Recently, I received a one star negative review from a reader who felt my dumb protagonist had stooped too low. This reader admitted they quit the book halfway through, therefore had no way of knowing the resolution. In a past writer’s life, their words may have devastated me, however I now learn from every review rather than allow myself to doubt my mission. After all, I’d written the exact actions of my characters knowing they would offend but staying true to their nature.
What was so offensive, you may wonder, unless you’d read the review already?
My character, Kinsley, was talked into sleeping with two men at once.
Gasp! Hand slapping over mouth! Eyes wide! “But you’re a Christian! How could you write something so secular? You should be ashamed!”
Yup. But it wasn’t the fact that she slept with two men. The mention of God afterward was the offensive part, because God has no place in something so debauched or offensive. Why did I write that situation into the book?
Because part of the challenge for Kinsley is that she herself is a Christian, so her morality and faith is being truly tested for the first time. The men in her life don’t care so much, but for a character of faith, or a believer in real life, this is the truth trial we face.
Once upon a time I wrote erotica. The era was Fifty Shades of Grey. A group of my mommy friends were raving about the story, so I read the series and challenged myself to surpass the scandalous situations in the books. After all, no one else was affected by what I was reading. No one could see through my Kindle. Just me and the book. Wrong. What goes in is what comes out. I used the erotica as an aphrodisiac in a failing marriage and during postpartum depression. The stimulation masked my ability to see the issues turning me off as something needing immediate addressing, however instead of proactively working on these issues, I hid in reading situations that made mine not seems as unhealthy as intuition was trying to tell me.
I’d never written a book before, but I was tired of reading the same ol’ weak females. After all, in real life I’d known plenty of strong women who’d also been talked into awful regrets.
I wrote what ended up being my first Don’t Close Your Eyes Series. In that series, Kinsley gets herself into situations sexual temptations pulled her into. While this time around I am rewriting for a less pornographic audience (after all, I still love a great romance scene without debauched terminology) I cannot leave out the same pitfalls she fell into in the original. I fade to black where I can, but sex happens in real life. I’ve learned grace with words compared to before and every word I am acutely aware I will answer for at some point, whereas last time around I wasn’t in a healthy frame of mind or relationship.
How could I mention God after such a situation? How dare I?
This is exactly what a sinner is thinking after they’ve sinned and fallen from grace, they think God has no place in their lives anymore, so they walk away. They don’t know how to fix what they’ve done to atone. People who find out condemn their actions and shun them rather than finding out and praying for their fallen brother or sister to see the truth in what we CHRISTians claim to believe. The sacrifice of Jesus (Yeshua) for our sins and the ability to ask forgiveness and repent. If God doesn’t have a place with sinners after sin, then what are we believing, those of us who do?
In God’s eyes all sin is equal, with the exception of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and all men have fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin. Prayer and repentance are the answer. Not pushing God away from a bad act, but pulling Him closer for healing and help. The gross feeling of falling from grace is where the repentance comes from.
To those I may offend further by writing real acts of people I know or have known through fallible characters, including myself, I’m sorry for offending, but remember not all are fortunate enough to have never been preyed upon during weakness. Not all of us have been strong enough to walk away when wanting to be liked or under pressure. I write the fallibility of humans in dark places and situations, their struggles, even the ones who resent or hate Christians because I’ve walked through each of the phases and don’t like pretending the bad sides aren’t real.
I don’t mind the offense. I don’t mind if a reader stops reading because it wasn’t the story for them. I don’t mind the criticism, in fact it’s a building block. Now you know why I have the audacity to write what offends.