A Call for Purity, Not “Christian Fiction Porn”

I recently read a well-written Christian novel that had many positives: nice pacing, a clear Gospel message, concision and clarity, humorous and pithy descriptions, not-hokey dialogue, and Scripture was handled with respect.

It was a good book, except for the negative: a mature theme.

By mature, I mean too much of the “S” word and theme, even though I felt that this author didn’t make “it” Too explicit or titillating. But even Christianified, I don’t think I’d want my single teenage daughter to read this book. I want to keep my girl innocent and pure in her thoughts for as long as possible, and too much thought about “doing it” (especially in the degrading or abusive kinds of relationships sometimes depicted) isn’t going to help feed the right affections for her in her reading choices.

So when I mentioned that [above thought about not wanting my innocent teen daughter to read it] to my husband, trying to think through how I should feel about Christian fiction “going there” as often as it does, he said, “So why would you read it?”

Isn’t that a great question? It’s one I want to ask other Christian ladies. That’s one of those questions that already has the answer obviously inside it. Like the apostle Paul’s questions on the subject of fornication in 1 Corinthians 6:

What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? … Flee fornication…. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

The answers are obvious. He’s not asking if they knew or not, and if not, here, let me give you some information. He’s saying, “Didn’t you know? Isn’t this obvious?” Same thing with my husband’s question.

Why would I read it (meaning, Christian fiction novels with a theme or conflict portraying immorality)? Is the message of the book anywhere near helpful enough to my spiritual life that it would be able to overcome the images in my mind placed there by the before-she-was-a-Christian parts of the story?

Many Christian authors have explored the Rahabs and Tamars and Women of the Well types of the world. I’m trying to think what audience they’re reaching with these kinds of stories. It seems a stretch to imagine that many of these books, although excellently written, will help to convert a girl like their main characters, although that would be neat if it happened. I would imagine that if Main Character So-and-So truly exists in our world today, and if she read this book, she’d quit reading it about as soon as the “preaching” started. And if she’s already converted, she might not want to read reminders about a girl so uncomfortably close to her old life. So then I deduce that the audience for most of these books must be us—you and me—the typical “good” church kids who grew up trained to be “different” from the time we were in diapers.

If most of us Christian women have been saved by God’s grace from experiencing in real life some of the sinful muck depicted in books like Redeeming Love and numerous other similar Christian fiction novels, why would we want to lose whatever innocence we have retained from our pure lifestyles by reading about others’ gritty, clubbing journeys? Here’s an idea: what if Christian authors write so much similar material because their market wants it? Their Christian readers desire to read about s*x.

We know Harlequins and 50 Shades of Grey and such books labeled as  “mommy” or “housewife porn” are unacceptable entertainment choices for Christian women. So what if we simply clean it up and cut the details, but still present the stimulating beginnings of the scenes–and it’ll sell. Make sure the characters are converted by the end and (probably) repent of their immorality, and it’s all good. What a great picture of man’s depravity and God’s grace.

As I’ve asked before, how many “great” pictures of depravity do we need to be thankful for God’s grace? I’m submitting the idea that when we truly understand God’s grace, we will focus our thoughts on pure, lovely, virtuous things, not so much of the “before” scenes. I realize that the “after” conversion stories are more dramatic when there is a stark contrast built between a person’s sinful life and their subsequent new creation in Christ. But really, I think we’re fooling ourselves when we say that’s why we’re reading these novels. How many of us re-read these novels for that moving conversion scene or for that moment during the character’s Bible study when the lightbulb went on?

I think if most of us were honest, there would be little in most of these novels (in which the conflict involves immorality) that is helpful to our spiritual life. In general, the “morsels we savor under our tongues” are the almost-steamy scenes of immorality. Excellent writers implant into our imaginations tastes of a seductive world that we know nothing of, and we eat it up; we revisit it during our down time. We entertain ourselves with it; we tell ourselves we’re just relaxing with a Christian book.

And isn’t it always fornication or adultery that seems exciting. I haven’t read too many authors who try to make married life romantic and inviting. (I suppose Lori Wick tried.) Ladies, let’s be honest with ourselves! When we esteem breaking God’s law as more exciting and stimulating than keeping it, that is idolatry. Something has gained our affections more than that in which God delights.

