Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Romance Books and Movies

A few years ago, we had an exchange student stay with us. It was a wonderful experience and felt just like having another daughter at our house. Here's a blog post I wrote at that time:

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 effected 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 Twitter what they thought.

Some women 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 chick 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 finishes 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.

1 comment:

Betsy St. Amant said...

Great post! I always get riled up when I hear from a pulpit that fiction novels aren't good for you. Like, Jesus in the temple, throwing over tables riled up...okay, maybe that not righteous in it ;)

But it's got me thinking, and I totally agree with the wisdom you presented here. It can DEFINITELY cross a line for a lot of women, and personally, I believe that reading racy scenes is just as much sin as a man (or woman) viewing racy images via magazine or internet or TV. Whatever causes us to lust is wrong. And that fits different people in different ways.

I write romance too, even in my YA novels, because God drew me through romance years ago when I stumbled upon (literally, tripped over it in my sister's room) Robin Jones Gunn's novel WHISPERS from her Glenbrooke series. As a young girl (preteen age) God used those books to speak to me about my relationship with Him, about my desires for a future relationship with a boyfriend and husband, and prompted within me the same desire to create that feeling for Him in readers just like Robin did for me.

Now, my tenth romance novel will be published in Fall 2013. He is GOOD and INTENTIONAL :)

All that to say - different strokes for different folks ;) If it's wrong to you, then don't read it/write it. If it's not, then keep on for the glory of God.