In Defense of Christian Romances

A few months ago, I got an email from a high school student writing a research paper on this question: Can even Christian romances be harmful to read?

heart of books

Now, before you react with an outraged, “Of course not!” think about why she might be asking this question. I know many wonderful Christians who find romances, even Christian romances, to be a complicated issue. For some, it’s because reading and dreaming about the oh-so-dashing protagonists makes them less content with their lives. For others, it’s more about setting their daughters up for disappointment with tales of conflicts that resolve happily by the last page.

That said, this was part of my response:

Here’s something to think about: God often uses the metaphor of romance to describe his relationship with us. Why? Because there is something uniquely powerful about romantic love and the sacrifice and unselfishness it should inspire. That’s why I think Christian romances can teach us deep and beautiful things about who God is and what our relationships with others should look like.

But also, there’s a fine line between recognizing and longing for something good, such as a romantic relationship centered on Christ, and being discontent with what God has for you right now. It’s the difference between attending a wedding and thinking, This is beautiful, and I hope my story turns out that way, and thinking, God can’t possibly be good if I’m not married/dating right now. The same problems that some people assign to romance novels: discontent, unrealistic expectations, the possibility of taking imagination too far . . . all of those can take place at a wedding as well, and no Christians are suggesting we get rid of those.

So there’s my opinion as a single twenty-something reader. But how about the perspective of a Christian romance author? I decided to pose this question to the one and only Becky Wade, who champions and celebrates Christian romance novels. Here’s her response:

Meant to be Mine

Becky’s newest release.

Passionate romance AND a Christian message can most definitely go together inside the pages of the same novel!

I should tell you that I’m a die-hard romantic. When I started My Stubborn Heart, my first contemporary romance for the Christian market, I knew I wanted to give my reader the same concentrated romantic storyline that I like best as a reader. I also knew that the Lord had called to write for the Christian market.

Thus, while writing and rewriting my novels, I spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out how to pen heart-pounding love stories that are ALSO clean and inspiring faith stories.

Wade_BeckyWhat I’ve discovered?  The things that make a God-honoring real-life relationship wonderful to experience are the very same things that make a Christian romance novel wonderful to read. The beauty of a dating relationship isn’t found in anything R-rated. The beauty and excitement is in the awe of discovering new love, the building emotions, the tension of facing obstacles that could tear the couple apart, the growing devotion of a hero to his heroine and vice versa.

After all, God is the foremost expert on great love!  His people can and do experience devoted love stories worth writing about.

Your turn: why do you read Christian romances? Can you name a Christian romance novel that has had an impact on your life?

For more from Becky, visit her website or watch the video below.

Author Roundtable: Garden Favorites

Did you know that the lovely bouquet you’re eying in the florist shop could actually contain a secret message?

Well, not today, maybe. These days, a rose is just a rose. But in the Victorian era, young people would use the commonly accepted meanings of flowers to express their feelings for each other. (Pity the poor suitor who didn’t know that yellow tulips meant “hopeless love” or that snapdragons meant “deception or presumption”!)

Here are a few of our authors’ favorite flowers and their corresponding Victorian symbolism.

Becky Wade: Geraniums

GeraniumMeaning: True friendship

Kimberley Woodhouse: Tulips

TulipsMeaning: Declaration of love

Jen Turano and Elizabeth Camden: Sunflowers

SunflowersMeaning: Loyalty

Ann Tatlock: Violets

VioletsMeaning: Faithfulness

Melissa Tagg:  Daisies

DaisiesMeaning: Innocence, hope

Nancy Mehl: Irises

IrisMeaning: Faith, wisdom

Ann Mateer: Gardenias

GardeniasMeaning: You’re lovely, secret love

Regina Jennings: Zinnias

zinniasMeaning: Thoughts of absent friends

Dee Henderson, Leslie Gould, Kate Breslin: Roses

RosesMeaning: Love

Mary Connealy: Daffodils

DaffodilsMeaning: Respect

Here’s a fun idea: Look at the meanings of certain flowers and think of friends who fit that description perfectly. Then buy seed packets of those flowers and mail them to your friends with a note about why this particular flower and meaning made you think of them. (Zinnias are always good for a “Thinking of You” card!)

What’s your favorite flower, and what does it mean? (There are some variations in meaning from place to place, but most of these I found here and here.)

Prayer for Authors: May 2014

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Authors with Books Releasing in May:

Victoria Bylin
Dee Henderson
Nancy Mehl
Robin Parrish
Dani Pettrey
Melissa Tagg
Becky Wade

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For the ability to thank God for things that don’t seem like blessings (upcoming deadlines, difficult people, drains on time and attention).
  • For identities rooted in Christ and not the positive or negative comments found in reviews of the books.
  • For readers to come away from the novels with a better understanding of how to love God and others.

Thank you so much, readers, for taking a few moments to pray for these authors, and for everyone who picks up these books. I know it makes a difference, and that it matters a lot to the authors as well.

The Nativity Play: Becky Wade

Christmas! My favorite season of the year. I love baking Christmas cookies with my kids and distributing them to neighbors. I love the Department 56 Dickens Village I display every year. I love the Christmas Eve service at church, hanging ornaments on the tree, Christmas cards, and—you get the idea—a thousand other things about Christmas. But my favorite tradition, by far, is our family nativity play.

My grandmother had the gift of hospitality. She adored people and adored hosting them in her home. One Christmas Eve, early in her years as a grandmother, she (or one of her daughters) decided that the grandkids should put on a homemade nativity play for the adults. This was the result:

Wade 1

That’s me (at the age of five) in the hip mint-green mini skirt, starring in the role of angel. My two cousins and two sisters also had roles, though it’s debatable how much my youngest sister (who was one year old at the time and is being held aloft on the left side of the picture) contributed to the performance.

It was a humble beginning. But it was a hit with both kids and adults. Our family has put on the play every year since.

This next photo is from a few years later. I’m Mary this time, probably because this was one of those thrilling banner years when a real baby was available to play the part of Jesus. It looks as though the baby needed a bottle in order to make it through the performance, likely because of the odd way I was holding him. Note the good-natured dads who’d been roped into participating and my older cousin on the right who’d grown bored with the proceedings and decided to read to pass the time.

Wade 2 Continue reading