How Jesus Used Stieg Larsson To Overwhelm Me With Grace

“‘I need to write this book’, he said. ‘It’s really important to me. I saw a rape and I didn’t do anything. I felt terrible about what I had seen.’ - The incident happened in 1969 at a camping site in northern Sweden. Three of his friends assaulted a 15-year-old girl as Larsson watched.”

- Stieg Larsson - http://abcn.ws/w1rGLS

It’s fair to say that I’m relatively obsessed with Stieg Larsson’s novels The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. I read the entire Millennium Trilogy last week. I don’t think that I’ve ever read that much in my life, in that short of a time. I realize I’m a little behind the times, and Larsson fans that have been there since the beginning are probably rolling their eyes at this sellout who hopped on the bandwagon once the first installment of the American version of the film came out. Forgive me. 

Whatever the case, I am hooked. The novels are excruciating and intricate, with layers upon layers of nauseatingly believable characters and swine parading about as people, sub-plotting the subplots and screwing up everything beneath those subplots as they squirm their way to the top and affect the surface. I love and loathe the characters, depending, and am fascinated by their autobiographical representation (however loosely fitted) of the author’s own experiences, interactions, and histories, whether it be the Trotskyism which presents itself in the Vangar’s familial turmoil, the violence throughout, or the experience-driven Blomkvist from Larsson’s own journalistic days at Expo, an investigative magazine he founded in 1995. 

I already know I’m going to catch a bunch of flak for speaking highly of a series containing such sexually explicit material so allow me to throw out a disclaimer: it’s not eroticism (I would actually argue that it is the polar opposite), although it is mature (whatever that means), and it is extremely difficult to read (let alone see in the graphically depicted theatrical representations). When my sister and I went to see the movie together, she walked out, and remains completely flabbergasted at the fact that I can stand to manage through such murky waters. 

Much of the premise for the entire trilogy is based upon sexual abuse and violence towards women, and this is not surprising when a real-life gang bang inspired much of Larsson’s endeavor. Plots revolve around rape, murder, abuse of authority, and the Swedish sex-trade, among other things not at all related to sexuality, although those that are, are pivotal. While there are redeeming elements to the story, many will find that they cannot tread the territory to see them (or stomach the detail, as I found myself nauseous and downright infuriated on multiple occasions.) So then the Holy Spirit comes in, as I’m busy vomiting into my journal, telling Jesus about the books, fuming about the bastards that exist in this world, and wondering about why God doesn’t assemble them all into a lump sum and tear them to pieces, and says, in essence, “You’d be dead with rest of the ‘bastards’.” (As paraphrased by me, for emphasis, because I’m not sure I can claim, definitively, that the Holy Spirit called me a bastard.)

As I sat there in prayer, with the reminder of past sins squashing any pride that for even a moment claimed innocence in the matters which so aggravated me throughout the trilogy, I was broken to the point of tears. The images that I have seen, and links that I have clicked have helped fund the demand for that kind of human trafficking. Some will make arguments that legal pornography does nothing to further the efforts of such activity, and I would say that even if you cannot follow a rabbit trail of monetary carrots leading to imprisoned women (which you often can), sexual sin carries a domino effect that, like a drug and the drug after that, builds up a tolerance and dissatisfaction with one compromise and moves on to another, and that to another [as is seen in King David’s progression from seeing Bathsheba, to staring her down, to taking her, to killing her husband. Included are extremes like Ted Bundy (http://bit.ly/88kprF), as well as the characters in Larsson’s novels, the most vile of which noted frequenting general, child and violent pornography]. That domino affect, especially in a culture overrun with sexual promiscuity at the rack next to the grocery isle that would have been hard to find as pornography a generation ago, creates cultures with men who enslave women and make even the worst of this trilogy: tame.

I don’t have a million links that I’m going to list for someone who disagrees with me. When one in four women and one in six men in America has been sexually assaulted at what is generally considered an underestimate in our day (not including pornographers demoralized “willingly”), Jesus’ rebuke of even looking at a woman who is not my wife with lust for her is enough to bring me to my knees and convict me that I am not without blame. Without Jesus, I would probably be in very much the same place as Mr. Larsson was - seeking to work out my guilt with penance as an attempt to right my wrongs via analogous apologies as characterized in the vindication of women, personified throughout the story.

[As an aside, although I could spend days deconstructing the novels, it is interesting to me that Larsson’s deep convictions which fuel the engine - justice, vindication, even establishing innocence for characters and perhaps, in a roundabout way, for himself via internationally bestselling works of penance (although I cannot claim to know the man’s every motive) - are all what I would consider communicable attributes inherent in the author as created in the image and likeness of the Creator. God cares about all of these things. Justice is established and solidified through Jesus’ cross, where the Father, in the doctrine of propitiation, pours out his just wrath on his Son in Jesus’ crucifixion death, as penalty for sin. Jesus vindicates us of the Accuser’s accusations against us through the cleansing expiation of the cross, as the Scapegoat for and Forgiver of our sins. And Jesus establishes innocence and salvation for the Christian through his atoning work on the cross so that we can, regardless of what sins haunt our past, stand justified before the Judge because of what the Judge’s Son did on our behalf - not the good things that we did to try to balance the scales.]

I am overwhelmed at the grace of Jesus in my life. I am overwhelmed that he can sympathize with my shame, having scorned that of the cross, that I might be forgiven of sins as grievous as aiding the bondage of his creations, as made in his likeness, and cared for to, above, and beyond the point of His torturous death. I am all the more grateful for authors like Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, and ministries like XXXChurch and Unearthed Pictures, who have devoted so much time, effort and resourcing to help victims understand the restoration power of Jesus Christ, and perpetrators the justice rendered and forgiveness offered as demonstrated at His cross. 

Anyway, this isn’t another blog about porn and how you shouldn’t look at it (although, you shouldn’t). I’ve been blamed for overChristianizing everything, and while I suppose there are worse things to be blamed for, I genuinely loved the series as a brilliant story, and was simply inspired to write something that I learned from it, as well. We blame a whole lot of things on pornography. I think it’s become somewhat of a trend to be the taboo Christians that defy a previously silent generation by being the ones that talk about it. It almost seems overemphasized, which, if true, is a shame of inexplicable proportions, because it’s like we care more about keeping the topic alive than killing the sin in our hearts… 

And the problem is in our hearts. The Amazing Grace of Jesus Christ though, for the Christian, is that we have been given new hearts, new minds and new natures which care about the things that God cares about - such as loving and protecting the Lisbeth Salanders of this world. 

For more information, here are some wonderful resources to consider before either continuing to enslave and abuse men, women and children, or, on the opposite end, before you start killing people or tattooing vulgar things on their fat stomachs: