What if my worst nightmare came true and a novel I’d written and gotten published inspired my church to excommunicate me – and excommunicate my wife because her sin was implicated by marriage?
This is exactly as terrifying as it sounds, though it happened to someone else. The entire incident made me look at my own writing more closely – as well as the state of the church and the publishing world…far more than I can cover in a simple SLICE OF PIE. So I’ll stick with one bit…
Several years ago, a short story of mine was published in a major children’s magazine and it included some strong language. The character was a high school kid who had no real contact with church. He used the language of the kids in the high school I teach in. Some friends of mine wondered about the use of the language and after I was done being defensive, I had to think about what I as a Christian, planned to do when I wrote about characters who were emphatically NOT. If I’m writing about high school students, do I have them use the language of high school students or do I edit it down?
In VICTORY OF FISTS, a novel I just finished writing, I have my high school characters use all “the words” except one. (I just couldn’t bring myself to have them say it so I’d have to write it.) My daughter, who writes and draws manga in which characters use strong language and commit violent acts, and I have talked about this. Neither one of us is aiming our work at the “Christian” market. In fact, both of us feel called to share the love of Christ with people who are not Christians. “Jesus talk” doesn’t work with them because it’s not a language they understand.
I am NOT bashing the Christian market! I love the work of Jan Karon, Randy Ingermanson, Bill Myers and Frank Peretti. It’s just not the market I’m called to reach. I have made a conscious decision to have my characters speak in ways that non-Christians speak and I make no apology for it. I don’t use strong language myself, but I know Christians who do. I don’t believe using strong language, have characters commit violence, writing about vampires, demons or aliens are SALVATION issues.
Paul is clear on this: “If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake – the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” I Corinthians 10:27-33 (emphasis mine)