Sunday, July 31, 2011

Give romance fans some credit, please!

Christian romance has taken some flak recently. Perhaps you’ve heard.

The blog posts are too numerous to link, but in the most famous, Dr. Russell Moore compared inspy romance to pornography for women. If you missed it, here are some of his highlights (emphasis mine):

Thankfully, we do not yet have a market for “Christian” pornography (but just wait, someone will find a way). But we do have a market for “Christian” romance novels….

A lot of this simply a Christianization of a form not intended to enhance intimacy but to escape to an artificial illusion of it. Granted, there’s no graphic sexuality here. The hero and heroine don’t sleep together; they pray together. But that’s just the point.

How many disappointed middle-aged women in our congregations are reading these novels as a means of comparing the “strong spiritual leaders” depicted there with what by comparison must seem to be underachieving lumps lying next to them on the couch?

...It is worth asking, “Is what I’m consuming leading me toward contentment with my spouse (or future spouse) or away from it?"

I’ve been hesitant to join the fray because clearly Dr. Moore can out preach me, probably out write me too. But I’m fairly certain in this genre he doesn’t out read me.

As a Christian fiction book blogger, I read a lot of inspirational romance. And it’s this vast body of knowledge that makes me uniquely qualified to offer Dr. Moore my advice on the subject:


Reading a Christian romance is like watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Nothing more than clean entertainment designed to leave you with the warm fuzzies.

(As an aside, many fans of Christian romance read the genre because it leaves them with so much more than that, like deep Biblical truths. But as a matter of taste, I prefer my fiction more like Little House and less like a Billy Graham crusade).

Would Dr. Moore have asked the legions of young Ingalls fans if watching Michael Landon each week lead them "toward contentment with their parents or away from it?" Certainly somewhere in America, there was a poor child using that show as an escape from the real life horrors of his own family, but for the vast majority of us kids growing up in the early eighties, it was just a TV show.

Children who wished they could trade places with Half Pint in real life had problems no feel good drama could fix. Likewise, housewives who read Christian fiction and compare their lumps on the couch to the leading man have marriage issues that go beyond fondness for romance novels.

We should give Christian women some credit and assume most know what real romance looks like. Agape love is a husband who takes out the garbage or puts the seat down when he’s finished. It's a wife who picks her husband's dirty socks off the floor for the umpteenth time without nagging.

We get it, Dr. Moore. Real love doesn't resemble fiction. Real love runs deeper than anything we'll find in the pages of a romance. But to answer your question, consuming Christian romance novels does lead me toward contentment with my spouse.

When I've got the latest inspy in my hand, we’re far less likely to argue over the remote control. He can watch all nine innings of the Superbowl without any complaints from me. That's what I consider a win-win.

(And since neither serious nor thought provoking are my strong suits, allow me to point you in the direction of someone whose response to Dr. Moore covers those bases).

This was a guest post I did for Joanne Troppello and origianlly posted on her Mustard Seed blog.


  1. Thanks from all of the women that get inspiration from this genre. I wish you could feel my HUG!

    Patricia aka Mamaw

  2. Joy thanks for the post. My husband recently read a book about sexuality that also said romance novels were like pornography. Some may be close to it, but the inspy romances I read have a lot more to do with God's love. Thanks for your thoughts I thought you expressed yourself very well!

  3. Very thought-provoking post, Joy. Honestly, my first thought was, "Is this guy married to a woman who reads all the time, and is ignoring him?" Sometimes the strongest opinions are generated from direct experience.

    I'm off to check out the links before I add my 2¢. Thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday! ☺

  4. OMG what a jerk. He's basically saying anything that acts as escapism (even the clean stuff) is bad. I like your comparison to Little House.

    And you know what else, I think a good romance story makes me appreciate my husband more. Sometimes being reminded what a gift love is makes me run over and kiss my husband for being my knight in shining armor.

    So yah dear doc, it is worth it.

  5. PREACH IT JOY!!!!!!!!

    That's all I gotta say, 'cause when I read his article I saw serious RED.

    VERY good rebuttal, thanks for sharing. :D

  6. Excellent post. Great job, Joy!

    (And I love your nine innings of the Superbowl comment. I'm assuming, here, that was done on purpose ... LOL)

  7. @Heather- innings, quarters...whatever. LOL. ;)

    @Casey- It was hard for me to read his post but the authors who left comments did a great job refuting him.

    @Juju- Yeah, I don't buy the argument that all escapism is wrong. You know, Christian fiction of any kind used to be frowned upon, not just romance.

