This is a post that holds more questions than answers or assertions, and it starts with one question: What is a Christian’s role if she is an artist? If she is a musician, a painter, a sculptor, a writer, does she have a responsibility that looks different because she is a Christian who is also an artist?
In other words, do I, as a writer, have an unspoken higher responsibility than a writer who is not a Christian? And if so, what is that responsibility?
I believe that art and artists can change the world.
I believe that artists can challenge how people think, how people see the world around them, how people see themselves, how people see other people.
I believe that artists can provide material to spark a conversation or spark a revolution. Not necessarily an actual revolution, but an idea revolution.
I believe that artists can change the world.
But what does that look like, really, if that artist is someone who loves Jesus?
You see, I am a writer. I write blog posts and I write novels.
And, I love Jesus.
And because of these two things, I wrestle as much with my art, my writing, as Jacob did with God: is it okay for a character to swear? is it okay for a character to drink? is it okay to write stories that include violence or reflect the culture in order to challenge the culture or engage the culture?
Is there a line that artists who are Christians are expected to toe and if so, where is that line and who draws it?
I’m guessing that there are as many opinions regarding these questions as there are people. But here’s a few of my thoughts.
I am not a Christian writer. I am a writer who is a Christian and I think these are two different things, specifically because my target audience is not other Christians. For me, because I want to influence, and perhaps even change, the world, my target audience is the world, Christians or not.
I want to tell stories that engage my readers, that entertain my readers, that challenge my readers, that reflect the world in which my readers live. I don’t want to write pristine stories that are removed from the life my readers live, the life that I live. Life is complicated. Life is hard. Life is messy. Because life includes the world. I encounter it when I go to the grocery store with my children or when I travel to visit family or when I say something to my spouse or my kids that is mean.
So, for me, because life is messy, my art is messy.
My stories include flawed, messed up people who make good choices but also make bad choices. They include people who believe in God and live their lives out with him and people who believe in nothing or in themselves or in the world or their money. They include people who change and grow and people who don’t.
And always, my stories reflect who I am, they include allusions directly or indirectly to faith, to God, to Jesus, to living in the world and not conforming to it. Because I cannot separate my faith from my writing, my Jesus from my art. Even if my art includes gritty characters who drink or smoke or curse or bully or threaten or seek to control or destroy others.
But, still, I continue to wrestle with my art like Jacob wrestled with God.
So, I’m curious. I’m interested in what you think about these things. What do you think is the role of an artist who is also a Christian?