Our foreign exchange student has been here for three weeks, and it’s great having another daughter around our house. I know God was watching out for us because I couldn’t imagine a better fit for our family.
The other day Andrea picked up of book off my bookshelf called “Technical Virgin,” and after she was reading it she asked me a question, “Do you think romance movies and romance books are like porn for women?”
This took me aback. It’s not your everyday dinner conversation.
Personally, I think there are some books that can definitely be considered porn. Erotica novels are graphic, similar to R or X rated movies. (And believe me, imaginations can do as well or better than photos in a woman’s mind.)
But what about other romance novels? Ones that aren’t super graphic.
Personally, I have dealt with this situation. Fifteen years ago I read a lot of romance books, and my favorite author was LaVyrle Spencer. I read all of her books. As soon one was finished I immediately read another one.
Yet after a while something bothered me. (That nagging little voice deep inside.) I REALLY liked the heroes of the book. The men in her stories were so well-written that they came alive to me. Sometimes I’d even find myself thinking about these made-up men during the day … and they weren’t even real!!
Men, of course, are effect by “seeing,” thus porn to them is photos or videos. Women, on the other hand, are drawn into emotional experiences. So, for many … like me … the emotional experience can do the same type of damage to women that porn does to men. It is a tool that helps women fix their hearts on things that aren’t real.
I wondered if I was the only one who felt that some romance books could affect women emotionally in unhealthy ways, so I asked my friends on http://twitter.com/triciagoyer what they thought.
Some woman admitted that they too have read racy novels and were convicted. A few others mentioned that although there are different levels of movies/books they admitted women are affected by the “romance,” similar to how men are affected by visuals.
One friend mentioned that romance novels could be seen as a distraction. (Maybe from real-life problems and real-life people?) Another wise person thought it could be a replacement for unmet emotional needs, which I agree with! And then there always wisdom from the Bible. Like Song of Songs says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (Sent by yet other Twitter friend, which I like to call a Fritter.)
So, in the end, where does that leave me? What is the answer?
Personally, I think the answer may be different for different people. I know I cannot read mainstream romances and be unaffected. Of course, I do enjoy a Christian romance book every now and then. I also love sweet chic flicks.
As a writer, I do write romance, yet I hope that what I write will never be a distraction that will distract readers away from the real people in their lives, or from God.
In fact, one of my WISE Twitter friends posed this question—one we can all use as a standard: “Does it draw me toward God or away from Him?”
Hopefully, when a reader finished one of my historical, Christian novels they’ll feel closer to God. After all, in my books, the romance between the characters is just one element. My main goal is to help people see that God can do amazing things, even in hard times like WWII. And hopefully, readers will see God in new ways and fall in love with Him even more!
After all, it’s with God that true love is found.
Catherine West says
Great post, Tricia, and lots to think about.
I love romance, but I hate the way the world has turned it into something that is almost vile at times. Romance does not mean you jump into bed with the first guy you meet at a bar, only hours after meeting him…it’s really sick how the perception of love has changed and I hope that by writing romance for the Christian market, we Christian authors can show our readers what it’s really supposed to be about.
Martha A. says
I think it sort of depends on the type of romance. Some romance is real life….romance is a part of life, something that everyone desires and wants as it is something God put inside each of us. But then there are the books that leave you just feeling a bit naughty, the ones that just describe a bit too much, even christian ones. I think it can lead us as women in thoughts that are not of God, sort of like a porn, but a simple romance can also be god honoring and still be okay. When I have read your books with the romantic stories in them, I have not felt dirty or slightly naughty. It is a happy feeling, of being happy for them (the story characters). We could take any of them and transfer it to our lives and wonder why it is not that way for us and then we are guilty of another sin.
Absolutely. Even the Christian romance are definitely a replacement for emotional or sensual needs for many of the women I know that read them. (Sure they can be safe for some –there is freedom in Christ but many women are affected.)
Personally I don’t read them (even the Christian ones) or watching romance movies unless it is a comedy that I watch with my husband. When I was younger I read tons of that sort of book and it messed with my mind about what a real life relationship should look like (and I know many other women who deal with the same thing, and find themselves discontent with the relationships God has given them.) Two of my dearest friends nearly ruined their marriages because of their deep discontent stemming from their near addiction to Christian romance novels.
Good question, Tricia. My answer is yes . . . sort of. It’s not just Christian romance, or secular romance, or movies, etc. that qualify.
It’s any thing — books, activities (church related, writing related, shopping, family related, etc.), well, just about anything that comes between us and God. And after that, anything that comes between us and nuturing our relationships with our spouses, children (family!) and friendships. The real stuff, not just dinner, dishes and carpool.
The enemy uses all sorts of tools and temptations to lead us away from God and His truth. Even ones that seem innocuous at the onset. We must constantly be on guard so we can see the traps and webs before we’re ensnared. Pray for discernment, seek Him in His word!
Sharon A. Lavy says
This is a thought provoking post. Thank you Tricia.
Great post. 🙂
that a very good point, epecially if you’re reading secular literature.
This isn’t the first post I’ve seen comparing books to pornography (others have compared uber-violent series such as the Hunger Games and some focus on romance as you have), and it makes me uneasy every time. Not because I feel like it spotlights my shortcomings, but because it discounts the danger done by true pornography.
Pornography is always destructive, demeaning (almost exclusively to women) and provides absolutely nothing of worth. Pornography tears families apart and is addictive. Like any addiction, it spirals out of control, consuming everything in the user’s life.
To compare romance novels to pornography cheapens the effect that pornography has and normalizes the destructive behavior it brings about.
Tricia Goyer says
Gina, I completely agree with you about how damaging pornography is. YET if the words of a book put sexual images in your mind and causes an emotional/physical reaction I do feel that is pornographic too–just another form of it. Just my opinion 🙂
I’m glad you balance it out, and you’re not all romance. (Like some Christian romance!!) I’ve read stories by 3 different Christian romance authors, and you’re my favorite because I don’t like stories revolving around romance 😛