I’ve just come from a rather tumultuous discussion over at the Absolute Writer’s forums concerning writing about sin in a Christian book, and I must confess I’m a little troubled by the approach to sin I must sometimes take in my writing, and how I must defend it (the approach, mind you, not the sin) to other believers.
A little theological clarity from me may be in order:
I am a conservative evangelical Christian. I am not a fundamentalist, but a conservative evangelical. I believe the Bible is inspired of God, and that only God gets to dictate what is and what ain’t sin.
I believe homosexuality, for example, is sinful, because the Bible says it is. Some people will try to coerce the Bible into saying something it doesn’t, or into not saying something it very clearly and (in the case of homosexuality) repeatedly does say. I choose this last sin precisely because I address it in both The Coppersmith and in one of my newest novels, St. Jude, which is excerpted
But when it comes to writing, I believe honesty is the best policy. That being said, I want to write about homosexual characters in a way that depicts them as human beings, not a sinful straw men that I can set up only to knock down to prove some theological point. I want to write about sinful characters being, well, sinful. Sometimes quite comfortably and without any consequence in this world, because that’s how the world is.
Doesn’t make the sin right or okay. It just depicts it honestly.
In the case of The Coppersmith, I have a maniac running around killing pastors, and one of the pastors he kills is Episcopalian. Some Episcopalians have endorsed homosexuality as “normal,” as does the priest my maniac kills. Of course, The Coppersmith isn’t going to stand for his endorsement of sin, and so rightly condemns the belief, while at the same time being someone who himself is worthy of condemnation because of his intensely radical legalism.
This might give some people the impression that I endorse sin. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t endorse sin, I just depict it honestly (and no, I don’t go into detailed descriptions of people engaging in sinful acts).
I guess part of the problem, as I see it, in our cultural wars, is the whole us versus them approach the far right and far left are taking with each other.
I see the radical left declaring anyone who believes homosexuality is a sin a homophobic bigot on the same lines as a rascist or a Nazi.
I see the radical right holding up protest signs that say things like “God hates fags,” or protesting the funerals of American soldiers because they believe the war on terror is God’s judgment on the nation for gays.
It really drives me kinda nuts, you know? I’ve known homosexuals (not biblically, mind you). I’ve been friends with them. Do I believe they’re sinning? Yep. But I still have the responsibility to love them as Christ loves them. This, I believe, is sharing the Gospel with them. This creates opportunities for me to tell them about right and wrong and the cross without shoving it down their throats.
And the same can be said for any other sin our world endorses but which God’s word still says is sin. I believe that, by writing honestly about sinful characters, and by depicting them as human beings first, I can build a bridge of understanding between the non-believer and the Christian worldview. That is the motive behind my writing.