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No Such Thing

May 30, 2014

I’ve been doing an off and on survey of Christian fiction for over a year now.  I’ve gone through literally hundreds of Christian books thanks to my local library.  I don’t actually read every word in every one, just read enough to get the idea of what they are saying/preaching.  It doesn’t bother me, well not too much anyway, that there is a fair bit of preaching in the stories as I am just trying to get the sense of them.

I’ve discovered that in the world according to the Christian publishing industry a few rules apply.  They make it clear that there is no such thing as:

–          Pastors who are spiritually abusive or controlling.

–          Christian husbands who are abusive to their wives.  There are some non-Christian men like that but they always manage to either repent or die (never divorce) before the story ends.

–          Christian couples where one or the other, let alone both, don’t want children, or more children.  Well, there are some but they always repent of it before the story ends.

–          Youth leaders who are sexual predators.

–          Good Christian couples who divorce or even struggle with compatibility issues.

–          Christian wives who want to pursue careers outside the home.

–          Christian women who don’t yearn for their husbands to be spiritual leaders in the house.  Again, there might be a few but they eventually realize that lack of yearning was fear-based and get over it.

–           Christian husbands (or wives of course) who struggle with pornography or infidelity.

–          Older long-term Christian men and women who are just as clueless about what living the Christian life looks like as their younger friends in the faith.

–          Petty doctrinal disputes that tear churches apart.

–          Single Christians who struggle with issues of sexual purity.

–          Christians who struggle with depression or other emotional issues who don’t get over it by “giving it to God.”

–          Any gay people at all.  None.

I don’t know about you but that is not the world I live in.  I can’t help but think that there is a template out there somewhere that serves as a grid for what “good Christians” have to look like.  I also have a suspicion that there are watchdogs and monitors keeping their eyes on the publishers, ready to cry “Boycott!” any time such issues might be mentioned.

Am I the only one who worries that these idealized portraits of what our faith looks like drift over into our church teaching?  Am I the only one who wonders if the “good Christian” template, spoken or implied, causes many fine believers to doubt their faith or even hide their struggles?

While the Bible sometimes is silent about current cultural issues it does a great job of giving a “warts and all” picture of believers in that day.  It pulls no punches with the weaknesses of David, Job, Peter, Paul and others while still making it clear that they are committed people of God.  I have to wonder if the Bible, if submitted today, would pass muster with Christian publishers and watchdogs.


From → Christianity

  1. I find your list really interesting; haven’t read enough Christian fiction to test it all out, but I believe your conclusions are accurate. I could add that for children there’s no violence anymore. David knocks Goliath down and thus wins the day. Gideon chases the Midianites away. (Or Whoever (the hero) chasing Whichever Enemy away.)

    I believe some of what you are seeing goes back to what a Christan is or is not. Real Christians struggle with temptation — purity, marital infidelity, greed or whatever. But there’s a point where sin brings forth (spiritual) death, as Jesus said: “Sin when it has conceived brings forth death.”

    For the person who has been born again, the Holy Spirit is constantly leading him/her away from these sins and/or urging repentance; it takes a steady resistance to His voice to fall right into them.

    A Christian may struggle with temptation, but an actual act of adultery, fornication, drunkenness, physical abuse –even “railing” on someone (extreme verbal abuse), etc, is a death sin. So there comes a point where you can no longer say “A Christian struggling with infidelity” or “Christians who abuse their spouses.”

    The Apostles write to the Church about death sins where the fallen must be excommunicated from the Church. It’s a disgrace/reproach to the body of Christ to have an adulterer, wife-beater, child abuser or any spiritually dead person as a member. It gives the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme, as God told David. The world mocks Christianity for the sins they see in its adherents.

    The world we live in deals with these things, but that is the world. The church is called to be holy and there are steps given in the Word to maintain her purity and also make the sinner realize they’ve crossed the line; this isn’t tolerable or covered by grace anymore. It must be repented of.

    The problem is, it takes awhile sometimes for people to really catch on, as in the case of a sexual predator because they are so deceitful. I don’t think it hurts to open up some of these issues you’ve mentioned, if it can be handled in a way that leads to trust in God and not just fearful, suspicious members or blaming the church as a whole.

    As for older Christians who have no clue about what Christian life looks like, this is like a tree planted and it has never grown; just stays the same size for years. Something has gone very wrong. Where is the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives?

    Those are my thoughts, for what they are worth. 🙂

    • Your thoughts are quite good actually! I like the comparison of older Christians to trees that aren’t growing, well, maybe it stings a little but I get your point. 🙂 Someone once told me that matters of faith are the only subject that we are proud of not growing and learning; that we consider it a badge of honor to have a belief system at 68 that is exactly the same as it was when we were 8. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Billy McMahon permalink

    Sounds to me like xian fiction is perpetuating a truly fictitious world!

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