We feel embarrassed at the thought that our Christian husbands may have seen dirty pictures and on occasion been tempted or given in to the temptation to mentally, sinfully revisit those pictures. But it is NO different for Christian women to use a novel as a means to the same end–lustful thoughts. That’s why I wonder if this is “Christian” mommy porn–if it achieves a similar result, even if not nearly as graphic or explicit as the non-Christian examples. The premise of the Christian books Every Man’s Battle and Every Woman’s Battle agrees with me. Every man’s battle is the eye-gate: pictures that lead to impure thoughts. Every woman’s battle, although perhaps more secretive, also happens to be the eye-gate: story-pictures that lead to impure thoughts.

While one finger can be pointed at Christian fiction authors and publishers for providing just enough immorality to please their market, three fingers are pointed right back at ourselves, the market. I recently watched a documentary on the food industry that encouraged viewers to change prices in the food market by changing their purchasing habits. If Christian fiction customers quit buying novels with themes having to do with adultery or fornication, perhaps we could encourage the market towards more wholesome themes. Maybe new authors wouldn’t feel like they have to include that kind of theme in order to get published.

I’d like to see Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, and the like apply their writing talents in similar manner to Jane Austen. Jane Austen had fantastic plots and incredibly realistic dialogue and conflicts, but immorality was off-stage. It did occur, but it was not detailed, heard of more in a secondhand way that was usually shockingly horrific to the main characters, who were relieved to have avoided the worthless cad who had run off with and ruined some other lady. I believe there are no kisses between lovers in any of her books, yet the attainment of engagement and marriage to an honorable man is the highest, most romantic satisfaction offered.

In other words, I’d like to read more about people like most of us. The average Christian fiction reader is a normal Christian with foibles who has tried to serve God all her life, is averagely-pretty, values purity, and has had some amazing events or trials occur in her personal timeline.

But I guess that wouldn’t make an exciting story, would it?

Flee fornication.


 

Come link up to:

Come link up or read encouraging and thoughtful posts at these blogs

We would love for you to link up any “thoughtful” posts that you have written!
Here are the rules for this linky:

  1. The thoughtful topics for your posts could be related to but not limited to the following topics:
    • homemaking
    • homeschooling
    • devotional or Biblical posts
    • Christian in nature
    • family/marriage
    • inspirational*
  2. Do NOT link up recipes, reviews, giveaways, diy, or crafts
  3. Link up to three posts!
  4. We would love it if you visited a couple other posts and left a comment or shared/pinned the post!
  5. We would love if you followed your hosts on some form of social media, but this is not required. Our hope is that these posts will be encouraging, uplifting, and a source of good reading for you.
  6. If you link up, we would love if you put this button somewhere on your blog (sidebar, post, or party page) or provide a text link so that others can also find these great posts.
Creative K Kids
<div align="center"><a href="http://creativekkids.com" title="Creative K Kids"><img src="http://creativekkids.com/Thoughtful Thursdays 150.jpg" alt="Creative K Kids" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Just click here to link up. It will take you to the link-up page.

 

Advertisements

About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
This entry was posted in Thoughtful Thursday and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Call for Purity, Not “Christian Fiction Porn”

  1. Katie Graham says:

    VERY WELL PUT, AMY! AS ALWAYS! 🙂

  2. scrappyfrog says:

    Well put. This is precisely why I rarely read Christian fiction anymore. The good writers put too many things that I’m not comfortable with in their books, and the less talented writers are boring. A lot of Christian fiction is painful to read because it’s so poorly written. It’s a shame really.

  3. Lynn Boger says:

    Thank you Amy for this excellent call to all of us to examine our personal holiness and what we allow our surroundings and culture to form what is acceptable instead of seeking God’s Truth. Your critique is very well stated and convicting.

  4. Seth Meyers says:

    If Elijah were a lady, he’d sound like you. Great job, Sweetheart.

    I recently heard a debate between Alister McGrath and Christopher Hitchens about the existence of God. Whereas McGrath was a nice man who had read a lot of books, Hitchens was a warrior dedicated full-throttle to atheism’s conquest. Why are Christians so mild when they should be full of courage and clarity?

  5. Joy says:

    I have thought this way for years. Try reading books by Jamie Langston Turner. I have greatly enjoyed each book she has written. I like her writing style as well as her topics http://www.jamielangstonturner.net/index.htm

  6. You wrote this very well. I’ll leave the real writing for you 😉 I read it to Dave as well on our way to the Pastor’s retreat!

  7. Pingback: Thoughtful Thursdays: Week 32, Printable of Proverbs 4:23 - Creative K Kids

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s