What is Christian romance?
Christian romance–some people believe that to be an oxymoron because they equate romance with unbridled passion. Not necessarily.
Christian romance is one genre of the Christian fiction realm. Christian romances tell the story of a hero and heroine overcoming obstacles to fall in love and making a lifelong commitment by the book’s end. Sometimes those endings will lead to marriage, and sometimes the reader is left with the happy couple newly engaged.
Quality Christian romances include:
- Hero and heroine
- Character journeys
- A believable plot
- Happily ever after resolution
- An element of faith in Jesus Christ woven through the plot
Quality Christian romances do not include:
- Strong language
- Bedroom scenes
- Same sex partners as main characters
- Graphic violence
- Intimate relationships between unmarried couples
In the past I’ve mentioned I write romance, and many people ask, “Are you writing one of those smut books?”
I resist rolling my eyes and reply, “My books are Christian romances.”
Sometimes the person will ask for an explanation, and other times that person will walk away before I stand behind my pulpit and give them a sermon. Of course, I don’t preach to them, but some people hear ‘Christian’ and assume a sermon is right around the corner.
Writers of quality Christian fiction do weave in a thread of faith, but we try not to preach to our readers. Instead we strive to show our characters’ faith in Jesus through their actions–you know, show not tell. We show our characters’ longings from emotional tenderness than physical desire. There is a time and a place for those steamy scenes. In Christian romance, it’s usually after the couple is married and happens behind closed doors. I say usually because a character may have a past, but once she commits herself to Christ, she should be depicted as wanting to honor God with the way she lives her life.
Publishing houses offer their own set of guidelines about the levels of violence, language and sensuality that may be included in a novel. My parent publisher Harlequin
sells books to the ABA
, so their Love Inspired
Christian fiction novels must fit CBA
mission statement states, “The Love Inspired fiction program features wholesome Christian romance that will help women to better guide themselves, their families and their communities toward purposeful, faith-driven lives.”
So when you think of Christian romance, think wholesome or sweet. Some people grumble about the stricter guidelines, but I believe publishers want their novels to glorify God. After all, isn’t that what Christians are called to do?
Your turn: How would you define Christian romance? Do you find them sweet and wholesome or too restrictive for ‘real life?’