Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Please Don't "Redeem" My Novels

It's not a secret that in recent years that my fandom for "Christian" music and books has died down.

When I was in high school - I was all about these scenes. Our youth group was always going to Christian rock concerts and I loved every moment. I would make my mom listen to the Christian radio station, even though it wasn't her favorite. (Although I'm pretty sure she was a bit relieved when I wasn't listening to the popular rap and hip-hop at the time.) I also dove into Christian fiction books and ate them up.

Now... I haven't enjoyed doing this as much. One of the teenagers I work with once told me how he found it hilarious that his youth minister would rather listen to Lady Gaga (paws up little monsters!) than the local Christian radio station. There are some Christian artists that I enjoy and I play their music frequently on my ipod, but more often than not they are overruled by the Gaga.

The same goes for Christian books. One of my favorites authors is still Robin Jones Gunn and I peruse the Christian fiction section at Barnes and Noble quite often. However, I usually end up leaving the store with  some other book that "good Christian girls" probably shouldn't read.

However, there are some Christian novels and writers that speak to me.  One of her most famous books is Redeeming Love. It's a beautiful and amazing book that expresses the reckless love and grace God shows to us constantly. If you haven't read it - you really need to.

Then - I read this article the other day about how Redeeming Love had been changed from it's original edition in 1991 to the book so many people have read today. Please read the article before you go on with this post. My blog will be waiting for you right here until then.

After reading Francine Rivers' blog about the changes in the two editions happened, and I understand why they did. Rivers even says : "Redeeming Love still stands as my statement of faith, and both versions show how God works on us when we surrender to Him.  In my opinion, the “redeemed” version of Redeeming Love tells more of the story than the original."

However, it still bothers me that it was changed. Were these changes really necessary? 

These changes were from making a character (who was not even a Christian) edit out their swearing. It was editing scenes where Michael Hosea and Angel are having a discussion about sex - when they are already married. Also, in the newer edition the times God is speaking to the characters the words are written in bold, but not in the old edition.

I understand why Christian books don't have swearing and sex and all of that. I really do get it. However - as a writer, shouldn't a person call it like they see it? People, Christian or not Christian, swear. If Christians never swore or even heard curse words... well then I guess my group of friends and I are not Christians. Not that we should curse like a sailor or anything - but it is a fact of life. 

Then sex - in the part of the book they are referring to Michael and Angel are MARRIED. Married people have sex. Why do we feel the need to cover that up and not talk about it? Perhaps this is why my generation the the generation younger than mine have such a strange view of sex - we refuse to talk about it in the church even though it's supposed to be a beautiful thing between man and wife. If we can't even talk about it in the context of marriage aren't we sending the message that it's always wrong no matter what the situation?

Or with deciding to put God's words in bold. It makes sense in the book because then you know for sure that God is speaking to them. But does that ever happen in real life? Not many of us have bold words in our minds that we can be like "Oh, so that's what God is saying. Cool." If that happens to you - let me know. I'd love to know how you do that cause God doesn't always make it so obvious for me. 

This is why I usually enjoy books and music that aren't traditionally "Christian." They may not always have the best morals and values - but you know... neither did people in the Bible. If we as Christians can't handle people who mess up and make big mistakes, then let's leave out....

Cain - who killed his brother (I'm sure some not so nice words came out of his mouth during this...)
Abraham - who lied about his wife and slept with her maid and originally was a pagan
Lot - whose daughters seduced him
Jacob - who married two sisters and cheated his brother out of his inheritance
Judah- slept with his daughter-in-law thinking she was a prostitute
Moses- grew up with Egyptians and probably did not always follow the God of Abraham
Joshua and his men- spent the night with a prostitute
Rahab- who was the prostitute
Samson- visited prostitutes then gave up his strength to impress a pretty girl
Ruth- an outsider who visited Boaz in a pretty compromising situation
David- who had a hot affair and then killed off her husband when she get preggo
Bathsheba- David's lover
Solomon- he has hundreds of wives
Esther- do you really think that "one night with the king" was just her looking pretty?

Do I need to go on? I mean- that's the beauty of grace right? That is makes life not fair? That we aren't perfect and we mess up but God loves us anyways? That's the whole point of Jesus coming and dying on the cross. That's what Redeeming Love is all about!

I'm not really sure what the answers are. I know why Christian publishers have certain requirements for their novels- and I respect that. But sometimes I wonder if there are moments when this really doesn't help anyone. 

I ordered the original edition of Redeeming Love yesterday off of Amazon - so I'm going to compare the two and see which one I like more.

Newer edition
Original Edition

What are your thoughts on the topic?


  1. Few things make me as annoyed as the equation of good old-fashioned American clean living with godliness.

  2. I agree. I mean.... I totally understand the whole "you have been forgiven, now go and sin no more." But... we need to be able to face reality as well and realize that this is life- whether you are a "Christian" or not.

  3. Ugh... I think it's a mistake that Christian sex is characterized as somehow tamer or more "proper" than "secular" sex. Like people will admit that, OK, married Christians can have sex, but don't make it sound like they're enjoying it too much or that might be sinful. That can be so detrimental to those Christians who get married and can't fully give of themselves to their spouse because they feel dirty engaging in sex.

    I've probably written enough about this already, but I think too many Christian parents are so afraid of their children having sex before marriage that they completely neglect to teach their children how to be a good partner. And it's no better for Christian publishers to sanitize a book like this.

    That said, I read what I guess is the new version of this book, and I still thought it dealt honestly and directly with sex. I don't know that it needed to be more explicit to get the message across.

  4. I haven't read 'Redeeming Love' yet, although I do intend to!

    Even so, I agree with everything you've said, especially about the people in Bible. Great post!

  5. Jessica- I had thought that the book handled it well also... I just find it interesting that they had to make changes. From what I could tell in the article, the changes they made weren't really necessary. And it's not just about the sex. It's the swearing, putting God's words in bold, etc. Why did they feel the need to adjust those things as well?

    Fire Fairy- You really do need to read the book. It's so good. I don't want this to make it seem like Redeeming Love is terrible, because it's not. It's one of my all time favorite novels because I love the imagery of God and his people.


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