Last night I had dinner and a bible study of sorts with the teens I mentor. The main focus of the discussion was purity and we got to the point where we were talking about “the rules.” Now because I grew up outside the church I had no idea what these so called rules were. And the list began.
No drinking, no drugs, no make up, modest dress, no piercings, no tattoos, no dancing, no secular music… I was trying to write out a list but got bogged down around item 34 somewhere. So as I looked over the list that I had (while refraining from cringing at the painful legalism I saw) I came to the conclusion that all of these items really boiled down to being IN the world but not OF the world. Now that’s probably an oversimplification, but it’s still a valid question that addresses a lot of these issues.
Our case study for the question became secular music. Not going to lie, I know NOTHING about secular music. I was never a big music fan in my pre-christ days and now I’m pretty much Thousand Foot Krutch and Skillet. But I absolutely love my sci-fi and fantasy novels. These are the books that promote atheism, reason over faith, polytheism, witchcraft and sorcery and on and on. I’m even in the middle of writing a book that falls into this genre so I looked at the issue from that point of view, and here’s what I came up with.
Evil done in the name of good is still evil, while good done in the name of evil is still good. Mercedes Lackey says this in one of her books from the Valdemar series. Maybe I’m mistaken but it sounds a lot like Paul and the shrine to the unnamed God. People act out in goodness and express solid Christian values while simply replacing the name of Jesus. Is that a big deal? Yes, on a basic theological level it is, but from a moral and ethical one, it is not. The actions speak louder than the words. Very rarely is there a book that deliberately pushes a theological agenda onto the reader. The first example I can think of is The Chronicles of Narnia. Yeah chew on that one for a minute.
Fantasy and Sci-fi archetypes are protagonists are painfully flawed characters not worthy of celebration in the context of a book. In other words, these characters are human. They have human issues, they have their own thorns of the flesh to deal with (some more successfully than others) but that doesn’t mean we can’t read their stories. Characters are sometimes glorified, but that doesn’t mean the complete behavior is glorified. “They don’t see me,” Terry Goodkind has one of his women say, “they see my [crown]. They see my power.” Surprise surprise, characters are human too, with human flaws. If this is the basis for disregarding this genre, it is the basis for disregarding EVERY form of literature.
WITCHCRAFT!!! Or SCIENCE!!! In order for me to even understand the source of this objection to Fantasy/Sci-fi I have to really dig deep. I could probably write a whole post…geez I could probably get away with an entire blog dedicated to this topic. I know the bible says that we shall not suffer a witch to live, that it has something to do with submission to spirits instead of submission to God but then again you have JK Rowling write seven of the most successful fantasy novels of all time (right up there with JRR Tolkien) all about witches and wizards that is then hailed as the next Chronicles of Narnia!
I’m not trying to justify my interest or love for this genre, just so you all know. What I’m really getting at here is that Christians have a habit of looking at something, at anything, and if it isn’t clearly in favor of God, then it is clearly against Him. (Matthew 12:30) And on top of that, people are afraid to give it a chance because that’s the way that sin starts out. Just a little taste, just checking it out to see what it is, but that one little taste of cocaine will probably turn you into an addict so they shut down and walk away. Nevermind that Science Fiction is different from cocaine right?
Sorry, I’m ranting now.
Anyways, the main point I’m getting at here is that everyone has a different tolerance for how deep into the world he or she can go while still remaining of the Kingdom. But no one, not a single person, will ever get into the world, if we don’t take those first tentative steps to check it out.