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Topic: Reading tastes vs. religious beliefs? (may be controversial)

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Subject: Reading tastes vs. religious beliefs? (may be controversial)
Date Posted: 3/16/2009 2:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,742
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I am NOT trying to start a flame war here - I am legitimately curious. For those of you who are Christians and like to read Christian fiction, but who also like to read erotica, or occult fiction, or paranormal, etc. - how do you reconcile your reading tastes to your beliefs? When I became a Christian, I almost immediately stopped reading Anne Rice and other authors I would now consider paranormal and I also stopped reading books with a lot of sex. I actually feel like God has laid it on my heart to stop reading those kinds of genres, and I feel uncomfortable if a book I am reading starts to go in that kind of direction. I have actually stopped reading a book even if I am enjoying it, because the sex or bad language gets out of control. The Bible specifically tells the Christian to stay away from anything that has to do with witchcraft or the occult, and from anything that could lead to sexual immorality - and I read that as including literature with those kinds of influences.

Any other opinions? Am I just plain wrong, or is this a question of personal conviction that doesn't apply to all believers, or what?

Date Posted: 3/16/2009 2:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 3,044
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I think it's what your personally comfortable with. If you feel God is telling you not to read such literature, maybe you shouldn't.

I personally read paranormals as strictly fiction or fantasy. I know vampires don't really exist but I can still enjoy that alternate universe. I would liken it to reading a book then watching the movie version. If you can't view the two as entirely separate entities, you probably won't be able to enjoy the movie version of the book. So if you can't separate religion from what you read, then you probably won't enjoy reading it if it's contradictory to your religion.

Similarly, I view excessive cussing and/or sexual activity (I read chick-lit which has some sex but obviously not like erotica would so I suppose it might be viewed differently by someone who does read erotica) as the fictional characters choices in life. They just aren't doing things the way I might.

I don't know if this helps you or not! Basically, I think it's more a personal thing. My answer may not be yours. :)

Date Posted: 3/16/2009 5:30 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2007
Posts: 145
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I think you're on the right track. I used to read it too before I came to Christ. But there is so much good Christian literature available, both fiction and non-fiction, so much of every gender that I don't need anything else. And it's not like I'm not ever tempted to go back and read favorite authors, but it fades more and more over time as one grows and matures in Christ.

Another reason I stay away from it is because I want to be an example for my daughters and leave them a legacy they can be proud of and look up to. We live in a day and age where everything is taken to the extreme, spiraling out of control and if I set a good example and present them with " things that are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. " (Phil. 4:8) maybe I can save them for what many other teenagers up against?? Maybe, maybe maybe.

I think this is a good discussions for mother's to be having.


Date Posted: 3/17/2009 6:55 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 795
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This is a good question Bren!  I've known for a long time that some kinds of music and literature aren't healthy for me, so I prayed for direction and renewing of my mind.  Gradually my tastes changed.  For instance, I normally relish a good suspense story, but find I can't read "serial killer" stories any more.  That leaves me with limited choices in fiction these days, so I find I'm reading a lot of nonfiction - travel, memoirs, history, medical case stories,  etc.  I have a natural tendency toward depression, and find that the battle is much easier to fight if I'm listening to either Christian or classical music when I want to hear music.

Subject: For me, personally, it's more than just books!
Date Posted: 3/17/2009 3:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/16/2008
Posts: 101
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I personally make the choice to read things that honor God. Now, that doesn't mean I read ONLY Christian. I believe there is ALOT of good fiction out there that can still be honorable to God even if it isn't God-based. I can't stand to read anything with sexual details, alot of violence, affairs, lying, or people who choose to do the wrong thing and get away with it. Those kinds of things aren't honorable to God, so why fill my head with them? At least that's my thinking....

Actually, over a year ago, I took all of this a step further, and I challenge others to do the same. Some things happened in my life that nearly caused my marriage to fall apart (I'm happy to share it, but not on a public forum... If you want, you can PM me and we can chat). Anyways, it caused me open my eyes a little wider and see things in our world differently... I believe God gave me a supernatural pair of eyes for a while, to see things in commercials, in ads, on the radio, on regular "kid-friendly" t.v. shows that I had grown so accustomed/numb to but were harmful to not just my dauther but to ME to my husband... I think God wanted me, personally, to respond with not just better choices (I already thought I was making good choices!), but bolder choices. SO.... long story short, my husband and I haven't watched a single television show in over a year! The only time our t.v. is on at our house is for movies for my dauther or when we are playing games (and even those we are more cautious of.) And, I'm being completely honest here.... we do not miss it one single second. I do NOT believe this extreme is for everyone, but I DO believe, however, EVERYONE, should be challenged to see things a little more clearly and through "God-given eyes".

Anyway, that's my two cents worth. :)

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
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This is something I have struggled with on and off in my walk with God.   What keeps coming to my mind is the Bible verse that says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworth - think on such things."  Phillippians 4:8

What I put into my mind, I think on.      I know this and yet at times I still fill my mind with ungodly things.   I'm working on it.   I'm a work in progress.       The MORE I read uplifting and Christian fiction the more AWARE I am of the "ungodlyness" of other things I read.

Date Posted: 3/24/2009 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2006
Posts: 55
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My mom and dad stopped watching soap operas many years ago because of the sins being committed.

I once wrote to an author to tell her that, while I enjoyed her novel, I would not be reading anymore of them because of the profanity she included.  I suggested that she could use other language just as effectively.  Of course, I got no response.

