KB: Christian Romance: Christian’s Public Enemy #1?
Anyone listen to Christian radio talk shows? I don’t. Not usually. But when a bunch of my writer buddies starting buzzing about a recent broadcast of the Albert Mohler show, I had to take a listen. So I went to the link for the recording, and what I heard…
Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing there wasn’t anything heavy close at hand. My hubby has enough to do without patching holes in my walls. .
First, a caveat. The host of this broadcast was a guest host, Russell Moore. I don’t know what Mr. Mohler’s stand on this issue is, but Mr. Moore’s position was painfully clear. He dissed Christian romance but good. Or, more to the point, but bad. Claimed that those who write Christian romance do so for the almighty buck and little else. That these books “feed on sentimentality and portray an unhealthy idea of romance.” As for those who read this stuff, they are, in a word, pathetic. That the only women who read these come from homes where their moms and dads hated each other, so they need some kind of unrealistic escape.
Ironically enough, when the show begins, the announcer says “this is your place for intelligent Christian conversation.” Um…not. Moore’s prejudice was clear from the start. Even so, I was astounded at the depth of his disdain for and ignorance of not just the genre, but the writers and readers as well. Now, to Moore’s credit, he talked with Karen Kingsbury first—and she gave wonderful comments and information, all of which he promptly ignored. He then went on to interview Kathryn Falk.
Okay, this woman isn’t a believer. And she said what you’d expect her to say (e.g., there may not be a Mr. Right, but there’s always a Mr. Right Now and he can be trained). So guess which comments Moore focused on as proof that Christian romances are harmful? Yup. Falk’s. He even went so far as to say that her belief that men could be trained wasn’t biblical.
Well…duh. The woman isn’t a Christian. Why would her words be biblical??
The capper came when he led back from a commercial by playing the praise song, “Draw Me Close.” As you may know, the lyrics are:
Draw me close to you, never let me go.
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm your friend
You are my desire, no one else will do,
'Cause no one else can take your place,
To feel the warmth of your embrace;
Help me find a way, bring me back to you.
You're all I want, you're all I ever needed
You're all I want, help me know you are near
Moore’s comment when he came back on? That he hated that song. Didn’t know a man who liked it. Because it sounded like a song a woman was singing to Fabio.
“Intelligent Christian conversation”? Hardly.
By the time the show was over, Moore had questioned the intelligence, wisdom, and faith of anyone who read or wrote Christian romances.
So now I have some questions for Mr. Moore.
· Has the man even bothered to read a Christian romance novel? (I doubt it.)
· Has he ever had a serious, honest discussion with any Christian romance author or reader? (Again, serious doubts.)
· And, finally, has he ever read Scripture? I mean, talk about the greatest romance of all time! We even, as author Robin Jones Gunn points out, have the hero riding in on a white horse at the end to sweep up his bride. If that’s not romance, then what is?
Okay, yes. Romance has long been the “red-headed stepchild” of publishing, and Christian romances have been regarded with real caution and even suspicion. (Can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with pastors about the power and truth contained in Christian fiction and, yes, Christian romances. They usually look at me like I’m insane. Or possessed.) But I confess I had no idea there were Christian leaders who viewed these novels—novels, mind you, written by authors devoted to serving God, not manna, and helping their readers better understand themselves and their relationships to others and to God--as toxic to the body of Christ.
The show was a call-in. And there were, happily, two callers who spoke in support of these books. But all the others agreed with the host, saying how reading romantic novels is hazardous, that doing so detracts from what God intends in relationships and marriage. In response, may I just say “AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!” That, and where on earth were those who would speak out for the truth??
So I also have a question for us.
What can we do, in the face of such misinformation and prejudice, to share the truth of what these books are? Who these authors and readers are? Not the money-grubbers or borderline psychotics Moore painted them. But real life women who live and love and long to be cherished.
Interestingly enough, Moore had a solid question as the basis for this show: Why are romance novels so popular? He kept asking why women read these novels with such devotion, and what does women’s fascination with romance novels say about them, and the men in their lives. How can we answer that, and in doing so, help those like Moore to understand that Christian romances aren’t about creating unrealistic ideals. Not at all. They’re about representing the truth of relationships, of the need for being centered in Christ before you build a relationship with someone else. Of being anchored in God so you can face the struggles and pain inherent in living with another human being. That they’re about grace and kindness and God’s ability to use us to refine each other.
So what do you think? How can we get through to people like Mr. Moore? And should some of us take up the pen and let him—and Albert Mohler—know that shows like this do more to hurt the body than any romance novel ever written.
(Should you decide to write Albert Mohler about the broadcase, I’d urge you to listen to it first. That way you can avoid doing what Mr. Moore did: speaking out of ignorance. You can find it at http://www.albertmohler.com/radio_show.php?cdate=2006-07-07. But friends, if you decide to listen, be sure your blood pressure medicine is close at hand—and the crystal treasure from your great granny isn’t.)
Karen Ball lives and writes and edits in Oregon. http://www.karenballlbooks.com.