One of the issues that keeps many Christian people from reading a lot of modern fiction is the proliferation of explicit sexual scenes. Yet now I seem to be finding more sexuality in Christian fiction — not full-fledged descriptions, but more of a window into that activity than I really want to read and imagine.
It’s not that I and Christians in general don’t like sex. It was God’s idea, after all: He invented it not only for procreation but also for enjoyment, within the parameters for which He created it (within marriage, to one spouse, between a man and woman.) Enjoyed as He meant it, it is a wonderful expression of love and intimacy.
But as Quilly once so aptly put it, I don’t enjoy sex as a spectator sport. I think it is meant to be private.
I do understand that some Christian authors write sexual scenes to show show how a person could easily get into trouble sexually without meaning to. And I understand that some want to portray sexuality in a normal, healthy, marital way, reasoning that, 1) it is okay to do so since God created it, and 2) if all sexuality in literature is the “wrong” variety (illicit, adulterous, etc.), then that gives readers a warped view of what it is meant to be.
And Song of Solomon is in the Bible after all, as well as graphic verses like Proverbs 5:19. And I am glad they are: they helped immensely when, as a young wife, I had to change my mind set from thinking of sex as something I needed to avoid and resist as an unmarried woman to something I was now free to enjoy. I knew that intellectually, but there were times of going over these passages to assure myself that it really was ok now.
I don’t think I have seen anything as graphic as those passages in Christian fiction, but I have read some passages that made me feel uncomfortable in the sense of feeling aroused or feeling voyeuristic — and that’s not how I want to feel when reading! Especially Christian fiction!
My appeal to any author, Christian or secular, would be to remember the “less is more” principle. A hint in this area is usually better than a full-fledged description. Some of you may remember on the TV sitcom “Happy Days” that occasionally Mrs. Cunningham would head upstairs saying something about “feeling frisky,” and Mr. Cunningham would get a goofy grin on his face and rush upstairs after her. It was cute, it revealed they were happy in that area of their lives, and that was all we needed to know.
By contrast, in one Christian book I just finished, a couple’s wedding night was portrayed step-by-step until they actually got into bed, and though I would say it was tastefully done and not explicit, and it fit naturally into the story, I still didn’t want to be left with the mental image of a man undressing his wife even though in reality it is a normal and wholesome thing.
What do you think? Are you comfortable with the portrayal of Christian married couples as sexual beings in Christian fiction? Is it helpful to portray married Christian sexuality as normal, healthy, and fun? How much is too much? At what point do you close a book or avoid an author (or avoid recommending an author) because of sexual content?