Should Christians write romantic fiction?

October 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

In Australia there is a Christian magazine called Eternity. In their most recent edition, they included an article deriding Christian romantic fiction.

I am a Christian, and although I write books for a mainstream audience, not a Christian one, I still found this article ignorant and uninformed.

I sent them a letter for their ‘Letter to the Editor’ section, but I doubt it will be published, so I am publishing it here:

Dear Editor,

When I read Simone Richardson’s article on Christian romantic fiction in Eternity’s October 2013 edition, I wondered from where she had obtained her novels.

I assume they are from USA’s Bible belt, as the three negative remarks she made about romantic fiction are not reflected in any of the novels I have read.

Ms Richardson may not be aware that Australia is responsible for many good works of Christian fiction – both romantic and otherwise – which do not reflect the negative take she freely pinned on all of them.

I have never read a Christian romance novel that ‘explicitly [taught] that God has someone lined up for each of us’. I guess it could be said that they may imply it, as the book’s protagonists usually end up together, but I have never read one that has explicitly taught this point of view.

I laughed when Ms Richardson stated that Christian romances always feature ‘Mr Perfect’, a man with no faults. Perhaps this is the case in US novels, but again, I have never encountered it in Australian ones. That would be both ridiculous and unrealistic, as I’ve never met anyone who is perfect.

Ms Richardson’s third remark was that Christian romances are bad because they try to teach us God’s sovereignty, instill Christian values and promote Godliness. Is this really a bad thing? Isn’t this what the preacher does at church every Sunday? While he bases what he says around a passage in the Bible (sometimes) he usually gives it a practical demonstration by telling a story from real life. Is this any different from what a novelist is doing? Perhaps Ms Richardson would argue that the preacher has studied at Bible college, so is more equipped to do so than an author. What then, can we say for all our Sunday school and religious education teachers? Many of them are only laypeople, and they are teaching about God’s sovereignty and trying to instill Christian values, etc. Maybe they should stop. What about my role as a parent? Should I no longer try to instill Christian values in my son because I don’t have a degree from a bible college?

I certainly agree that we should all read the bible daily, but reading stories is also a good way to digest biblical truth. That’s why Jesus often spoke in stories (i.e. parables). Not only that, some non-Christians have read Christian novels (romantic and otherwise) and have come to faith in Christ as a result.

As CS Lewis said, ‘Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under the cover of fiction without their knowing it.’ This can happen in all forms of fiction, and I have definitely seen it in Christian romantic fiction. I would advise Ms Richardson and others to broaden their horizons and look to Australia for good Christian fiction.