March 08, 2014

Writing About T*aboo Topics by Sheila Webster

We are pleased to welcome Sheila Webster, Editor of FellowScript Magazine, as our Guest Blogger today.

The challenge of being called to write words about taboo topics is that as a Christian writer, we should fully engage. We are steeped in God’s word, steeled with His armour and bathed in prayer. Since the fall of man there has been a need for taboo topics to be addressed. As humans, sin is always “crouching at our door, but we can chose to overcome it.” Sometimes the sin is not to write.

Evil abounds in the world and we are called to overcome it by speaking the truth in love in our society and our faith groups. Evil is not a distant enemy at times; it is anything that is fashioned to cloak the wrong of this world in taboo subject matter or under the thin veil of not appropriate subject matter for the Christian writer.

I was called to task for mentioning in my book, A Simple Spirituality, the truth about a situation. I did not name the person, the year or any other identifying information. I mentioned a true happening. I was told that we shouldn’t ‘talk about such things.’ The harshest censure will often come from those closest to us, who we hoped would understand why we need to expose the lie and speak the truth.

It has fallen within my realm to talk about child sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, cults, rape within marriage, domestic violence in clergy homes, residential school abuse, gay/lesbian/transgendered bashing, masturbation, child abuse in foster homes, pornography, the use of child prostitutes by farmers during a farm show on our own soil within blocks of my home, ethical treatment of all vulnerable persons, homelessness, the list goes on.

I have written these in letters, petitions, devotionals, poems, stories, essays, personal letters, sermons, tracts, anything that God tells me to put ink to. I have done this with trepidation, fear and trembling, but obedience. My detractors will not stand in my place before God and speak to my unwillingness to be obedient to the craft and gift God has placed in my heart, on my tongue and through my pen. I will answer to the Divine judge for my unwillingness to speak the truth about what happens in dark places in my own neighborhood, church and my own life at times.

At times God has even used my words to help bridge the gap of understanding and offer God’s truth, grace, plan of salvation and redemption to the murderer, the pedophile, the common sinner. I need to be faithful to His call, careful not to become judgmental toward perpetrator, detractor or fellow Christians.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, that God prepared beforehand that we may walk in them.” It is His work, His words, His outcome – I am but a humble conduit that needs to put my reputation, pride and fear aside.

I have learned much over the years about taboo subjects, and no longer can be silent on many things as the kingdom of God is always at hand. If God has gifted you to address something – do so and be blessed for it. James will always be my best biblical friend, as God speaks to me through his ancient words found in his first chapter, “IF any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach.”

If I am unwilling to speak I have missed an opportunity to grow in my faith, and reach out to my people group whose ears are open to my message though I be annoying and troublesome to others.

Sheila Webster is a writer, speaker and editor. She has been published in multiple genres and is on her fourth book.


  1. Sheila, I was in Isaiah this morning, and came across this.

    ISAIAH 59:12, 14-15 For our offences are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us.
    So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

    I have to be honest. People like you who spoke out about things that made me uncomfortable disturbed me. I wanted you to stop, so I wouldn't need to squirm on your behalf.

    What the Lord has shown me is that when there is a Sheila in my midst, one called to speak out, my job is not necessarily to join them, but rather to pray for that person. Wrap them in Holy Spirit support and send them forth in the Lord.

    We have a young man at church who feels called to minister in downtown Edmonton on Friday nights. Oh my! I wanted to tell him, no, it's too dangerous. Instead I have become his prayer warrior. It's a better role for me to play, Yes?

  2. You are so right. Wrong prevails when the right is silent.
    Thank you for saying what so many of us are thinking. This comment is written in my Bible, "As the world goes deeper into sin, there should be a wider gap between the Christian and the world, or else we are only one step behind them
    on the way down." That is not to say we avoid them, but our actions should be true to the Word and everything we say be said in love.

  3. Sheila,

    Thank you so much for your posting today.

    I'm with Carol when she says that wrong will prevail when we don't stand up for what is right.

    As writers, we can become the voice for the voiceless... so righteousness and justice in true love can prevail.

    Thank you for taking up this ministry on behalf of the Kingdom.

    Keep writing. Keep speaking. Your voice is strong.

    And Bobbi, I love that you have taken on the role of prayer warrior on behalf of these bold speakers. I'll join in that role too.

    Blog Moderator

  4. Great post, Sheila, and so true. I'll be sharing the link. When I first wrote One Smooth Stone I considered cutting or toning down a couple of scenes in the book that dealt with the physical and sexual abuse of a child. I knew the book would be hard to market in the American CBA with those scenes left in, and when it was accepted by Castle Quay I expected them to edit those parts but they didn't and I am very grateful. I've had some amazing responses to the book and I think it's partly because it speaks the truth. I was over-the-moon grateful to Mark Buchanan when he endorsed the book and said it was writing that is "grimly real but deeply hopeful." That's a goal for all of us to reach for, as Christian writers.

  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I so desperately needed your words today. My latest book has been raked over the coals for its content. Not the writing - the content. The realm I write in is vastly different from yours and only a few have understood the importance of it. The rest say I've crossed the line and shouldn't be writing about such things. My topic? False doctrine and preachers in the church today. God did tell me to write about it as a warning to the worldwide body of Christ. I have been receiving nasty emails (from brothers and sisters in Christ) who have brought me down so low I had decided to give up writing and melt into the woodwork never to be heard from again. However, I do believe God sent me to read your words today because He doesn't want me to be quiet. So thank you Sheila, for being brave and for doing what you know is right and what God has called you to do. You have greatly encouraged me today.

  6. Hi Sheila,
    I haven't been called - yet - to write content that is controversial. That doesn't mean God won't call me to do that.
    I do write what He leads me to say - and write now He is telling me we have to follow Jesus - really follow Him. Deny self, pick up my cross and follow. That is where I am at the moment. Asking Him to show me how and where.
    Blessings for writing what He tells you,

  7. Thank you for your obedience and bravery Sheila. You are a fine example of speaking the truth in love. I really appreciated your post as well as all the comments left by my friends and fellow workers in Christ. It is not always easy to do what we must but God is the only judge, as you said so well.

  8. Thank you for your obedience and honesty. There is healing in the writing. That is what I felt God had impressed upon my heart when I decided to start writing again.

  9. Thank you for these words, Sheila. Sometimes I feel alone in the calling God has placed on me, and misunderstood as well . Like you, God has called me to share His Word, and to share The truth that Jesus is the ONLYway (I'm not shouting!). I thought myChristian friends and especially leadership would support this but there is much hesitancy to put the truth in the marketplace so it is good to hear other Christians endorse this!

  10. Thanks Sheila for your words and your desire to be used by God to speak truth. May I be found faithful to do that too.

  11. Wonderful post, Sheila. Goodness knows it is obvious that you have been called by God for a specific purpose in your writing. How encouraging to many writers this post is and Laura - I am so happy for how Sheila's post has helped you over the hurdle. NEVER stop writing. You are a brilliant writer. Thanks, Sheila for a good work done today with this post. Blessings.

  12. Thank you, Sheila, for this blog. You helped build my courage to write the blog that has been running in my own head since I knew the topic of Taboo and Controversial Topics was coming up on the agenda.

    You have challenged us all by statements like, "I need to be faithful to His call, careful not to become judgmental toward perpetrator, detractor or fellow Christians." Sometimes we also need to be less judgmental of ourselves.


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