To this day, the most controversial radio show I’ve ever guest-hosted for the Albert Mohler Program was on the potential spiritual pitfalls of Christian romance novels. You should see the incendiary emails that lit up my screen, the letters that filled my mailbox! But I stand by every word.
Let’s face it.
The vast majority of what we call romance novels aren’t literature, and they’re not meant to be. Many in the genre are designed to do one specific thing, and that’s to evoke a fantasy for women of an idealized man. For some women, this idealized man is a sexually rapacious predator who will sweep her off her feet and up the stairs. For some women, this idealized man is a Christian leader who will pray with her, and lead the waiter to faith in Christ before proposing to her and whisking her off to the mission field.
One’s explicit and lust-evoking and the other is not. But both are seeking to create dissatisfaction, in many cases, with the real-life man in the La-Z-Boy across the room. Both, in many cases, are seeking to feed off of the temptation to covetousness and discontentment.
But I’m a man so what do I know? At least that’s the question the romance novelists emailing me would typically offer.
Beth Spraul is not a man. She’s a wife, a mother, and a counselor. She’s also one of my favorite former students. Beth has addressed the related issue of the potential dangers of “chick flicks” with the women in her congregation. She’s thinking of films such as Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail (or was that the same movie? I don’t know).
If you’re outraged by it, remember, I didn’t write it. But don’t lambaste Beth, especially if you’re a man. Her husband is a high-powered environmentalist so he could declare my home a protected wildlife refuge quicker than you can say “Fabio.”