November 24, 2008 Ration

Luke 17:1

“And He said to His disciples, ‘Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!’”

Artists, woe to us if temptation to sin comes through our artistic expressions. Temptations to sin are sure to come, but let it not be through a work of our hand. Pay attention to the effects of your artistic expression. Be careful that when setting the stage for revealing what is true or necessary you do not also serve as the devil’s tempter.

What might some of these temptations be? I am thinking here of two main categories, though there are others. The first being where, for the sake of our acceptance among men, we are so ambiguous in our artistry that we, in effect, lead the observer away from what the clarity of truth is. And the second being this: where we try so hard to bring to image the theme at hand, that we actually encourage or entice the observer to embrace the sin himself as we tell the story with tempestuous vividity.

If we take the path of ambiguity in our artistic expression, and we basically point to many possible ends or no ends at all when there is in fact one end, and we know it, then we play the devil’s misinformant. Enough misinformation can still lead in the general direction where the outlying common graces can be enjoyed, yet in a way that falls short of the bounteous cache, God Himself. Our sin is where we ascribe the glory of God in what is pleasurable to the glory of the created or something unknown. It is a sin of intentional omission where we, for the sake of acceptability among men, conceal the full truth. I am not concluding that the name of God must be explicitly named in our work. God does not sign His signature on all of His creation. Yet He is confident that in all that He created, He has made clear that He is its end. God points to no other in His work. God is not ambiguous in what He makes, and we should not be ambiguous either due to the fear of our standing among men. What can mere men do to us where God is for us (Romans 8:31)?

The temptation to sin that we effectually put forth in such a stance of ambiguity is that the observer would be tempted, while enjoying the aesthetic pleasures, to embrace the same errors of omission and rejection. Woe to the artist who leads one astray through ambiguity.

If we take the path of tempestuous vividity in our artistic expression, where in making sure to include an image of a wrong to set the stage, yet presented in such a way that our heart is lured to enjoy the pleasures of the wrong, then we play the devil’s charmer. Be very careful here, artists. There is an air in the arts that seems to afford such sensual permissions under the guise of necessary information, when in fact the vividity is only an opportunity to gratify and play to the desires of the flesh. Do not hide the desires of your flesh under the protection of artistic expression. God does not care what the arts council grants immunity to. He is the Sovereign Arbiter who will expose every thought and affection of our artistic heart.

Cannot necessary information be revealed without encouraging the sensual gratification of the flesh? Of course it can, but it takes a better storyteller to compose that scene. The immature author hopes to make up for his lack of brilliance with the fireworks and bang of vivid sensuality. It is a weak author who plays to the flesh instead of the mind.

Artists, Jesus says, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”

Jason Harms


© 2008 The Gaius Project