Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Tue, Feb 17 2009

Should Christian fiction have sex in it? If so, how much? And what kind?

The topic of sex in Christian fiction works its way into quite a few conversations I've had with other writers. Christian writers know that good writing is one of the first considerations of any fiction. We also know that much of today's fiction contains at least some references to sex. Sex is part of life and it's a little hard to leave out any mention of something that is the very method for our existence.

Christian writers seem to have no trouble writing, or reading, murder mysteries. I know plenty of folks who find that delving into a good whodunnit gives them as much refreshing as a rousing chorus of "Blessed Assurance". Murder is a topic of one of the Ten Commandments and so is sex. The former is set upon by Christian writers and readers with a gleam in their eye and a thirst for justice. There are, after all, whole volumes of non-fiction written that argue about when life begins and ends and whether or not it is ever appropriate to slow things down or speed things up at any point between those two mystical moments.

As for the latter, where does sex begin and end? Like murder, sex begins with a thought. And physiological responses in our bodies depend on the brain to drive them. If we had the thought of killing we could choose not to follow through with the act. The same is true of sex. We can nurture the thought or we can starve the thought. Why do Christian writers and readers relish in the idea of including murder, which ends life, in their wordplay, while shunning the idea of including sex, which often is the beginning to a new life?

Biblical references to sex don't really seem to help the Christian writer's quandry, because so many tales in the Bible depend on the idea of sex as a metaphor. Babylon is called the Great Whore. Jerusalem is called a bride. We read that one biblical character "knew" another biblical character. (Most of us presume that's not talking about chatting with a neighbor over the back fence.) There are those places in biblical literature where things of a sexual nature are mentioned, but are not always explained in their social, or historical, context. Those ten virgins in the parable were all referred to as virgins. What five of them did wrong had nothing to do with having sex with someone. They were all what we would now call bridesmaids. And there's the whole sensitive topic of a virgin birth when it comes to Jesus. Whether we like it or not, that includes something about sex. Joseph was probably the laughing stock of his peers when they found out he was marrying a "pregnant virgin". If we leave the whole virgin birth element out of the story when we retell it, we leave out a very important detail. Should our fiction writing be any less underlined with truth?

Sexual beings sometimes move outside the realm of what is considered acceptable in society. And what is acceptable has changed a great deal over time when it comes to society in general. Sex outside a marriage covenant has been considered sinful at times and considered acceptable and even favorable at other times. Homosexual relationships have been considered sinful at times and considered acceptable at other times. When we tell a story that includes sexual beings, we might sometimes be called upon to at least acknowledge the existence of these things in order not to sound as though we're writing from some other universe. (Of course, if you write science fiction and fantasy you can make your own rules, but I suspect your readers will still want enough of a hint of human sexuality in there to identify with at least one character.

How much to say is also a difficulty. Do we use cute euphemisms, graphic descriptions, close the door on the bedroom or build a story with no bedroom at all? Some of us have family trees that woud rival the details in any erotic novel. When we explain to people how we came to be part of our family tree we have to tell the story in such a way that it tells the truth, makes sense to us is understood by our listener(s). I would hold that good fiction, including good Christian fiction, should do much the same. We have to be true to our Lord and true to our voice as a storyteller without coming across as a preacher. Thinking about why sex matters in the larger picture of a novel or other story will help us frame our words in such a way that we try to fool neither our readers nor our Lord. That might be simple, but it isn't always easy.

GoodWordEditing.com has a blog post discussing further the discomfort that comes with writing Christian fiction for a publishing industry that sometimes seems to ask us all to write our fiction as though our characters were asexual beings.

posted at: 07:56 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Quote Of The Moment
If you are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life -- your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live.
--George Bernard Shaw
Arts and Entertainment
Health and Fitness
Religious and Spiritual
Writing Life
Some of the Blogs I Like
Adrian's Science Fiction Starter
Big Stupid Tommy
Blog Catalog
Christina Waters
Detectives Beyond Borders
Faith in Fiction
The Fire Ant Gazette
Jay Michael Rivera
Keystone Military News
Orange Crate Art
PI Buzz
Rabid Librarian's Ravings in the Wind
San Diego Soliloquies
TED Blog
Blog Resources and Blog Tools
The Ageless Project
Listed in LS Blogs
The Blog Herald
Listed on Blogwise
Some of my other web pages
Deb's Monthly Review
Deb's Writer Cam

Writer Links
Writers' Resources
Hatch's Plot Bank
Instant Muse Story Starter
The Memes List
General Store
Stetson Hats
Levi Strauss & Co.
Jaxonbilt Hat Co.
River Junction Trade Co.
Head 'N Home
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
Hang Hat Here
Write Lightning button       RSS         email Deb

Follow me on Twitter

Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!