f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: You Can Ignore That Part of the Bible for the Moment—Why We Should Learn to Revel in Sin

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

You Can Ignore That Part of the Bible for the Moment—Why We Should Learn to Revel in Sin

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!
Paul doesn’t beat around the bush to the smart alecks in Rome who hope they can have their cake and eat too by sinning more to inherit more Grace. His answer is unequivocal. And it’s one that, even the most devout of CBA novelists ignores just a little in their books.

We all want to talk about grace. We all want to talk about God’s saving power, but nobody’s figured out a way to do it usefully without backing up to address the question of what we need saving from. And so we create sinful characters who drink or chase money or leave their wife for that hottie in the coffee shop or gossip and slander or a thousand other Scarlet-A type weaknesses and failings.

Less often do we tackle the darker, more harrowing sins that plague me even this moment and probably you, too. The daily selfishness. The pettiness. The unmerciful heart. The hard-heartedness. The ungratefulness. The miserliness. The lack of discipline. Do you want me to continue?

Book shelves are full of rough-edged souls finding God and ridding themselves of the outward signs of their waywardness. The alcohol abuse stops or the debilitating gambling. They spend time in devotion to their wives. These are fine, noble, and important changes. One who claims God and still chooses to whore around probably missed a lesson somewhere.

As writers, though, it seems that we missed Jesus’ lesson (though He speaks it over and over) that these outward signs are simply the tip of the iceberg. It’s the inner change, the one that insists on the lion’s claw to shed our reptile skin, that’s the killer. Literally. It’s death for our habits and human nature. And basically it goes unmentioned in CBA Fiction.

Rich fields await here, I believe. What writers need to understand is that the little battles fought over selfishness in one man’s heart are, to God, as cataclysmic and important as the very heavenly clashes that threw one selfish angel to earth. We need to capture that importance (Screwtape Letters is a fairly good model) and transfer it to fiction. We need to realize that the salvific plotline isn’t the only worthwhile one. We need, in the end, to revel in the little sins.