How Should a Christian Portray Evil?

I’ll be the first to admit, talking about evil, real evil, gives me a chill. And rightly so. Christians know about Satan, and believe, just as we believe in the goodness and redeeming power of Jesus Christ. And just knowing Satan is real gives one pause.

But the Bible also tells us: “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8. Christians, following that admonition, tend to gloss over not only evil in the world, but the nature of evil. We talk about goodness, but really have little to contrast it with. Which causes a few problems in writing, I think, because one of the basic principles is to “show, don’t tell.”

And so it raises a question that I have struggled with a long time in writing Christian literature. How far do you go in portraying evil and evil people? I have several chapters in my Christian suspense trilogy The Champion in which the protagonist is thrown into prison. He is surrounded by evil, and I am convinced that the language and behavior that one would experience there would not be similar to what one sees and hears in church. But how far does one go?

And then there is the nature of evil. After writing about one pastor’s personal confrontation with demons and Satan himself, I have come to the conclusion that the saying “the love of money is the root of all evil” could also be stated as “selfishness is the root of all evil.” For it was Lucifer’s desire to become like the Most High that started the whole sin thing going. Power, lust, greed…they are all just forms of selfishness.

With that in mind, what would Satan’s inner circle be like? What would an army, a nation, a world be like that was founded on selfishness? It makes one stop and wonder, especially in light of many comments we hear today about consumerism.

I know that I don’t have all the answers on this issue. I am hoping you will share your views here. Thanks.

One thought on “How Should a Christian Portray Evil?

  1. I’m dealing with a similar dilemma Glen. I’m writing a story in which a Christian young lady goes to far with her boyfriend. I want my readers to know what happens and not have to guess, but at the same time, I don’t know how to portray that without the story becoming too graphic. And yes, I agree, we as Christians tend to gloss over the reality of evil and sin. I don’t think it’s something that God wants us to dwell on, but at the same time it’s something we need to be aware of. So, do we go as far into detail as Dante and describe the inner circles of Hell? Or do we put up the picture of a red satyr and say don’t go near this guy? I think you need a balance, which is hard to find in today’s society. As a writer, I guess my best guess would be to show what evil is without glamorizing or embellishing it. I don’t know if that helps, I feel like I talked in a circle honestly, but that’s what came to mind.

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