I originally posted this in 2008 but thought the subject might spark some much-needed discussion.
We had a foreign exchange student stay with us a few years ago, and it was great having another daughter around our house. I knew God was watching out for us because I couldn’t imagine a better fit for our family.
One day Andrea picked a 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 some books 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 affected 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 my Twitter page what they thought.
Some woman admitted that they, too, had read racy novels and were convicted. A few others mentioned that although movies and books have different levels, 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 is wisdom from the Bible. Like Song of Songs 8:4 (NIV) 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 (find out more about that here), yet I hope that what I write will never 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. 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 World War II. 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.
P.S. My store is live! Be sure to get your signed copies before they’re sold out. All proceeds go to fund my upcoming mission trip to the Czech Republic. Visit my store here, and find out more information about the literary garage sale here!