Monday, January 24, 2011

How Far is Too Far in Edgy Christian Fiction

How far do you consider too far when you read edgy Christian fiction?

Foul language appropriate for the character does not offend me but I know some readers are offended by any off-color language. What about you? If you are reading and a character, a hardened retired marine, were to say a curse word, would that offend you?

What about sex? Would it offend you if two unmarried characters had a discussion about sex? What about a married couple who were quite fond of each other and couldn't keep their hands off of each other?

I've read that Christian fiction is too unrealistic. Some people consider it "plastic" because they feel it doesn't reflect real life. What is the balance between real life and remaining chaste in our writing?


Yoli said...

Interesting thoughts. But when I pick up Christian fiction, I don't want to read curse words or read explicit sex or conversations about sex in detail. Christian fiction should not look like regular fiction. Yes, Christians are real people but there should be a distinct difference in how we act.

Anonymous said...

I am not that offended by it, but then I have a mouth that makes sailors blush! However, I try not to use that language, but reading it or hearing it all the time in books, TV, & movies just kind of makes it seem okay. I don't think it's necessary to make a character seem real. I believed John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn without the F-word being used. I don't mind a "damn" or "hell", but the rest seem too much to me. Just my 2 cents.

Marcy G. Dyer said...

I appreciate your comments. I knew I was stirring up a hornets nest. This has been something debated for a while.

I don't want explicit sex scenes in my secular fiction. One writer that I like to read gets a little too graphic for me so I skip those parts.

I know some who think Christian fiction should be very sanitized to that it doesn't deal with real life situations. I think there are unique ways we as writers can deal with real situations and yet not be secular in our responses.

Anonymous said...

It personally doesn't bother me so much...I've faced the same question as an actress, and most of the time I refused to curse or be in certain situations onstage. Other times, it was so central to the character that it couldn't be omitted.
That being said, I do like the idea of getting creative in making the characters and plots real while not being overtly sexual or cursing. I do find it odd that no one has a problem with two characters discussing alcoholism or drug use...why is sex any worse? I think it can be done in such a way that would be realistic.
Also, if the author is going for uber-realism, maybe write it but have a disclaimer that it's not for young readers?

Marcy G. Dyer said...

You have some very good points. I don't care to read grafic sexual scenes but I do think to an extent, it is okay to address sex in Christian fiction. Solomon talked rather frankly about sex in the Bible.

I do think it would be inappropriate for the Christian characters to be involved in sexual relationships outside of marriage but sex within the bounds of the Bible is something that is okay.

I think some words should be left out of Christian fiction also but I do want my characters to be realistic just not graphic - if that makes sense. I think Ted Dekker does a wonderful job of balancing this. He doesn't use graphic descriptions but he does address sex and his characters are real.

Someone made the comment that John Wayne was believable as Rooster Cogburn without using the F Bomb. I personally think Hollywood and some authors use the "F" word in place of creativity. However, that word does not bother me nearly as much as the curse words that use the Lord's name.

Thanks guys for responding. it's so interesting to hear everyone's take on this. I appreciate you!

jlytranch said...

Christians sin. If one is striving to write any story realistically, then one will eventually have to find a way to write about cursing, sex, racism, adultery, spousal abuse, homosexuality, drug abuse--& a host of other sins--into one's story. The Bible writes about sin explicitly: Moses murdered a man, David committed adultery, Jacob tricked his brother out of his inheritance, several women were raped...& the list goes on. But the Bible is the story of God's redemptive acts of love toward both the sinners & those sinned against--which is what makes it such a compelling read. (Note also that the Bible also includes some juicy sex talk of the wholesome variety: I think I would blush if I had to read the Song of Solomon to my mother--but it's in there!).

It stands to reason, in my opinion, that if one is going to be a Christian author, then one cannot treat any subject as 'off limits' if God does not do so. I think where the difference should come in 'realistic' Christian fiction is in showing how the characters in the story are compelled to be redeemed by God's love--& some might not choose to be--just like in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Very good point. In Christian fiction, for me, it totally depends on how the author handles it. As you said the Bible is quite blunt on these topics.

If we are to have real conversations with hurting people, how can we avoid these topics? In order to reach the lost for Christ, we must first be real to them and not someone "holier than thou"