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Why You Shouldn’t Read Romance Novels

 

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Posted March 3, 2016 by

I am a writer. I love story. I believe God has made us inherently narrative. We are living stories, and He relates to us as such in the Bible.

What about romance?  Yes, that’s of the Lord, too. This God-created thing that happens between the heart of a man and a woman, that finds its fullness in the covenant of marriage—it mirrors Christ’s relationship with the church. It gives us a glimpse of God’s eternal love for us.

But for some of you—a few of you—reading romance isn’t working for you. It’s opening doors that should be kept close.

(For the rest of you, bear with me. I’m going to list why you should read romance in a moment.)

Stop reading romance if:

 . . .reading about that special love between a man and a woman makes you dissatisfied with your single status or your own relationship with your spouse. Anything that creates a barrier between you and your spouse is not okay. If reading romance makes you say, “I wish he were more like this…” then stop. And let’s go a step further. If you read romance to have book affairs with characters that are attractive to you, you need to take a closer look at why you are doing that.

 . . .you are avoiding or escaping reality or not fully present in your life because of it. I think we all instinctively know when we are procrastinating on things we should be doing or avoiding tough issues in life. And maybe reading romance (and other books) is keeping you up late, making you tired, affecting how you function so that you do not have energy to do the things God has called you to do. Like study his Word and pray. Like have fellowship with others.

. . .the romance books you are reading are a misrepresentation of what God says romantic love and sexuality should be. Culture glorifies superficial physical relationships, and in the world of stories (and movies), culture can glorify abusive relationships. Let’s not be a part of that. There’s a place for messed up people who make mistakes in romance (see below), but let’s make sure the romance we read comes from a worldview the shows God, the Father, as the author of it.

. . .the romance books you are reading are merely written porn. You know what I mean. Let the private things of marriage be the private things of marriage. Find excitement with your spouse. Treat what is holy as holy. Where you draw the line on how much is too much to read about is up to you, and honestly, it’s different for different people—to a certain point. And then it’s porn, and it’s not okay. Porn is the abuse of sexuality how God intended it, the treating of people as objects of pleasure and not humans made in God’s image who deserve respect and honor.

Really, you could replace “romance” with anything. Stop doing whatever is distracting you from your relationship with God, whatever is causing you to sin. Is it worth it? We are too easily satisfied, as C.S. Lewis said. Lord, throw open the gates to our hearts to want you more.

Now why should you read romance?

Because romance written from a Biblical perspective almost always has an element of redemption in it. Good romance includes a wounded hero and heroine who find healing through their love for each other, whose brokenness is mended. Romance can be an amazing conduit of redemption. The woman who was rejected is now accepted. The man who’d been betrayed is now shown faithfulness. Redemption is a powerful component of romance because it is at the very heart of the Father to redeem his people.

Because we were made for romance and entering into stories that include romantic elements bring us joy. Desire for romance is nearly universal. I’m sure of it. Except for some to whom God’s gifted with singleness and granted contentment. However, most of the singles I know long to be in a covenantal marriage relationship. Why? Because a large part of romance is pursuit. Every heart wants to be pursued. Period. We like to watch others be pursued. Sometimes we step in and help others pursue each other. When we enjoy romantic stories, we are functioning in God’s image. Father, Son, and Spirit pursue each other, know each other completely, love each other on a level which I’m not sure we can fully grasp. And romantic love has that same aura of mystical, unfettered attraction.

Because you might be convicted. You might hear God speak. You might find healing. Because we live stories, the stories of others—real or fiction—have the ability to change us. Writers are artists who create with words, and artists who create in the power of the Holy Spirit, create things that carry God’s glory, his presence. Have you read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers? What an awesome example of a story that has touched so many lives. Why? Because that story carries the truth of Jesus in it. When you pick it up and read it, you see Jesus. You experience Jesus.

Your turn. This is bound to have stirred opinions and thoughts! Share, please!


Sondra Kraak

 


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