Sunday, October 8, 2023

Writing Clean in a Dirty World

by Martin Wiles @LinesFromGod

COVID ran rampant, and I was scared to get clean.

Only once had I gone more than three days without a shower—when my daughter and I had backpacked for five days and had no way to take a shower or a bath. Washing off in creeks and rivers proved the best we could do. This time, things differed.

My wife and I and our good friends decided on a summer camping trip to Oconee State Park in Upstate, South Carolina. I didn’t worry about being near people—the campgrounds were only half full—but I did worry about the bathhouses. Were they cleaned regularly? Could germs remain on the shower floor? I wasn’t a fan of campground showers anyway, but the pandemic put a new face on my fear of germs. 

On most of our camping trips, we do a little hiking. But not this time, which made it easier to skip the shower. We just hung around the campsite—cooking, talking, playing games, and lounging the days away. 

Each day, my wife asked, “Are you going to shower?” and I would answer, “Nah.” Instead, just before getting into bed, I performed a nightly ritual. Out came the face wipes for my face, ears, and bald head. Then came the disposable wipes for my body. After I topped this off with deodorant, I felt like a new man—no need for a shower. 

But after three days, I felt a little icky. I didn’t give in and use the bathhouse shower, but I did hit the shower as soon as we got home. The refreshing warm water running over my body exhilarated me. And so did the soap that washed away the camp dirt and all the accumulating smells. Nothing feels as good as getting clean after a good dirt bath. 

But another type of dirt exists that we can’t always feel. The Bible calls it sin. Jesus pegged it: “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you” (John 13:10 NLT).

Well, what does this have to do with writing? We writers write in this dirty world. Sin may be an almost politically incorrect term in the twenty-first century, but it accurately describes the dirt—abuse, trafficking, pornography, unconscionable crimes, and rebellion, to name just a few. 

But if our writing—fiction and nonfiction—preaches at people with an accusatory tone, we will lose those we want to reach with God’s love. This is why we rarely, if ever, use second-person POV and opt for the first or third. 

With the latter two POVs, we identify with the reader, which lets them know we don’t think we are better than them. We may be Jesus followers, but we don’t have all our ducks in a row or eggs in a basket. We just have Jesus to help us, which is our goal for others—whether we speak to them directly in a devotion or article or let a character do it in a novel. 

More and more, our world becomes increasingly antagonistic to Christianity. Although we can’t change our message, we must couch it with love, kindness, patience, and gentleness—and perhaps in other ways we haven’t had before. 

The above traits, written in our words and empowered with God’s Spirit, will impact our dirty world bit by bit. We may have to use politically correct terms we don’t enjoy using or have a sensitivity reader peruse our writing. But whatever it takes, we must put aside our pride and keep writing clean. 

We writers can’t give in and lower our standards, but neither can we give up. Keep up the good work. 

What steps can you take to write clean to a dirty world?


Martin Wiles is the founder of Love Lines from God (WWW.LOVELINESFROMGOD.COM) and serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and Directing Editor for VineWords. He has authored six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, DON'T JUST LIVE...REALLY LIVE, debuted in October of 2021. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, author, and pastor.

Featured Image: Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash