Everything that Hinders in Fiction

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2a

I once heard someone use these verses to teach that Christ-followers need to be wary of more than just outright sins. There are non-sins that would woo us away from Christ as our first love. That’s the “everything that hinders” that the author of Hebrews lists as a separate entity alongside “the sin that so easily entangles.”

I don’t know about you, but I speak for myself when I say that it’s those gray areas that stump me. Give me black and give me white. But if you put something less defined in front of me, I don’t always know what to do with it.

0117-everything-that-hinders-in-fiction

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Today I wanted to discuss the non-sinful “everything that hinders” as it relates to fiction.

I have my own standards for what classifies as an edifying read that I make outside of God’s Word. I’ve met other readers – perhaps you’re one of them – who have standards of their own which aren’t always the same as mine. Hopefully, we base these standards on what we have known to either spur us on to godlinessΒ or hinder us.

In my case, the one recurring thing that hinders me and that I debate over most often is romance. Even light romance. A book doesn’t have to fall in that genre to contain kisses and glimpses into the thought life of someone who has “fallen in love.”

But for some readers, such moderate romance doesn’t hinder. On the contrary, they may get stuck on some violence that I would consider trivial.

I’ve listed some questions for us to think about together and make discussion over. Feel free to chime in with related questions of your own.

  • Do you agree that certain non-sins can hinder us from running the race that is marked out for us?
  • How can we exercise the freedom we have in Christ, while nurturing our devotion to Him as our first love?
  • Where do you stand on romance in fiction? Violence? Swearing? Magic? Sexual immorality (like LGBT+)?
  • What do you do when there’s just a little bit of something you disapprove of? Do you have a way of measuring these things that hinder? Do you have a certain threshold?
  • What do you do with a book you’ve deemed destructive?
  • What guidelines do you wish all authors would adhere to?

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

-Hebrews 10:24

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37 thoughts on “Everything that Hinders in Fiction

  1. Q1: Yes, I do.
    Q2: That’s a complicated question! Umm… not sure. πŸ˜‰
    Q3: I’m personally not allowed to read romance, and I’m very glad for that safeguard that my parents have put in my life. πŸ™‚ As for violence, I don’t enjoy reading about it, so I usually don’t. Swearing… I stop reading books if they have a lot of swearing. That’s one of the hardest things for me, especially if the book is interesting. I’m not a big fan of magic, so I don’t usually read that. And I DEFINITELY stop reading if it has sexual immorality. πŸ™‚
    Q4: I usually try to stop reading a book if it has any of the stuff mentioned above in it, but it can be difficult if the book is interesting/exciting and I want to know what happens next. I’m happy to report that I was able, through God’s grace, to conquer my flesh and stop reading a book today because it had bad words in it… but I’m sad to report that often I keep reading if it’s “just” swearing. I need to work on that. πŸ˜‰
    Q5: Send it back to the library, or take it to the thrift store if I own it. If it’s absolutely horrible, I trash it (as long as it’s not from the library; I don’t want to have to pay!).
    Q6: That they wouldn’t include the things mentioned above! Some violence would be okay, but I don’t think graphic violence is necessary. But the rest? I would greatly appreciate it if none of it existed, silly as that may sound. πŸ˜‰

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    1. I’m curious. You say you’re not allowed to read romance (and it’s great that you appreciate the safeguard put in place by your parents), but it just seems like that line is so blurred. Even books outside of the romance genre have traces of it. Can you remember ever reading any books with you parents consent that had traces of romance, such as insights into a character’s feelings? I ask this as one who has found this area to be a real struggle, so it comes not as a challenge, but as a genuine question.

      Praise God that you were able to put down that particular book recently! I think it really is just what you said; conquering the flesh. Hopefully, you’ll look back on this victory in the future and know that it is possible – in God’s strength – to put down compelling reads for the sake of holiness.

      I like what you said about violence – that some would be okay but that graphic violence isn’t necessary. That said, I probably like what you say because it aligns with my views. There might be readers who aren’t moved by the most graphic of descriptions. On the opposite end of the spectrum, others might tolerate absolutely zero violence. I suppose you and I fall somewhere in between.

