please read and continue to encourage this young man in his walk with Christ. GO Herbert, and Keep God First!

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Since age 5, I have always been in the church, as my name means “illustrious, intelligent warrior, a soldier in God’s army.” I stood as a member of Upper Merion Baptist Church in my hometown of King of Prussia, Pa., until the age of 18 whereupon I went to college. Even then I rarely missed a Sunday service. My grandmother Abigail taught me from a young age to remember that “only what you do for Christ shall last.” This concept stuck with me as I progressed and matured in my life, as it wasn’t until high school that I saw the constant bombardment of sexual temptation, drugs, and an absolute disregard for morality.

Many of my “so-called” friends deserted me en route to follow their own inhibitions. I understand that the world seeks fulfillment over restraint, I understand the pressure to appease rather than to flee temptation, I understand. For in my younger days I felt the bitter cold of loneliness and the torment of ridicule, due to the fact that I refused to follow the standards of this world. The taunts and abandonment of being called “gay,” due to my then and present virginity at the age of 23, or the lack of warmth when trying to kindle a relationship with someone, was to say the least, discomforting. Therefore, I know the Christian life is paved with trials and tribulations. As even now I undergo persecution. Because in the world we live in, the candlelight is enveloped in the darkness.

However, the more I grew I saw the woebegone periods of my life brighten, as God transformed the ridicule to respect and the slander to being held in high regard. In 1 Peter 1:6, it says, “so be truly glad for there is a wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” Furthermore, the realization said best by my Pastor Loran Livingston, is this “Earth is nothing, but a cheap motel room because you don’t furnish the motel room with pictures, a Tempurpedic bed, and so on. All in all, it doesn’t make sense, so let’s look forward to everlasting joy and building our homes in heaven.” Hence, it’s my opinion that this life is meant to spread the Gospel, not seeking our own personal happiness and gain. Because real investments have eternal returns, so we must lay out a long-term investment plan in order to build a strong spiritual future. Because those who are ill-prepared will look back and wonder where they took the wrong step, as they now toil and struggle to recoup the spiritual currency needed to make ends meet.

Moreover, I am enamored with 1 Timothy 4:14-16, especially v. 16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Persevere.

Persevere in meditation in God’s word every day and every night. The answer to not only hear God, but to be confident in what you’re doing is right. Next, pray without ceasing. We are not strong enough by ourselves. Prayer is our direct link to God. Contrary to popular belief we are not talking to air. He is the reason for the clothes on our backs and shoes on our feet. The reason why you and I are fortunate enough to live in America, where we can go to school every day, congregate in a church, and have friends of different backgrounds without the persecution and fear suffered in other countries.

I have woken up to see what God has done in my life. Because time is of the essence, so I encourage others to seek out a friend, classmate, or enemy, whoever may listen, so they might have opportunity to hear the Good News and duplicate the process, to which has made them secure. And before you know it there shall be many (not seeking their own profit, but the profit of many) (1 Corinthians 10:33) who will offer up their bodies holy and pleasing as a living sacrifice to God.

So may God bless you, you called to be one of the few,

Looking to fulfill his purpose resembling not the hare, but the tortoise,

For to seek Christ is to gain, never turning our back because he bore our pain.

Praise be to God, our Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen.

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5.  An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Solid Structure or Need a Good Carpenter?

Imagine you and your realtor have found your dream home. From the exterior, it’s everything you imagined and more. However, as you open the front door, your stomach sinks. Holes in the walls, sunken floors, pet stains, falling beams, trash piled up for weeks and the smell of something rotting sends you dashing outside for fresh air. What is this foolishness?? The house looked perfect on the outside but is a hot mess on the inside.

beautiful house

Did you know that our bodies are like a house? We have an external and internal structure. But how many of us when meeting someone we consider physically attractive look beyond their features? Will we take time to learn if their outer structure is solid as their internal structure? Is their internal structure sound with integrity throughout? Most people would walk away from the house I described to you, given the interior problems. If caution is warranted before buying a dysfunctional property, how much greater caution should we exercise before engaging in physical relationships with a person whose internal structure (character) we have not inspected, nor meets our standards?

There is one such organization working to ensure teens build solid character foundations and to examine the qualities of others—before entering relationships.

This week, I met with staff members of Miami-based nonprofit, Abstinence Between Strong Teens International, Inc. Founded in 1992, ABSTI’s mission is “to empower young adults to think, leading them to focus on and improve the development of their emotional, mental, spiritual, financial and physical self.”  Since their founding, ABSTI has  empowered more than 200,000 youth and parents to have educated discussions on unintended health outcomes regarding pre-marital sex and the relation of sex to a positive self-image. Without such discussions, teens may engage in destructive behaviors, undermining the value of reserving sex for marriage.  ABSTI prepares teens in God’s design for healthy relationships, marriage and sex (yes, in that order), from a character development perspective.

To assist in this effort, Darryl Auberry, Director of Project Image (an ABSTI initiative) created the “Building My House” curriculum. The curriculum’s creative images and critical-thinking scenarios reiterate the importance of building strong relationships that lead to marriage and explores why saving sex for marriage is beneficial. In the curriculum’s introduction, Auberry notes that having lived a life turned upside down by engaging in promiscuity, leading to emptiness and brokenness, propelled him to “meet a carpenter who changed his life.” Through Jesus changing Auberry’s life, he is now positively impacting the lives of others by equipping them with critical-thinking skills for good decision-making.

ABSTI Project Image Program Director  Darryl Auberry, Youth Development Coordinator Barbara Boliere and CEO Michelle Shirley. (Nicole in peach blouse) Taken at the Baltimore Harbor Cheesecake Factory, May 29, 2013. We avoided the tempting and delicious-looking 1,000 calorie+ cheesecakes!

ABSTI Project Image Program Director Darryl Auberry, Youth Development Coordinator Barbara Boliere and CEO Michelle Shirley. (Nicole in peach blouse) Taken at the Baltimore Harbor Cheesecake Factory, May 29, 2013. We avoided the tempting and delicious-looking 1,000 calorie+ cheesecakes!

Last summer and through this January, I was privileged to work with ABSTI CEO Michelle Shirley and ABSTI Youth Development Coordinator Barbara Boliere to help promote their first annual “Restoring the Image of Purity” walkathon.  We remain encouraged by the participation of young people at the walkathon. So how does this path differ to freedoms offered by the world?

Unlike Jesus who gives us true freedom, the world in many ways offers counterfeit freedoms. Those living worldly will say, “Why can’t I have more? Does God really know what’s best for me or is He just preventing me from enjoying life?” Just the opposite! In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (life more abundantly).”

God designed us as relational beings! He created sex for procreation, our pleasure and to be united in spirit with the right spouse. God’s design expands our freedom. Engaging in sexual activity outside of God’s design, enslaves us to a slippery slope of fleshly desires, giving the enemy license to corrupt other areas of our life. A false freedom found in the beautiful home wrecked on the inside has left us with buyer’s remorse and pursuers of more counterfeit love and freedom because we haven’t pursued the true Source: Jesus.

In our push for greater worldly freedoms, Satan sets the stage for his next counterfeit scheme. We’ve been lulled into supporting more “freedoms” in this do your own thing society, only to find ourselves perplexed by our children’s outcomes because we thought it old-fashioned to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

I am pleased to support the work of Abstinence Between Strong Teens International and like organizations as they equip our young people to build solid character within themselves and seek like qualities in others before engaging in relationships as they become adults.

How solid is your internal structure?  Or the structure of those who you are most intimate? Is character and integrity at the foundation or is a “good carpenter” required to rebuild?