Christian fiction, or fiction featuring Christian characters, tends to be off-putting because the Christians are portrayed either as innocent, naive, and childlike, but ultimately perfect, or they are portrayed as uptight, judgmental monsters who want nothing for the world but to fill it with clones of themselves. Both of these images are based on Christian stereotypes. As with all stereotypes, you are going to meet people who fit every detail of them, some who fit a few, and some who fit none. But writing realistic Christian characters is possible once you break down a few of those generalizations and other misconceptions about Christians.
Avoid making every Christian character the “little miss/mr. Perfect” type..
Christians relate to God as our father. We are children of God. This means that we are accepted as a part of God’s family, and that we relate to God as His children. It does not mean that we think or behave like children in the world.
Those who are not Christian often picture Christians having a wild night out as a group of people staying up extra late for Bible study, getting a good sugar buzz from the punch, and giggling because the girl in front of them mixed up a passage from Luke with a passage from Mark. This one is especially popular in movies today.
In order to be a Christian in the real world, all you have to do is accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You acknowledge that He is God, that he died for you and rose again, and ask Him into your heart. That’s it. There are Christians who do not believe in drinking, recreational drug use, or smoking, and those who do all of those things. There are Christian goths and Christian hippies and Christians into pretty much anything that does not involve worshipping a being that is not God.
Christians are not necessarily prudish or restrictive about sexual behavior. Discussing marriage, romantic, and sexual relationships in terms of Biblical teachings can indeed be difficult, as marriage was more of a business arrangement in Biblical times, and romantic relationships were not necessarily important for marriage to occur. However, the general themes appear to center around serving, respecting, loving, and caring for each other, especially in marriage, and those standards can certainly be applied to all our most intimate relationships. Some Christians believe this means their sexuality is a gift that should only be shared with one person their entire life. Others interpret these teachings as a guide for relating to and treating all of the people they interact with in a romantic or sexual way.
The only thing you want to avoid is portraying any form of sexual violence, including non-consensual sexual activity, as “the will of God.” Anyone who does these things, whether that person be Christian or not, is rejecting the will of God.
The “prosperity gospel” is not Christianity.
Many people confuse an odd branch off of Christianity, known as the “prosperity gospel” with the actual teachings of Jesus Christ. According to this misunderstanding of the gospel, God blesses you materially as a reward for your good behavior.
The first flaw in this viewpoint is that God’s love for his children does not ebb and flow according to our behavior. God loves us all the time. But he does not hand out material rewards in exchange for “good” behavior. We do need to be thankful for all the good in our lives, material and otherwise, for all good does indeed come from God. This does not mean he’s handing out grants to go on that arts retreat we couldn’t afford in exchange for volunteering at the soup kitchen last week, or making sure we get that new jacket we had our eye on because we read our Bible every day this month. If you create a character who believes God hands out material blessings in exchange for good behavior, you have created a prosperity gospel follower rather than a Bible believing Christian character.
Christian Wicca is not Christian.
Searching for “Christian” online often brings up links to pages devoted to Christian Wicca. Involvement in Wicca and other new age practices is something you do have to give up in order to follow Jesus Christ.
When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you acknowledge that the will of God is what should be done. You acknowledge that God is in control, and that we are people who are put on this earth to serve Him. Wicca and other new age practices announce that the practitioner is in control and that their will is what is most important to the world. This is why your Christian character cannot cast a spell, even if the spell is for something wonderful, like world peace, or something harmless, like help in learning a new language.
If I were to cast a spell for help learning a new language, I would be announcing that the reason I should have help with my new goal is because I want it. It is my will. If I were to pray for God’s guidance as I learn my new language, I would be announcing that I want to learn the language and use the process and the language to glorify God.
Aside from the fact that people who think they’re the center of the universe tend to be slightly less than pleasant individuals, this type of extreme narcissism on the deepest level attracts the enemy, Satan, who enjoys nothing more than turning people away from God, and each other.
Liberal Christians exist, and we have a Biblical basis for our beliefs.
Your Christian character does not have to be right wing, or even politically conservative. That faction seems to have taken over the public image these days, but they are far from the only Christians out there, and many would argue they are not following the will of God.
Jesus taught his followers that the most important thing you could do was to love one another. He spoke out against judging people, what we tend to call “shaming” today. He said that we were to care for one another, sharing what we had with those in need. He said that what you do to your fellow human being is what you do to God ((Matthew 25:40.) If His will were all we saw in the world, we certainly wouldn’t have things like a higher tax burden on those who earned less money while the rich enjoy special tax shelters, cuts in social programs, or laws that enshrine discrimination or hatred. Making your Christian character a staunch leftist may surprise a lot of readers, but it is a completely accurate portrayal.
Homophobia and transphobia are sadly common among Christians today, but are not in keeping with Christ’s teachings. A gay and/or transgender Christian character is feasible to create.
Homophobia and transphobia are indeed a problem among a lot of Christians today, including ministers. Too many tend to use the so-called “clobber passages” of the Bible to argue that it is a sin to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same gender, and to alter your body’s physical makeup from the way God made you.
When writing a Christian character, remember that the writers of the Bible could not have been talking about two adult gay or bisexual people engaged in consensual sexual activity. They would not have been aware that this was a possibility. The only homosexual sexual relationships that were commonly known of in ancient times involved trading sexual acts for greater access to God, or arrangements in which a more socially powerful person exploited one with less power. Both of those things are indeed sins, as they are certainly not examples of loving one another as Jesus commanded, but they are sins regardless of the genders of the people involved.
Declaring transgender people as deviant from the will of God would mean we would have to declare anyone who had any surgery to correct anything about their bodies that caused them difficulty in life to be going against God. God did indeed create transgender people. The Bible says that God knew us before we were born (Jeremiah:1: 4-10). But if He knew us deep down in our soul, if He created our soul first, then He created transgender people the gender their soul is telling them that they are, not the one they appear to be at their physical birth.
Your Christian character does not need to have a certain look or personality, but do make sure to portray them as reading and learning about the Bible.
Reading the Bible is one activity it is important to engage in as a Christian. Your Christian character does not have to attend meetings or conferences at their church, listen to Christian music, watch Christian movies, or dress like every Christian character you have seen in other art works. But it is important for Christians to read the Bible, and it is important to engage in fellowship and study by attending church services. Your character can certainly disagree with others in their congregation, take issue with some things their pastor says or does, or dislike a certain program at their church, but the Bible truly is sacred to those who follow Jesus Christ.