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      1. Yes, several books that I have read have bits of romance in them (like The Old River Road by Ivy Rose), but if it is appropriate and God-honoring, I think my parents would approve.
        I agree, many books have little hints about people having crushes, etc. I try to avoid that sort of thing, because it… really has no point to it. I mean, really! πŸ™‚ But if there is a book that has two characters who meet each other and, with their parents and pastors’ involvement and approval, court, I think that my parents would approve. I personally would very much appreciate such a book/series. πŸ™‚ My mom has actually suggested that I write a book with that idea in mind, and I’m working on a series that may eventually turn into that sort of thing.
        Does that answer your question?
        I want to let you know that I have been really appreciating your blog and the insightful posts and comments that you write. You have been an encouragement to me. πŸ™‚

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      2. I’ve only heard good things about The Old River Road. I really would be interested in reading it one day. The problem is I have a list of about twenty books I would like to read. You know the feeling?

        And this is the first time I learn that you’re a writer as well as reader and reviewer. I do hope that God will bless your endeavors to write for His glory!

        Yes, you answered my question very well. X)

        Thank you so much for your kind words, Leona. May the glory return to God, the source of all good.

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  2. What an interesting topic to discuss. πŸ™‚

    There are certainly guidelines that I use. No foul language, too in-depth descriptions of romance or violence, usually no magic, etc. I don’t mind reading books with light romance, although I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a strictly romantic book (where romance was the plot line). Several authors have tastefully portrayed romance in a clean, pure way that I found to be beautiful in my own reading experience. Would you be willing to share your side to that, Jordy? Do you stay away from all romance or…? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. πŸ™‚

    Romance has been the biggest problem I’ve found in books…too much detail usually. But I don’t mind a sweet guy/girl friendship that’s written in a modest way. That and violence can be the hardest to decide between for me. A little is okay…but too much isn’t. Balance is important (and difficult to find at times).

    But these are just my preferences, of course. πŸ™‚ As long as we are filling our minds with what is pure, lovely, acceptable, just, and the likes, I think we can read in a way that is honoring to our Savior. But then again, can reading even clean books become a waste of time? That might be a question for another day. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for spurring on conversation here, Jordy.

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    1. When you say “usually no magic,” I’m assuming that Narnia is an exception. Have you come across other books containing magic that did not jeopardize your spiritual well-being?

      You know, I think I have read a select few books in which the romance was sweet, clean and would be beautiful in God’s eyes. But I honestly can’t remember any titles. I may even be confusing books with movies. I guess the book as a whole didn’t stand out to the point where I remember. It’s a pity because I think that clean romance is a valuable asset. If I could honestly say I thought a romance plot or subplot was beautiful in God’s eyes, then I would be pleased to read it. It just seems like such books are a rare occurrence. Can you remember any titles that you’ve read and might recommend to me for its clean, pure romance?

      That very verse was on my mind as I wrote the post. Or at least I assume you were referencing Philippians 4. πŸ˜‰ You know, I think that we could pick those different criteria apart and analyse them to no end, but at the end of the day, if we ask ourselves, “is this book lovely,” or “is this book noble,” the answer is clear enough. What do you think about that?

      Can reading even clean books become a waste of time? Maybe it is – as you said – a question for another day, but I think the short answer is “yes”.

      It’s more like thank YOU for engaging with me here.

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      1. The area of magic is hard for me. I definitely don’t want to fill my mind with magic – witches, wizards and the likes. But I feel like Narnia presents it in a better way. There is definitely bad magic, but it never wins or is portrayed as acceptable. That’s my main objective, I suppose – to make sure magic is portrayed as wrong. (miracles are different, of course, and directed by God.) I’m not sure if that will make any sense. πŸ™‚ And no, I haven’t found any other books containing magic that I felt to be okay. I also haven’t tried to read any though. πŸ˜‰ Where do you stand in this area?

