Why Christian/Catholic Authors shouldn’t write smutty books


Everybody does it, these days. Sex scenes in fiction are oddly considered ‘realistic’ and some unfortunate readers refuse to read books without them. But a Christian (includes Catholic) author must not do it.

Note: the book cover above was chosen at random. I don’t know the author or if the book is as ‘sexy’ as the cover indicates.

Why not? Plotting a sex scene involves cultivating a sexual thought, on purpose. In Christianity that is called ‘entertaining impure thoughts.’  HAVING impure thoughts is not the sin– we have no control when we wake up from a sex dream and continue having sexual thoughts before our self-control can assert itself.

There is an old Catholic story about a teen boy who goes to confession and can’t think of what to confess. The helpful priest asks if the boy has been entertaining impure thoughts.  The boy, wanting to be truthful, says ‘No, Father, they entertain ME.’

Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and many other fine authors that we all should read managed to write novels without having their characters go at it sexually all over the landscape. Dickens even wrote prostitute characters without resorting to sex scenes. Why today’s authors think they are better and more realistic than Dickens because they write their sex fantasies into their fiction I do not know.

A Christian is called to be pure. Why? Because sex is too holy to be taken casually. God instituted marriage so that believers could live out their sex lives in a pure and holy way. Marriage— and the sexuality that comes with the marriage— is symbolic of the relationship of Christ and the Church. What part of that makes you believe that writing out sex fantasies in our fiction is OK?

Some people think that you need explicit sex scenes to be ‘realistic’.  It would also be ‘realistic’ to have an explicit scene of your character’s next bathroom visit. But it would also be crude and disgusting to many readers. Do we really need to know if Harry Potter did a number 1 or a number 2?

Another reason against sex scenes is the unintended effect we may have. We write a gritty, realistic rape scene that is as unsexy as we can make it— and some teen uses it for whacking-off material. Won’t that warp the young person’s sexuality? And what about the recovering sex addict? A sex scene, unexpected in a Christian author’s novel, may cause a relapse.

A very pragmatic reason against sex scenes for the Christian/Catholic author is that the reader base for Christian fiction overwhelmingly prefers traditional fiction without sex scenes. What do you do when the Christian readers reject you? Secularist readers won’t like you unless you reject all your Christian values in a way you probably don’t want to do.

Finally, writing a sex scene can be overly revealing about you-the-writer. It’s hard to write a sex scene without drawing on your own personal sex experiences, if any. And even if you are innocent of experience, folks will figure that you are doing that kinky sex thing you wrote about.

I should at this point admit that when I first started out writing I tried to write a porno. I had to buy some porno books to get the sex scenes right. I wrote one chapter with a lesbian scene and then lost interest in the project. I realize now what a mistake it would have been to have continued with that project.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 KJV








5 thoughts on “Why Christian/Catholic Authors shouldn’t write smutty books

  1. Nissa, I have a real beef with romance novels. By which I mean sweet “Christian” romance novels. As a celibate, I have always felt the author of these books was dissing my chaste lifestyle, though it was practiced by Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul, and Christ Himself to name a few. The way Protestant churches bash celibates and do virgin shaming is unconscionable. Sometimes I have thought about turning Catholic over this issue.

  2. I so agree! It took me years to figure this out (sometimes I need a 2×4 hit to the head), but after I read somewhere about a man complaining about the romance porn his wife kept reading and wondered how it was different than if he got a magazine, I realized how right he was. Honestly, the looseness in the entire area even in regular novels (even YA) bothers me. I can’t say I believe one thing and do another or support it. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. A lot of YA romance novels encourage emotionally unhealthy behaviors and relationships. Do young women really need egging on in making stupid choices in dating?

  4. Rachel, certainly there should be nothing wrong with a chaste and pure lifestyle even if you are Protestant. I read some Catholic novels years ago and while most characters ended up married one character became a nun. I thought that was a good alternative to a ‘marriage for all’ ending.
    Tonya, my mom for years used to read Harlequin-type romances in the evening while my dad was watching stuff he liked. I would have thought it was a bit insulting to my unromantic dad, but before the romances she read murder mysteries which I thought was even worse in a wife.

  5. I am not sure about that. When I read an occasional murder mystery I don’t feel tempted to commit murder myself and the message to these stories is that you can’t keep sin hidden forever. Eventually the truth will come out.

    Erotica encourages unchastity. And it teaches that loving FEELINGS justify all behavior no matter how sinful.

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