Friday, May 14, 2010

(Why) Can't Christians handle the truth?

I read a book series a while ago that brought the breathtaking power of grace home to me more than anything I could remember reading lately.  It's true I have a poor memory, but since one of the reasons I read is so that I can have those moments of insight again from different places, my shoddy memory is an asset.  If I wait a few years (or a few months), I can read it all again for the first time!  Sort of. 

The book series was chock-full of "adult content," some of it incredibly vile, making true claims about human depravity in practice: what it does to us, those around us, to our choices, and even to the world around us.  I had to be very careful when recommending it because its content was most certainly going to offend (because that was its purpose, to show what depravity looks like and then what grace looks like sparkling amidst the muck, and you can't talk about that stuff without offending people's sensibilities).  I was sad that a lot of Christians would never read these books (and have these insights in this way) because they would be so busy being offended by the depiction of truth that they would miss the truth itself.

It frustrated me that we have to sanitize everything for Christian consumption, as if acknowledging the truth of depravity made us more guilty or something.  I love how Donald Miller put it.  Here are some excerpts from yet another of his thought-provoking blog posts.

"You probably wouldn’t tell the story of Bill Clinton having an affair, Benny Hinn faking healings and getting a divorce or Ted Haggard talking macho and homophobic and then secretly sleeping with men and using drugs. I doubt you’d talk about powerful religious figures being involved in incest, either. But that’s exactly the sort of stories we find in scripture. And not only that, but these are principal characters through which Christ lineage and God’s redemptive message are passed down through."

"What I love about the Bible is it’s honesty. This is not a book in which authors tried to hide anything. If somebody got drunk and slept with their daughter, it’s in there. If the king of Israel had a man killed and slept with his wife, it’s in there. If somebody doubted God’s love, it’s right there in the book.  So why don’t Christian books read anything like the Bible? Can we handle the truth?"

Yeah, you should go read the whole post.  Then come back.  :)

What do you think?  Why is "Christian Literature" so restricted in what it can depict?  Should it be?  Is depicting the same thing as endorsing?  (If so, those Bible writers are in some hot water . . .)  Are Christians really incapable of handling the awful truth of a broken, fallen world full of fallen, broken people, consequences, bad choices, and misery?  Are there other sides to the debate you'd like to bring in?  What does love look at without flinching, and what should it turn its eyes away from?

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