        Ivy Rose’s “The Old River Road” is an example of a book that had romance I felt comfortable with. Several of Janette Oke’s books felt similar. Because it’s been quite a while, I wouldn’t encourage you to read one or another because I can’t remember the extent of the romance. But I did enjoy Ivy’s. πŸ™‚ It is sad, as you said, how few books portray romance in a Biblical light.

        The verses in Philippians 4 don’t make things black and white either…but they sure help! At times when I’m not certain if a book should be set aside or not, the answer is usually “yes”. If we even have hesitation we should probably follow it. It seems better to not read a book than to read one that distracts us from His higher calling.

        You’ve gotten some good discussions going on here, Jordy! I’ve enjoyed reading other comments and seeing different perspectives. πŸ™‚

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      2. Yes, I understand what you mean about magic. It seems like the general rule is that it exists in novels to be explored – and ultimately glorified, or at least justified – rather than to be exposed as evil. Is it too blunt to say it like that? I believe most forms of magic, if not all forms, are trying to do the supernatural – what only God can do and those whom He gives authority to do it – by some other power or authority. As for me, I haven’t read much in the fantasy genre, or other books with magic, so I can’t say too much from experience. There’s Narnia, as well as a few other books where magic (or imitations thereof) was used by people who were already established as the bad guys, and hence magic was firmly put in its place. But I don’t recall reading any books that made me uneasy because it justified magic.

        This is getting off on another tangent, but what about books set in different worlds that have different natural laws than our world?

        Since you’ve been reading some of the other comments, you may have seen that another friend also mentioned The Old River Road as a book with romance that measured up to her standards. It seems it’s been a blessing to multiple people. I would love to add my testimony, one day, regarding how the book will have blessed my life – when I get around to reading it!

        I agree, there is some good discussion going on! Though I must say, I feel like I’m more blessed by it than anyone else, and that God is really the one who has it going on. πŸ˜‰ He is good!

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      3. No, I completely agree…books that glorify magic as something good or acceptable are ones I wouldn’t be comfortable reading. Thankfully, I don’t think I have read any (or many) of them. πŸ™‚

        I don’t have a problem with books set in different worlds or with different natural laws than we have. But honestly, I’ve never considered that. Is it a way to show our dissatisfaction with life as it is? If that was the case, it would seem wrong. But I think that using our imagination to create new things is okay, as long as we are doing it for His glory. What are your thoughts on this, Jordy? I’ve never thought about it before. πŸ™‚

        Indeed! God is very good. ❀

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      4. Haha, well, honestly, I asked that question as one who hasn’t read a whole lot of fiction set in other worlds, and I haven’t thought about it much myself. I get the impression that stories set in other worlds tend to have magic as well – perhaps because they both seem very central to the fantasy genre. But as long as it doesn’t or as long as it’s done in a God-honoring way, I suppose it’s not worse than any other kind of fiction. By that, I mean that fantasy can completely consume and distract a person, but so can mystery or historical or suspense…

        At least, those are my thoughts.

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  3. I do agree that “grey areas” are hard to deal with. Where does it start to be a thing that hinders your relationship with God and when is it ok? Like you said, standards varies. It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 8. Respect the other’s standards when you are with them, do not encourage them to do something they consider to be bad for themselves and don’t judge…

    Where do you stand on romance in fiction? Violence? Swearing? Magic? Sexual immorality (like LGBT+)?

    Oh gosh, I’ve never really thought about that. Not that clearly though. When I was younger (12+ years old), I used to read anything and everything I could find and I’ve read some stuff back then that I shouldn’t have (books containing all of the above…). Maybe it is a bit sad, but I am desensibilised over that kind of topics in books. I still have a problem seing that kind of stuff in a movie, though.

    My limit would be horror books. I like war or fiction books with swords fights and violence, but there is something that troubles me about horror, so much that I gave up reading Stephen King’s book Carrie. It is very rare that I don’t finish a book I took up. I don’t read erotic novels either. Too much details, not even well written most of the time and boring storyline (from what I heard about 50 shades of grey and other books). Also, when they start twisting God’s word and misusing the bible (especially in fantasy books), it gets on my nerves.

    What do you do when there’s just a little bit of something you disapprove of? Do you have a way of measuring these things that hinder? Do you have a certain threshold?

