Writing about Scary Things

This past month, we’ve seen goblins and ghouls line the store aisles. Shrieks and screams are a bit more commonplace as people pay high prices to get spooked.

Many Christians wrestle with what to do during a month that celebrates fear. Where do we draw the line between dress up or candy and darkness or evil? As a mom, I’ll admit that’s not easy. As a writer, though, I suggest we wrestle with a similar question all year round.

Is it okay for Christians to write about scary things? What about reading them?

There are plenty of Christians who want to protect their families and themselves from the darkness that lurks in the world. And many times, that’s a wise choice. But do we ever harm ourselves by sheltering our lives from the realities of evil? I’d like to propose a few reasons why it can be important to read and write about scary things.

  1. Scary things exist. There is sin. And therefore, there is wickedness, evil, and beings far more frightening than creatures that go bump in the night. If we’re not honest about the bad things, how can we be believed about the good? Any person can turn on the news for five minutes and know that life is not as it should be.
  2. The Bible talks about scary things. In a classic “What Would Jesus Do?” move, I can point to any number of places in the Bible where Jesus talks about evil, sin, wickedness, the devil, demons, and the list goes on. This month also celebrates the Reformation, which points to the Bible as the source for truth. And if the Bible talks about evil, why wouldn’t Christians?
  3. We have something to say about scary things. As Christians, we know why bad things happen. In a fallen world, even inexplicable tragedy is not a true surprise because we know we’re living in a battlefield between good and evil. As sad as we are in times of trouble, we know that bad thing can, do, and will happen. But that’s not all.
  4. When we talk about the darkness, we can talk about the light. When Christians write about the worst things in life, we can also talk about the best. We can give “a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). We can talk about the sin that threatens to kill and condemn us all. And we can also talk about the Savior who died a terrible death in our place to conquer sin, death, hell, the devil, and every evil that exists. Yes, we will die. And through Jesus, we will one day rise again—no zombie apocalypse, but a new heavens and a new earth with perfected, healthy bodies.
  5. An honest outlook prompts change. We know there’s evil. We know there’s hope. And as we wait for the complete restoration promised in Jesus, we are prompted to love our neighbor through little acts of restoration in the here and now. We can bring words of comfort to our hurting neighbor. We can serve the needy. We can bring about change in our community. If we ignore the scary things altogether, we may ignore our opportunities to fix some of them with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, I’ve written some scary novels. And many of my hymn texts can get pretty dark. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that all of my writing includes the reality of evil. God willing, it also includes the truth of Jesus, who has overcome it all.