Romance

The Superiority of Christian Romance Novels

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?

Objection!

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.

Vibrant Relationships

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?

Alternatives

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.

Recreate!

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.

Your turn:

Has anyone ever condemned your reading material? How did you respond? What are some of your favorite books?

 

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Christian Romance — Fact or Fiction?

In response to a recent blog post, “A Matter of Taste,”  a reader asked what I would say if someone claimed there is no such thing as Christian romance.

In fact, I have been confronted with this question before. At a Christian writers’ conference a few years ago, a woman told me in a snide manner that romance is a “fantasy” and walked away before I could respond. I felt especially sad that the woman was no doubt a fellow Christian, but it sounded like it had come from a jaded secularist. I believe this woman’s attitude reflects her own experience rather than the state of Christian publishing. True, not all real life endings are happy, and Christian romance novels traditionally end with the premise that the couple will enjoy a bright future. That is the hope and promise these books offer. Indeed, isn’t that the hope and promise of weddings in real life?

The Lord never promised Christians perfect unions. My heart aches for anyone in a miserable marriage. Hurt people hurt people, so no amount of convincing will change some minds about romance. But God is bigger than any situation, and He heals willing hearts.

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A Matter of Taste

I always enjoy reading comments on our blog posts. Recently a reader posted a provocative question:

In this time of great emotional upheaval, instability, and unrest, aren’t we ready for something more solid and inspiring than just different types of romance novels?

Those of you familiar with my career know that I am the author of many romance novels and stories — and Bible trivia books!

And while I represent a variety of authors in fiction and nonfiction, my list is weighted heavily to romantic stories. I do realize that not everyone has the same taste — nor should we.

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Saving the World, One Romance at a Time

Often I will receive submissions of novels tying in an element of mystery and suspense with romance. Writers targeting the romantic suspense market will find difficulty in placing this type of story. Why? Because romantic suspense readers have certain expectations that won’t be met with a mere element of mystery and intrigue.

In my experience trying to sell and market romantic suspense, I have found that the readers of this genre want all-out adventure and crime solving along with compelling romance. The suspense is foremost, with the romance being tied in so deeply that the story won’t survive without it.

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To Romance or Not to Romance

According to St. Teresa of Avila’s biography, the battle over romance novels has been going on at least since the 1500s:

Teresa’s father was rigidly honest and pious, but he may have carried his strictness to extremes. Teresa’s mother loved romance novels but because her husband objected to these fanciful books, she hid the books from him. This put Teresa in the middle — especially since she liked the romances too. Her father told her never to lie but her mother told her not to tell her father. Later she said she was always afraid that no matter what she did she was going to do everything wrong.

Those of us who write, represent, and publish Christian romance novels can be made to feel the same way when our brothers and sisters in Christ object to our efforts to provide readers with God-honoring entertainment.  I have spoken with authors whose pastors have derided their writing, read negative blogs, and heard conference speakers criticize Christian romance novels.

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