July 10, 2012
That’s an interesting title… I know.
Let me back up and explain where this is coming from. I am on the mailing list for a number of Christian book sellers – both email and snail mail. I occasionally darken the doors of Christian book stores. There is something about the offerings of these places that bothers me. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
One of the mailings that I recently received was a fairly large booklet. There were about 25 or so pages in it, and 4 of those pages did not have “Christian Romance Novels” on them. The entire rest of the mailing was devoted to romance novels. Amish ones, mystery ones, historical ones… you get the idea.
As you may have noticed, I seem to have a problem with this genre of book. Please allow me to explain.
The romance novel – be it an offering from Harlequin or Jeanette Oak – opens a door into a dangerous place for women. It opens a door into imagining a perfect life with the man of our dreams. It creates a longing for the kind of man – the kind of life that just isn’t easily found.
For women and girls that are not yet married, it creates an expectation of marriage that just isn’t real. It sets them up to be disappointed. For women that are married, well, it creates an expectation of their husbands that, let’s face it, most men just aren’t going to live up to.
For some women, romance novels are quite simply porn for our minds in the way that movies like Magic Mike are porn for our eyes – fully acceptable in today’s society.
That’s a pretty harsh statement, I agree. But think about it. When men look at porn, they are looking at an idealized version of women – a version that 95% of us will never be able to be. They are training their eyes and body to react positively to a picture of womanhood that just isn’t attainable for most of the population. They are teaching themselves to be dissatisfied with their wives and girlfriends.
When women read romances, they are training their minds (and bodies, for some) to react positively to a mental picture of manhood and relationship that just isn’t attainable or sustainable for most of the population. Yes, some women use porn to do that too (more than you would ever realize) but I want to caution you to guard not only your eyes, but you minds as well.
There are many Christian women that choose not to read “those racy trash books” but will gladly pick up a “historical fiction” book at the Christian book store. A book that draws them into a great story about a young girl… and a dashing man that swoops in and saves her. A book that builds up a story about a man and a woman that start out hating one another and through circumstances eventually find that they are meant for each other. Can’t live without one another. He brings her flowers, he knows her every need – and meets it. He bends over backwards to make her life better and easier. He dotes on her. He adores her. He cherishes her above all else. He would give his life for her, and give up everything for her…
Not that any of these are necessarily bad things, but they aren’t the norm, and they don’t often last a lifetime.
I’m not saying that we can’t appreciate a good story – Pride & Prejudice comes to mind (with zombies, of course, but I digress) but I am warning us that we need to make sure that if we read these stories, we aren’t transferring them over to apply to our lives.
We need to make sure we aren’t comparing the story to our lives, and the dashing hero to our husbands. We need to guard our minds against becoming dissatisfied with our lives because we aren’t living a fairy tale. Yes, you may be lucky enough to have married the man of your dreams, and he may truly cherish you and honor you above all others… but he also has bad days at work. Money is often too tight you lavish you with expensive gifts. There are children that demand a certain amount of time from both of you.
In short, life happens.
If you find yourself looking for your husband to be the man you are reading about in the pages of a book, please take a step back and look at the man that he really is. You fell in love with him and chose to spend your life with him. Take the time to remind yourself of the amazing qualities that helped attract you to him in the first place. Don’t short-change your husband or your relationship because neither of you can live up to a fairy-tale. It’s not fair to either of you.
Share it now!