Tonight, I was faced with a man who I met in high school and he married one of my good friends from high school ... I never thought anything about this man, really. He was just there, if you know what I mean. I was probably just there for him, too, since we ran in opposite crowds. Had he not married someone who was once a good friend of mine, I probably wouldn't even know anything about him, but I do, and here's why I'm bothered.
So many of you know where I stand religiously, because it's not something I really hide from. I do, however, tend to keep my personal beliefs to myself, because my mother raised me with a sense to not talk about sex, politics or religion in public. Well, this man started posting things about his religious beliefs that seemed to mirror my own and I got a little excited. I got to stop being Ashley Suzanne for a few minutes and was able to be Ashley Smith. I know, seems confusing, but there are two different versions of me. One that's for the public and one that's reserved for private, it's how I'm able to give so much of myself to the book world, and have enough left for my family.
Neither here nor there, over the last week or so, mostly since the bathroom issue (I refuse to go back and discuss this) our beliefs changed. We no longer saw eye to eye on anything, yet, because I had commented on so many of his posts, he was popping up in my timeline more frequently. Again, this was okay, I didn't mind. The majority of time, I'd just shake my head and move on, as his posts became more and more judgmental.
Tonight though, he posted about a move that's still in theaters and he was able to watch it for "free" on some pirate site. This one got to me. As a writer (and I'm sure 100% of my writing friends can agree) that piracy is an epidemic that steals food from our children's mouths, clothes off their backs and money from their household. Nobody wants to work for free. Yes, movie stars make a LOT of money, but you still shouldn't steal. And to boot, speak about how if you're not living a Godly life, you're going to hell, while you steal, which was so important, God made it a commandment.
So, I commented ... I shouldn't have, but I did. It hit a nerve and it got the better of me. I basically said to this man "Stealing is stealing" and went on to tell him about how much piracy takes from people who are just trying to work for a living, and that my books (the ones that I pour myself into, spend countless dollars to produce, and take time away from my kids to write) get pirated and if we all stopped doing it, then the pirates would be out of "work" and we could go back to earning a living. In return, from this man, I received this statement:
You claim to be a Christian, correct? You also claim to be further along, "evolved" as you so elegantly put it. Yet, your books that you choose to write are smutty at best and right along the lines of 50 shades of grey. As a fellow Christian myself, I must ask you "how can you, as one in the Faith, advocate for immorality? Honestly, you can't and truthfully you shouldn't!
Um, excuse me? Then I realized, if this is how this Christian sees my work, I wonder about other Christians. Then I remembered that we don't judge, at least we're not supposed to. For a man who has never picked up one of my books, how does he know that my books are like FSOG (which they're not ... not even a little ... not at all ... not even close). Immoral? Who's immoral? Me? Oh Lord. So, I'd like to share my response to him, for any other Christian writer out there who may be wondering if they're sinning by writing the novels they choose to write:
Sir, I do not ever run from God ... God blessed with with a talent to share stories of love, compassion and soul mates ... he blessed me with a talent to support my family without having to work 60 hours a week at a dead end job ... God gave me the insight I needed to write the eloquent words I write ... Every word out of my mouth and my fingertips is a blessing ... and every time pirates steal my work, take food out of my children's mouths and make me question why it is that I continue to write, he gives me clarity to know that my gift is from him and him alone ... If you have never read my books, how dare you compare them to anything? I've never written a BDSM novel in my life, nor do I plan to. Not because I see something wrong with it, but because I write from my experiences ... I use my past, through the romance genre, to show that love isn't cookie cutter, sometimes the most important relationships are between groups of friends, and following your heart is the most important thing ever. God is with me every book I write, and I'd have it no other way .. and I'm not ashamed of anything I write, except that one book that wasn't edited properly .... talk about a blow to the heart ... but other than that, I write from my soul, which belongs to Christ. You're nothing more than a judgmental baby Christian who only sees black and white. You use the bible for fear as opposed to love. You preach about putting God forefront in your life, but choose to steal and justify it with WORLDLY behaviors. You, sir, are a contradiction to yourself and your faith. You, sir, make me worry for the Christians you touch, as I worry you're preaching fear instead of unconditional love. One day you will grow in the Lord, you will find your true calling and you will embrace all the love that Christ has to give ... until that day, unevened yolks don't mix and we're obviously unevened ... and you're bringing out a side of me that God delivered me from long ago ... I'm stepping away, from you, not God, because my spirit knows better than to even engage, but I allowed it ... I'll repent my sins and move on, because that's how Christians survive
Do not ever run from the blessings you've been given, and with each word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, novel you write, you thank God for the gift you've been given.
That's all ... I'm just frustrated and a little bewildered. I'll probably remove this, but who knows, it might be something that someone needs to hear.
Til next time ... keep writing and keep reading ... and never let anyone make you feel ashamed of who you are, what your genre preferences are, and how you write ... you are made in God's image and you should rejoice in that and that alone!