An acquaintance and I were talking about books today, and she made a comment that got me thinking (and blogging). She said “This book is just fluff. There’s no depth to it, but it’s Christian so I know it’s safe.” What constitutes as safe for a Christian anyways? If I had thought of that question then I would have asked. I guess I was too busy trying to keep my mouth shut at the time.
I’ve read my fair share of Christian fiction in my day (back when I didn’t know any better), and I have to say most of it was rubbish. Here are a few reasons why:
1. I’ve read steamier love scenes in Christian fiction than in non Christian. Granted, the only non Christian romance novels I’ve read were by Nicholas Sparks, but still. Sparks stops at “and they made love.” Some Christian romance novels I’ve read described in detail a couple’s foreplay before sex. and some pretty erotic make out scenes.
2. Christian fiction usually doesn’t get the gospel right. Heck, Jesus, the center of the Gospel, isn’t even mentioned in most of them. Or if He is, it’s when the protagonist is urged to pray the sinner’s prayer. Most of the time there’s just a brief mention here and there of faith in God.
3. Sometimes they just plain suck cause they aren’t written well. Poor plot line and character development.
Now in saying all that, I have to say that some of my all time favorite books were written by “Christian” authors . Not all are rubbish. Just most.
So back to my question, what is “safe” for a Christian to read? As I said before, I’ve read some pretty steamy love scenes in some “Christian” books. Is it then safe for a Christian to read a love scene described so long as the couple is married and the actual act of intercourse is left out? Speaking from personal experience, I’ve left some of these books feeling discontent with either being single or with my marriage. I felt hungry for more of the characters romance than I did my own husband. Maybe that’s just me, but I’ve talked to other women who say they feel the same thing after reading romance novels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for love stories, and I think God is too. But do we really need to be reading about other people’s make out sessions and foreplay?
Now what about heretical theology published under the label “Christian?” Is it safe for someone to read a “Christian” book and come away thinking that a belief in God is all they need to be considered “safe” with Him? Or that simply praying the “sinner’s prayer” saves them?
I think you can determine from this post that I don’t think that just because a book is under the label “Christian” doesn’t make it safe. There are some fantastic books out there that aren’t “Christian”, and it would be a shame not to read them just because of that. For a better explanation of why most “Christian” fiction isn’t worth reading, check out Honey for Woman’s Heart by Gladys Hunt.
So how do we as Christians determine which books we should read, Christian or not? The answer isn’t a simple pat answer, but here are a few things I consider when I pick a book to read.
1. Does it encourage us to disobey God’s word? If the story makes sin look good, safe, and cool, it’s probably not “safe” for us to read. We are to flee temptation to sin, not be encouraged to do it.
2. Does it cause us to dwell on things that are not pure and godly? This will be different for everybody. What makes me think impure thoughts might not make you think the same and vice versa.
3. Finally, if you feel convicted by reading, don’t. If you can’t in good conscience read the book, stop. Romans 14:23 “For whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats. For the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
Check out further posts where I’ll be reviewing my top 10 list of favorite books!