    When the book is very interesting, but gets into too much sexual details, I just skip the lines containing the details. It is not necessary for my understanding of the story, so I skip it. I know some people might not be able or comfortable to do that, but I know I can without feeling tempted.
    I don’t know how to explain it, but some books have a kind of “evil” feeling as you read it. It is interesting, terrifying, but so dark at the same time… it’s sucking you in, but you know it is bad. (stephen king’s book I stopped reading had that kind of feeling). Be careul where the author’s inspiration comes from.

    There was a time where every book I read hindered my relationship with God. Not because of the book in itself or the content, but because I relied on the books to calm my anxiety, instead of relying on God. Sometimes, I still have to ask myself, “why am I reading?”. Is it to have a good time reading a book or to run away from my anxiety or responsibilities again?

    What do you do with a book you’ve deemed destructive?

    I did gave back some books. Stopped reading it, brought it back to the library. Never picked it up again.

    Thanks for those questions, you made me think about a topic (books) that is part of my everyday life, so much that I don’t stop to relfect on it anymore. πŸ˜‰

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    1. Oh yes! 1 Corinthians 8 is so relevant! Love beats knowledge. We ought to care for the consciences of our brothers and sisters. Paul says, “if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” I think the equivalent in our context would be to say, “if what I read causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never read fiction again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” Unfortunately, I don’t think I can honestly claim to say that without reserve. I want to exercise my rights and not think that they might possibly be a stumbling block to “the weak”. :/

      I like your point about twisting God’s Word and misusing the Bible. Though, I’m not sure I can remember times when I’ve come across this except for in non-fiction. Perhaps this is because of the sheltered life I’ve lived. That’s not a complaint, though. So in bringing this topic up, does that mean you *have* come across misuse of the Bible in fiction?

      Another thing you said that I think is really worth considering: that we ought to be careful where the author’s inspiration comes from. I’m curious though… would you say that an author’s inspiration can be good (or true or noble or right or pure, etc) without the author being a born-again believer and finding their inspiration in God? Is there enough good left in the world to inspire even non-believers into writing a lovely or admirable or excellent or praiseworthy book? I say that as someone who has read both secular and “Christian” books and is genuinely interested in your perspective.

      Thanks for considering these things with me, my friend. πŸ™‚

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  4. I know what you mean! I really struggle to figure out exactly where the “limits” in fiction are. And I guess you’re right … whatever hinders us is what the limit should be. But that might vary so much from person to person. For instance, some people might have a problem with, oh, eating too much to the point where eating is extremely important to them, so they have to be careful not to let that be too important to them, while others might not have that problem (like me … I would starve myself if it weren’t for my mom!). (I was gonna say alcohol instead of food, but I decided that was too controversial; I didn’t want to offend you or anyone else!)

    -Do you agree that certain non-sins can hinder us from running the race that is marked out for us?:
    Hmm, I don’t know. I guess I do, but I don’t understand how! I guess it’s one of those things I just don’t know about.

    -How can we exercise the freedom we have in Christ, while nurturing our devotion to Him as our first love?:
    I’m tempted to say “by not purposefully disobeying Him at every turn!” because so many people seem to think that God’s grace means you can sin whenever you want and that makes sin okay. I guess they don’t get that no longer being

    Where do you stand on romance in fiction? Violence? Swearing? Magic? Sexual immorality (like LGBT+)?:
    Romance?: no more than a few kisses, etc. I’m okay with reading romance (that’s about all I read sometimes!), but I don’t want to read anything about … personal things between a husband and wife, and DEFINITELY not immoral things. Never. *shivers* WHY MUST PEOPLE WRITE ABOUT THESE THINGS!?!
    Violence?: I’m okay with basically anything, even though I feel kinda bad for that … *sigh*
    Swearing?: I don’t really like to read books with any cussing in them whatsoever, but I do sometimes. I avoid them as much as I can, though. If I see a bad word in the first couple pages, I’ll put it down automatically, and if there is a string of swearing (instead of just one word or something like that), I put it down. But … I’m not sure where I stand on this issue, either, as I never read books with language in them! I’ve just read a few and it was minor. So those are kinda made-up scenarios.
    Magic?: I’m okay with magic. To me, it’s just make-believe. Of course, I don’t read a lot of magic, either, except my sister’s books … and I’ve yet to read anything with witchcraft or heavy dark magic or anything like that.
    Sexual immorality?: This is a big no-no for me. I won’t read a book with that kind of thing in it. I just can’t. It gives me a terrible feeling in my gut. I don’t hate LGBT+ people … but I don’t want to read books with them as characters as it does depress and hurt me.

