Why I Choose to Not Burn The Shack Up or Down ~ Tonya Brown




As a writer, I know how difficult it is to write from my Christian worldview—from a faith that is ever growing in truth and grace.

As a Christian, I know how hard we can be on one another.

As a Caring for the Heart coach, I know how damaging emotional pain is to our ability to give and receive love, even the perfect love of our Triune God. When someone touches our pain, we react.

Those three perspectives motivate my thoughts.

In deciding whether to enter the fray over the merits/demerits of William Paul Young’s novel The Shack and the recently released movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL0yUbSS5Eg, I wondered if anything I had to say could enhance the discussion. I don’t like controversy, but I do enjoy an amicable debate. Most of what I’ve seen written surrounding the movie’s release qualifies as highly contentious in my book—though I admit my meter tends to run on the sensitive side.

I almost kept silent on this one. The ruckus is just too loud for my liking. I don’t like name calling. I don’t want to be called names. So can we agree to not do that here?

I’ve read Young’s book more than once and went to see the movie on opening weekend. I’ve read many of the reviews written by the pros and my Facebook friends. I’d say if I took a poll, it’s about a 50/50 split. Both sides adamant they are right.

But then I heard Paul Young tell his own story. Those who know me know I love to hear personal stories and love them even more if the storyteller includes God’s activity in the story. I don’t ordinarily watch TBN, but tuned in when I saw that Paul Young would be telling the story behind The Shack. https://www.tbn.org/programs/restoring-shack/episodes

As Mr. Young spoke, I tried to understand his heart. I listened to him relate his story of childhood sexual abuse and spiritual abuse as a son of missionaries. My Caring for the Heart training and experience heightens my awareness of how what happened to us as children influences our relationships as adults—with our spouse, our children, and especially our God.

Young acknowledged being the victim as a child; I can respect that. But he didn’t stop there. He continued by confessing his own sinful behavior as an adult and the explanation of his process of repentance and reconciliation. He was clear to point out that he had been the perpetrator; I respect that. I listened to his heart yearning for redemption of the pain from his past.

I will not condemn this man, his work of fiction, or the resulting movie. What I see is a man who is trying to explore difficult topics, sharing with others how God met him where he was and loved him through the hard places. I can’t cast the first stone, because I walk this same path.

Sometimes failing. Other times succeeding. Nonetheless, walking with my God who is forever faithful in helping His children unlearn the lies we have believed and teaching us His truth.

It is my prayer that the LORD will use the message of The Shack to start dialogues with Him in the midst. He is perfectly capable of correcting any misconceptions. Mine. Yours. We don’t have to defend God, but we do need to allow space for Him to speak. And for us to listen.

I want to be a part of the healing conversations. How about you? Can we agree to not use words as weapons?

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