We’ve all seen the covers—a couple, locked in a passionate embrace, surrounded by floral flourishes on a pink background. These books command their own section at bookstores and in libraries and are now more available than ever via digital reading devices. Although most men scoff at them, many women can’t seem to put them down.
A 2008 statistical overview shows that the romance genre takes the largest share of the consumer fiction market. Romance Writers of America (RWA), a professional organization for authors, estimates that there are 29 million regular readers of romance novels in America, and beyond that 74.8 million individuals read at least one romance book in 2008 (“2008 ROMStat Report,” RWANational.org, 2010).
Romance novels aim for an adult female audience, which accounts for the pink covers and frilly flourishes. However, the target audience expanded when teen girls were perceived as an undiscovered market, and in the past few years the growth of young adult and teen romance novels has exploded. RWA reports that women read 90 percent of all romance novels.
“In love” or “in lust”?
Of course, romantic story lines aren’t relegated to just romance novels. A romance thread is included in virtually every piece of fiction written or showcased in books, films, plays, etc. The human mind is attracted to love, so it’s a key element in most stories. As one would expect, this important subject is also found in the Bible!
Love is an attribute of God. Godly love sacrifices for others. Brotherly love is tender and kind toward others. Both of these extend into romantic love between a man and a woman and are required for a steady foundation on which to establish marriage and then sexual love.
However, modern romantic fiction tends to skip over the virtues of love and head directly for sexual lust, generally far outside the bounds of marriage. So what’s the problem? The human mind creates images from written words. Graphic descriptions of sexual encounters in any kind of written fiction can have as devastating an effect on our minds as pornographic images.
“Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. What you put into your mind is what your mind feeds on. If such material regularly causes you to think impure thoughts, then what you are reading is causing you to sin in your mind.
Keep it clean
Not all fiction delves into inappropriate, graphic descriptions. Positive stories that uphold morals and standards and feature truth winning over evil can be beneficial.
Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version×is a great litmus test (along with the rest of God’s law) for analyzing a potential read. If the book is going to inspire you to think about things that are pure, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy, go for it! VT