In general, darkness in literature is seen as “real life,” and discussions of cutting, rape, and homosexuality are commonplace. It’s what’s “hot” in YA literature--if not in literature in general. I’m part of inkpop, a site built for amateur writers of YA literature, and it is rife with stories about forbidden love, scandal, sin--the darkness of the world. The country-wide outcry over Meghan Cox Gurdon’s “Darkness Too Visible” is also evidence of the call for the “reality” of darkness in literature.
On the other side of the coin, you have the Christian label, which is stereotyped (probably rightly so) as being cheesy, unrealistic, and badly written.
For awhile, I had a conflicted mindset about what exactly the Christian writer should write. One verse constantly came to mind when I debated what exactly should and should not be included in Christian fiction. It’s this.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.
-Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
If we’re supposed to think--mediate--on things that are noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy--can a Christian novelist write, with a clear conscience, a torture scene? Can we write about rape? Prostitution? Illegitimacy?
I thought that we, as writers, were squatting dangerously on the edge of a precipice, having to fight against falling into things that were dark, growing too close to the sufferings instead of the victories of our heroes, falling in love with the villains instead of the heroes...focusing on wasn’t noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy...because, let’s face it, that would make a boring story. Can we write about what’s dark--what’s “real”--without becoming too entranced by what is evil? It is our nature to love darkness instead of light, because our deeds are evil...and yet we are called to be the salt and light to the world.
How could I write good stories and still follow the Bible? I couldn’t think of a way to justify myself against that verse.
It took me awhile to realize that I didn’t need to. Read it again.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true...
There is a reason darkness is equated with "real."Evil IS reality. Evil is true. Evil exists because of lies, but it is a Truth that it exists. If you ignore evil, if you write stereotypical Christian fiction, you aren’t telling the truth. If you ignore Goodness, Truth, Light, Nobility, Purity...you aren’t telling the truth. Stereotypical Christian fiction ignores the dark in the world, and secular fiction the light. Neither one has real, powerful, awesome, Truth.
Christian writers should learn to tell the Truth. We need to learn to show the contrast between darkness and light; contrast makes light that much more powerful. We should be unafraid to say: yes, there is Darkness. I know what it looks like. I know how the world works. I know you live in Sin and Darkness. But listen. There’s a Light.
And it’s beautiful.
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