Some thoughts on Christian romance...
I was asked today on my Facebook author page whether I had read this article at Crosswalk.com by Russell Moore on Christian Romance. I had skimmed the article a few days ago and heard talk about it in author circles. Rather than try to comment on Facebook, I decided to comment here. Mr. Moore asks whether Christian romance could make a woman discontented with her spouse or future spouse. He says, "How many disappointed middle-aged women in our congregations are reading these novels as a means of comparing the “strong spiritual leaders” depicted there with what by comparison must seem to be underachieving lumps lying next to them on the couch?"
I understand what he is saying, and find the comment interesting. I have known more women to find discontent with their husbands, wishing he was the spiritual leader he isn't, after listening to Christian radio talk shows or reading Christian books on the roles of men and women, than from reading Christian fiction. When a male leader tells other men they should do...x...y...or z...to be the spiritual head of their homes, women are listening. When their husbands don't follow through, that can breed discontent. Does that mean those men should not encourage other men to be strong in their faith and lead their families? Or is there a greater struggle at work here?
Mr. Moore also suggested that Christian romance can have a similar effect on woman as pornography has on men. Pornography is the misuse of God-created sexual appeal, it is the abuse of anyone involved in it, it is the lie of the enemy. There is no good equated with pornography, and its addiction has ruined marriages and the lives of those it conquers.
Romance, on the other hand, is a picture of love. The Bible itself is a divine romance of God for mankind, of Christ for His church. Read the Song of Solomon or Hosea or Ruth to get a picture of this romance. Solomon's Song shows a bride and groom so in love that they cannot stop thinking about each other (something that is true in a Christian romance novel). Hosea shows a love that is faithful even in the face of unfaithfulness (something that rings of the heroic because God is Himself our hero, our lover, the one who woos and wins us, despite our unfaithfulness to Him). And Ruth shows us our Savior, our Kinsman Redeemer, who would not rest until He had done what He had to do to make us His own.
All of these elements can show up in Christian romance stories. And while the stories might make a woman experience a feeling of enjoyment and allow her to escape the stresses of life, I have never once heard of a woman thinking that the happily-ever-after in those stories is reality, and therefore, she should leave her family and pursue something other than what she has.
Christian romance, in my opinion, gives readers a break, to relax, to ease the stresses of the day, and in most cases, to get her to reflect on some truth of Scripture. Some stories deal with simple truths, like learning to trust God with her future, while others might tackle something really hard, like loving a spouse and staying true to your vows even when that spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and doesn't know you anymore.
In the Christian romance genre you have everything from short category romances to Amish fiction to prairie romances to romantic suspense and yes, even biblical fiction can fall into that category. Personally, I love a good romance and like a story better when it carries at least a thread of romance in it.
Why? Because romance is God's design. He made us to desire to love and be loved. And then He set about crafting the greatest, most unbelievable, heroic, romance story of all time. The Prince of Peace who sacrifices all to save His Bride.
This is the heart of Christian romance. An attempt to creatively show human relationships in light of the divine truth. The greatest message I read in Christian romance is that of sacrifice - to love as Christ loves us. That is a lesson anyone who loves God should want to emulate.
As for the comments left by the author of this article? I am sorry he feels that way. I would have to say, I disagree with his conclusions.