forum How should I write a story that has a main character that's struggling with their religion?
tune

people_alt 56 followers

@SupernaturalSyGuyLovestheWinchesters group

The main character in one of my stories is a Christian that is struggling with his beliefs. He swears, takes the Lord's name in vain, doesn't read his bible,

, by now you should get the picture that he's a sinner and knows it. He wants to read and study his bible more, not swear as much, and try to become the young, God-fearing/respecting/loving, man that he knows he should be.

@LaniGirl

So, as a writer, a Christian human being and a gay person, I FEEL HIS PAIN. I do just about all of those things (uh change the last one to smoking if we're talking about me though haha).
How you write your character is completely up to you because thats literally what makes us writers, its up for interpretation! However, in the interest of helping you out with some basics, I'll give some pointers and share some truths from my own experience :).

If this is the main plot of your story, that he is trying to be more Christian, it'd be really nice for any readers who are relating for him to have a happy arc.
For him to realise that we're not going to be perfect and that's what makes us human, but even with the flesh and Devil coming after our thoughts, we can still try our best everyday. Lots of people will argue that things like Masturbation and lack of script reading isn't so vital, so he can let go of those two in the main stream.
The other two are habits that can be broken!

I had my close friends full on smack me down when I cursed: "Jesus CHRIST ALMIGHTY" or "God, that's stupid". Common phrases like that stopped almost immediately after a couple of hard whacks from my loved ones.

As for swearing, thats a really big one, and even I have yet to overcome it completely but God 100% does not condone it as far as we're aware. It's a big source of shame for me, and ultimately I pray about it, struggle with it and feel embarrassed all the time when it slips out.

But almost like a trade out, theres things you can do to balance out your goodness levels. Volunteering at church events, homeless shelters and whatnot really boost the spirit and strengthen your connection to the earth around you and God.

As for some important Christian terminology when you're worried you're sinning:

Flesh: We were all created in the image of God but the 'flesh' controls us and our satanic needs (AKA the 7 deadly sins (which is a great anime btw))

Transgression/Offence: Is often used in replace for 'sin' in the church as we progress in the world (finalllllllly). We're trying to shame less and less, so it's likely your character will find many sources of support and love in his church.

If he's not attending church, I FEEL that struggle, it's so easy to drop out of routine, not be bothered or waver in faith, but if he can get back there? Everything will start to get better.

I hope this helped?? As you can probably tell by now, I'm not the most religiously strict Christian in the world, but hell I wouldn't have it any other way. See what I just did there? Damn. I'm gonna have to go get someone to hit me.

:) <3

@berlioz

Ooo I'll for sure leave something here, I'd love to talk about it. Unfortunately it's phone curfew big oof. Definitely tomorrow morning I'll type something up. But right now a few questions so I get a better idea of the character-

Does he or his family go to church?

Does his family have a preference towards Catholicism or Protestantism?

Is his family's preference his preference?

Is he queer in any way?

What's motivating him to become more Christian-y? Did a sin of his get too big for him to handle alone? A near death experience? Or does he want a better relationship with God? (I'll touch on that tomorrow, so you don't have to have a specific answer)

How strict is his family when it comes to religion?

How old is he?

Who is God to him right now? An old man in the sky condemning people or a spirit of love?

@SupernaturalSyGuyLovestheWinchesters group

Does he or his family go to church?

His family isn't particularly religious, so this takes care of most of your questions.

Does his family have a preference towards Catholicism or Protestantism?

(See above.)

Is his family's preference his preference?

(See above.)

Is he queer in any way?

Jason is heterosexual (straight).

What's motivating him to become more Christian-y? Did a sin of his get too big for him to handle alone? A near death experience? Or does he want a better relationship with God? (I'll touch on that tomorrow, so you don't have to have a specific answer)

Hmmm…. The best way for me to answer this is to simply share the doc on which I'm writing the story.

How strict is his family when it comes to religion?

(See my response toyour first question.)

How old is he?

16

Who is God to him right now? An old man in the sky condemning people or a spirit of love?

That, my friend, is an excellenat question that I feel is best answered by having you look over the story.

