This blog post is a reply to the last comment left on this entry. I have appreciated everyone's feedback so much. You have all given me a lot to think about and I have loved it! This particular response is very personal for me; I spent a lot of time thinking through what I wanted to say. Most of the time, I don't explicitly discuss my faith views, especially if the discussion is not with people that I am completely comfortable with and don't have to worry about offending. My intention is never to offend. My intention is to share and open my heart and be transparent about who I am, what I believe, and the God I love.
Your comments on writing about a war scenario remind me of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. It is one of the best books I have ever read. It is full of many profanities, but it would not be such an accurate and chilling account of combat and its aftermath if it were not. It would simply feel faked and would not have nearly as much impact without this faithful rendition of a soldier's vernacular. I agree, the choices we make in our writing should be based on the contents and purposes of our works. I have other stories where the issue of swearing would never come up as it does in this book. The authentic portrayal of these sometimes amoral characters is where my issue as a writer comes to the front. I do not want my book to be fake.
At the same time, I am a Christian, first and foremost in my life. Do I think that swearing lessens my relationship with Christ or my salvation? Not necessarily. I believe in once saved always saved. I've used swear words in the past and never thought that I was going to hell because of it. Now I asked forgiveness from God afterwards because I do not believe that Christians should be comfortable with swearing. The Bible tells me that my words should be becoming of Christ. I don't think the day I dropped the f-bomb in front of my mother and several of her friends made God smile with pride. Or my mother, for that matter. ;) Do I judge people who swear or do anything else that because of my faith I choose not to do? Of course not! I don't believe in judging. That is not my job. I'm here to love people as Jesus has loved me: unconditionally. My job is to serve Christ as best as I am able. That means failing more than once every single day and asking for God's unending grace and mercy each time I fall, always striving to overcome my sinful nature through His empowerment.
You mentioned that you don't think anyone in Iraq would have noticed if you didn't swear. Maybe so. Probably most of your comrades wouldn't give a second thought to it. But I can speak from experience and tell you that even though we think no one notices, we can often be surprised down the road by what small act on our part touched and/or impacted someone else that we had no idea was watching us. I have seen this in my life, and in my father's life among his Marines as a matter of fact. I don't think people notice just because we call attention to these things. Number one, we shouldn't be shoving ourselves in peoples' faces like that, in my opinion. I don't believe in holier-than-thou attitudes. Number two, we don't have to plaster things on a billboard so to speak to get someone's attention. It can be the smallest act or word that makes someone take notice and realize that there is something different about the lives we are living and wonder what motivates that choice. Do I think everyone notices? Again, no. But I do believe that someone always does. I believe we are put into every circumstance in our lives for a purpose. My goal in life is always to live so that if I am someone's only encounter with a Christian either that day, week, or lifetime, he or she will somehow see Christ through me and the life I am leading, through the words I am -- or am not -- speaking. Again, I've seen this happen in my life before. And I've been on the receiving end as well. I have taken notice of little things in other peoples' lives, things they never had to point out to me, and realized that I was not living for Christ and I wanted more of what I saw in them.
Yes, Christians are supposed to be self-identified sinners. Allow me to self-identify. I will be the first person to stand up and say that I am the worst of sinners and it is only through the forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ that I am saved. Every Christian I know would be standing up right beside me. I am not perfect. Like I said, I fail every day. I still accidentally let out swear words and say unkind things and do a thousand other things that prove my sinful nature over and over and over again. To me, though, it's not important that I fail. I'm going to do that regardless of whether I follow Christ or not. What is important is what I do with those failings, whether I try to overcome them or not. Whether I accept the gracious working of Christ in my life to leave behind my sinful ways and try to be more like Him. All of that long pouring out of the heart to say: as a Christian, I have a problem with putting swear words into my novel. I'm not supposed to let unwholesome things come out of my mouth if I'm trying to be a Christ follower and let go of my sinful nature.
Yes, it comes down to a personal choice for each of us as to what goes into our writings. These are choices we are responsible for. That's why I decided to blog about this choice that I have. Whatever decision I ultimately make, it will not be impetuous. I want to make a decision that has been carefully considered from every perspective, with feedback from other people who can give me insight from personal experience and opinions, so I can take what I learn from those discussions, weigh it with my own beliefs as a Christian and opinions as a writer, and come to a decision that honors Christ without cheapening the work He has allowed me to create.