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 BookFinder.com) 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.”