As I have stated to Lanigirl, Jason's interior conflict with his faith is not the major conflict.

@berlioz

(Is the Doc the background portion of his character profile, or should I be reading something else?)

@berlioz

Ok I think I have a better idea of the character.

A few things about his early church days-

  1. Baptists don't have priests or fathers. Instead, they have ministers and pastors.
  2. Christian's don't learn about specific Bible translations, most of us read from more than one translation, so you don't need to specify that it's the KJV if you don't want to.
  3. Not all baptists are big on the whole "you have demons, get out" thing, especially when they've been ministering to the one who supposedly has demons. They view everyone as redeemable. It can be personal though, so maybe that specific character really would react that way.

Ok, on the topic of sin and repentance. (most) Christians believe no one can repent on their own. Rather, after someone is saved (when someone acknowledges they're a sinner and accepts Jesus's death as the payment for their sins, and choosing to follow God because of that), they receive the Holy Spirit and look at how Jesus lived to help them overcome sin. Sin is anything that pulls one away from God, put simply. It's not just "oh I guess I should stop sinning now", it's more "I don't want to sin anymore because I want to be closer to this God who saved me". Praying can help someone connect with the Holy Spirit/God, and is a way to work through sin with God. Christianity is all about personal relationship with God, so talking to God is a big part of that. If you choose to describe Jason praying-

DO make it heartfelt. He's allowed to yell and scream at God, he's allowed to be mad at God, and he's allowed to ask God tough questions.

DON'T have Jason use fancy church language, or "Christianese" as many call it. He doesn't need to copy ancient scripts on how to pray.

Reading the Bible is also a key thing Jason is gunna need to help him get closer to God. Think of it as a love letter from God. He can look at how Jesus has lived and apply it to his own life. Christians believe God can speak through the Bible, that it's the Living Word. He doesn't need to worry so much about the specific laws and commandments because there's one big commandment that sums up everything Jason needs to know about living his life under his God.

Matthew 22:37-40 says this
Jesus replied "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments."

As he reads the Bible more, he'll have more wisdom to equip himself with when facing temptation. When it comes to specific sins, like swearing some Christians point to this verse-

Matthew 15:17-20
“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 

But some Christians don't consider swearing a sin if it's not used in anger. And of course taking the Lord's name in vain is the third of the big ten commandments.

Exodus 20:7
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses God's name.

As Jason loves God deeper he'll slow down with sinning. But it's not a straight path. He'll always be a sinner, and he'll screw up big time for the rest of his life. What matters is his motive to be closer to God, and from that good will result.

Don't be afraid to write in spiritual experiences in. The relationship goes both ways. Jason talks with and loves God, God loves and talks with Jason. It might not be obvious to Jason, but God will always be with him, interacting in subtle ways. Many Christians can "feel the Spirit" pulling them to make certain decisions in life. Don't be afraid to let Jason feel God's presence.

So yeah, that's what I've got. I can do my best to answer more specific questions if you need.

@SupernaturalSyGuyLovestheWinchesters group

As a Christian myself I understand what you're saying…..

The priest/father and minister/pastor thing was a mix-up on my end that I'll change in editing-mode. I specified the KJV because at the church that I went to that has always been said to be the one and only true Word; everything else, though we were encouraged to read those too, are considered false.

This is all great and useful information that I'll be refering to as I continue working on Rising Flame. Thank you! :-D

Now, because I'm curious and what not, what did you think of the story as I have it so far?

@SupernaturalSyGuyLovestheWinchesters group

Now, because I'm curious and what not, what did you think of the story as I have it so far?

When I ask this I'm not simply asking if you liked it or not. Let me know what you liked, what you didn't like. Things that you probably would've done differently, suggestions on things…. I've had several of my irl friends and family read my work ony to get the standard "I like it" or "That was really good. You should write more." Okay, but why did you enjoy it?

Deleted user

As a queer agnostic Christian, might I say: I'm not super uncomfortable with any of those things you listed? Swearing, exploring your sexuality and sexual expression, and saying things like "oh my God" is hardly heinous except to overkill conservative Christians (to my knowledge, but I don't wanna sound like I'm better than anyone! Do what you want and feel how you feel!), of which most of us are not. Ultimately, my faith is my relationship with my God, and a moral code for everyday life and a guarantee of a better life beyond death. It's comforting, and guiding.