    I’m also (usually) okay with people dealing with tough issues as long as a: they treat wrong as wrong and b: they are as non-graphic as humanly possible. You know what I mean? But I love most when people deal with “small” issues (like those “little white lies,” etc.)! Isn’t that the best!

    What do you do when there’s just a little bit of something you disapprove of?:
    Sometimes I read it anyway; sometimes I don’t. It depends on what it is.

    Do you have a way of measuring these things that hinder? Do you have a certain threshold?:
    Kinda, but it’s not something that I can say in words, you know? It’s just something I feel.

    What do you do with a book you’ve deemed destructive?:
    Not read it!

    What guidelines do you wish all authors would adhere to?:
    My guidelines, of course. I want them to write books with no sexual content or language or anything! But I guess that’s a little unreasonable. I suppose we can’t expect non-Christian authors to write clean novels. Christians, however? Yep, I do want them to write clean novels, and if they must deal with the toughest issues, to do them with grace, to the glory of God.

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    1. Oh, I know Kellyn! The things that hinder us do seem to vary so much from person to person. And I don’t know about you, but I can speak for myself and say that if I’m honest, it frustrates me. I think we’ve discussed this already, but I sure think I would prefer black and white. It seems God has other priorities – at least judging by the way He created us.

      Oops! It seems that one of your thoughts was cut off (answer to the second question), but I think I get where you were going. In any case, obvious though it may seem, not purposefully disobeying God at every turn is a start! I’m glad that you went ahead and mentioned that which you were “tempted to say.” πŸ˜‰ It’s a good reminder for me that some brothers and sisters are genuinely at that stage and I ought to consider how I can build them up as part of the body of Christ. Or do you think that people who believe grace is a license to sin aren’t genuinely saved after all?

      Violence may be the area (of those I mentioned) that least troubles me, too. Though, I’m sure there are books out there that would cause me to realize how sheltered I am and that my standards are actually relatively high (compared to secular standards).

      So you have a writer for a sister. X) This is straying from the topic of conversation, but do you think that you two sharing an interest/passion has shaped your relationship to be different than it might have been otherwise?

      Anyways, I was really impressed by one particular thing you said. “I’m also (usually) okay with people dealing with tough issues as long as a: they treat wrong as wrong and b: they are as non-graphic as humanly possible.” That seems to me like a great basis for a God-honoring assessment of a book’s content. I imagine those two factors make a huge impact on the overall mood and effect of the book. If you can’t remember any, that’s okay, what are some books that you’ve read that dealt with tough issues in a way that felt refreshing and built up your relationship with God?

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      1. True! I think the world is a lot more confusing – and at the same time a lot more simple – than I can understand, which is very frustrating. I really wish it was easier, but it’s not, and … *moans*

        Oops! That’s me, skipping around from question to question as the next “shiny” catches my attention. What I meant to say was, “I guess they don’t get that no longer being bound by sin doesn’t mean that sin isn’t still wrong or that sin ceases to exist in their lives.” And … I can’t really express an opinion on that subject as I think it varies from situation to situation. If someone really doesn’t think sinning is bad after you’ve accepted Jesus, then I suppose technically the only think required is to ‘confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead …’ But I think some people probably just use that as an excuse to sin. That’s just me, though.

        Yes, that’s true. But, honestly, my standards can be a little lacking. I mean, it’s hard to find a good, clean movie nowadays, so I will watch movies with a little more content in them than I will read in books. Which makes me into a huge hypocrite, I know, but I feel like when something bad happens in a movie, it doesn’t stick with me. I actually am less disturbed by violence in movies than in books, which is crazy!

