How My Faith Informs My Fiction. Pt 3
Last week I wrote about a few controversial things I will include in my fiction. Just as I am careful about what I include in my fiction, due to my faith, I am also careful about what I exclude.
There are two major things I want to talk about today.
I’ve heard an argument that If we aren’t offended my violence, we shouldn’t be offended about sex. The thing is, Violence in fiction has a very different effect than sex. There are two reasons I avoid including graphic sex in my writing.
If you read about someone getting murdered in fiction, you don’t get blood on your hands but written sex can involve not just your imagination but your body. It’s a more immersive experience. Because I believe that sex is best contained in committed, heterosexual marriage, I don’t want to incite people to what I view as sin. Beyond that, viewing or reading pornographic material has been proven to be addictive and to negatively impact the way we treat other people. It has been linked to abusive behaviors and the human trafficking industry. I want no part of that.
I view sex as a holy thing: a private affair in which two people willingly open each other up completely trusting relationship. I believe it should be as emotionally intimate as it is spiritually. To write detailed sex scenes is to invite in a third party. Fictional or not, that is a perversion of what I view sex to be. If you aren’t PART of that vulnerability, you are dehumanizing someone else for entertainment. If you are just reading fiction, you are still training your mind to block out empathy so that you can be entertained.
In the Bible it doesn’t shy away from sex, but it doesn’t indulge in it either. I’ve taken this route in my writing. If a sexual experience happens, I might state it or have it happen off-screen, but I won’t depict it on the page. I’ve read a few scenes that I thought were handled well, so I can understand the inclusion in some stories but I just don’t want to go that route.
Secondly, Gender and Sexuality.
I won’t go into a lot of detail in this because I don’t feel like I need to explain all my views on the matter. What I will say is that I believe that homosexuality and transgenderism are outside the plan that God has for human beings. However I also believe that those who take part in this behavior have real struggles and real hurts and I don’t want to diminish that or distance myself from it. I just don’t think that fiction is the best place to explore that because it is such a sensitive subject at the moment. If I am going to have a conversation about this, I would much prefer that it happens one on one where I can ask questions, answer questions and empathize with the other person instead of creating a caricature of them for the purpose of pushing my views onto the page. I also don't want to give the illusion that I support a behavior just because I am trying to accurately depict a character. I very much view the identity of a human being as being something apart from their sexuality or gender and if I were to include a gay character, for instance, I would still strive to make that character the best I could. Even if I didn't support the choices they were making.
Because of that, I have decided that for now, as much as I believe that diversity is important in fiction, I will not include any characters in my book that are openly LGBT nor will use that theme in any of my written works.
That might change at some point, but for now this is the stance I’m taking.
In closing, I didn’t write this blog series to push my ideas on anyone or say how other writers should be conducting themselves. I do hope that other authors are putting a lot of thought into their work. While I might have strong feelings on a few of these issues, I also believe in personal responsibility both of the readers and of the writers.
I wrote this for one reason: I was getting questions from a few of my more conservative readers in particular and I wanted to clear them up. Admittedly, a lot of them are friends and family, but now I have somewhere to send them for answers. Fiction is complicated. A lot of it is subjective and sometimes that varies even between stories based on reader expectation and experiences. I think it’s important that we keep conversation open on these matters.
I’ve seen a lot of good material shut down for stupid reasons and art is the one place where expression has always been the most free. And if you disagree with a few of my stances, you might still enjoy my writing. I don’t like being “preachy” when I write. I believe subtly is a valuable tool for storytelling. Either way, I trust you, my reader, to make your own decision about my books and just hope for the best.