As a Christian, as a person, and as an author, I’m not responsible for your walk with Christ. As far it’s possible for me to do, I am to keep peace with others. If that indicates I must compromise my knowledge of the Lord and the coinciding belief system which results in my actions, then peace is not attainable. True peace comes from the Prince of Peace and even He could not establish a physical peace with those Pharisees and unbelievers who crucified Him. I must also be aware of those who surround me, being cognizant of what they can handle hearing, seeing, and discussing.
While these biblical principles guide our Christian lifestyles, they do not logically apply to fiction writing. No one demands a reader indulge himself in a novel of any sort. This simple factor absolves authors of damaging another Christian’s walk with God. Christians are responsible for what they read, view, discuss, or teach, and the standard with which they conduct their walk is the one on which they will be judged as to how it stacks up with the Word.
We all know other Christians who don’t quite walk their talk, who don’t quite measure up to our standards of how we think Christians should act, speak, or lead their lives. Let’s be honest here: sometimes certain people who claim the title of Christian do not live up to that holy reference, and we’re embarrassed when they make those claims because it reflects negatively on us.
Readers need to take responsibility for their choices. If offensive language, circumstances, individuals, or scenes cause you to react in shock or distaste, put the book down. Burn it if you like. But understand this: what you might deem shocking or distasteful doesn’t even register on another believer’s moral meter. The reason for this is because some readers prefer stories which tackle reality with clear vision, and we all must admit reality can be harsh, vivid, shocking, and lovely.
Dark and light can be acceptable in the same story. What is dark to some is light grey to another. These preferences do not indicate strong or weak walks with our Lord Jesus Christ. They prove that authors have taken different journeys in their lifetimes, experienced the wicked and the sublime, and, for the sake of themselves and others, have been directed to portray the unlovely with the lovely.
If you’re a fan of pristine stories and want your novels “clean and chaste”, God has given you a cadre of authors to fulfill your desires. You have no need to investigate those stories which you feel might somehow threaten your relationship with Christ. Nor do you have any need to “protect” other readers from making their responsible choices. And, while you’re of course entitled to your opinion of a novel, for you to make a public display of your judgment after having decided to complete a novel that offended you, well . . . why did you elect to finish it? To castigate your fellow believer?
Authors answer to God. Both believers and unbelievers will answer to Him. Not to you. The Christian Fiction Police stand guard at the publishers’ doors. They’re called editors subject to each house’s list of restrictive measures for Christian fiction, some far more demanding than others.
Each Christian reader selects the fiction he most wants to read, hoping to find a story that entertains or ministers to his particular expectations from a story. That reader takes personal inventory to validate his spiritual well-being. It seems difficult for some Christians to allow others to be their own judges, to seek the Holy Spirit’s counsel without interference from self-appointed fiction police. Authors do not need to seek permission to write what God has put upon their hearts to create. And readers should not be issuing “tickets” for stories that don’t fit into personal demands for “appropriate” Christian fiction.
Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. Visit her at hopeofglory.typepad.com.