A Few More Thoughts on Darkness

We had such a great discussion during the blog tour about what constitutes “too dark” when it comes to fiction. A few comments used Scripture to buoy an argument, though one person mentioned that the Bible is not fiction and therefore operates with a different set of rules.

In other words, we can’t use the idea that the Bible didn’t graphically show evil as an indicator that our fiction shouldn’t graphically show evil. The Bible wasn’t written using “fiction techniques.” It doesn’t follow fictional rules of dialogue, for example, so fiction writers shouldn’t use the Bible and its treatment of evil as a model. I hope I have expressed those views accurately.

The point was a good one I thought. Anyway, the comment got me to thinking about evil in the Bible. The Psalms are full of reflection on evildoers and the wicked. In some, the Psalmist asks God why the wicked prosper. In others the godly are admonished to stay clear of the wicked. David wrote a good deal about the wicked, often pleading with God to to save him from the wicked. But are these Psalms dark?

I don’t think so. As a general rule, even Psalms that start out bemoaning difficult circumstances end up praising God. Sure, the writers question and confess and call for God’s judgment, but that’s the thing. God is present in these Psalms. He is the one the writer is addressing or He is the Saving Hand who receives praise in the end.

So the question. Are any books of the Bible really dark?

I can think of one. It’s the book whose theme is, Everyone did what was right in his own eyes, with They did evil in the sight of the Lord as the counter melody. This is a dark, dark message. And the book illustrates it with stories about betrayal and murder, gang rape, civil war, idolatry, broken vows, kidnapping, prostitution, vandalism, torture.

Yes, all in one book of the Bible—Judges. It’s the darkest one, as far as I’m concerned. God does show up, time and time again, to provide a judge who will rescue His people, but just as often His people revert to their wicked ways.

And that is the human condition. Seems to me we must acknowledge that before we can grasp our need for our Redeemer-King.

That’s not to say every work of fiction needs to include betrayal and murder, gang rape, civil war, idolatry, broken vows, kidnapping, prostitution, vandalism, and torture. 😉

Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

3 Comments

  1. Judges is almost the cheat-sheet version of Scripture. Cliffnotes.

    I always hesitate at things like “Well, Jesus did this,” or “Well, Scripture wrote that,” because, well, I’m not Jesus. Kinda like I said to Mom the other day – Just because Jesus called people white-washed tombs and tore apart the temple doesn’t exactly mean I should say “What would Jesus do?” and do the same.

    I think I agree with many of the other comments over the last few days (yes, I was reading): The blacker the background, the brighter the foreground. There’s an objective and subjective level to this – And I really do think that we hesitate, struggle, and wrestle over these questions is good. Not in the “How much can I get away with?” mindset, but in the “fear and trembling” mindset.

    So the question. Are any books of the Bible really dark?

    It’s the book whose theme is, Everyone did what was right in his own eyes, with They did evil in the sight of the Lord as the counter melody. This is a dark, dark message. And the book illustrates it with stories about betrayal and murder, gang rape, civil war, idolatry, broken vows, kidnapping, prostitution, vandalism, torture.

    Yes, all in one book of the Bible—Judges. It’s the darkest one, as far as I’m concerned. God does show up, time and time again, to provide a judge who will rescue His people, but just as often His people revert to their wicked ways.

    And that is the human condition. Seems to me we must acknowledge that before we can grasp our need for our Redeemer-King.

    I think that’s the crux – Not that we cherish evil, but that we cherish or King.

    Like

  2. Becky,
    This also goes back to what we focus on is what will fill on minds. Keeping our eyes and heart on the Lord makes it harder for darkness to gain a foothold in our life. Doing what is right in our own sight leads to situational ethics and down the path of moral relativism. ‘Not that much worse’ seems the guiding excuse of society. Look at where we stand now compared to even a decade ago.

    It goes back to keeping our eyes on the Shepherd to stay on the right track.

    Tim

    Like

  3. Kaci, I agree that for me as a writer it’s good to struggle with this issue. I really appreciate all the input. It’s helped me crystalize my thoughts and I find myself on middle ground. I agree that the blackness shows the white by contrast, but I also think the light can scatter the shadows.

    And I agree with Tim that much of the issue has to do with our own hearts and keeping our eyes on Christ.

    In the long run, I suspect if I’m doing that, I will know when I’ve strayed from writing what I should. That’s not to say that what I write will edify every person who reads it. Some may even be offended and others may choose to put it down. But I think I need to settle the darkness issue as my own spiritual matter and trust God with the outcome.

    Becky

    Like


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: