Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that in order for God to approve of me, I had to read nothing but Scripture, do nothing but pray, and listen to nothing but worship music. That if I watched Supernatural or read Terry Pratchett or dropped an F-bomb, I’d be out. Or at least be on the receiving end of a divinely disappointed tsk-tsk.
It wasn’t until I came back to writing that I noticed how narrow I’d become. Reentering the world of fiction seemed impossible. It’s pagan mythology and dangerous questions and risky behavior and swear words and wild imagination. Everything I love about writing SFF seemed to contradict what I’m supposed to do and be as a Christian. Whenever I’d toy with concepts like discovering the world really is flat or what if Holmes was Watson’s PTSD hallucination, I’d start to spiral in a religious panic.
And so I gave it up. I chose the martyr’s path and sacrificed my identity as a genre writer to keep my sense of holiness. I knew God was calling me to write spiritual teaching material–devotionals and the like–so I dove in, expecting that to fill the gaping hole.
But while the ideas were good and the doctrine sound, it all had a sandpaper quality that chafed my soul. It was me but didn’t sound like me.
I’d lost myself somewhere under the mantle of seriousness I’d assumed.
The worst part? It wasn’t even real.
Nowhere in the Bible does it instruct believers to be boring, locked-down, humorless, or unimaginative. In fact, it’s full of energetic, outgoing, clever, creative people who take God seriously but hold the world lightly. Jesus did his first miracle at a party, and David danced naked in public, yanno?
As Garrett from Rend Collective so perfectly phrased it, “Seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit.”
Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control–these are the fruits of the spirit of God. That’s what I should be chasing down, not a twisted caricature of Christianity that doesn’t let you dance or go to the movies. The true fruit of the spirit is sweet and gorgeous, the kind that makes people stop, inhale, and make happy noises when they taste it. Seriousness of the soul produces sour, bitter fruit that no one wants to eat.
When I remember that, the weight lifts, and I can hear my voice again.
My love of writing science fiction and fantasy is God-given. It’s his world, his creation, and therefore his genre. And he is far more concerned about me telling stories as a Christian than he is about me telling Christian stories. Because when I seek him and the fruits of his spirit–the real ones, not the ones I make up–the stories I tell will always point to him, no matter how many vampires or swear words might sneak in there.