Answering the Puritans Part 3

In this series (click here for Part 1), I’m looking at 5 questions about arts based on something a Puritan wrote and giving some answers. To read my thoughts on the previous question, click here. 

Question (2 of 5): Is portraying sin in art sinful?

Answer: Not necessarily. Portraying sin as good is certainly sinful. But talking about sinful actions to make a point is acceptable.

For example, the last three chapters of the Book of Judges relates a story a man who works as a Levite (a sort of assistant priest) and has a concubine.

Literally, the man works for God but has a mistress. The story goes on to mention promiscuity, then gang rape, and things keep going downhill from there.

This is a dark story.

On one occasion, a writer retold this story for an anthology which angered Swedish authorities so much they almost banned the book.

But after describing terrible carnage and violence, the story ends with these words: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

The story doesn’t imply or claim that free sex, gang rape and all the other sins referenced were okay.

The story portrays those things as terrible, to show how corrupt Israel had become.

So, the story is not sinful. In fact, the sinful thing to do would be trying to tell that story and skip over the sinful things that happen; then, the story would have no clear moral.

So, we’ve established that sometimes portraying sin in a story (fictional or otherwise) is the right thing to do.

In that case, the story shows how us the trouble sin causes.

We can apply this same principle to modern-day art of any kind.

A painting, theatre play, novel or any other kind of art can portray sinful things and provided the art shows those actions are wrong, no sin has been committed.

Nor does anyone sin by receiving that art.

Stay tuned for Part 4aIn the meantime, do you have any thoughts about this?

Let me know in the comments

3 thoughts on “Answering the Puritans Part 3

  1. A Few Blots

    Well spoken! In order to aspire to goodness and truth, it is often necessary to condemn evil and lies. Ignoring the existence of evil often makes Christians come across as naive and weak. Ignoring the dangers of evil often makes Christians corrupt and careless. There is a balance that must be found, so that we can become “as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Answering the Puritans Part 4a – G. Connor Salter

  3. Pingback: Answering the Puritans Part 2 – G. Connor Salter

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