Have you ever wondered why it is considered inappropriate to go to the grocery store in your skimpiest underwear, but perfectly OK to (un)dress that way in public if there is sand under your feet and the sound of waves in the background? Or why pictures of naked people are called pornography and designated for an adult audience—unless they’re hanging in an art museum? Or why racy scenes are inappropriate for Christians—unless they’re on the stage at a local Christian high school and they depict a story with “authenticity”?
We have a strange propensity to call things wrong in one context but right in another.
This happens especially in the realm of art, an arena in which any call for decency and propriety is “censorship” and therefore not to be tolerated. As a Christian and an English major at a secular university, I find myself exposed to much filth that is “literature” and therefore acceptable. Bad language, depictions of immorality, coarse humor—none are to be filtered, for that would be censorship and would lead to work that is inauthentic. Artistic expression must not be hindered by morals or social norms.
At one level, I am not surprised by any of this. I am in a non-Christian world and shouldn’t expect holiness to reign. Most of the morality in our culture is just a memory from an era in which we still had a Biblical foundation, and since the foundation is gone the erosion of morality is steady and not surprising.
But as a Christian, what should my personal stand be on these issues? What should I read? What should I write? What should I watch? How much should I censor?
I am commanded to abide in Christ. And when in the spiritual realm I am in Him, it logically follows that I am where He is.
That’s amazing, because Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father. So although in the physical realm I am currently seated at my desk typing, in the spiritual realm I am in the throne room of the God of the Universe.
That means that when I pray, God hears what I say. It also means that when I catch my toe on the end of a bookshelf and it hurts like fire, God hears what I say. And He doesn’t just hear my words. He hears my thoughts!
God’s standard for me is pretty plainly stated in Ephesians 5:3 (NIV):
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people .
God doesn’t include an exception clause for art. My language—both internally and externally—must be throne-room appropriate. No exceptions.
So should I censor what I read and what I write? Absolutely.
Will this lead to my being less than authentic? Not if my heart is washed in the blood of Christ. Cleanliness in my work is not plastic and fake if I am truly clean inside. And so that’s the real challenge. Not just to write in a way that’s clean, but to live in a way that’s clean—no exceptions.