Why I still write clean


On Sept 11 2012, I published a post entitled Why I Write Clean. By far, it’s been my most viewed and most commented on article since I began this blog. A while back, I disabled comments on my blog and changed my template. It looks like all but two comments were wiped out.

In case you don’t have time to click the link above, here is a quick excerpt:

A few years ago, I picked up a Stephen King novel (I can’t even remember what it was titled) and tried to read it. It was the first time I had the desire to read one of his books. There were so many F-bombs in the first two chapters that I just could not continue. I put it down and haven’t picked up one of his books since that day. Writing fiction is about telling a story, bringing characters to life, and entertaining the masses with a great novel. I get that, I truly do. And I know what the world is like and how ordinary people talk.

I still haven’t read a Stephen King novel. All of his books might not be as bad as the one I attempted to read, but I just haven’t had the desire to try again.

I understand how many authors want to keep their characters authentic and realistic, but I just don’t see the need for profanity-filled dialog. It’s not necessary.

If I wanted to sell a million copies of a novel, all I need to do is fill it with vulgar language, explicit sex scenes, and gory violence. That’s what the majority of people in the world are looking for. And I understand that. And please don’t take this as me trying to bash other authors who write in different genres. It’s not that at all. This is a personal choice, and a decision I made a long time ago.

As a Christian, I need to be set apart. Different. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know I’m not talking about shunning everyone who isn’t a Christian or judging people for their beliefs. That is the complete opposite of how we’re to live as Christians. But, when we accept Christ into our life, something has to change.

And it’s not about trying to avoid sin and being a good Christian. When we truly deny ourselves and surrender everything we are, the change is just a by-product of sonship. We can’t help but change if Jesus is our focus and not self. Our minds are renewed on a daily basis through relationship with our Father. We can’t have good fruit until the tree is good.

This change in my life doesn’t just involve my writing. It’s about the things I watch, listen to, and participate in.

The trailer for American Sniper looks phenomenal, but I won’t go see it. Here is just one reason why. Plugged In is a great website to see reviews of movies. Here is the Crude or Profane language section for this movie:

About 100 f-words, nearly 40 s-words and scads of other swear words, including “a–,” “b–ch,” “h—,” “p—” and “d–k.” God’s name is misused a dozen times, more often than not combined with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is abused two or three times.

Sounds like it was a pretty easy script to write. Why would I want to sit through all of that? Just as it is with novels, vulgar language, sex scenes, and gory violence are unnecessary elements in order to make a great movie.

Philippians 4:8 says:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

I’m supposed to be seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.

I believe too often we use the grace card as an excuse to indulge our flesh with activities that we wouldn’t participate in if Jesus was physically sitting right beside us. 

And I know God isn’t sitting up there rocking back and forth with both hands over His ears because people are swearing. If He’s shaken off the throne by that, we are in some serious trouble. But why would we want to fill our minds with garbage, when the Creator of the universe wants a relationship with us?

I know for a fact, people will label me as legalistic for some of the things I’ve written today, but that’s okay, because I know I’m not. And it’s none of my business what you want to watch, read, or listen to. You are the steward of your own heart just as I am of mine.

We answer to God for the things we do or don’t do, not man.

So, why do I still write clean? Because I am a new creature. When I became born again, the old things passed away and ALL things became new.

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30 thoughts on “Why I still write clean

  1. Thank you for your post. I’m not a writer, just an enjoyer of the movies and the written word. I think an idea can be put across more effectively with description rather than foul language. A book with four letter words is distracting to me and I am very likely to put it down and not pick it up. I also will not recommend a book with foul language to a friend. I think some of the scariest, or romantic, or suspenseful movies have not had foul language, naked bodies, or gruesome violence. Our imaginations fill in the blanks because the writer was able to create the setting and mood. The most talented writers are those with a vocabulary that doesn’t need to include foul language.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I write clean because I have no desire to not write clean. When I write about a character with a dirty mouth (as some of them do; there is little point to writing about good people who meet Jesus and then continue to be good people – I make them seriously messed up, then they meet Jesus and become God people), I tell instead of showing: “He swore colourfully” or “He said a word known only to sergeants and stablehands”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Chris this is an important post and I must admit once in awhile I have slipped in a F bomb knowing it was wrong. Thank you for helping me see my errors and I will make sure from this point on it never happens again. As upset I get because of the politics going on in this country, it is no excuse, I will watch the language from now on. This is why I love your blog, I did not really get chastised, just gently led in the right direction.

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Writing with cuss, swear, dirty words is a fair indication that the writer cannot otherwise express any thought, idea or concept. The words themselves demonstrate ignorance and a great limitation of imagination: Nobody awakes and says “F” this, “S” that. People put their word into order without those limited words.

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  5. Great post! I cussed like a sailor before I became a Christian, and it took me years to evict all those words from my mind. I don’t watch movies with language (pretty much stick to oldies or Disney) because I don’t want those words to re-enter my head. Ditto with books. I’ve been called a prude or worse, but my Lord Jesus Christ is who I’m trying to please. Keep writing!

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  6. Reblogged this on Harem and commented:
    Well guys, I guess this explains it all. Its not easy been a full time Christian. Everyday we are tempted or we actually compromise one valueor the another just to be accepted by the world. But in this walk of faith, its either you are fully in or out. There are no middle grounds. Thanks a lot Chris and oh I had plans to see the American sniper soon but I want to join this revolution so I will try and stay away. Enjoy…

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  7. Thank you for saying this. I can never understand why Christians feel the need to use certain words in their speech. It’s not legalistic, just common courtesy to have wholesome speech. I love this line: “I believe too often we use the grace card as an excuse to indulge our flesh with activities that we wouldn’t participate in if Jesus was physically sitting right beside us.” I seriously doubt that most Christians would drop the f-bomb in front of Jesus, if he were physically beside them, yet they do it all the time and it is offensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. All good points. This extends to other areas as well. If you’re doing comedy and you’re funny why are F words necessary? If you have a group of friends who want to get together and go out for fun why can’t people have fun without getting passed out drunk? Comedy, writing, etc are all talents. If you’re good its not necessary to resort to shock value to be heard. And if you can’t hve fun without getting drunk, maybe you need a new set of friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amen, Chris! You’ve expressed my thoughts exactly. Thank you for this well-written, thoughtful and spot-on post! I’ll look forward to reading more of your posts. Blessings to you, and keep writing for His glory.

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  10. By the way, with reference to American Sniper, my 13-year-old daughter tells me that many of her classmates have seen it. I’m just appalled by that. I know we shouldn’t judge others, but what are their parents thinking?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your points are good, Chris, although I think it takes more than profanity and violence to write a best seller! But to your point, there are hundreds of great war movies from an earlier era that did not contain so much profanity. No one watches those films and says, “That’s so unrealistic.” They appreciate the story itself. I find that as I get older, I won’t see movies such as American Sniper because of the violence, which is disturbing emotionally and spiritually. As you said, I just don’t want to expose myself to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fiction (and creative nonfiction) is by nature selective. Even stream-of-consciousness books don’t contain every detail of someone’s life. When an author includes graphic sex and violence or blush-worthy language, that’s a choice, not a necessity. He is saying, “This is vital to my story”–because a good writer doesn’t include extraneous material. Well, if that’s really vital to your story, you’ve just lost me as a reader. Your story is obviously about things I should not be filling my mind with. Or else you’ve shown that your grasp of story-telling is sub-par.

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  13. I totally agree with Wally Fry. Your article cannot be seen as legalistic at all! It is not about our works as far as keeping the commandments, but being grateful for the grace I have received, and building a relationship with Jesus Christ. Why would I want to do anything to offend Him? It is about following His example, which brings much more peace and joy!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Chris. Even if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t want to subject myself to that stuff either when there’s so much goo in this world. Why focus on the ugly and obscene and yes, it does nothing to enhance our relationship with God or people. Love attracts love why associate with hate, anger, swearing? Sure, we all have times when we lose our cool but to seek these things is another story.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m with you all the way on this one, in fact it’s a large part of why I began to write in the first place. I was horrified at the lack of good literature for my kids as they got to teen-hood. They didn’t want something stuffy or religious (as I must admit many Christian books and movies tend to be) but the alternatives seemed to be dark, twisted and abusive for the most part. Thankfully they all loved the classics and historical novels which were a lot better.
    I’m appalled that my 9 year old grandson has to make an effort not to swear. He says he thinks these words in his head and they come out sometimes, he doesn’t mean to say it. How did they get there? – His inordinate appetite for action movies. It’s so sad. I’m also aware that because I don’t write that way folks are not going to identify and I’ll never become a well known writer, but I can live with that, principals are more important to me, It’s my goal that people reading my stuff will be edified in some way not pulled down further.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Not legalistic at all, Chris. I just finished working my way through the Chapter 3 of the Book of James. Some important lessons there about how what we say with our mouths is a reflection of what is in our hearts. Nice job.

    Liked by 1 person

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