Why Christians Should Read Fiction
I recently met someone who had been raised without fiction. No Little Golden Books, no Dr. Seuss, no Little House on the Prairie, no Chronicles of Narnia…nothing. I can’t begin to imagine, but the thought makes me feel a bit hollow inside. The reason? Fiction is “not true,” therefore it violates the admonition in Colossians 3:9– “Lie not one to another…”. What a horrifyingly incorrect notion to base an entire life upon.
The opposite of fiction is non-fiction, and the difference is not in whether they convey truth, but the method by which truth is told. Both can tell the truth, and both do (unless the writer’s goal is to do otherwise, and even then, truth usually shines through somewhere). Fiction shows the truth through story, one of the most powerful lenses available. Non-fiction relates fact, usually as a linear narrative.
Of the two methods of telling truth, story is the more powerful and memorable, because it engages the emotions. Remember King David’s reaction when the prophet Nathan related the story about the poor man’s lamb, then said, “Thou art the man!” Wow. Stories are told throughout scripture because we have been created with minds designed to receive teaching in that format.
There are so many reasons Christians need to be readers, and they’ve been ably addressed in a recent Breakpoint article, Why Should Christ-Followers Read Fiction? Defending Story by author Mary DeMuth. Please visit the link and read it, if you’ve wondered about the issue. She clearly addresses most of the major reasons we need to read.
This issue is important, so that another child won’t grow up in the impoverished environment that my recent acquaintence experienced. As an adult, she’s worked hard to make up for the lack of story in her childhood, but as she said, “I realize that I’m still missing areas of important emotional understanding that I believe I’d have developed if I’d been able to empathize with characters in a book.” When you consider that one of the characteristics many psychopaths have in common is the lack of ability to empathize, it reinforces the need for reading great literature, especially in those who are commanded to “love one another.” (John 13:34-35)