Friday, August 19, 2011

Faith and Fiction Saturday: Let's Talk Romance

For awhile, probably most of my teen years into my early twenties, I read classics and Christian fiction. The majority of the contemporary fiction I read was Christian fiction and the majority of Christian fiction is romance. In fact, I realized when I branched out later in life that I thought about books and series according to the romance formula and I was surprised when things were different.

For whatever reason, Christian romance is very popular and I think a lot of it might be because conservative Christian women are uncomfortable reading explicit sex scenes and Christian romance provides an alternative. I prefer Christian romance for this reason. Additionally, the books often focus on a lot of spiritual growth for the characters and the relationship takes more of a center stage than the physical attraction. Of course there is physical attraction! but it's not dwelt upon as much. While other things may frustrate me about Christian romance at times, such as a focus on traditional gender roles--I really love it for the most part, and find it to be very satisfying to read.

In the past few months, however, I've seen a few arguments being made against Christian romance, by fellow Christians--usually men, which frustrate me a lot. The main point of the argument is that romance is for women like pornography is for men--a kind of wish fulfillment that sets up women's expectations so high for their husband and he can never possibly match what the books have laid out for them to expect.

I'm not an expert on this subject and I'm pretty sure there are a lot of other people who could take this argument apart better than I can. But my problem with this discussion is how much it broadbrushes the Christian romance genre and women in general.

I often find reading romance to be a transcendent experience...I go on a journey with the characters--I root for them, and hope for them, and I'm happy when they find their happiness. Sometimes I can find hope in the pages, or I can just enjoy the lovely writing, or even just the quick trip into a different world.

I'm single and happy about it, but I still enjoy reading love stories and I don't think they make it impossible for me to see the real world at all. Sure romance books may not tell realistic stories...they tell a story in a heightened reality, but the most important thing is that they feel emotionally true.

Having said that, I always think these things come down the individual person. If you're using reading to continually escape from the real world than you may have a problem and if you're motivated then you might want to consider doing something about it. But the same can be said of TV, movies, games, and various other things. The good thing about Christian romance is that it might surprise you and not let you escape reality but hitting you with truth in unexpected places

What are your feelings on Christian romance and romance in general?

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