        Nope, not at all! My sister and I barely talk, and when we do, it’s quite awkward. She just doesn’t seem to enjoy me, and I honestly don’t know if I’d enjoy her. We used to have good times when I was small (she’s sixteen years older than me), but now we don’t really know each other. She has two kids and always lives across the country or something ’cause her husband’s a Marine, so yeah. She is coming to visit for a week this Thursday.

        Hmm …. well, off the top of my head, I can think of most of the Sarah Sundin books. Some of them deal with “little issues,” like I mentioned earlier, like lying by omission, but a couple of her books also deal with tougher issues really well. Plus I just love her settings. I think a lot of Christian fiction books strive to hit that mark, but many fail.

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      2. I think that was a wise response when you said that it varies from situation to situation (whether or not a Christian who views grace as a license to sin is truly born-again). After all, only God knows the heart, and what may be two completely different situations on the inside may look fairly similar to us.

        Well, in that case, I hope that the time you have with your sister this Thursday will not be too strained or awkward – even that you might be pleasantly surprised. πŸ™‚ Sixteen years is a big gap! (At first I thought you were going to say she was sixteen years old, but then she would’ve had to be your twin.) I don’t know what it’s like to have a sibling that far apart in age.

        Sarah Sundin. That’s a name I haven’t heard before. I wonder if I will ever read any of her books… once I’ve read the whole long list of others that I want to read!

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      3. Yes, exactly!

        Yes, it is a big age gap. Not quite so big as between my youngest brother and her … I think they’re twenty-two years apart? Maybe twenty-three?

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      4. Yep, we’re pretty spread out. My parents got married young and had three children pretty quickly and then decided they were done, but changed their mind to have me and my brothers. πŸ™‚

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  5. These non-sins/grey areas confuse me too. I guess I question the ‘non-sin’ part – if it’s taking me away from God, isn’t that a sin? If I know better, isn’t that a sin? Anyway, that’s just something I’ve been wrestling with in other areas too, so it’s interesting you bring it up in regards to fiction! (And I’d love to hear your further thoughts on it!) So I definitely agree those things can hinder us.

    It’s hard for me to put a book down (I’m a see-things-through-to-completion kind of person, so I’ll even finish a book if it’s totally boring or irrelevant), but I’m trying to be more disciplined. Swearing in books is probably the biggest thing for me – I tend to read the book anyway, because unfortunately I hear it in real life regularly. It’s become too normal, if that makes sense. But that doesn’t make it right, and I should be more careful.

    To be honest, I don’t get much time for reading these days, and while I miss it, it makes me more selective, and I think it’s been beneficial for my reading habits – both making me carefully choose what I read, and realise that if all I get time to read is the Bible, I’m no worse off. Anyway, this was a thought provoking post, Jordy. I appreciated it. πŸ™‚

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    1. Oh, so you mean that maybe the things that hinder us are themselves sin by virtue of the fact that they hinder us from running the race? It does make sense (and in fact sounds painfully obvious) when I consider it like that. Maybe the reason the author of Hebrews made a point of distinguishing it from “sin that so easily entangles” is that what hinders varies from person to person. Could it be said that there is both objective sin and subjective sin? It makes me think of the situation in Romans 14 with the clean and unclean foods. Paul said – talking about food – he was fully persuaded in the Lord that nothing is unclean in itself, but that if a person regards it as unclean, it is unclean for that person. Could we biblically apply that, do you think, to other areas of life? I’m thinking yes, but I’d be interested in hearing what you’re thinking.

      Or maybe the author of Hebrews didn’t make a point of distinguishing “everything that hinders” from “the sin that so easily entangles.” Maybe that’s beside the point and I’m reading too much into the text.

      Interesting you mention that about swearing. I spent a notable portion of my schooling in public school. The swearing I was exposed to must have made a big impact. I remember one particular movie I watched during that season that hardly bothered me. When I watched the same movie when I was in a different environment in life, it made me really uneasy, and I later decided not to watch it again. (My mum made the same observation. It seems like I not only moved through those various seasons as an individual, but we moved through them as a family.) If you don’t mind my asking, where does the swearing that you’re exposed to come from? I don’t know if this is too sensitive a question for a public place; feel free to ignore it.

