Are Romance Novels Unhealthy?

If you write romance novels, you’re plagued with these questions sometimes. Do my stories cause wives to be dissatisfied with their husbands? Do young girls have unrealistic expectations of their future boyfriends/husband because of my story?

Recently, one of my all-time favorite bloggers came out and bashed all romance novels – even Christian ones – because they foster unrealistic expectations and dissatisfaction. She spoke from personal experience, so I’m assuming she felt she had the authority to condemn all romance novels as someone who doesn’t really like fiction to begin with. I’ll not say her name, because I respect this lady and her wisdom in so many other areas. However, this is a topic I feel like we need to speak into with grace. Not a blanket-statement that condemns an entire demographic of people regardless of heart motive.

A few years ago, I gave up writing because of this very thing. My books seemed to have no eternal consequence and I was discouraged because of the people and statements listed above. I felt like I was creating problems instead of offering solutions. My INFP self couldn’t cope with that.

However, after working through my doubts and concerns with the Lord, I’m back to writing love stories. I have complete peace about it now, even after wrestling doubt for close to three years.

Here are 4 things that I had to realize as I came back into writing Christian Romance Novels.

Know Your Heart.

I’ve said this before on this website, and I’ll say it again. Heart motive always bleeds through to your readers. Whether you are writing for the money, for yourself, for the market, or out of love. It shows.

Ask yourself, why are you writing love stories? What is your motive? Is it to cope with the loneliness and dissatisfaction in your own life? In that case, you may need to prayerfully seek out God’s guidance with your writing. Anything done out of selfish ambition is wrong. If you aren’t writing for God, then you will ultimately be dissatisfied in whatever you do. True peace and fulfillment comes from the One who bought us, and Him alone.

I write love stories because I love writing about love. True, Christ-centered love. Telling the stories of two people who genuinely care for one another instead of the hookup culture I’m plagued with on a daily basis… it gives me hope and reminds me of the higher standard we are called to by the Lord. In a world where the social norm is to sleep together and “hope love comes along”, we need the reminder that God has called us to a much more abundant life than that! From a young age, kids are pressured to give more than they should in exchange for love, but that is a lie straight from the lips of Satan. It’s an absolute shame that we have trained our minds to accept less than God’s design for love. Men and women alike are under intense pressure in this sex-driven world, and it’s exhausting to live in purity sometimes.

I write about love because it’s a heart-warming reminder. The pursuit, the winning of the heart, and eventually marriage… it’s a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us. It represents the relationship that we have with Him, and that’s what I try to convey in my stories. He is our Groom, we are His Bride, and we wait for Him until the day he comes to marry us.

I guess stories are my way of offering hope. Encouraging others that we don’t have to settle for our culture’s “norm”, that God has called us beyond our culture to live in the abundance that He offers (along with grace for past mistakes).

We should seek to read – and write – about men and women who represent Him well. That’s my “why”, and that’s what keeps me writing even when the doubt tries to sneak in.

Realize the Individual Decision.

Some people may struggle with dissatisfaction in their lives because of the romance novels they read. If this is a struggle for you, then you need to take that to the Lord as you would any other struggle. For this same reason, a person may also opt to not watch certain movies or unfollow certain social media accounts or – if you’re like me – not listen to certain music because it either makes me dissatisfied with my current season, or causes my mind to wander. We have to realize our weaknesses and act accordingly.

We also have to refrain from judging others who may not have this struggle. I have to constantly remind myself of this when someone watches a movie I would not, listens to music I stay way from, or reads books I keep out of my bookshelf. We serve a God who offers freedom!

I would like to draw your attention to some verses in Matthew 17, verses 17+18.

“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart: and they defile the man.”

Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s not the books, the movies, the music, or anything else that brings us into sin. It’s our own sinful heart that does that.

So protect your walk with God, weed out the things that cause your heart to stumble. But also, allow others to walk in their God-given freedom.

Write Honest Characters.

