Words are powerful but only united. Bonded words form stories, and stories form perceptions. Stories have the power to change people, and as Christians we want that change to be in the right direction.
Some may say that when they watch a movie or read a book it doesn’t affect them. They can pass it off as fiction and not buy into the worldview portrayed. While this is sometimes true when dealing with a blatant agenda, I would ask you to consider if this is really the case.
Many objections you may have had to a book are laid to rest because the author is Christian or the content is “moral”. I have consumed stories where I recognized the godless worldview and called it for what it was, but still walked away affected, changed. It comes not by characters preaching their beliefs but much more subtly.
I am convinced that one of the main reasons today for the YA categorization is that those tales are designed specifically to build off a typical young person’s appetites and grow them. A good author also writes good characters, and a good character is relate-able. I have often found myself relating to or connecting with the protagonist because of his cause and mistreatment, while overlooking his character.
William Wallace for example. While watching Braveheart, I inwardly cheered at his victory over the English. I mentally fought alongside him in the battles and was angry at tyranny. But (thanks to the wisdom of my father and our authorly minds) my family always does a detailed informal analysis of movies we watch together and I noticed three things.
- William Wallace is one despicable violent dude, but I identified with him to the point of confusing his revenge with justice.
- He was dishonorable. The girl he loved, loved him back. But when her father stood in the way of their marriage with a single requirement, they eloped. A man who runs away with your daughter is, well… Yeah. But if it hadn’t been for my dad’s enlightening commentary, I would have found the romance charming.
- I was duped into cheering on adultery. The french princess was married to a highly effeminate (to say it nicely) guy who didn’t care for her in the slightest. I subconsciously didn’t really consider their marriage a marriage at all, as I was supposed to, and rooted for the chemistry between her and William as I ‘gulp’ was supposed to. Maybe he could have helped her some way, as the damsel in distress, but as a man of honor he would have respected their covenant.
I don’t say this to outline a list of rules on what’s okay or safe to read, but my purpose is to caution and help Christian authors in their own writing. My plan is to post a series (probably slightly controversial?) on common negative story elements that are often overlooked in Christian fiction. Albeit, as Christians we don’t purposely place harmful stuff in our stories, we want to carefully examine our own worldview that underlays our writing. After all, stories change people, and we want ours to change them in the right direction.