Culture wars will always abound, and with them, false assumptions, misinterpretations, and confusion.
Add to this the fact that Christian fiction is still very much an emerging (and growing. Yay!) genre, and one would expect falsities and misconceptions to arise.
This is the case any time we make generalities, but as one of my wise crit partners once reminded me, one must be careful not to state absolutes that can't be verified. Or those that in fact can be falsified, if we'd but take the time to look past the stereotypes to the components within.
In other words, just because a chunk of romance novels on today's market would make your grandmother turn a deep shade of tomato doesn't mean ALL romances would. In truth, a large number of them quite likely would turn her heart to her husband and her Savior, reinforcing the biblical definitions of true love, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Ephesians 5:22-25, and Genesis 2:18-24.
True romance--the committed, holy, and pure love between a husband and wife--reveals, in a tangible, miraculous, and mysterious way, the love Christ has for the church. (Eph. 5:31-32)
Considering the great emphasis Scripture places on this most intimate of all human relationships, should we as Christians not write about it?
These were questions I wrestled with when I first became a novelist. Though I must say, I didn't wrestle with the questions so much as other's perception of them. Yes, I strive to please God above all else, but sometimes it's hard to drown out the opinions others throw one's way.
I had recently finished my debut, a missional romance centered on Genesis 2:18-19, (Read the first few chapters free here. Buy it for under $8 here.) when influential evangelistic leaders began saturating the web with articles condemning ALL romance novels, making no distinction between the secular and their Christian counter-parts.
And those who hadn't read the works of Francine Rivers or Mary Connealy or ...
the book of Ruth?
And Hosea (the book Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love is based on)?
And... (insert a slight chuckle, for I'm certain you caught my point)
And so, I grew quiet, convinced in my call but concerned regarding the opinion of others. Some of whom I greatly respected.
But God continued to unfold beautiful stories within me, stories that reminded me of my sweet, strong, Christ-focused husband.
Stories of men and women seeking to find that most sacred of human relationships, the one that would "complete" them, that would bring strength to their weaknesses and who, united in mission and ministry, would help them discover, embrace, and live out what God created them to do.
Which is, I believe, the deeper meaning behind Genesis 2:18:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
A helper/helpmate, who brings out the very best in their spouse, not so they can achieve great wealth or worldly esteem but rather, so they, together, can fulfill that which they were created to do.
In essence, I write about what I know, for I would be nowhere near the woman I am now--nowhere near the friend, the wife, the mother, the Christ-follower--if not for my real-life hero. (Incidentally, the picture of me and my handsome railroader above was taken a couple weeks after my husband donated a kidney. Talk about a real-life hero!)
To my love, my warrior, and closest friend, thank you for showing me, daily, what biblical romance looks like. Thank you for standing behind me as I seek to live out that which Christ called me to--writing stories that reveal the depth and power of His love and grace. Thank you for holding me through my darkest moments, carrying me through my greatest struggles, and walking beside me through the immeasurable joys that can only be experienced in the context of "till death do we part."
And thanks to the Savior that melded our hearts together and showed us true romance--the kind only Christ can birth and sustain--is something to be celebrated.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you an inspirational (the official term for Christian fiction) romance lover? What do you enjoy most about the novels you read? Who's your favorite author? What are some qualities you feel make up a great hero, in life and in fiction?
Share your thoughts with us!