Christian Fiction: To Romance or Not To Romance?

(As I wrote this post, I heard my dad’s voice in the back of my head, “Fiction/books can’t be Christian, Lydia. Only people can.” So, I just want to clarify that I am referring to fiction and books that promote Christian messages).

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the plot dilemmas I faced writing The Field.  At the end of last week, I talked about the redemption of evil dilemma, and today I want to talk about having romance in the plot.

To be honest, I have been feeling rather guilty about including a romantic subplot in The Field at all, because romance in a Christian book is something many people love to hate. (Sarcasm ahead).  After all, isn’t the Christian Romance genre practically emotional pornography for Christian women? Can’t it cause us to stumble? (Okay, I’m done now).  And of course, The Field doesn’t even remotely fall into the Christian Romance genre, so why include a romantic subplot in it at all? Is it really necessary?

Sometimes romance is necessary, and it can indeed be added tastefully to a plot that does not otherwise include romance.

The Field is a book about girls and young women, primarily for girls and young women.  I wanted to deal with some basic choices girls and young women face; relationships and romance being among these.  Honestly, leaving the romantic subplot out would not have hurt the story at all, but I also felt dishonest when it wasn’t there, like I wasn’t being true to the characters it involved. The romance is not pervasive; in fact, if you blink, you could miss it entirely.  And yet, it had to be there because of a real choice many real Christian women have to make at one time or another.

The choice between a relationship and romance (a good thing in the right context, by the way) and following God’s call on our lives.  For all of my realism (because I’m truly not a romantic person at all), it’s still the hardest choice I’ve ever made:  Saying no to one who seemed like the perfect guy (for me, not perfect by any standards) because he couldn’t come with me where God is calling me.  And a character in The Field faces the same choice: the guy or her savior? (As with my other writing dilemma, I’m not going to tell you what she chooses.  You really are going to have to read it yourself).

Still, I think my decision to include a romantic subplot makes The Field more relatable, and I think that can be true in other Christian books as well.  I don’t even think it’s wrong to have a romantic plot in a Christian book, as long as it’s not trivialized.  I think God has given us hearts for epic love stories, and we shouldn’t twist something He intends as good into something bad.

Here’s to romance!

What about you? How do you handle romance as a writer? How do you respond to it as a reader?



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2 thoughts on “Christian Fiction: To Romance or Not To Romance?

  1. Beth Caplin says:

    I’ve found “Christian fiction” to be too cookie-cutter, personally. Some stories are hard to categorize, but I prefer general fiction with Christian themes than overtly Christian books (like my new novella).

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