Saturday, May 16, 2015

Christian Men and Romance Novels 101

Recently, I attended a church service where the pastor blasted the women in his congregation for reading romance novels, and compared their behavior to men reading a Playboy.

My reaction to the absurd statement made at church.
As a romance novelist, I was disappointed with the preacher’s perspective; but I think his accusation was misplaced. This was due to a critical misunderstanding on his behalf. So, I’d like to take a moment and pen a few words about why romance is literature and not smut, and why it’s okay for a woman to read romance novels. Please bear in mind that I’m writing from the point of view of a married, Christian man. All of my arguments will be predicated upon that worldview.

First, I want to clarify my terminology. By romance, I’m NOT talking about Fifty Shades of domination or of the kind of book where you might find Fabio’s hair blowing in the breeze. I’m talking about romance in the classical sense, where a man romances a woman in a loving fashion, and not about sex, which is a whole different conversation.

Christian men tend to lump all romance novels into one huge category: smut. The type of romance books I write are clean and from a faith based point of view. The books I write are safe for my teenage daughter to read.  The kind of book I’m discussing is a book where a man meets a woman and they fall in love, and, while sex is an important subject in romantic relationships, it is not a topic that’s explored. Basic romance. Which, by the way, is defined as: “a novel or other prose narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry, romantic exploits, etc., usually in a historical or imaginary setting."  A very basic example of this type of romance would be Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Why do women read romance novels? The best way I can think of to explain what I’m talking about is to give you an example that will be identifiable to you men. And I want to over-simplify everything to make it easy to understand. Romance is to women as hunting is to men. Let me explain….

When God made men, He buried, deep in their soul, the desire to be providers for their families. Generally, men find deep satisfaction in providing what their family needs, and this is one of the reasons a man will work a difficult, dissatisfying job—it’s a marker of his love for his wife and kids. This is one reason men enjoy going into the woods with a rifle or bow and bringing home the bacon, so to speak. Or, go to the range and plink away at targets. These types of actions help satisfy a man’s basic needs to be a provider.

Another explanation that might help? Okay, generally men love machinery. This can come in the form of a car or a power tool. Or a sword. Or a golf club. We appreciate these kinds of tools, and we gain satisfaction by using them.

This is similar to what God placed in a woman’s soul. Generally, woman have a deep-seated need for romance and love, much in the same way a man has a need to provide. This doesn’t make women weak; it makes them lovely.  Women gain deep satisfaction in receiving romance, much in the same fashion a man receives satisfaction in providing. One of the reasons a woman will read a romance is because it speaks to her and helps fulfill that need God placed in her basic programing.  Most women crave romance, and a good source is a romance novel. Just hearing her husband say the words, “I love you” is insufficient; they need more depth than that.

This is understandable if you return to my hunting example. You can’t just put on the gear, camouflage your face, and say, “bang, bang” and call it a hunting trip. You have to actually go out into the wild and seek out your target. This is true for women as well.

In a Christian romance novel, women will discover the joys of falling in love, coupled with adventure and a little adversity. They discover simple things like holding hands, long walks on the beach, flowers, music, and art. Women love these things, and they find them in novels. And honestly? Some of these things can be hard to find in normal, daily life.

Of course, my explanation is a broad stroke, highly generalized explanation, as I only want to briefly examine the basics. There are as many different types of romance literature as there are gun models and types.

I would like to suggest to men that if they take their role as provider seriously, then they should seek to provide romance for their main squeeze.

Sadly, I know the Christian world is divided over this topic, and some of you will profoundly disagree with me. I’m okay with that. We can discuss and not divide. But, understanding that “romance novels” are not automatically smut is a good beginning. Also, women who read romance novels aren’t necessarily feeding a sinful craving for illicit sex. God designed women to crave romance as part of their basic programming.  I would like to encourage all of you husbands to seek a way to meet that deep-seated need for romance in your wife’s life. Try holding her hand or taking a walk and let her tell you about her day. These are the types of romance she enjoys. And if you really want to score points, try washing the dishes, or vacuuming without being asked. Talk about romance!

1 comment:

Mix said...

If your man is pushing you away and acting distant

Or if the guy you’re after isn’t giving you the time of day...

Then it’s time to pull out all the stops.

Because 99% of the time, there is only 1 thing you can say to a standoffish guy that will grab him by the heartstrings-

And get his blood pumping at just the thought of you.

Insert subject line here and link it to: Your ex won’t be able to resist?

Once you say this to him, or even send this simple phrase in a text message...

It will flip his world upside down and you will suddenly find him chasing you-

And even begging to be with you.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Insert subject line here and link it to: Is your man hiding something? He may need your help?

Thanks again.