Christian Romance: Fact or Fiction?

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Romance icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I started writing my first novel a few months ago, I made a classic beginner’s mistake.I told a few family members, friends and co-workers what I was doing. Why do I say it was a mistake? It’s simple really. Most adults have aspired to write a work of fiction at some point or another. Still others have actually begun a novel or novella that was quietly hidden away for another time. But, it is a rare creature that actually manages to complete the infuriating things. How dare I think I would be the exception?

You’re probably asking yourself now what that first paragraph has to do with the title of the post. Well, I’m getting to that. You see, I took the classic beginner’s error one step further. I actually shared the name of the genre in which I planned to write. Wait for it…Wait for it… Christian Romance. If you listen very closely, you may still be able to hear the howls of derisive laughter that particular pronouncement evoked. Okay—so that’s an exaggeration. There were no howls.  Let’s try… polite, uncomfortable snickers. Yeah, that should cover it.

Those acquainted with the works of bestselling authors like Terri Blackstock, Lyn Cote, Robin Lee Hatcher, Karen Kingsbury, and Francine Rivers, however, recognize that the notion of Christian Romantic Fiction is no laughing matter. Women and men the world over flock to the shelves of brick-and-mortar bookstores (i.e., Barnes & Noble) and scour the fiction collections of online booksellers (e.g., Amazon, Alibris and to secure the latest works by their favorite Christian writers.

So, why the snickers? I suspect the answer lies in the baffling notion that devout, professing Christians know very little about romance. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. One online dictionary defines the term “romance” in the following manner: a) a love affair; and b) an ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; love. Are Christians capable of the foregoing? Absolutely. I would challenge anyone who has witnessed a couple celebrating fifty incredible years of marriage in a true Christian home to assert that such a couple knows nothing of romance. That said, our society tends to equate the sentiment with little more than a passing fancy.

Jesus demonstrated His love for the Church by sacrificing His life for it before those called into the Church even recognized the import of the act. That’s different, you say? Not really. Those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose enjoy the opportunity to learn all there is to know of love and romance from the Master. The Bible states emphatically that “God is love.” And the scriptures characterize the Church—those called out of the darkness of sin and destruction and into the light of the saving power of the Lord Jesus—as the Bride of Christ. In other words, the greatest romance of all time will culminate in the marriage of the Savior Himself to the ecclesia—the “called out ones.” To borrow from the title of a popular Gospel tune of the 1980’s: “There is No Greater Love.”


22 thoughts on “Christian Romance: Fact or Fiction?

  1. God bless you, Sybil, wishing you the best with your writing. After all, God is love, and true romance is all about the love that drives the characters. Definitely no greater love…

  2. Sybil, congratulations on entering the wonderful world of Christian Romance! And I know exactly how you feel–when I first started out writing years ago, I’d get this glazed over look from fine upstanding Christian people who couldn’t understand why in the world I wanted to write Christian Romance. I tried to explain that it was a ministry, that so many young female believers were basing their decisions about love and marriage on secular romance. So why not give them an alternative? And I felt a calling to write.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers as you start this wonderful adventure!

    Patty Smith Hall
    Hearts in Hiding, Love Inspired Historical, July 2012
    Hearts in Flight, Love Inspired Historical, July 2011

      1. Sybil, I don’t know if you’re involved in any writing groups but one of the very best for Christian Fiction is the American Christian Fiction Writers. It’s an online group with members all over the world and offers online writing classes with some of the best in the world of publishing. Trust me–you’ll love this group!

      2. Hi, Patty… Yes, I’m a member… You’ll find the logo at the left side of my blog. I joined back in November and have been thrilled with all that I’ve learned… Thanks for the confirmation that I’m headed in the right direction… Blessings!

      3. I noticed the logo this morning when I was reading your blog! ACFW has just been such a huge part of my writing journey–I feel so blessed that God has allowed me to be a part of this wonderful bunch of people since the very first. Wouldn’t it be fun to meet up at the national conference some day soon?

      4. Yes! I hope I get the opportunity to do just that in September. Unfortunately, I’m a white knuckle flyer. 😦 So, that means a road trip for me. (LOL!) We’ll see what happens. Thanks for stopping by, Patty!

  3. How can I say this…Is there ANYTHING you can’t do girl! Hey, I’m sooooooooooo proud of you! You are such an INSPIRATION to me in ways you’ll never know!! SHAKE THE HATERS…oops..I mean the devil off!! GO FOR WHAT YOU KNOW!! LOVE YA!!

  4. I see your point, acgheen, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what I’ll offer as an author in this genre (assuming I get the chance – LOL!). I agree that one can find equal parts drama and romance in a situation in which both the hero and heroine of the novel are starting off at similar stages in their Christian walk. In my opinion, there’s something to be said for a hero who really is the whole package (i.e., handsome, faithful, gainfully employed–LOL!, and fully committed to the Lord) before he meets the heroine. I don’t think I’d have been nearly as attracted to my husband if he hadn’t already been a committed Christian and preacher of the Gospel long before I came into the picture. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll see a shift in the genre as new voices enter the arena. Thanks for your comments and for following the page! God bless you.

  5. I got a real kick out of your post! Writing is a difficult career choice, especially given that everyone and their maiden aunt has written something at some point in their life! During the early phase of my career, this irritated me. I would tell people that I was a writer and, with great enthusiasm, they would launch into a description of their half-finished novel. Only when they reached the end and would ask whether I ever hoped to be published did I get the satisfaction of telling them that I already had been. (Really early in my career, this was followed up by, “Did you get paid?” As though a young writer’s work couldn’t possibly earn an income!) The truth is, it takes much longer to earn respect in this field than it does in many others. So we hang in there, work hard, and rejoice when we succeed!

    I also have to comment on the snickers you received when you announced your genre. One of my own reasons for disliking “Christian Romance” is that it isn’t usually very realistic. Much of what I have read in the genre follows a formula: nominal Christian woman meets non-Christian or lapsed Christian male and through her struggling witness brings him to faith. Truth be told, I’ve seen a lot of relationships that began that way in the real world and “scraping by” is the best that can be said for most of them. “Romantic” is only a dream.

    Very rarely have I seen the type of romance (in fiction) that you described – one in which two faithful believers start with the type of commitment and foundation that leads to fifty years of blissful marriage. When I have enquired as to why this is the case, I have been informed that people just aren’t interested in buying novels when there isn’t a really dramatic aspect to the story. Doubtless, if they ever sat down with any of these couples, they would discover that there has been plenty of drama in their lives – it just hasn’t stemmed from their unfaithfulness to God or to each other! That said, more power to you! May God bless your endeavors to serve Him!

  6. I totally agree with you on that one Sister! I am in the process of writing a Christian Romance too. Though I have told a select few that I am attempting to write a book, I have refrained from telling them the genre. I also I agree with you that the most fantastic, pure romance is between Christ and His Bride – all other romances are simply a shadow of that perfect love… Awesome post, thanks for sharing! 🙂

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