    @Larri- LOL! That could explain his position.

    @Becki- Thanks for chiming in. I definitely don't see the relationship between inspy and pornos.

    @Patricia- hugs back! :)

  8. I agree! It's why I chose not to leave a comment. It wouldn't have coherent anyway. ;-)

  9. I couldn't agree with this more! Awesome post! His ideas are definitely very skewed in nature!

  10. Admittedly I didn't even go read this guys argument, because I would probably be foaming at the mouth angry! But I loved your rebuttal! I guess we should all get out our musty ole non-fiction/missionary books(which do still have a time and place)and yawn ourselves through life. Ugh!

  11. That wasn't on purpose then? LOL

    The Superbowl is football, so it'd be the four quarters of the Superbowl. Or, of you're going for baseball (the nine innings), that would be the World Series! ;-)

  12. @Heather- The innings comment was on purpose, but I actually thought football had halves, and basketball had quarters. LOL. Somewhere out there Steeler Girl is fainting.

    @Julie- :) Yes, they have a time and place, but I'm happy we have a wide choice of reading material these days.

    @Jules- Bordering on legalistic!

    @Casey- Yeah, I wanted to chime in at the time, but I wouldn't have been as eloquent as the people already responding.

  13. Oh my gosh, this is so offensive! To me it comes across as sexist. I love your rebuttal, Joy! Well said. Also, I agree with what Juju said in the comments.

  14. Great rebuttal!!! I admit this is something that I've debated with myself. I know some people who don't read romances for that reason, so I've wondered if I should stop. Obviously, my mind sided with reading them, although I don't think badly of the ones who don't read them. (except maybe that guy)! :)
    I love your Little House/parenting comment! Just an awesome point!

  15. All I can say (okay, I could say more -- much more -- but this is a family show) is: beyond all the agreement I have with everything ya'll are saying (except the dude who started it, of course.)I have one little caveat: maybe if more GUYS would read the romance novels we love we wouldn't have to "become discontent", as the good reverend fears, with the quality/quantity of romance in our own lives. AND perhaps, if those guys out there who don't have a lot of examples in their lives of Spiritual Leaders and Romantic Male Leads would read Inspy Romance, they might just have a better idea of how to be the "tender warriors"(Stu Weber's term, I believe) we women read (and write) about.

    Ours is an excessively romantic God whose wooing skills are unparalleled. He put within us a desire to be romanced -- ultimately, to lead us to Him because no earthly man can satisfy that need.

    But, doggone it, I really believe, in this great metaphor that is life, that our fellas are supposed to give it a shot.

    Oh! there's that soapbox! I knew I put it somewhere...

  16. LOL- oh wow, Dr. Moore would probably hate me, because I read outside of just Christian romance....

    I feel the exact opposite of Moore, Im one of those readers who want a bit more edge in the CF market, nothing sexually graphic but a bit more real life and drama and less preaching. I get so annoyed when Im reading an Inspy book and the author starts preaching at me and forcing characters to say things they shouldn't.

    Heres a tip: Im already a Christian....I probably agree with you in 90% of the things your preaching about, but you dont have to preach it to me. I go to church to hear sermons, I go to Bible Study to gain knowledge and I read books for entertainment...if it annoys me a Christian reader, Im sure it will completely turn a nonbeliever off to the genre for good.

    Ive heard Inspy authors say they aren't writing for the nonbeliever, they are writing the story for fellow believers....hmmm well then why are you preaching a sermon to me...

    Ok sorry for ranting on your blog....:P

  17. @Tina- You know this convo could spin off on another topic, "Why do you read Christian fiction?" I'm firmly in the entertainment camp, but I've often wondered if I'm in the minority with that opinion (wouldn't be the first time).

    @Serena- Love this line: "He put within us a desire to be romanced -- ultimately, to lead us to Him because no earthly man can satisfy that need." And yes, dagnabbit, the guys should give it a shot. LOL

    @Tammy- I also think if God is telling someone they shouldn't read romance, then they definitely shouldn't be reading it. But make sure that's coming from God and not the opinions of a legalist.

    @Carrie- agreed!

  18. LOL I did assume you did the innings thing on purpose! ;-) You're too funny. Football and basketball both have halves AND quarters. Well, in the pros. College basketball, though, only has halves. (If I'm remember correctly.)

  19. "Chillax." LOL! He does seem to be making much ado about nothing.

    Your rebuttal was well-written Joy! I'd like to see him out-write that ;)

    I read an article that there isn't enough Christian fiction for men...he may need some :)


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