Tuesday, January 10, 2012

People & Characters Weren't Meant To Fit Into Boxes

This is something I see so regularly with Christians, as well as authors: stereotyping people. Fitting people/characters into boxes.

Sure, there are people (and characters) who consider themselves a certain label. If a character of mine is black from head to toe and has several piercings on their face, then it might be safe to describe them as goth. And in this case, I think it's fine to describe to the reader what kind of "label" they would be considered. The same goes for real life as well. If there's a guy who plays sports and whose life revolves around working out at the gym and his athletic ability, he himself would probably consider himself a jock.

But that doesn't mean we should fit people/characters into boxes. And by this I mean, don't make stereotypical judgments without getting to know a person. Someone who homeschools may be considered a "homeschooler". But someone shouldn't automatically think that person is sheltered because of that label. And it can go both ways - not everyone who goes to public school is a troublemaker.

There are several things we should consider before automatically placing someone in a box:

  • Not all of us have been raised the same way.
We each have different morals and backgrounds. For example, not all Christians are going to have the same beliefs on tattoos and piercings as you may have. The same goes with a Christian who listens to secular music. Something that is wrong for you may not be wrong to someone else.
  • God has made each person differently.
  • We're unique. And because of that, we shouldn't all follow the same kind of pattern. No, I don't believe that every Christian should homeschool their kids. But I also don't think that all kids were meant to attend public school.
  • God works in many ways. His plan for our lives will not be the same as others.
  • For example, not every teenage dating relationship is wasteful. Most of them seem to be. But this does not mean that everyone is supposed to wait until they're in their twenties to find the one they're going to spend the rest of their lives with. And, no, I do not believe that it is wrong for Christian couples to be only friends/court and stay completely clear of "dating". However, you may think so. And that's okay. Just keep in mind that God has written a different story for each of us, and focus on your's alone - not on someone else's.When I read a YA book, I can't stand it when I can tell that the author is putting all teenagers in a box by having their characters do/say things that is not what normal teenagers these days would do/say, or when an author seems to be "talking down" on us and apparently assumes that every teenager is naive. I'm sure if you're a writer you have heard somewhere to avoid giving your characters a label, but rather make them all unique. However, I believe it's alright to give them a label. Because that's real life. But don't let that be all. Make them unique, because we all are. That's what makes a character and a person different in real life. We aren't all carbon copies of one another. Thank God. =)

    Labeling someone automatically is considered judging, no matter what way you look at it. And by judging someone you are acting as if you're holier than that person. No, just because a person wears tons of makeup and clothes that are in style doesn't mean they are materialistic or immodest. It may just mean they like expressing themselves in their appearance, or they may just be using fashion as their creative outlet. There's usually a lot more to a person than what meets the eye. So instead of trying to fit people into boxes, let's do as Christians should do and show love, focusing on our own paths rather than judging another's.

    While reading, have you ever felt as if an author
    was putting a certain group of people (or their characters) in a box? Why do you think people try fitting others into boxes, even Christians, even though the Bible clearly says not to judge (Luke 6:37, Matt. 7:1)?

    1 comment:

    1. Great post, Tessa! It feels like I write about this a lot, because it's how I try to live, but you just say it so clearly so thankyou!


    Thanks for stopping by my blog!