Near the beginning of August of this year, I had a post series for the Single Christian Girl.
I received a reblog from blogger and Christian Romance novelist Ann Malley with a comment introducing this post, and it really got me to think about certain things I probably should clarify.
Ann, in her amazing back cover promotion of the post, poses the question if, in my post, I am seeking a scapegoat for fallen human nature. She also brings up something I don’t know why I haven’t thought about before, “glorified temptation.” That, in itself, is something to write on. What a powerful term.
She promoted the post not only to her readers but to me. Convincing me to reread the post and reflect.
And reflect I did. In fact, I retweeted her post and we started discussing Christian Romance, the purpose of teaching through life lesson, and much more. With her permission, as I clarify some things, I’m going to share some of her quotes that came up in our discussion.
Now, the post itself is not purely focused on Christian Romance novels. It’s more about how the portrayal of Christian romance can be misguiding, especially younger readers like teens, to have false expectations. Which is then where my main focus was.
False Expectations. Potential feelings that we are entitled to certain things in a relationship, especially when influenced by media.
As Ann shares “Much of “love” is presented as an infatuation with falling in love. Not what it means.” Adding, “Falling in love with love is a dangerous business and leads to heartache 100% of the time. Why? People are people.”
There’s a reason, of course, people enjoy fiction.
But blurring the lines between what we expect out of life and the stories we read…well, that’s not really the fault of the writer. That part is on us. We decide what we expose our ears and eyes to. We’re not forced.
I do think as a Christian writer we are accountable to what we are portraying. I think we need to ask ourselves the importance of our scenes. It is wholesome? Does it encourage sinful behavior? Does this give glory to God? Would this potentially stumble up a weaker believer?
Even though everyone has free will, we have the gift to encourage and influence in our writing.
So what are we persuading and encouraging?
Ann shares her viewpoint on what authors should focus on in Christian Romance. “What’s needed is for authors to put romantic love in proper context. That is, it’s okay to show the developing attraction. God has ordered that attraction. But it is critical to have the heroine/hero acknowledge the need to balance their passions and keep a clear head. That can teach those reading to do the same and watch out for runaway feelings. We all experience them.”
I want to add, I don’t think in my post I was clear that not all Christian Romance novels or series encourage false expectations or linger in encouraging that we focus on the body. As I shared, Katie’s video really made me think about the topic. But that does not mean it is the entire genre that’s flawed.
I don’t think having a story about Christians falling in love is wrong. Ann shared with me why it is important stories cover the emotions of those feelings, “That said, teenagers–girls especially in this pressure cooker society–need a place to explore those giddy, excited feelings running rampant through their minds, etc… Believe me, hiding those feelings is no good. Often that leaves people ill-prepared for when they “experience” as much and then have no clue how to handle it.”
I think there is a lot of temptation for writers to depict certain things because the audience expects it. The world expects it. As Ann and I discussed, publishers expect it. I think the way these stories, not all, are told often encourages a way of life that is not realistic. Thus, the false expectation is encouraged.
As a writer, we are responsible for what we write. But as a reader, we are responsible for what we read. It is very important we keep a balance. We talked about how it is natural for girls to be swept away in these stories. “Girlish glee (natural) can be steeped by an overdose of one genre.”
This led to discussing how crucial and needed it is for parents both to be aware of what their teens are reading, as well as making sure teens have some way of expressing what they are going through. “Parents are better suited to know how much leeway to give a teen. How sad would it be for a young girl to be turned off of her faith because restrictions are too tight in areas where they should be loosened? I write romance novels, but I’m not an advocate for teen readers obsessing on anything. But if the parent has decided that Christian romance novels are okay, it’s their call.”
Thinking about these things has really made me step back and think about my own writing. What I want to portray and what I do not want to portray.
Watering something down in a “Christian” form does not mean God will approve of it.
Lusting with the eyes is still a sin even when everyone is fully dressed.
However, not acknowledging situations and emotions that naturally occur only lead to confusion and possible pent-up frustration, especially for teens.
I hope you took something out of this discussion. I know I have.
I want to thank Ann again for adding to the discussion and welcoming me to talk about it.
If you want to check out both posts for the Single Christian Girl Series
False Expectations – Pt. 1
What To Focus On– Pt. 2
What are your thoughts?
Do you have a favorite Christian Romance novel?
Monthly Scripture, (NIV) John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
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