Christians and Banned Books - Part 5

Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 10/3/2007

What is morally acceptable in a book? We all have differences of opinion. Some people think that every curse word and every mention of sinful activity should be removed from a book. Others do not believe that this must be the case. Even among Christian fiction there are some books that are described as edgy. How are we to decide what is right?

The Bible must be our guidebook. Even that can be problematic. When reading the Bible, there are some things that are described that might be considered edgy. There are some words used that some people would be offended at their use in normal conversation. Then we also find that Jesus said that a man who looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In my opinion, I think we are often too quick to create hard and fast rules that the Bible never gave, but at the same time, I think we need to be careful about the kinds of things we read. We don’t find a lot in the Bible that was intended to shock people. The Song of Solomon has some descriptive language in it, but it was not written to arouse people but to show the tender love between a husband and wife. In contrast, some of the fiction that we see today describes things in such a way that they end up thinking favorably of things that are not good. The “bad” words that are used in the Bible were not put there to offend and they have meaning rather than being used to provoke.

As Christians, we need to choose what we read in such a way that it encourages us to do the right thing. Reading many books with characters who use foul language, even if they are the villains, can cause us to want to use that language when we are angered by someone. Spending time thinking about sex scenes, even if it moves the plot forward, can cause us to want things that we cannot or should not have.

There may not be a firm rule on what is acceptable to God, but we do know that God wants us to have pure thoughts. There are times that what may be okay for one person may be unacceptable for us. If certain things in books cause you to think things that you should not then it is a book that you should not be reading, but that does not always mean that the book is unacceptable for everybody.