I read an interesting article by a blogger that talks about why Christians cannot agree on Christian fiction. The writer breaks it down by suggesting that people are into two camps. To paraphrase, one camp is holy and the other takes a realistic approach. People who want Christian fiction to mirror upstanding Christian principles think that Christian fiction cannot contain any devices of the world. That makes sense up to a point.
The word of God deals with sin in a way that does not exploit it and employ sensationalism. In other words, Christian art does not have to be hip-hop; we do not have to use the devices of the world to make a point. There should be plenty of room for Christian art to use illustrations that can give us an idea of the mindset, viewpoints, and ideology of the sinner without resorting to profanity or explicit sex or drug use. You can see it right there in the bible.
The struggle that Christian writers have is in finding creative ways to approach these topics without making the topics themselves the topic of conversation and diminishing the importance of Jesus Christ. Take Tyler Perry’s films for example. In the beginning he did an excellent job of showing us just how God can redeem an individual and heal the wounds that Black women carry from their relationships. He did an excellent job of showing us how men are consumed by evil without demonizing them. He didn’t denigrate anyone.
But over time we found more profanity in Tyler Perry’s films. We found violence and profanity being used for its own sake, instead of being used to make a point. We found where audience members were more interested in what happened to the protagonist than they were in how God used the people that had wronged them to bring them around to Christ. He lost his way in his films, and he lost his message. Now we hear that he is considering doing films that have nothing to do with Christ, as an actor of course. He latest film he directed and produced was one in which he himself was a strongman, as a producer, and wrestled the film out of the hands of a female director who was associated with the project almost from the very beginning.
These are not the acts of a Christian, and it is fuel for the fire of those that always did have a problem with the fact that he puts on a dress and plays a character in every other movie. So Tyler Perry might be letting Hollywood get the best of him, and may be watering down his message. This is what Christians have to be careful of. If we get too successful and we actually get a place in Hollywood and we are not just a one hit wonder will Hollywood start to dictate the shots, as opposed to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ? On the other hand, this isn’t the fifties anymore. That is where a lot of Christian movies still stand; in the Ozzie and Harriet period where people are not even shown in the bed together.
There is a difference between showing people going at it and showing them sharing a bed. Too often I think that Christians think that showing people in a bed means that we are suggesting that they are having sex. However I have seen a lot of secular movies in the mainstream show people in the bed that were not having sex. One movie that comes to mind is Waiting to Exhale. A man was in a compromising position discussing how he could no longer be with his wife sexually, and was reaching out to someone and did not have sex with her when he could have (his wife never would have known, and it would appear as if the woman he was with never would have told her). The author received a lot of flack for demonizing men in that movie, but this was a redemptive scene in which the author showed the human nature of a man. Another film where you would have assumed something would have happened was in Baby Boy where the protagonist could have had sex with one of his girlfriends co-workers but thought better of it once he actually went over there. He never got away with anything because the co-worker made it clear to his woman that she was interested, but at least he didn’t do anything and could somewhat clear his own conscious.
Those are real situations and they are being played out by actors that are not even saved or playing a Christian in a film. Christians are constantly in positions where they could do something, in the wrong place at the wrong time, but call on the Lord, if only in their mind, and they find a way out of there. Christians are sinners saved by grace. I don’t know about anyone else but I have actually prayed to get out of a situation. I knew that I was too weak on my own, and the Lord made a way for me to get out of it, and I am married. If someone is single, this is the norm, not the exception.
Now I will say that the Bible tends to deal in absolute terms about sin and makes things very black and white. I am not going to go against the Bible. At the same time the Bible also makes clear how the man or woman of God had sinned and what the consequences of those actions were. We are instructed, it is not “don’t sin” the Bible breaks it down and goes into depth just why we should not sin. There should not be any question, with the way that the Bible breaks things down, if that particular sin is a good idea of not. It would catch someone that does not read the Word off guard because we are expecting the Bible to be as Holy and pious as we are, and it is not. We should be able to find ways to make our point, yet at the same time, entertain our audiences that are not Christians themselves. A lot of Christian art is “for Christians by Christians” and I think the world assumes that we are merely excluding them. This should not be the case at all because our entire motive should be to win souls for Christ, not to preach to the choir and to continue to merely fellowship with each other.