Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Dangers of Romance

Before you roll your eyes or turn away, know that I am not here to bash romance.  It is a gift of God . . . in its proper place, way, and time.  The Bible is not shy about romance or the blessings of marriage. However, the whole Bible is not dominated by romance, and neither should we be.

Let me take you back to my earliest days of reading romance novels.  They were clean, safe, and Christian novels, with the gospel message sprinkled in and indeed several good character qualities shown.  Yet I fed on them like candy, reading all the Grace Livingston Hill and Janette Oke stories I could get my hands on.  I was eight or nine when I first started reading them.  I was quiet and might have seemed mature for my age--not a giggling girl with flirtatious ways--but inwardly, my heart was being drawn more toward the ways of a flirt.  Every boy that looked my way was likely to have an interest in me, or at least to arouse my interest.  I craved their compliments and their smiles.  How shameful I was, even as a girl of nine or ten!  Even one of my own cousins was to me a cute boy to impress, as I pedaled along as fast as I could on my bike ahead of him.  Instead of enjoying my family and friends--the gifts of God right before me--in a normal, healthy way, I was looking for something "more exciting."

Fiction, especially romance, was my daily bread, Bible only a duty.  Teenage years only cemented my thoughts.  I played card games and became excited if a boy's hand touched mine accidentally.  The thoughts of romance also made me shyer, more self-focused and afraid of saying something stupid.  Would anyone like me then?  My mind blanked if asked a simple question by a handsome boy.

Were romance novels really the cause of all this?  Not entirely, certainly.  We are cursed with a sin nature, and that is readily apparent at a young age.  But the novels and movies furthered the sin, and made it seem more natural and fun.  Even Christian novels?  Yes.  While some of the earlier books I read were quite harmless and perhaps a few were helpful, put all together, with their focus on handsome men, women admired by men, and mainly feelings-based romance, I was swept into it all like Cinderella on the prince's arm.  I lived vicariously in the novels.  In our no-dating house, I was "dating" men in the novels.  Even more-so than from movies, probably, because in books I usually read from one person's perspective looking out, and so I could more easily imagine myself being that character.

I once read an article similar to this, and I brushed it off with a frown and thought, It's really not harmful to read these kind of books.  So I kept reading them, but with a growing awareness that perhaps they did affect me.  But still, they were fun, and they were mainly good, right?

Don't make the same mistake I did.  Don't waste your life, or worse, affect your life in negative and hard-to-eradicate ways.

I still have an ongoing battle with wanting to read the light and fun romance novels, and occasionally I do, but usually regret it.  I have found more fulfilling, true, and lasting joy in reading the "heavy" books, the theological and deep books than the light ones.  More joy in the ever-applicable, ever-wonderful Word of God.

Are there exceptions?  Are there any good romantic novels?  Yes, I believe so.  But don't think that you can handle almost anything because you're mature.  Don't think that you will grow by leaps and bounds because you read romance novels with a slight Christian message.  Don't think that a steady diet of this will not affect you.  Like overindulging in candy gives you stomach-aches, so overindulging in romance novels/movies will give you heartaches.  I do know of older, married people who can read these kind of novels without any seeming bad effects, but how do you know it will not in some way harm your thoughts or actions?

Read books that fill you with the joy of the Lord, not the stirrings of unfulfilled longings and discontent.  Saturate your mind with the promises and deep love and chastisement of the Lord for a wretch, not the admiration of shallow men who think you are beautiful and kind, even though you argue like a yapping dog or your thoughts are full of self.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ - Matthew 22:37

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; - Ephesians 5:3

I charge you,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
Do not stir up nor awaken love 
Until it pleases. - Song of Solomon 8:4


Eleganza Strings/ The DeLadurantey Family said...

Thank you for your testimony and exhortation, Missy. I am glad to know that the Lord has opened your eyes in this area of romance novels. Keep seeking Him.

To God be the glory!


Melissa M. said...

Yes, to God be the glory! There's nothing good in me without Him.