Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Okay, be honest. When I tell you I write romances what do you think of me? Have you already written off my work as fluff? Okay, then I’ll modify my answer to I write Christian romances. Does that help any or do you perchance think that a good romance and Christian are mutually exclusive terms? I had to reassure my own brother that I was not writing anything in the bodice ripper genre. He looked confused. Apparently, he hasn't spent a lot of time reading romances---go figure.
So why do I write romance? Don't I have better things to write about as a believer? Actually, I see it a bit differently. First of all, I write most of my romances in the context of a committed Christian marital relationship. Of course, there’s almost always romance leading up to marriage and I really enjoy writing about how two people find each other, then grow in their love for one another. Second, I don't believe I need to be explicit as I write romance. In fact, I think leaving something to the imagination improves a romance. Third, and most importantly, I believe that God Himself is the author of romance and of the marriage relationship, so in my mind they are not mutually exclusive concepts at all.
There are four kinds of love found in scripture and three of them directly relate to the marriage relationship. Agape love, is everlasting, sacrificial and selfless. It is the kind of love Christ has for His church and His people. It is the kind of love that Paul writes about I Corinthians 13:4-8: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
So how does this relate to marriage? In Ephesians 5, Paul refers to the same kind of Agape love to exhort husbands to love their wives the way that Christ loves the church. You want to talk about a high calling? Husbands are to love their wives with the same kind of Agape love that occupies the heart of our Savior. Wow! In the Boundary Waters Search and Rescue saga, you will see a lot of Agape love and care exchanged as Jack and Liz’s romance grows toward maturity.
Another kind of scriptural love is Storge love (used in scripture in the antithesis). This is familial love, between husbands and wives, parents and children and includes anyone that you choose to love as family. Think of the bond between Christ and his earthy parents or between Christ and his disciples—his chosen family. This kind of love is difficult to destroy, loyal and fiercely protective. In the Boundary Waters Search and Rescue saga, you will see this kind of love in Jack’s fiercely protective love for Liz (and her's for him), Liz’s brother’s love for his sister, and also in Jack and Liz’s love for Dan and Beth, their chosen family. As the BWSRU saga progresses these Storge relationships deepen and grow toward maturity.
(added 9/4, because I didn't realize I'd left this very important kind of love out Some days I wonder where I left my brain.) Then there is Phileo love---the deep, mature love between friends. While it doesn't carry with it the intensity of eros love or the depth of storge love (at least at first), this type of love is more than being acquaintances or casual friends and carries with it a deep level of connection. This is the kind of friendship that exists between Dan and Jack when Beyond Belief opens. It is the kind of friendship that later transmogrifies into a storge relationship between Dan, Jack, Beth and Liz. As the story arc progress, we see this shift from phileo friends to storge family. I am blessed to have friends like this.
Finally, there is Eros love—romantic, sexual love. (in fact, Eros is the root word for erotic). Do you cringe at the thought of putting that kind of love into a Christian romance novel? I don’t, because that kind of love is as God given as any of the others I’ve talked about. This kind of love was God’s gift to Adam and Eve in the garden after the fall—the physical expression of love that not only allows the deepest communion possible between two souls, but also carries the potential for the creation of a new life, part husband, part wife and part God. God celebrates this kind of love and if you doubt that, read the Old Testament book Song of Solomon. Nowhere in scripture is it clearer that God intends for married couples to rejoice in both emotional and physical love.
Sadly, Eros love is also the only form of love that can be sinful if practiced outside of the context of God’s intent. Just look at the news on any given night to see rape, pedophilia, spousal abuse and other awful expressions of physical love transmogrified into sexual gratification and anger. My choice, in the context of fiction, is to redeem the years of the locust for most of those involved in these practices, because our God is a God of love and mercy. I believe He is the only one Who can bring sense out of the senseless and true healing.
In the Boundary Waters Search and Rescue saga, we see the (non-explicit) celebration of Eros love in Jack and Liz’s (and Dan and Beth’s) marriage relationship. I enjoy writing scenes involving couples growing together in love and I pray that will come across in my writing. Yet as the story progresses both Jack and Liz have to come to terms with others who confuse sex, anger and control with love. I pray their love for each other and their focus on God during these dark times will encourage you.
In the end, my point is essentially that, as created, romance is very much a God thing and is something to celebrate. Without romance very few of us would be here at all. The next time someone tells you they are writing a romance, try not to wrinkle your nose. Romance is at the heart of a covenant marriage relationship and I believe that God smiles when He sees us rejoicing over His gifts of love, all of them. (The photos included are first, my husband and me, taken several years back, one of my concept pieces of Jack and Liz---not shown clearly because I want you to develop your own vision of this couple as you read, and my great role model for marriage, my mom and dad not too long before Dad left us to join his Savior.)