The first half of my life, I lived via conventional rules. The rules my parents set, the rules the church set, the rules society set. Most of these rules – I thought – were put in place to protect me, discipline me, and to teach me the right and ‘proper’ way to go.
But as I grew older, as I matured in my life and in my faith, I realized that some of these rules were arbitrary. Needless. Stumbling blocks to a full life.
Some, I realized, were put in place because the generation that came before put them in place. Because the generation before them and the generation before them put them in place.
Some, I realized, were put in place because of fear. Fear of what might happen if those rules weren’t put in place and adhered to. Safety rails, so to say. Guards.
And some…some were put in place to hinder. They were put in place to make sure I adhered to society or my family’s way of thinking, to the path that they wanted me to take.
Many rules seem to just be there, and most of the time people don’t question them. They don’t ask why those rules are there, they don’t ask who created the rules, or under what spirit the rules were created.
In my own life, I noticed that some of the rules regard my family and the way my family has always been. Some regard my thinking in terms of friendship and loyalty. Some regard my own personal boundaries, and the way I should be treated as opposed to the way people think I ought to be treated.
In general, most of these rules have to do with life and with living. They have to do with lifestyle, how we function in society, and how we function in groups such as friendship and family.
But there are a few rules I’ve come across that have to do specifically with writing. I write Christian fiction, and the amount of rules that govern this particular marketplace can be overwhelming. I was always taught that Christian fiction was supposed to be as holy as God Himself. No cursing, no sex, no violence, no horror, no science fiction, no magic, no superheroes, no this, no that, no everything, no anything…
What’s strange, is that breaking the rules of Christian fiction came naturally to me. I started writing a science fiction story about the end of the world that eventually turned into my Black Earth series. Aliens, demons, magic, science fiction, fantasy, sex, cursing, violence, time travel…all things that have been frowned on before in the Christian fiction marketplace. But I wrote about them because that’s what I wanted to write about. I took those things and fused them with my faith, and with what I know about God, and wrote the stories that came naturally to me.
My biggest fear (at the time) was what my own mother would think of what I had written. I didn’t really worry too much about the marketplace rules that were set into place to prevent ‘Christians’ like me from publishing fiction like this. I just wrote what I wrote because it came naturally to me, not thinking that the Christian fiction marketplace was penned in by a ten-foot tall fence topped with barbed wire, and anyone who wanted to venture beyond it would have to call their work ‘secular’ and would be exiled from the Christian community of writers.
It’s strange to think that breaking the rules – these rules in particular – would come naturally. Of course, we have a sinful nature that naturally wants to rebel against things we shouldn’t. But I think there’s good rebellion too, when we know things aren’t happening the way they should. That’s why revolutions are started. You feel that natural inclination that something isn’t right, that the rules are not right. That’s why industries are changed, that’s why new things and new ways of doing things are birthed. That’s when fences are taken down, that’s when boundaries are shifted.
A lot of the time, others created the rules, but it’s our fault for leaving them in place in our lives. Are there some rules in your own life you know should be broken? Do you ever question why they are there or who put them there? Maybe it’s time to do some housecleaning and ask yourself why these fences, these boundary lines, are where they are and tear down or push out the ones that don’t belong.