I am no better, but at least I am different. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
This week I saw a post on TheRoot.com, about an author named Kyra Davis who has an e-book hit with a series called “Just One Night”. The series is supposed to be the next “Fifty Shades of Grey”, and the hit is optioned for television. Fifty Shades of Grey started online, grew in massive appeal, became a dollar-churning hit and now the author is reaping the benefits.
Now, in all fairness, I have not read any of Ms. Davis writing work, so I can’t comment on the quality of her writing. In the 80s, Jackie Collins sold a new bestseller each year and all her writing was filled with sex. About eight years ago, the writer Zane came on the scene and became an “overnight” success with her sizzling novels. Her work was optioned to Showtime for a series.
What I can say is sex sells. Everyone knows this.
It sells pictures.
It sells movies.
And yes, it sells books. Goo gobs of them.
But as a Christian writer for the CBA market, I just don’t go there. Most of my writer friends don’t go there. And, when we see examples like this, we kind of shrug our shoulders. We just…know. Unless your name is Jerry B. Jenkins or T.D. Jakes, large scale book deals and movie options aren’t in the cards for you. What we write for is best described as a niche market. And, according to new statistics about millenials and their relationship with the Christian church, that market may be shrinking each day.
Throughout history Christians have resigned from jobs, abandoned opportunities, and taken the road less traveled because their love and fear of the Lord was greater than the work presented to them. Think of any job. I only know a handful of million dollar making Christian CEOs, but everyone knows Donald Trump. Montell Jordan, Candi Staton, and Shirley Murdock are just three artists who had major hits as secular artists…their names barely register as Christian artists. See, when we make the decision that our work will not glorify sin, fame and fortune often does not chase us.
But what does follow? Well…
I used to watch a television show called, “The Wire” (those of you who know this show, don’t judge me – the show had great writing). At any rate, the show had a character named Dennis, whose nickname was “Cutty”. Cutty had been released from jail after serving 15 years. He was a former drug dealer and murderer. Jail had changed him somehow, and when he returned to Baltimore, he quickly found that his heart wasn’t in drug dealing or being a thug. Sure, he could do it, and he tried, but he’d been changed and he knew it. After a few months of trying to sell drugs for Avon Barksdale, he quit. To make ends meet, he accepted odd jobs and started doing lawn work with landscaping crews.
That’s the back story. The analogy lies in a conversation Cutty had with the older man who gave him a job on the landscaping crew. He kind of looked at him one day and asked, “Where’s the reward in all this.” And when he said “all this”, he didn’t mean lawn work. He meant, where’s the reward for being a good citizen and staying away from the drug and crime game. The older man, who had quit “the game” himself, told Cutty frankly, the reward ITSELF is being out of the game.
Right now, today, I need several hundred dollars per month to pay school tuition for my children. Because of this, it is very tempting to write sexy fiction under an assumed name, and write about subjects and characters who take actions that do not glorify the Lord. So, I write and edit technical manuals for a day job. And the babies tuition gets paid. Admittedly, Hollywood does not come knocking for this type of writing, or for Christian fiction (my “night” writing).
But I have to ask myself, when it comes to all of my work, when, as a Christian, am I working on something that encourages idolatry or sin instead of redemption, salvation, or forgiveness? As Dr. Tim Keller (Redeemer Church) says in his great sermon on “Hope for your Work”, “Why do you work, and why do you take the job that you have? Christians are [supposed to be] people concerned with helping the common good.”
So my decision is…I don’t go there.
Can I write a good sex scene? Heck yeah. I wasn’t always saved.
Would I write a book full of them and sell it?
It is that simple.
The reward? God is my Father which makes him the lead on all my work.
That’s all the reward I need.
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV