(Faith ‘n Fiction Saturdays are hosted by Amy!)
This week’s question asks:
Christian fiction is generally known for being clean and non-offensive, but lately there’s been a lot of chatter about edgy Christian fiction and the need for Christian fiction to be more realistic. Christian fiction has certainly changed and contains a lot more edge than it used to. This makes some readers uncomfortable and I was wondering what your line is? What would push the envelope too far for a Christian fiction novel for you? Language? Sex? Violence? Main characters who never believe in Jesus?
If you came across something that offended you in a Christian fiction book, how would you handle it?
I love “edgy” Christian fiction! I love it that the Christian authors are realizing that people/readers want stuff that more closely resembles real life, rather than some fantasy world where, just because you’re a Christian, everything is now “perfect”. That’s not true.
I don’t mind reading a little bit of language in a Christian book, although I’m very particular on this one. I don’t put up with the harsher words (the “F” word, or anything that takes God’s name in vain) in secular fiction, so I most definitely won’t put up with it in Christian fiction, either. But a**, s***, and hell are okay (I agree with Deborah’s post about this, basically). This isn’t language I use, myself (hence why I wouldn’t type out the full words here. LOL). But, I can put up with reading it. I hear it all the time, from friends, and extended family. It’s just the way most people seem to talk. I guess I’ve kind of become desensitized to that. But, not to the harsher/cruder words, or to people taking God’s name in vain — that still makes me cringe.
As for the intimacies, I think you can show the passion — as Marvin said — without going into full-blown details. I don’t want Harlequin-esque stuff in my Christian books. But I don’t mind when a book shocks me a little… goes further than the “old style” Christian books would. I even think it’d be realistic to show that some teens don’t wait… some mess up, even if they’re Christians. No one is perfect, so it happens. Yep, it happened to me. So I think a realistic portrayal of that, with the lessons learned, would work for a Christian novel. But, that last bit is the important part here — if the character doesn’t feel remorseful for having screwed up, and doesn’t change afterward (if they just keep doing wrong without repentance), then I don’t want it in the book. The point of having that in the book should be to show that Christians are just people, and that they screw up, too. But, that God offers grace and forgiveness to those who realize they’ve disobeyed Him, and need to make things right.
Now, violence is something I don’t like. I don’t normally read books with a lot of violence in them. I suppose some would be okay… but not blood-and-guts gory. There’s definitely a limit here.
And, as for characters that never come to faith in Jesus, that’s okay with me. Real life isn’t tied up so neatly with a big, pretty bow, so I don’t want the books I read to always be that way, either. Sometimes the characters realize their need for Christ’s saving grace, sometimes they don’t. That’s just more realistic. I’ve been working on a book that features a main character who isn’t “into” Christianity. I haven’t decided, yet, whether or not she’ll give her life to the Lord, but I’d be okay with it if she didn’t choose that route… if I left her “undecided” at the end. We’ll see.
Overall, like I said, I like the “edgy” Christian fiction — stuff that portrays real life a little more closely. But, there are still limits to what I want to read in a book that’s labelled “Christian”. As Mimi wrote, we aren’t supposed to be imitators of the world…we’re to be set apart. So, if you’re reading a Christian book, but you can’t tell the difference between it and a secular title, then the author’s gone too far. Yes, it’s great if the author aims to write something that everyone can be comfortable (or, at least mostly comfortable) with reading ((grin))… but you still need to show that there’s a difference between Christianity and worldliness.
Lastly, if I came across something offensive in a Christian book I’ve read, I would mention it –kindly– in my review. Others have a right to know what they’re getting into, so I would say whether the book had too much of something (language, violence, sex) in it. But, I won’t bash the author, the publisher, or anyone else involved.