Write...or Die Trying

I used to work in a factory. Now I work in an office. Either way, my writing was dying. So now I must: Write...or Die Trying.


Boy Does This Topic Make People Angry

Editor's Note: This version is slightly different than my actual email. I tried to limit myself to only fixing typos and grammatical errors but I just couldn't do it. I wanted to give this version a little more "zing."

Do you have any idea what sex is?

[ snip ]

The correct answer is, Of course you don't know. No mortal does. You don't, I don't, Paul even intimated that he didn't. (Then again, he was almost certainly a virgin, or anyway he had fewer than twelve years experience, so he probably had nothing to teach anyone. He should've shut up.) It's a Mystery, and that was my whole point. Not that I know more than you do, but that we are all faced with something so profound that a thousand years' experience is still a virgin by comparison. It's so easy to forget the magnitude of the issues we deal with. That was the point.

There are two things that bother me for the rest. The first is that you seem hell-bent on attributing to me a position that I do not hold and that I CLEARLY could not hold in light of my earlier posts on the topic. If I thought that we should never, ever talk about sexual matters, why did I mention (and even approve of) Janette Oake's and Grace Livingston Hill's work in that direction? If I had been the Puritan caricature that you're trying to make me, I would have advocated burning their books, wouldn't I? So my position must be something else. I notice that you didn't charge me with inconsistency, so I suppose you must realize this. (For that matter, even the Puritans didn't hold the "Puritan" position you refer to. It's a bogey and nothing more.)

So why did you go out of your way to misunderstand what I still think is not an abstruse position? I have theories, but I'd rather not pursue them. But if the tone of your responses is anything to go by, sex is not the issue you should concentrate on, but matters far more foundational. And until that happens, I am not sure you have much of value to teach even a virgin on any topic.

I'm sorry I apparently offended you by my earlier post. I didn't mean to intentionally create conflict--especially on a topic that doesn't have much bearing on either our salvation, or our overarching theology. It's also important for you to understand that I don't completely disagree with you. I think, in some areas at least, you've presented a compelling argument.

But to say I'm suggesting you're a book-burner; completely averse to sexuality in Christian fiction; that I "go out of [my] way to misunderstand" your position on this matter; that I have "foundation[al]" issues (which I take to mean you think my understanding of scripture is, in an unspecified percentage, wrong); and that I "don't have much of value to teach even a virgin on any [emphasis mine] topic"? That goes entirely too far. The last statement, in particular, seems to have come more from anger than logic--and your suggestion you have "theories. . .[you'd] rather not pursue"? What does that mean, exactly? It would be unfair and loveless to document the inferences I drew (and had to squash, with the Lord's help) from this sentence.

If the elders of my church thought what you've stated or implied, then they wouldn't have asked me to be a member of the board.

If the chairman of that board and one of our youth pastors (Godly and discerning men, by any account) thought what you're suggesting, then they wouldn't be encouraging me to become involved in areas of our church's ministries that would be considered influential.

I also wouldn't be a substitute Sunday School teacher for the adult class. By the way, those that attend Sunday School very much enjoy my lessons, when I have the privilege of teaching, and have said they are excited to be a part of them.

I wouldn't currently teach a Sunday School class for our college-age group and be part of our Sunday-night college-age ministry.

Am I bragging about these things? Come on. Anything I'm entrusted with is because Christ has seen fit to allow me to have it. He deserves the credit there. I wouldn't be able to do any of this if Christ didn't think it was a good idea :-)

My church knows me better than any email list member or reader of my blog (unless, of course, those list members/blog readers are members of my church ;-) so I think the judgement you've made regarding the value, depth, and veracity of my knowledge is best left to them.

Dispassionately speaking, and in light of these things I've mentioned, the argument you've made is interesting, but ultimately difficult to defend with hard facts. I can't come to any other conclusion due to the the facts I've presented and my personal experience with the Elders in my church. I say these things in the most dispassionate, non-confrontational, and anti-prideful way I know how. I've tried not to approach this topic with emotional passion, but attempt to be logical, rational, and utterly objective.

Of course, I fully accept that I might not be entirely correct in my assertion of what amount/style of sexuality is or is not appropriate for a Christian who writes fiction. I would never suggest that I'm Solomon-esque wise such that my interpretation of Christ's teachings in this area are definitive, or better than others'. Here, we probably come closer to agreeing than what it seem. You state that I'm "hell-bent on attributing to [you] a position that [you] do not hold and that [you] CLEARLY could not hold in light of [your] earlier posts on the topic." This could maybe be attributed to my misunderstanding of what I've perceived you were originally saying. I hope you will accept my apology at making you feel like I'm trying to be antagonistic. I'm simply not.

As for our differing opinions on the definition of the word "puritanical": I think we should chalk that up to a difference of opinion. I know that what our society perceives as being Puritan belief regarding sexuality is not necessarily historical or consistent with what they actually believed. But in the context in which I used that term, I was trying to call up the perception our society has regarding the idea of "puritanical" belief. Whether the feelings invoked by the use of that term is historically accurate or not is immaterial to my point.

I want to communicate to you that I wasn't trying to be antagonistic. I wasn't trying to suggest that you somehow have "incorrect" or "inferior" beliefs because I happen to disagree with you. I don't feel like I'm "hell-bent" on attributing feelings to you that you don't feel you hold. In fact, I'm not "hell-bent" on anything, really.

But I can't say that the logic so far expressed to me by critics of my feelings regarding sexuality in Christian fiction is at all compelling. No one has offered any "proof" of its being "special," "different," or "more private" than topics like alcoholism, abuse, gambling, or any of the other incredibly private issues Christians deal with--sometimes on a daily basis. Many of us talk about (and are encouraged to talk about) our sexuality in an extremely public setting. Does this mean that fiction is different and that other public settings are okay? What litmus test should we use, then, to decide which public forum is acceptable and which is not.

I simply don't see how sexuality is "inherently private," in the context of our debate, and should not be discussed in fiction written by Christians, when we inarguably enjoy open season on a great many other topics that are just as private, just as personal, and just as potentially dangerous if taken to extremes (or out of context) as our sexuality.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.


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