My definition of taking the Lord's name in vain is using religion as an excuse to cause suffering. So if your character is doing that then that's… concerning, but unfortunately not uncommon.

If you aren't a member of the group you're writing about, it's not really good to write about these issues? But honestly my main advice is…

Figuring out a character's relationship with their own faith is a good plot point when executed well and figuring out what their faith is to them can be in depth and nuanced.

Some parts of Christianity make God something to fear, but I believe God is a loving person who deeply cares for their creation. Maybe you can use that?

Idk these are just some disconnected rambles, use them or don't.

Deleted user

agnostic Christian

?

Mind if I DM you to explain? I don't wanna clog up the chat.

@Althalosian-is-the-father book

Aight, Sy. If you want my help/critique, ask for it, but I could give you a lot/you have a lot that can be worked on and I don't want to overwhelm you with criticism/dump my thoughts on you before you have asked for it.

@berlioz

And another point on the taking God's name in vain thing, many take it to mean don't take God's holy name (YHWH) in vain, and not to use it lightly. And like above, yeah it's really about the misuse of God's name, like saying "God hates you" or "God sees women as second" when saying those things are wrong and would confuse people. But in mainstream Christianity, saying "oh my God" isn't looked upon as not a sin. If that made any sense.

@berlioz

Now, because I'm curious and what not, what did you think of the story as I have it so far?

When I ask this I'm not simply asking if you liked it or not. Let me know what you liked, what you didn't like. Things that you probably would've done differently, suggestions on things…. I've had several of my irl friends and family read my work ony to get the standard "I like it" or "That was really good. You should write more." Okay, but why did you enjoy it?

I'll get around to answering this, it may take a while. At first I just skimmed it.

@berlioz

agnostic Christian

?

Mind if I DM you to explain? I don't wanna clog up the chat.

Will you DM me as well? I get the queer Christian part, as I'm a queer Christian myself, but I'm confused about the agnostic part. Not looking to argue, just genuinely curious.

@SupernaturalSyGuyLovestheWinchesters group

Aight, Sy. If you want my help/critique, ask for it, but I could give you a lot/you have a lot that can be worked on and I don't want to overwhelm you with criticism/dump my thoughts on you before you have asked for it.

Dom, you can dm me, or you can leave comments on the doc itself (which I'd prefer so that I can quickly refer back to what you have to say as I edit/rewrite it). NOTE: I often info-dump in my first drafts and am editing it right now. (I'm trying to figure out the interrogation scene as well. Going through and editing it myself might help with that. I've watched a lot of true-crime shows [ID is one of my favorite channels], done the research, etc and am still having issues with that scene.)

@SupernaturalSyGuyLovestheWinchesters group

agnostic Christian

?

Mind if I DM you to explain? I don't wanna clog up the chat.

Will you DM me as well? I get the queer Christian part, as I'm a queer Christian myself, but I'm confused about the agnostic part. Not looking to argue, just genuinely curious.

As a bisexual Christian I too am curious…. So you might as well just go ahead and explain here. Lol

Deleted user

I will just copy and paste and be done with it. Please don't open a discussion over this I'm just trying my best here-

Deleted user

"So, agnostic Christianity is a thing I made up.

It describes my faith well, because I don't really know how much I really buy into the idea of God, but definitely don't think it's impossible some higher power is out there even if it's not my power.

I don't think anyone else is wrong either, with their beliefs, such as I wouldn't say someone who practiced Voodoo or Hinduism was wrong. They're both right, as an I (possibly). We don't know anything, and so nothing is right or wrong. But I just stick with "nobody is incorrect" because it's more positive. If that makes sense?

Basically, I think everything has a grain of truth to it and I'm not gonna fuck with peoples beliefs, I'm gonna just say they aren't wrong because it's just the most logical thing. And I align my personal beliefs and values with Abrahamic faiths most. Hence, Christianity: I was born and raised into the faith and didn't really disagree."