Romance has come a long way. Or has it? For fun, I decided to compare two contemporary Christian romances. This is one that I read 25 years ago. The book? Lori Wick’s Sophie’s Heart.
This quote is from a book that I finished yesterday. Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner.
To be clear, I greatly enjoyed both books. But clearly the couple’s first kiss in the 2020 release seems more intense. Does this mean that I should only stick with books written in the last century? Or can a Christian woman read romance? My answer: Maybe.
Picking Christian Romances
Finding an adult Christian fiction novel that does not contain romance is rare. Why? We all love a good love story. Considering that Christ’s church is compared to a bride, I do think God understands our deep desire for connection. But I still think that we need to be careful.
For me, I have determined that I will not read a book that glorifies a physical relationship that is apart from God’s standards of marriage. (One man + one woman forever). Unless they are considered “clean,” secular romances rarely follow this path, so generally I try to avoid them. Hint: If guy is missing his shirt on the cover, he may often be missing it inside of the pages as well.
That being said I have read several Christian books where a couple mis-stepped and went a direction that God did not intend. Why were these books still acceptable to me? Because they all included a strong message of repentance and redemption. Perfect characters are not relatable. We all need a Savior to set us free.
I also have read second chance romances. While a Bible verse states that God hates divorce, I do think He continues to restore. I have watched dear friends live out a new love story that was definitely ordained by God. I would struggle if the divorce happened because of an out-of-bounds relationship. Yet God gives grace to those who want to turn their lives around. Why should book characters not be allowed to have such experiences?
Books that we read should help us to grow as a person. The content matters. If someone read over our shoulder, would we be embarrassed? This is another reason why I try to stick to books with a Christian slant. If I am going to spend time with a book, I want the result to also be a better relationship with Christ. This verse is a great guide.
Christian Romance for Singles
When I was teenager, I read mostly Christian romance novels. Many of them were historical fiction, so the passion was quite tame. BUT when God’s plans for me did not include marriage at age 20, like the path He planned for many of my friends, I struggled with contentment.
Now that I have a daughter of my own, I have definitely tried to encourage her to wait on books that include romantic elements. Not forever. But at least until she is old enough to date. Age 30 of course. Obviously I am exaggerating, but I do think there is a time for everything. Romance can wait until the right season.
In the Christian fiction group that I follow on Facebook, I cringe when readers recommend romantic fiction that is written for adults to teenagers. Thankfully there are some great Christian teen romances available. My opinion may not be popular, but I think that that teens should read books about the struggles that teens have. There is plenty of time for young people to read adult fiction in the future. In this instance, I am talking about books where romance is the primary goal. Certain authors (like Jenn Faulk) can often manage both – teen love crushes that turn into more.
For adult singles, the challenge becomes even trickier. Obviously one does outgrow teen romances. (Thank goodness since there is often angst involved!) But too many romance novels can result in unrealistic expectations. Those of us who are married can confirm that there are no perfect guys. Yet books can lead readers to believe otherwise.
Certain authors might be best for a later season. Some Christian authors do have more kissing scenes. If the book is listed as a contemporary romance, that especially might be the case. Often historical fiction has lighter romances. Have discernment. If reading the book makes you feel like you need a fan to get through the pages, that title is not the book for you right now. (Or maybe ever!) Passion is not something that a single should be focused on during their current season.
Christian Romance for Marrieds
I do think reading romances have added a sweet element to my marriage. As I read the stories of certain heroes, I am thankful for the man that God had in mind for me. Kissing scenes remind me of the importance of connecting with my husband in a way that no one else can. Passion is what God planned for marriage.
But if at any time a book causes me to be unsatisfied in my own marital relationship, I need to stop reading. That book is NOT for me. If a certain book makes me wonder if I married the right person, I need to throw it across the room. Whenever a title causes me to want to step outside of God’s plans, that book is no longer inspirational. Instead that book is a trap that is meant to destroy.
God designed marriage. Books that uphold His covenant can be worth reading. But not all books labeled as “Christian” fit under that category are worth reading. I always look for the theme of redemption. John 10:10 CSB “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
Christian Romance Covers
P.S. This post idea came about because today’s Instagram #inspiredbookchallenge was to share something #swoonworthy I am not sure this is what they had in mind, but I did enjoy pondering this topic!
Here is a list of the books and authors featured in this post.
- More than a Summer’s Love by Yvonne Lehman
- Through the Eyes of Love by Dorothy Able
- Tina’s Surprise Romance by Hilda Stahl
- Love Song by Sharon Gillenwater
- Coming Home by Barbara Jean Hicks
- Stillpoint by Marily Kok
- Refuge by Lisa T. Bergren
- Lessons in Love by Susan Phillips
- Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn
- Jennifer by Dee Henderson
- To Rome with Love by Debra White Smith
- Sundance by Peggy Darty
- Love on the Run by Shari McDonald
- In the Shadow of Love by Sally John
- A Place to Call Home by Lori Wick
- When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke
- The Warrior’s Vow by Christina Rich
- A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Grace Whitson
- A Garden in Paris by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Any thoughts on the topic of Christians reading romances? Do you agree or disagree with my opinions?