I decided to let this week's post on emotional infidelity run a few days because the comments there (as well as here at P31) are quite powerful. I think every woman - married or single - should read them. At the P31 blog I responded directly to a lot of the comments, so follow the link to read those. PS. I'm working on getting that comment capability here in a new blog design. PSS. AIMZ is the book winner!
I have lots of questions for you today and I'm hoping you'll jump into the discussion with your thoughts. I'm wondering if you ever read romance novels? And if so, how they impact you?
Interestingly, I've seen movies with "love scenes" in them and they usually don't impact me quite like the novels. I've long had a theory that men are more stimulated by what they see and women by what is said. I came across this article published last week that indicates my theory may hold water. That news site is managed by the Church of Latter Day Saints by the way.
Recently, in a comment on my emotional infidelity post this week, a woman said: "I am a reader and I used to read anything that I could get my hands on. I used to read the romance novels and realized that they put thoughts in your head that shouldn't be there. You start comparing your husband to the characters and usually find him wanting. I stopped reading anything but Christian fiction, my Bible and books from proven resources."
Has reading romance made you less satisfied in your marriage?
Anyone want to argue the other side and say it hasn't bothered their marriage, or has actually made them a more affectionate spouse?
So many of the "classics" are love stories: Wuthering Heights, Dr. Zhivago, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Gone with the Wind, Hope Floats. Ok, so maybe that last one isn't a classic love story but the point is so much of our entertainment throughout the ages -- from poetry to plays, novels to movies --has centered on falling in love (and problems with that).
Should romance writing definitely have a place in Christian fiction? (It seems to in the Bible in the Song of Solomon.)
Where do you draw the proverbial line on what is or isn't appropriate?Is it a matter of degree or taste, careful wording? Is important that the characters are married?
Another woman, commenting on my devotional at P31, revealed: "I had been molested by family members and one of my mom’s boyfriends so early on that I don’t really have recollections of not being hypersexual. I found ways for validation in public when possible, and by sex any time I could. But we serve a Loving God who wanted to pull me out of the pit I was in. So He told stories of women like Ruth, like Rahab, like the adulterous woman, like the Samaritan Woman at the Well, to show me that He even loved “ME.”
Let me warn you of something that scared the stuffing out of me. About a year ago, I found a really juicy book and started to read. It was a romance novel, you know the kind that come every 4-6 weeks, or that you buy by the sackload at garage sales? I got to a particularly explicit section of the book and as I read, I felt my eyes dilate, my stomach started churning and I actually had to run to make it to the bathroom where I emptied my lunch back out of my mouth into the toilet.
As I spasmed, I could hear God’s Words saying He would never let me be tempted beyond what I could bear, and that He would always give me a way out. I GOT THE MESSAGE!!! Romance Novels for me are just like a joint to a drug addict; wine to a drunk. Then I studied and realized the only difference between those and the sex stories in a porn magazine was the vocabulary. I immediately called my mentor, told her my entire history, and begged her to keep me accountable. Now when I see “Harlequin” or one of those books, I know to steer clear."
Do you think romance novels are only problematic for a certain segment of people, those who already have sexual or addiction issues? And does that mean the romance writer holds no responsibility for how her writing affects them? Or can the novels themselves create the addiction?
This blogger, Niki, seems to say they can create the addiction in her experience, or at least open the door to it. Although I get the impression she was reading more of the secular, dime store bodice-ripper type novels than a love story you might find in a Christian bookstore.
I don't know that I have all the answers to these questions. So as a reader, and a writer, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.