      Having to be selective in what you read *could* come as a unique blessing. Or perhaps it’s not that it’s unique so much as that few people recognize it for what it is. I know my eyes are open to that blessing after reading your perspective on it.

      Anyways, I’d better end here before I overstep my bounds of how much is socially acceptable to write. lol. You’re very gracious to entertain these long conversations with me. πŸ™‚ Thank you, Jess.

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      1. Yes, that’s what I meant. Thinking about it, I’ve come to the same conclusion you said: objective and subjective. Obviously there’s things that are morally wrong, directly contradictory to God’s law and character, but then there are other things that affect everyone differently, which is what you were saying in the post regarding standards in fiction. I also think we’re all on a journey which means God uses different things to reach people where they are. For example He might speak to someone’s heart through a movie, book, song, etc that I would consider wrong for me. That doesn’t make it right for me then to watch/read that, and it doesn’t mean they won’t grow from there. I saw a quote once that summed up things so well; it said something like ‘God loves people where they are, but He loves them enough not to leave them there.’ So we should be constantly casting off things that hinder our relationship with God. In Hebrews it uses the analogy of running a race, and casting off the weights which delay our race – so it’s like we don’t realize how many things are hindering us, and God reveals them to us in His time so we’re always growing in Him making the things we leave behind now ‘sin’ for us.. I’m kind of rambling off topic here – what do you think?

        That would be hard having those influences in public school. That’s so encouraging your family has grown through those things! Hmm, I guess the swearing and poor language comes from almost all the non-believers I associate with – work, volunteering, other interactions.. I dislike that’s it’s so normal in our culture. Everyone does it all the time, you know? So it’s not any particular environment or person it’s just our world. 😦 Do you find it hard in that way?

        No, thank-you. It’s always encouraging and thought provoking to have these discussions with you. πŸ™‚ Also, I like your new profile photo! You look nice. πŸ™‚

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  6. Good questions… I’ve enjoyed reading the other comments, I like seeing other people’s opinions.

    Do you agree that certain non-sins can hinder us from running the race that is marked out for us?

    I think it depends. For instance, if something that isn’t necessarily bad but it distracts you from reading the Bible, following Jesus, focusing on God then it can hinder us from running the race set out for us. It’s hard to tell sometimes. A time ago then there was this show that I watched all the time, it wasn’t exactly bad but it really distracted me from my walk with God and doing anything else.

    How can we exercise the freedom we have in Christ, while nurturing our devotion to Him as our first love?

    Well God has given us freedom in Him, freedom from the bondage of sin. It’s easy to get sucked into the world’s ways. We have to be on guard and spend time in His Word.
    Does that answer your question? I was a little confused by it πŸ™‚

    Where do you stand on romance in fiction? Violence? Swearing? Magic? Sexual immorality (like LGBT+)?

    With romance I think it depends. Light romance, like a subplot, isn’t bad…. IF it doesn’t go into details and it’s pure. A few kisses don’t seem bad if not in detail and definitely nothing beyond that. I actually enjoy books with a little romance to the side, but it’s hard to find books that honor God through that.
    With violence it depends on how detailed and what kind of violence it is.
    With swearing I try to avoid books with it in it … though I have read books with a few “minor” swearing words in it. But it’s not good to be reading those words all the time so I try to steer clear of it.
    Magic….. i love the Chronicles of Narnia and I think that that is fine. My mom is more strict when it comes to magic. I don’t read anything that has to do with witches, wizards, or anything like that.
    Sexual immorality… no, just no.

    What do you do when there’s just a little bit of something you disapprove of?

    I guess it depends on the book and what it is honestly. If it outright contradicted my beliefs I wouldn’t read it (though sadly I couldn’t always say that). But it’s hard to tell if it’s more in the “gray” area. So I guess it depends.

    Do you have a way of measuring these things that hinder?

