A common dilemma many authors of Christian fiction face is whether to write about hardships and situations as realistically as possible, or write an ultra-clean read void of the grit of tough subjects. While I feel there is room in the Christian fiction market for both sides of the spectrum, for some reason books that are more realistically written and portray the world as it is are often claimed to be less clean than others and not fit for the Christian market. Today, I’d like to share why I prefer to write realistic Christian fiction, and argue for the positive impact it has in Christian media.
Public School Students Need Relatable Christian Influences
I realize a vast portion of Christian fiction readers includes conservative homeschooled Christians, but there are also Christians who attend public school who have the potential to face racy circumstances on a daily basis. I attended public school from Kindergarten to 12th grade, and can attest that kids (even coming from a sheltered, Christian family like my own) are bombarded with all kinds of different viewpoints at school, good and bad. I write realistic Christian fiction to help public school students like my younger self navigate the trials and tribulations public school place in their lives.
The War on Christian Morality in the Public School Setting
As mentioned in my post Why I Write YA Romance, Christians who attend public school need more examples of how a dating relationship can honor God without fear of crossing the line physically or being terrified of even holding hands without being reprimanded. Even as young as elementary and middle school, public school students are exposed to misleading information concerning dating and sex from their classmates.
I often heard vulgar things in middle and high school that, coming from a sheltered home, I did not understand were immoral until I asked my parents about it later. Even some sheltered Christian kids, however, may be persuaded to think that the use of vulgar language, sleeping around, and the use of drugs and alcohol are fine because their friends are doing it, especially if they want to be considered cool.
The first time I ever heard the F-word was in 7th grade… by a student. Recently, I heard of a middle schooler selling drugs in my county. Many of my classmates’ parents were divorced or had affairs during our time in school. I even overheard gossip that a teacher was asking inappropriate questions about students online. I witnessed bullying and was bullied myself.
Christians Have Turned a Blind Eye for Too Long
As Christians, we can either sweep all that under the rug and pretend that these issues don’t exist because they’re too “dirty” to deal with, or we can put on the armor of God and tackle them.
My main problem with “sweeping these issues under the rug” is that if all these issues are ignored, students who need guidance are going to trip over that big lump in the rug and fall flat on their faces.
Yes, Christian parents should be teaching their children biblically sound morals, but do children (especially those who are willing to do anything to fit in) always obey their parents? They should, but it’s not always a guarantee.
That’s why I feel a strong need to write books that portray the negative consequences sin can reap on young people and adults alike. Kids don’t always listen to their parents, but maybe if they discover a book that realistically portrays a situation they’re experiencing, it will show them there is a way to deal with the situation that is pleasing to God.
I don’t want it on my conscience that I saw a need and didn’t write a book that dealt with it just because some Christians think its too taboo to be discussed in Christian literature. Kids don’t need to be totally sheltered from the world; they need to be well-equipped to combat the enemy’s influence by knowing what kind of negative impact the enemy can have.
The Need to Write about God Showing Grace and Mercy for Past Mistakes
*Sips coffee* I am a HUGE proponent for portraying how people can overcome sin from the past and become renewed by the grace and mercy of God. When realistic difficult circumstances are considered taboo or dirty in Christian fiction, it increases the chances of readers who have gone through those situations believing that 1) Christians are judgmental, Bible-thumping legalists who don’t understand the overall message of the gospel themselves, or 2) That they themselves are too far gone to be saved if their past is allegedly “too dirty to be Christian”.
Let me remind everyone that Jesus himself went in the trenches and witnessed to those vile sinners, the ones whose situations are often too “uncomfortable” to dissect in Christian fiction. I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t want to be a modern-day Pharisee who sits and nitpicks everything my brothers and sisters in Christ do and judge whether they’re godly enough based on legalistic standards. Instead, I want to mirror Jesus, to portray the love and mercy of God through my writing and show readers that their past sins can be washed away and their spirit can be renewed if they accept Jesus’s gift of salvation.
Keep In Mind:
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”
The Overall Point
Christian fiction comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, much like the authors who write the books. Christian fiction can either be squeaky clean or not afraid to get readers’ hands dirty by diving in to tough topics. As long as the writing itself is not blaspheming God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, and is promoting the true gospel of Jesus Christ, I wholeheartedly believe it qualifies as Christian fiction. When I started writing Christian fiction, a guidelines sheet didn’t fall from the sky and tell me what is and is not acceptable for a book that features Christian characters. Instead, I truly believe that God calls us all individually to write what He puts on our hearts.
That “filthy” book you may think isn’t worthy to be labelled Christian fiction may lead a reader who related to that book to accept Jesus as their Savior. Never forget that.
That’s it for today, Arrowheads! I hope you enjoyed this post, and remember to never be ashamed of what God calls you to write. He will use you to make a difference in someone’s life.