Date Posted: 3/25/2009 9:05 AM ET
Member Since: 7/11/2007
Posts: 245
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I have no problems with what I read.  I pretty much read only Christian authors.  I never meant to become so restrictive with my reading material.  For the longest time, I tried to read everything I could from both the Christian authors and non-Christian ones I liked as well.  But, not having an endless well of finances, I had to cut back.  Since I was hitting the Christian bookstores so often for music, and they have all those wonderful sounding books, it wasn't hard to switch.  I've just never gone back to find out what Dean Koontz and others are writing since then.

I just wonder if my movie watching will ever change.  More and more stuff in movies is bugging me.  You can't even show a PG-13 movie to teenagers without wanting to blush.  A lot of language, violence, sexual situations, etc. that are in PG-13 films used to brand a movie R.  Nowadays, they have to be showing someone being tortured or softcore porn to get a hard R rating.  It won't be long until we Christians are going to have to decide which side of the fence we are on when it comes to the entertainment industry (books, movies, tv, music).

Date Posted: 3/25/2009 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 3/7/2009
Posts: 11,108
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I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy and, like someone said above, I don't have trouble reading it as fiction and enjoying an alternate universe.  However, I recently started reading a series about vampires that really does bother me.  I feel like the author is trying to work out her personal issues with religion and Christians through these books and she makes gross stereotypes that are ridiculous.  It has definitely turned me off and I probably won't finish the series.

So I guess reading "nonChristian" fiction doesn't bother me unless the book seems to bash Christians.

Date Posted: 3/25/2009 3:53 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2008
Posts: 3,365
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I pretty much agree with Bren. This is a topic that I often get asked about. As has already been mentioned, Phil. 4:8 clearly defines for me what would be allowed. Also, if I wouldn't want to see these things in real life why would I read about them.? My standards are pretty high when it comes to entertainment. Movies, books, etc. I have started books before and had to put them down because they got to explicit about relationships, there was too much physical contact before marriage, etc. Another thing is, would you feel comfortable reading what you are, if Christ were to come back and find you reading it? I just think right now is a time that we need to be especially on our guard and have our standards as high as possible. If anyone wants to PM me I am more than willing to chat about this stuff.

Hope I don't get anyone mad with this post:)

Date Posted: 3/25/2009 3:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 71
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What a great topic Bren.

Before I became a christian I read anything at all.  The sex, language, violence didn't seem to bother me at all.  But since I have become a christian my taste has greatly changed.  There are so many christian books out there that I want to read that I really don't have time to read anything else. 







Date Posted: 3/28/2009 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 12/17/2007
Posts: 452
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Anyone ever read the book In His Steps?  What Kim said reminded me of this book.  It's amazing how the sweet Holy Spirit that is present in each of us to comfort and reassure also quietly grieves when we're exposed to things that aren't true, lovely, admirable and worthy of praise :)

BTW, there is a newer (still kinda old) version of In His Steps called What Would Jesus Do? and now there are even children's versions.  I'm looking for a deal on the children's versions.  (I had to add that... I just had to)


Date Posted: 4/2/2009 8:04 AM ET
Member Since: 3/1/2009
Posts: 11
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Lately, I've been gravitating to Christian fiction although I still read Patricia Cornwell and Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novels, which aren't overtly religious.  I stopped reading romances years ago because of the explicit sexual content, but I've recently discovered the Steeple Hill Love Inspired series and have mostly enjoyed those books. 

Your reading choices are personal, and your Bible-trained conscience is, for the most part, your guide.  I avoid anything having to do with the occult (yes, this includes Harry Potter) but I will admit to loving Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series as well as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  For this reason, I also avoid Stephen King and Peter Straub. 

Actually, what I have been trying to do lately is simply read a portion of the Bible each day before I go to bed.  At least one chapter, if not more. 


Date Posted: 4/2/2009 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2007
Posts: 1,011
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I agree with Mel in that thru prayer my reading (and viewing!) tastes have vastly changed. I rarely see a movie at the theatre now, can't stand all the bad words and situations. I do read both Christian fiction and general fiction still, but I am much much more selective about which books I choose. I had always enjoyed the stories of Robyn Carr, but have become disgusted with some of the bad words she throws in and the casual outlook on sin. Now as I choose a book, I try to remind myself of the Bible verse that speaks of how we are free to partake of all things but not all things are necessarily right for me to partake of. I do still love a good murder mystery now and then, but I am cautious about what I choose and if it begins to make me uncomfortable, I have no problem with not finishing it. I DO find that I am much happier with sticking fairly close to Christian fiction and non-fiction and it seems that I am "stumbling" onto more and more new Christian authors lately. 

Date Posted: 4/3/2009 1:51 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
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I still read a lot of authors that aren't considered Christian authors.  I'm just getting more choosy over the authors I pick.

Subject: new authors
Date Posted: 4/3/2009 2:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2008
Posts: 407
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IF you feel like you shouldn't, don't read those things.  There are so many good Christian authors.  Francine Rivers, Lori Wick, Janette Oke all are romance type for the most part.  Ted Dekker, Eric Wilson, Bill Myers are great if you don't want a light read.  Frank Peretti's book deal with all sorts of spiritual warfare and are awesome. 

We've recently found an awesome pastor that has a bunch of book recommendations and wonderful insights online.  www.marshillchurch.org  They have SO much material online, all their sermons, and a bunch of women's teaching which are awesome I've started listening to those and some incredible music. 


Okay, sorry that was long.  If you are interested in a certain kind of book I can look at the extras I have on my bookshelves at home.