October 14, 2009

Are those Christian novels bad for my marriage?

I encountered an interesting line of thinking this weekend as I sat and read a magazine. The collection of articles was about pornography, its destructive results and addictive nature. Among the ten pages of articles, there was one small little box with a question of this nature:

Are the romance novels I'm reading causing me to be dissatisfied with my husband?

That's quite a question! I just kept going back to it through the next day or two. I am only interested in Christian novels. (I'm always afraid of secular ones because I don't want to encounter some wordy scene I don't need to be visualizing.) And generally, the novels I read show people out to be real people, many times there is a broken relationship that gets healed. Many times there is stubbornness, pride, anger and other sin on both sides. But they all seem to have one thing in common... everyone always ends up living happily ever after! And it seems to end up that way in just a matter of hours (the time it takes to read the book).

The men are almost always handsome (can't remember one of them where the guy is overweight with a pot belly), well-mannered (don't hear tooting at the dinner table in those books!), leaders (can't remember one of them where the guy is a wimp), romantics (at least by the end of the book), communicators (again, by the end of the book), and I could go on. I'm pretty sure you know what I'm talking about! So am I setting Robert up for failure? Is this in principle any different than presenting my eyes with visual pictures of things I should not desire? Would I be okay with Robert entertaining himself with things that cause him to wish I was someone I'm not?

Quite often a book I'm reading will evoke an emotional response... sadness, joy, hunger, repentance, and um, sometimes, er, dissatisfaction. (Really?!) Do I read these books and unconsciously create a standard to which Robert cannot possibly compare??

Lust seems to have more than several definitions, but all of the Biblical websites define it with some form of self-absorbed sinful desire. Is that what arises in me when I read a novel about a handsome, well-mannered, romantic cowboy? Certianly not any sensual desire, but an emotional desire can be every bit as damaging. Especially if I was at odds with Robert. I could very easily read a well-written Christian novel, imagine myself as the female subject of the story and end up quite irritated when I snap back to reality!


I have to say, I love, loVe, LOVE! to bury my nose in a book late into the night and enjoy the silence. :) It is one of my favorite things to do. But if the book I'm reading envokes sin in my heart, then for me, it is wrong. Clearly it is an issues of taking every thought captive, whether it's a novel, a non-fiction marriage book, chick flick, or envying a friend's relationship with her man.

Just for clarification, I'm not saying I'm all of a sudden giving up novels that involve any sense of romance! I think I'd have to stop reading all together. But that one little box in the magazine has given me quite a wake up call! I don't know how often this is an issue for me, quite honestly. I'm committing to ask the Lord to make me aware if this is an area of struggle for me.

I know I do not desire to have any other man as my husband! And frankly, Robert looks pretty darn good in jeans, cowboy boots and his John Deere hat! He's not a romantic, but he's steady. He's not a communicator, but he's in trouble a lot less than I am! Are we going to resolve all of our issues and live happily ever after by 2:00 AM, the time in which I could read another book? No. But's he's REAL, he's HERE, and he's MINE. :)

Worth thinking about. I'm just sayin'.


Leslie said...

Great post friend and definitely something worth thinking about. Thanks for sharing.

Hugs to you!

Jenifer said...

Have to say I agree with you... God's been showing me some of the same stuff. Good to be mindful of... :-)

Kjirstin C said...

Amen Lissa!!

I'll have to consider the same thing in my own life. I had to watch my "romance" (Christian, like yours) reading before my relationship with Danny started because I was was not at all content with being single!!

Thanks for challenging me :)