No Such Thing
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.