by Tamela Hancock Murray
A dedicated reader of the blog (Thank you!) posed an excellent question in response to a recent post:
Recently, I heard a female Christian marriage counselor/speaker say that women should avoid Christian romance books. She stated there was no such thing as Christian romance. Since she was speaking on the topic of pornography, I assumed she was referring to fiction that leads the reader’s mind where it ought not to go. In my opinion, most romantic Christian fiction does not fall into that category.
My question for you: How would you respond if someone told you Christian romance was sinful, or that there was no such thing? Has that happened to you before?
Last week I responded to the idea that there is no such thing as Christian romance. ”Christian Romance – Fact or Fiction?”
I am aware of a small cadre of people who are quite critical of Christian romance novels. A few years ago I was on faculty at a writers’ conference and had the displeasure of hearing a speaker demean Christian romance novels in front of the entire group of attendees. The conference in question catered to nonfiction book and magazine writers, so the speaker obviously felt he would face no disagreement. Steve Laube told me that I should have asked the speaker in private for clarification. I wish I had.
When not challenged as a teenager to read the classics at my college preparatory school, for leisure I indulged in romance novels. Unfortunately, as our culture has coarsened, clean romance novels are difficult to find. I refuse to blame publishers. They respond to what their audience buys. But pity the reader seeking an uplifting, life and love-affirming story with a happy ending for a godly couple. Christian publishers have seen this need and have been more than happy to fill the gap. In fact, Christian romance novels are far superior to the stories I grew up reading because God is front and center. If the couple starts out unequally yoked, they won’t be by story’s end. Sexual tension is present, but Christian romance writers must be creative in expressing the couple’s attraction for one another, making for a rich, rewarding read. Because of the Christian foundation, the couple’s love for one another, and the holistic strength of their relationship, readers are left with the feeling that the marriage will last. Isn’t that what we all want?
Christian romance offers an alternative to ribald tales. I give Christian books to my family and church library, knowing they will not cause anyone to blush.
Perhaps some objectors feel that readers should be studying the Word instead of Christian romance. I will not argue that Bible study trumps all other forms of reading. But if you take away Christian books, then you must condemn all forms of leisure. That means you must study your Bible instead of going to a ball game, playing video games, surfing the web, reading this blog, or anything else that could be considered leisure. But I believe the Lord wants us to recreate. That is why He set aside the Sabbath.
Has anyone ever condemned your reading material? How did you respond? What are some of your favorite books?