Using Spiritual Discernment in Reading Fiction

Spiritual Discernment in Reading Fiction.

Do you consider fiction as make-believe?

Some might answer yes, others no, but there is a general belief that fiction is harmless make-believe. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, publishers know fiction can be very influential. Look on the bookstore shelves to see a myriad of inappropriate subject matters aimed at kids. A very explosive article called Darkness Too Visible blows the lid off the agendas and attitude of the industry toward parents concerned about the children’s books.

Yet, as Christians, we shouldn’t be surprised. Romans 1:18-32 outlines rebellion and God’s response. The phrase “God gave them over” appears 3 times in the passage. Verse 32 sums it up (NAS) “… and although they know the ordinance of God that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

The saddest part is Christian publishers are following the lead of secular publishers by incorporating inappropriate and unbiblical subjects into their books. Again, browse the Christian bookstores and see “Christian” authors writing about cursed pirates, vampire and vampire hunters, zombies and doppelganger (meaning evil twin – either real or a ghost).

The fastest growing category is speculative fiction, which includes fantasy, science fiction and steampunk – a Jules Verne type blend of fantasy and sci-fi. Most are aimed at kids ages 13 and up, but some go for the younger ages.

2 Corinthians 6:14-15a (NAS) “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial?”  The name Belial is the ancient word for Satan.  Why are Christian publishers exposing Christian brothers and sisters to unbiblical topics?  When did bloody, gory, explicit “Christian horror” become accepted reading? Sadly, the answer is most are no longer owned by Christians, rather secular companies making inroads into the religious market.

Publishers and people divide fiction from non-fiction, but Scripture makes no distinction between reality and fiction. Why? Because all things taken in by way of hearing and seeing affect the mind.  In the Bible, the word for mind appears 95 times. However, in Jewish terms the word heart is often substituted since it denotes behavior, not simply intellect. The term for heart is used over 800 times! God cares about a person’s heart and character.

Matthew 15:17-19 (NAS) “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders about discerning the seasons and the weather by reading the signs in nature, but unable to discern the time according to Scripture. As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to use the discernment God freely gives us to protect the fragile and easily influenced minds of our children.

Teaching Spiritual Discernment

When teaching on spiritual discernment, I hear parents say, “I don’t have time to preview everything my child reads.” My response – Is it worth risking your child’s heart, mind and soul being corrupted by the world because you didn’t make the time? Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NAS) These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk to them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and why your lie down and when you rise up.

Our duty as parents is devoted to teaching Godly truths and Spiritual realities to our children in everything we do, all day long. Thus we need discernment to decide which books pass the Biblical test. Consider the following questions, and ask for God’s wisdom:

Does the book help to exalt the name of Christ and instill biblical principals, or do they challenge and demean them?  Does it exemplify godly character traits or focus on negative behavior by exalting them above goodness? How will the book impact my child’s behavior now and in the long term?

Article contributed by Shawn Lamb, author of the Allon books.

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