We have all received those fliers in the mail--"Discount Christian books!", "Buy in Bulk and SAVE!", or "NEW From Your Favorite Authors!". While there is nothing inherently wrong with the Christian fiction industry (weeeelll...), there are some things I have learned from experience, my mom's wisdom, and Scripture and want you to know and hopefully avoid. (Disclaimer: this is not really a critique of any particular books. This is me asking you to consider new levels of brain-purity. I will explain. I may or may not offend you. I have offended myself. All I ask is that you hear me out.)
If you know me, you know that I am an avid reader. Well, there was a time period where a friend of mine introduced me to a series of "Christian" novels that will remain nameless. I do not blame her for this at all, mind you. Every single one of them was a 'marriage of convenience' story. The plots were not exactly believable...but I read two of them and stopped in the middle of the third. Why did I not finish the third book?
Whether the nice married lady who wrote the novels realized it or not, her books had a very distinct message: love equals hopping in bed together. (Gasp!) But I am not kidding. These books are very popular in the Christian market too. But what other message can I get out of a book that reaches its climax in the romance department when the two formerly bickering and 'in this marriage for the sake of my kids' main characters jump in bed together? Of course the book isn't explicit. Otherwise the Christian publisher would not have published it. But the story, that message, and that scene have already done their damage in our minds, haven't they?
Look, just because the characters are married does NOT mean that it is okay for me to have that in my mind!
Here is the biblical principle that shows what I mean. Song of Songs 2:7 says: "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem...do not stir up or awaken love [or desire] until it pleases."
This is a command we girls would do well to heed! Only you know in your own conscience what stirs up or awakens your desires. Basically, this verse says "Don't do it! Do not read, watch, or listen to anything that will prematurely stir up passion in you. It is not what God designed. Keep that desire for later, when you are married!"
It is exactly like Paul says in 1 Cor. 6:12: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."
It makes a lot of sense for Paul to say "all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful". Indeed, a great many things are extremely unhelpful to our consciences, our hormones, and our poor teenage girl brains! So Paul resolves, "I will NOT be brought under the power of any"!!
I urge you-- do not let yourself be unwittingly brought under the power of your desires. You are so much more able, clean, and free to serve Christ when your mind is not focused on things that will 'not please' in this time of your life. All those things do is distract us from "single minded devotion to Christ Jesus".
One very practical way to not be brought under the influence of those things that are so unhelpful to our consciences is to think seriously about what you read. I weeded out my bookshelf and threw out books that my conscience said "NOT helpful!" to. You really have to listen to the Holy Spirit to tell you. If you feel that guilty pricking, don't justify the book! Chuck it! Here is Abigail's principle #1:
NO BOOK, MOVIE, SONG, OR FEELING IS WORTH A DIRTY CONSCIENCE!!! 1 Timothy urges us to flee youthful lusts. Let's do it!
Principle #2: (This is actually My Mom's Wisdom #1)
"OTHERS MAY, YOU CANNOT!"
This area is where your choices may divulge from your friends, even close ones. Remember that your conscience, brain, and heart are just that: YOURS. Do not let someone else's choices dictate to you what is right or wrong. You can feel your conscience's prompting. Obey it. I promise you that it will always be so worth it. I am by no means the perfect example of this, but I have tried it and I am telling you, you will feel much freer and cleaner! :) Whenever your friends or even older people you admire greatly are doing, watching, reading something that you know is wrong for you, remember: Others may, you cannot. They may not be sinning by reading whatever book it is, but you will if you disobey your conscience. So just simply value the thing that is much more long-lasting.
I hope that this post has been encouraging and maybe a little convicting. Like I said before, I have offended myself. I did not want to examine my reading so closely. But it was necessary for my conscience. It just might be for you too. Mind you, I am not perfect at this! I have slipped, and disobeyed the Holy Spirit's prompting, but I am forgiven and desperately want to obey the next time and be continually purified. Join me.