    By God’s Word and truth. Also I have godly models in my life whom I look up to and they can help me.

    Do you have a certain threshold?
    Well, I guess. It’s hard to explain?

    What do you do with a book you’ve deemed destructive?

    I just wouldn’t read it.

    What guidelines do you wish all authors would adhere to?

    Well, I can’t say much for non Christian authors because they don’t have the same beliefs or standards as I do.
    But for Christian authors then to write books that glorify God. That are pure and do not contain anything displeasing to God.

    To be honest then recently I’ve run out of books to read. It’s so hard to find books that don’t compromise my beliefs. I want to read interesting books with some action and mystery that glorify God.

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    1. I enjoy reading comments too. The interaction with dear readers is a highlight of blogging for me! They give me so much perspective.

      I can relate to you with the show you used to watch all the time. Except for me it was a computer game. Same idea, I think. I mean tell me if this isn’t what you meant, but I just speant time indulging in my desires to be entertained rather than considering how I might serve others or seek God.

      By my second question, I just meant to ask how we can avoid being legalistic and/or trapping ourselves with rules that go beyond the Word of God (because sometimes that’s what I end up doing when I want to nuture my devotion for Him as my first love. Which side of the spectrum do you tend to lean towards – legalism or the “grace card?”

      I like that you measure what you read by God’s Truth. I have a feeling (based on your most recent blog post) that’s been on your mind recently. Indeed, even works of fiction propagate teaching (true or false) by the ideals they represent.

      You’ve run out of good books to read, recently. Who are some authors who have written books that have just been a pure blessing and you would love if they put out a new book every month?

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  7. Well with the question “which side of the spectrum do I tend to lean towards – legalism or the “Grace card”?
    Then I’m not completely sure. I think it’s wrong to do something knowing God will forgive you but doing something wrong anyways because he will. We live short lives, if we’re questioning whether or not if it’s something we should read or not then maybe we just shouldn’t. Because honestly is it really worth our time? It’s hard… especially when we enjoy certain things for entertainment but if it doesn’t have any benefit then what’s the use? (Benefits being learning, growing in your faith or as a person, etc.)

    Well, there have been books by authors I love but when I look at their other books I’m not interested. So I’m not sure.

    Do you have any books that have been a blessing to you to suggest?

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    1. I like how you put that: “We live short lives, if we’re questioning whether or not if it’s something we should read or not then maybe we just shouldn’t.” As far as I can tell, it’s popular in the secular world to think, “we live short lives so we should do everything we want while we can.” They’re right about our lives being short, but I think what they’re sadly misguided about is how *long* eternity is. :/

      Oh, that must have been really disappointing about those authors whom you had read good books by, only to discover that their other works didn’t live up to them.

      “Covenant Child” by Terri Blackstock was a *real* blessing to me when I read it years ago. I thought it quite different to her other books that I’ve read, but I like it better, too. I also found that “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo greatly impressed me as it dug down deep into the topic of forgiveness. What about you? What books have been an outstanding blessing to you?

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      1. I loved The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It’s a autobiography.
        Also, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis… it’s about how she moved to Africa after high school and served the children there. It’s a really good book.
        God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew is good too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I forgot to mention in my other comment but I also love the Acts of Faith Series by Jannette Oke and Davis Bunn. It’s a historical Christian series.
        I also love books by the author Lynn Austin

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh yes, I’ve read both Kisses from Katie and God’s Smuggler and thought they were incredibly inspiring and made me want to love God more. I probably would have mentioned God’s Smuggler too, if I had thought about it when answering your question. If The Hiding place is anything like those books, I’m sure I’d love to read it. Now that I think of it, I also really liked “Hard to Believe” by John MacArthur. It seemed to stoke the fire of my faith.

        I’ve never read anything by Jannette Oke, but she seems to be one of the big names in Christian literature, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I finally read something by her one day.

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  8. The Hiding Place is a autobiography by Corrie Ten Boom… it takes place during of the world wars. She and her father and sister help Jews. It’s a great book πŸ™‚

    I’ll have to look up that book πŸ™‚

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