Monday, May 24, 2010

Decisions, decisions: Christianity and Erotic scenes

Okay, so there I am trying to write an erotic novel which my friend is editing for some Scottish publisher. A good opportunity, no? But can I -- a Christian-- write an erotic novel?

Well, I tried. I think I failed to be as raunchy as it could be. It's a Dirty Blues antho, after all. But also, I tend to like eroticism that has little to do with folks being undressed. The scene on the ferris wheel in East of Eden, the umbrella scene in Diva. Longing, sexual need, etc, is right for me. Not the obviousness of naked folks lying together doing acrobatics. Besides I hate writing descriptions of procedures...and dang! erotic scenes are nothing if not procedurals with Tab A being fitted snugly into slot B.

So, anyway, I wrote the story. And of course it's one of those "religion vs sex" situations with a little May December yellow fever thing going on.  Plus my big issue: Christians judging someone and yet not really knowing how to judge that other person's life (yeah, it's one of my big axes.) The thing is that many judgmental Christians are theologically right but within their own hearts is such lack of love for others that the "evil" person they're judging is "more sinned against than sinning." So, my main character chooses to have pre-marital sex with the hot neighbor because she has bad insomnia and incredible fatigue and only sex can help. I hear some judgmental folks saying, "Yeah, right! That doesn't happen!" Oh? Doesn't it?

I'll just say that in a house where extreme tiredness -- physical, spiritual, and emotional-- is the norm...and where sex is used more for medicine than for any kind of fun....I often wonder (if I were to outlive my husband) how I would survive without him being there to use sex to get me to sleep. So I felt for my main character. I also made her a recluse because being sick makes a person a recluse, and being judged by theologically-minded friends who don't understand one's illness also makes one a recluse.

So the thematic issue is no longer: "Is she being sinful by sleeping with this kid she isn't married to?" It now becomes: "Is her friend right to judge her for this?" And also, "Would I rather she A) enter into a quick loveless marriage (so she can sleep) or B) live without sleep forever and die early but still retain her saintly sexless purity?"  There is also the question of: "Is her return to a life connected to humanity a return to love toward her neighbors?" She had been so cold to others in the world because they had been cold to her. So isn't the movement toward loving and caring for one's neighbor a move forward in her Christianity, although the extra-marital sex is a move backward?

I don't want any reader using the circumstances of this story to go into other areas such as is "adultery being okay" or "being gay is okay." The set-up in this story is one I understand and so I was exploring it. The story is not theologically true in any way shape or form....as fiction is not really about theological dogmatic truth (unless it's Christian romantic fiction published by the Christian Booksellers Assn.)

Anyway, I realized I couldn't write the story any other way. If I were holier, I probably could have her decide to endure lifelong pain and forego the hottie and the sex. If I were really holy, I could write something miraculous in which she is healed of the sickness so she wouldn't need to sin in order to get some sleep.  But such as I am...and with my own limited experiences of miracles... what I have written, I have written.
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