This is the start of a series of defenses I will be posting – check back later for “In Defense of Christian Fantasy,” “In Defense of Christian Horror,” and “In Defense of Christian Fiction.” As I’ve been hearing a lot against these genres recently, I thought it was about time to start the conversation.
“The romance genre is like emotional porn for women.”
“I just wish there wasn’t romance in every single book…it’s not all about romance, ya know.”
Heard either of the above? I have – multiple times by multiple people. I’m not one to curl up with a romance generally, but I wanted to refute these claims on behalf of those who do. Excuse me, while I get opinionated. I am fully aware that disagreements will pop up, and I’m willing to admit I may have missed something in this post. Now I will go cower in the corner while you read.
1. Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater
I am by no means defending every single book out there labeled “Christian Romance.” Nor am I saying that it is always beneficial to read Christian Romance. What I’m saying is that I feel like many Christians are throwing out the entire genre based on
• Some books
• Some people
Yes, some books can be ungodly, immoral, sensual, or leading to temptation.
Yes, some people – whether due to their past, personal convictions, or any other number of reasons – have an individual issue with the entire genre.
I am not here to argue over which people or which books are okay. I am writing this to suggest that we not write off an entire genre based on a percentage.
2. Fiction is written to represent reality
In response to those tired of romance being in just about every book, guess what? Romance is a part of life. Romance will be and should be in almost every book out there, because it is all over the place in real life. Most people have crushes, dates, love interests, marriage, or romance in some fashion. To have an entire story that is totally absent of romance is so unlikely in real life that to have that in fiction is usually asking your reader to suspend their disbelief a little too far. Romance – real people are usually thinking about it, fictional characters probably are too.
3. Fiction is written to escape reality
On the opposite end, the Christian Romance genre can often be so focused on the romantic side of the story that there’s nearly no other story present. This is not usually a portrayal of reality. Real life has so much more than romance to it.
But here is where the paradigm comes in – fiction is, well, fiction. It’s not supposed to be entirely real. Fiction is for the purpose of entering an unreal realm for a moment. This can mean that fiction zooms in on only one aspect of humanity or it can mean that it spans more of human experience than any one person would typically encounter. Regardless, fiction is not entirely about reality, and that’s the point of fiction. So a book devoted entirely to romance is no less acceptable.
4. God likes romance
Dare I say it, God isn’t avoiding any mention of romance. He likes romance. He likes it between Him and the church, of course. More than that, He likes it between a man and a woman – it’s the representation of His romance with us. Just as it’s healthy to see a couple romance each other as a picture of Christ and the church, it can be healthy to see a fictional couple representing the divine romance between us and God. Yeah, I went there – romance can be healthy – uplifting, encouraging, challenging.
5. Speaking of health, romance is like food
I am aware that this genre can become an area of addiction, where reading it becomes unhealthy due to overexposure, when human romance becomes the end-all-be-all of life. This is not an issue with the genre any more than food is an issue because of obesity. Both are good with a proper understanding of how they should relate to our life. Our world should not revolve around either of these, just as it shouldn’t revolve around the fantasy genre, alcohol, friendships, or any number of good and bad things. That place should be reserved for God. But that does not mean we have to abandon food, or romance, altogether; in fact, that would be very unhealthy.
6. God Writes Christian Romance
Heard of the Bible? Ya know, the anthology of books written by men and compiled with the belief that God directed their every word? One of those books is Song of Solomon. You can argue all you want about how it’s talking about God and the church – and it is – but it’s also just a view of what God designed romance to be. And He planned on it being read. There needs to be books that show true romance as God designed it.
7. Satan likes to mess with God’s plan
This is where the issues come in. Romance points to God. Satan doesn’t like that. Whether real couples or fictional, Satan wants to distort our view of God. Once again, the fiction can represent reality in having flawed couples or the fiction can completely distort reality by making romance something God never designed it to be. Either way, I won’t deny that Satan likes to get in there.
But flawed people are inevitable. Reality. God still uses flawed people, and in the same way, stories of flawed people can be used. Just because the couple does not perfectly portray God’s design for romance does not mean the book has to be burned. God put the story of Adam and Even in the Bible. Tamar. David and Bathsheba. Hosea and Gomer. Those just off the top of my head – flawed people, flawed romance, that God specifically chose to speak to us with. So don’t throw out a book just because there is a flawed romance.
8. What’s with all this friendship nonsense?
Friendship. Best friends, old friends, new friends, building friendships – and don’t get me started on betrayals. It seems like there’s always friendship in every book out there. Can’t we write a book with no friendship whatsoever? Just for once I want to read a book where there aren’t friendships on every page.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. Friendship is an inevitable part of life, so nearly every book you read will have it. You will rarely find a book with a complete loner doing everything on his/her own with no camaraderie.
Romance is another inevitable part of life. So while the above complaint seems ridiculous, consider the fact that ditching romance is almost as crazy.
What are your thoughts? Did I miss something? Or do you disagree? Hold on while I crawl out of my corner to converse with you.