1. dmdutcher says:

    I think there is a point that Christians should write more books about things like infidelity, without whitewashing the impact of it on people’s lives. But I don’t think it’s glamorizing sin not to show the full impact of it depending on the theme of the book, any more than you focus on the full impact of murder in a book if you use it as a plot device. It depends on the purpose of the book and its theme. Sometimes a plot device is just a plot device.

    • notleia says:

      After all, if sin isn’t fun, ur doin it rong.

    • R. L. Copple says:

      There is some truth to that. I don’t fault an author with not showing fully the effects of a sin upon all involved. But murders usually get caught. If they are so narcissistic as to feel no guilt over what they did to people, it is generally understood to be a “bad guy trait,” certainly nothing to emulate. Few books, even secular, end up glamorizing murder, even if the full consequences aren’t detailed out.


      People are still prosecuted and put to death for murder. But when is the last time anyone’s been charged and prosecuted for committing adultery? The last time I recall that happening, the attorney general ended up with so much public backlash he had to dismiss it. A few years ago, in Indiana or Illinois, I can’t recall which.


      The sins society accepts as maybe not good, but not all that bad, I think there is some responsibility for authors not to paint those sins in the same light by either mimicking society, or by ignoring the topic or minimizing it. This isn’t a call to be the sin police on books, but to evaluate what the message a book or show is conveying about sin in general, and how it has conditioned us to ignore its costs in many cases, making us vulnerable to fall into that sin.

  2. notleia says:

    So really, the title of this article should be “Glamorizing Infidelity.” It bugs me because it’s inaccurate as-is.

    But anyway, storytime. My fiance left me for someone else, and you couldn’t pay me to get back with that [censored]. (I’m still angry.) But really, with all the clarity of hindsight, his leaving was a symptom of our problems, not a cause. Could we have worked through it? Maybe, in a theoretical reality where he even wanted to remain in our relationship and acknowledged his own problems and wanted to work on them. But since he’s still  a codependent, boundary-trampling [censored], nope.

    So the things that can be gleaned from my story: infidelity is a symptom, not a cause; it takes effort from both parties or else it’s useless; people can stay mad a long time and not progress towards forgiveness at an outsider’s preferred pace.

    • R. L. Copple says:

      I’m using infidelity as an example. What I’m talking about applies to all sin, but this is one that doesn’t tend to get much play time and focus. Most people don’t know how devastating it is, until it is too late. Ditto for many other sins.


      Yes, infidelity, like other sins, is a symptom of a larger problem. If reflects the hardness of our hearts, our fallen condition Christ came to redeem. But like any sin, it is also the cause of further problems, destruction, and ruined lives. Having been on an infidelity support group for over 3 years now, I can’t even begin to relate the grief, pain, destroyed marriages,I’ve seen resulting from this “fun.”


      While sin is sin, they all have varying degrees of consequences. Infidelity has some of the most brutal. Consequences that take years to deal with, if not the rest of your life.


      You mentioned it being fun. A lot of sin has that facade, fostered by society. In some ways it is “fun” in that it appeals to our passions and seeks to make us prisoners of them. But there are always consequences that follow, even for the one who cheated. My wife went through hell extracting from that fun, and dealing with the guilt of what she’d done to me and our kids during a period of selfishness. The spiritual destruction was also a biggie.


      But our society likes to show only the fun. Satan doesn’t want people to see the hidden costs involved for those moments of pleasure. And they are huge. Really huge. I watched my wife beat herself up with guilt for months before she came to a point of acceptance of mine and God’s forgiveness. Even last night on the forum I’m on, an “other woman” whose affair partner was married talked about how she saw herself as a monster not deserving to live for a long time. She is the tip of the iceberg.


      Most agree on our forum, there are few, if any, TV shows or movies that show the real impact of infidelity. Most make it seem like no big deal. That’s true of a lot of other sins as well. When Christian media avoids the topic, or minimizes it with simplistic one-size-fits-all solutions, it does nothing to counter that false image of it is all fun.


      People need to learn you don’t put out a fire with gasoline. But they continue to try anyway.


      • notleia says:

        I’ll assume you’re preaching to the general choir rather than me specifically, but I was referring more to the psychological/sociological junk when I was talking about “symptoms.”