I love writing my heroes. Why? Because I believe girls need to start expecting a little bit more from these lazy dudes (please don’t stop reading, I have a point!) , but also because I enjoy making him flawed. I love writing about men who actually put in the work – who go beyond a DM that says nothing but “hey”, who are interested in knowing my heroine’s heart instead of what he can get out of her. (No, I’m not bitter, why do you ask?) We have lost the art of actually pursuing one another’s heart.

However, I also get this small measure of maniacal pleasure in making him mess up and my heroine getting mad – then vice versa. I love the arguments, the communicating, the words that seem unforgivable and cruel.

Why?

Because I’m a psychopath.

But also because real people have these arguments. They say mean things to one another and they annoy one another and do awful things when they’re upset. That’s humanity. It’s not right, but it’s part of the human condition that we have to fight against.

My characters mess up, then they handle their mistakes badly, but in the end they work through it, because that’s what I want every girl to take away from my stories. When someone else screws up – even if it’s really badly – there is always forgiveness and communication to help us through the confusion and hurt feelings.

There is always grace.

My point is, write honest characters with realistic actions. Then, perhaps, we can avoid this whole debacle. Probably wishful thinking, but one can hope.

Pray About It.

Finally, pray. Pray about your character and how they can represent the Lord well. Yes, God cares about your novel. I did a post on that here. I believe that the Lord thinks stories are important. Even when Jesus walked the earth, he ministered to people by telling parables – stories – so many times. Stories that change lives to this very day. God knows their power and He uses them to reach others every day.

That being said, don’t take your story lightly. Pray over it. Ask God to lead the way so you can write a story that honors Him and His purpose. We have a responsibility to our Savior to represent Him well. Let Him have a part in your story… no, beyond that, let Him take over. Let Him guide the words and the characters until His very heart is weaved into every thread.

Before we go:

I now have a newsletter! You should have seen a pop-up when you got on the website. If not, shoot me an email and I will add you to it! (A newsletter is a mailing list – it’s not the same as being subscribed to the blog!)

In the newsletter:

-Monthly encouragement.

-Short stories.

-Writing updates.

-Tips from amazing authors.

All delivered to YOUR inbox!

Okay, I’m actually done now.

Leave me a comment about what you think we need to guard our hearts against when it comes to entertainment. I’m always interested in your opinion!

Thanks for reading – talk to you soon!

Published by

Caitlyn Coker

Christ-Follower. Scribbler. Coffee Addict. Bookworm. Dog Enthusiast. Yep, that sums me up.

11 thoughts on “Are Romance Novels Unhealthy?

  1. I agree with you, there’s a way to do it. There’s a way to write from the heart that turns a Harlequin Romantic into a heartfelt true love story. There’s a huge difference.

    Some of my writing seems a bit much. They’re words from my heart and they’re completely caught up in the moment. But, it’s a firey thing between a husband and wife. Some people will like it, some won’t. As with love stories, they aren’t for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the thing, it’s a heart issue. We try to force our heart convictions into other people when God has not convicted them of it.

      And something that is in the confines of marriage is WAY different than if you’re just dating. The Lord has a specific design for everything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I think it’s partially due to the fact that my blogging has been on the back burner for a good while now, so my site has pretty much gone to, well, crap. It’s so bad that I actually didn’t realize that it didn’t auto renew until yesterday, so basically, it’s been dead for about three months, and I didn’t even notice.😐

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have some very excellent points here, Caitlyn! This is well thought out and nicely delivered. I love that you try to show human brokenness in the relationship instead of knight-in-shining-armor perfection. I’ll have to add one of your novels onto my Christmas list. Do you have a favorite?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had some titles to give you! Sadly, I am still in the pre-publishing stage. However, some books I admire for this reason are “The Sentinels Of Andersonville” and “More Than Meets the Eye” by Karen Witemeyer. Both of these books have very human heroes, and I adore them so!

      Liked by 1 person

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