Thursday, November 01, 2007

Violence in Christian Fiction - Day 5

Philippians 4:7-9
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I've been heading each of these posts with examples from the Bible of violence. In winding down, I thought that this completely different passage was appropriate, but it needs explanation.

I've seen this beautiful Scripture used as a bludgeon on anything that didn't meet one person's view of "whatever is lovely, pure," or etc. I don't think it is meant to be used like that, and it is definitely not my intention in this argument to do that either. I even debated whether to use this verse because of past misuse of it, but I felt that it still had an important consideration.

I've honestly meditated about this, and I've decided you can't use "lovely" or "pure" to the exception of "admirable," "noble," and "right." Some may argue that an author shouldn't use any violence or portray a dangerous situation without blood and gore. I don't agree. The contrast from showing true nobility overcoming true evil is a powerful image in fiction.

This leads to context. Sometimes, even most times will call for an example of the trial the protagonist. A hero escaping mortal danger is inherently more dramatic than our hero escaping from a group of grey-haired grandmas at a potluck accosting him for having a tattoo. It is a potent tool to let us see, hear, feel, smell, or taste the danger.

So the use of violence can clearly fall under the guidance of Phil 4:8. I thought today would be the end, but this topic fleshed out more than I intended, so I'll finish up (likely...) tomorrow.


  1. Jason!

    Sorry to be so late getting over here, but YOU WON! Stop back by A Peek At My Bookshelf and click the top link on the left hand sidebar...I need your mailing information too!!

  2. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right..."

    It wasn't easy to watch, but it made a powerful impact on me, about how ONE person can make a difference. I'm talking about the movie, "Hotel Rwanda."

    I do believe that there is a time and a place when violence is integral to the story, and it is needed to illustrate what is right. Dark and light. Good and evil.

    As writers we are caretakers of the written word. We are accountable for how we present the story that we need to tell. Five different people would portray the battle between David and Goliath in five different ways.

    To me, violence and sex are like salt and pepper. A little bit goes a long way, but they may be necessary to the plot. I would never write a scene that showed gratitus sex, but that doesn't mean that my characters are goody-goodies. They misbehave. They sin.

    Good discussion, Jason!