Handling Sensitive Topics as a Christian Author
Sensitive topics may seem impossible to gauge for the Christian author, but there are a few standards that we as Christians need to be aware of when writing. In this article we will cover the few things we do know about writing on sensitive topics as a Christian author.
Writing what we love to write is quite important for writers, but it is not the only reason we write. Sometimes we write because we have a deadline to meet, because the audience needs to hear about a subject, or because God gives us words to put down. These other reasons may cross into territory that we as Christians might be unsure or uncomfortable with. Your editor or audience may need you to write on something that would conflict with the Bible or may pass into the “gray area” that we are uncertain if we should amble into.
It would be pleasant if everything we were to do as Christians were cut and dry. Many things are very clear in the Bible on what is right and what is wrong, but there are also many areas where believers must turn to the Scriptures for guidance when the answers aren’t solid.
All things are permissible but not all are beneficial. I Corinthians 10:23 says: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (KJV). Are the things that we plan to write informational? In most cases, yes, but this does not mean it edifies the reader or glorifies God. Most sensitive topics will be interesting and gripping and, in all ways, entertaining; however, the reckless writer may forget to consider a Christian’s goals.
Being spiritually minded means acknowledging God. If we in all ways acknowledge him (Proverbs 3:6), then he will show us how to navigate through touchy topics.
The Bible does not shy away from things that would be considered dark subjects. The difference between how the Bible handles these things and the mainstream handles them is opposite. For example, the Bible neither condones nor goes into great detail about immoral sexual matters. In many instances it is condemned clearly while in other instances the Bible simply records the facts. Sometimes all we can do is record the facts and move on.
There will be news articles and world events that include gore, sexual themes, political views, and moral dilemmas. As Christians, we should do our best to represent Christ. Sometimes we can’t condemn what is Biblically wrong, but we do not have to engage too deeply. Still, no line is set for how far is too far. Use spiritual discernment, the amazing gift God has given to each of his children.
Don’t separate who you are as writer from who you are as a Christian. We represent God in all areas of our lives. We do not “leave God behind” when we go into our job or to the grocery store, and we should not do the same as a writer no matter the circumstance. If the Bible tells us not to be vulgar and obscene, then we should avoid being vulgar or obscene in any form. Written words is not a subcategory that God is absent from. Because he lives inside of believers, his love, grace, and holiness should be present within the words we write.
When we need to write about sensitive topics that we’re uncertain about, we should use godly discernment in these three areas:
Our testimony as Christians determines our influence. Your written works reflect who you are and who you represent. Ultimately, God is who we represent, and He should never be misrepresented or disregarded. In specific circumstances, we also represent those within our company or associated with us. Before we write on a subject that may be sensitive, we should consider our testimony.
Audience is part of the writing process, so this is something that most writers already consider. However, just as an author would avoid mature themes in children’s works, the Christian should be cautious of mature themes depending on the spiritual maturity of an audience. For example, if your platform is a Christian magazine, reporting on a moral dilemma will likely not cause people to question your testimony or worldview.
A spiritually mature audience in this instance will understand human error and struggle. You will have more wiggle room to write about more sensitive topics with that audience. Because of a plethora of plausible circumstances, we will have to judge each situation differently. We should consider who we are writing to and continue from there.
It is abundant in our culture that the author expresses whatever he desires because art has no limits. However, we know that we are not the moral authority on the earth. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17: 9 that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” We cannot ourselves determine what is right or wrong; it takes discernment from God and his Word.
What about those things that are simply truth? The truth we must consider when writing are those factual things that are problematic. Ephesians 4:15 says to tell truth in love in. Along with love, we should tell truth according to the Holy Spirit. John 16:13 says, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” (KJV) The spirit will lead us if we allow him to.
There will be things that we should omit. Truth is good, but if it is unnecessary and does not honor God or edify people then it should not be on a work with our name on it. Consider the content before putting it out for the world to read.
Above everything else, we are to glorify God and help those around us. Jesus said that the second most important commandment is to love our neighbor—the only more important commandment is to love God. With both commandments in mind, we should strive to be a good testimony when difficult situations present themselves. Christians tackling sensitive topics is not completely straight forward, but with God’s help we can glorify him through each word we write.
About the Author
Zechariah Rice is a writer from Charlotte, NC. He is finishing up his degree in Professional Writing and plans to serve God in the writing field after graduation. Although he spends much time working on children’s books, various articles, and schoolwork, Zechariah also works in children’s ministries in his community and church. He plans to follow his passion for writing children’s literature far into the future.