        Obviously, your wife got something out of that fling, however trivial, or she wouldn’t’ve done it. More affection, emotional closeness, getting her rocks off, whatever. <– Fun, however trivial and fleeting, that for some reason she wasn’t getting from you at the time. She wasn’t/isn’t wrong to have needs, but obviously the way she went about it then was wrong. But since you two patched it up, I feel safe in assuming that you’ve developed better skills about communicating needs and such.

        But anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that a writer needs to understand the mechanics of infidelity/what-have-you if s/he is going to make it not-lame. I don’t think just the general “people suck” idea is quite enough to cut it. What’s the motivation? It took me five minutes to project some onto your wife, vague as it was, so I’m not going to be quick to forgive some hack writer who can’t do that much.

        • R. L. Copple says:

          I get your drift, I think. Problem is, most people who haven’t gone through it make the same general assumptions you made. That is, the betrayed spouse must not have been meeting needs and is why the other spouse cheated.


          In my wife’s case, she fell into the desire of wanting other men’s attention. She had mine. She knew I loved her. My attention couldn’t produce the same emotional high she got when another man indicated he wanted her. I could have been more attentive. You are right, we’ve gotten better at knowing each other’s needs. But it was impossible for me to meet that need, and I would suggest, was a need driven by passions and temptations, not legitimate needs. While there are cases when the marriage sucks at some level and is at least the excuse for cheating, the real motivation for  most is the selfish and illicit desire  that shouldn’t be fulfilled in the first place.


          In the end, most people’s attempts to explain the motivation come across as justifications for why it happened, an attempt to push the blame onto the victim, and not really understanding the reality of what infidelity does to a couple. Because society’s first reaction is “he/she must not have been meeting his/her needs.” For those who’ve been there and done that, such a fictional account doesn’t ring realistic anymore than when hardly any motivation is given. Especially unrealistic when the betrayed is able to “get over it” and back to normal within a few weeks, months or a year. It is grueling work rebuilding a relationship from the foundation up.

          But no, I wasn’t preaching to you specifically, only addressing you point generally. I’m not saying you are necessarily guilty of doing any of that.

          • notleia says:

            Buuuuuuut, my assumptions weren’t entirely wrong, were they, because I’m never wrong, mwahahahahaha.

            But I’m not actually interested in playing the blame game. I find you both to be pitiable. You because you couldn’t help it, her because wanting to be admired is so…..I don’t want to say pitiable because that would be repetitive, but pitiable. It’s a small, petty form of validation, but it is validation.

  3. Tony Breeden says:

    Good post. As I’ve pointed out before, glossing over sin and trying to create characters that are Christian paragons takes the teeth out of our writing; to wit, how can we show a God who can meet us wherever we are and help us overcome any sin if we are unwilling to portray people [and their sins] as they actually are, consequences and all?

    More of my thoughts on this subject can be found here: http://tonybreeden.blogspot.com/2014/07/life-without-plastic-writing-christian.html

    Regards and keep up the good work!


  4. Julie D says:

    I suppose I’d never considered how ignoring sin altogether can “glamourize” it as much a more openly positive portrayal, but both approaches ignore the consequences.  Definitely something to consider.

  5. Good post, Rick.

    I’d like to differentiate between “clean fiction” and “safe fiction,” however. For example, Francine Rivers wrote a book entitled When the Shofar Blew about the life of a pastor, which included his infidelity. It was “clean,” however, but it was an honest story with no quick fixes and no minimizing of the damage his actions caused.

    I think there are “safe” stories that would want to move past the harm to get to the restoration, but in the process, they trivialize the hurt and hard work required. Yes, we enjoy God’s forgiveness, and His grace takes us through. We want to celebrate that. But when we celebrate too soon, we actually cheapen the very things we want to highlight.


  6. The way a lot of stories (both clean and dirty) treat lying is a personal pet peeve of mine.  The Bible says that God thinks of “a lying tongue” as an abomination; and yet, I can’t think of very many stories that address lying as something problematic or display consequences for it.  Instead, lying is something that even the good guys will do without any compunction, and it’s portrayed as a harmless action so long as no overt malice is involved.

    • Alex Mellen says:

      That’s a really good point. Lies are only bad in books if  they hurt someone, and the lesson ends up being “don’t hurt people by what you say.” What about lies that make others feel good or help others? They’re usually portrayed as okay.


      On the other hand, a character that never lies often feels like the “Barbie effect.” (The one exception I can think of is Captain America, and he’s hardly realistic.) I want to show the values of truth and trusting others in my stories, so the characters learn that all lies are harmful in some way.

What do you think?