Joy Tamsin David is here today to talk about Christian romance and the recent issues that have come up regarding this genre of romance. Please welcome Joy to The Mustard Seed...and we'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Feel free to comment. 

Christian romance has taken some flak recently. Perhaps you’ve heard.

The blog posts are too numerous to link, but in the most famous, Dr. Russell Moore compared inspy romance to pornography for women. If you missed it, here are some of his highlights (emphasis mine):

Thankfully, we do not yet have a market for “Christian” pornography (but just wait, someone will find a way). But we do have a market for “Christian” romance novels….

A lot of this simply a Christianization of a form not intended to enhance intimacy but to escape to an artificial illusion of it. Granted, there’s no graphic sexuality here. The hero and heroine don’t sleep together; they pray together. But that’s just the point.

How many disappointed middle-aged women in our congregations are reading these novels as a means of comparing the “strong spiritual leaders” depicted there with what by comparison must seem to be underachieving lumps lying next to them on the couch?

...It is worth asking, “Is what I’m consuming leading me toward contentment with my spouse (or future spouse) or away from it?"

I’ve been hesitant to join the fray because clearly Dr. Moore can out preach me, probably can out write me too. But I’m fairly certain in this genre he doesn’t out read me.

As a Christian fiction book blogger, I read a lot of inspirational romance. And it’s this vast body of knowledge that makes me uniquely qualified to offer Dr. Moore my advice on the subject:


Reading a Christian romance is like watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Nothing more than clean entertainment designed to leave you with the warm fuzzies.

(As an aside, many fans of Christian romance read the genre because it leaves them with so much more than that, like deep Biblical truths. But as a matter of taste, I prefer my fiction more like Little House and less like a Billy Graham crusade).

Would Dr. Moore have asked the legions of young Ingalls fans if watching Michael Landon each week lead them "toward contentment with their parents or away from it?" Certainly somewhere in America, there was a poor child using that show as an escape from the real life horrors of his own family, but for the vast majority of us kids growing up in the early eighties, it was just a TV show.

Children who wished they could trade places with Half Pint in real life had problems no feel good drama could fix. Likewise, housewives who read Christian fiction and compare their lumps on the couch to the leading man have marriage issues that go beyond fondness for romance novels.

We should give Christian women some credit and assume most know what real romance looks like. Agape love is a husband who takes out the garbage or puts the seat down when he’s finished. It's a wife who picks her husband's dirty socks off the floor for the umpteenth time without nagging.

We get it, Dr. Moore. Real love doesn't resemble fiction. Real love runs deeper than anything we'll find in the pages of a romance. But to answer your question, consuming Christian romance novels does lead me toward contentment with my spouse.

When I've got the latest inspy in my hand, we’re far less likely to argue over the remote control. He can watch all nine innings of the Superbowl without any complaints from me. That's what I consider a win-win.

(Now, since neither serious nor thought provoking are my strong suits, allow me to point you in the direction of someone whose response to Dr. Moore
covers those bases).

Joy, thank you for your thought-provoking take on this issue. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. Reading Christian romance novels have always been an encouragement to me and I enjoy reading clean stories that glorify God. Thanks for making the point that Christian women need credit because we can assume that most of them know what a real romance looks like. 

If you'd like to connect with Joy online, you can find her blog here:

What are your thoughts? 

Thanks for allowing me to visit today Joanne!

This topic has been heating up twitter and the blogosphere lately. I had a former critique partner who neither reads Christian fiction, writes Christian fiction, or even considers herself a Christian foward me his article looking for a response.

Joanne Troppello
7/26/2011 01:54:23

You're welcome! Very glad you are a guest today and shared your thoughts on this topic. Looking forward to hearing others' opinions on this issue, too.

7/26/2011 02:29:35

Could it be Dr. Moore is afraid of being held to a higher standard? LOL, just saying... Anyway, the notion of not reading romance because the ideals are unattainable, the hopes unrealistic is, to me, the same as reading Billy Grahams life story. I'll never be Billy Graham or accomplish in my life what he has in his. Should I not be inspired by it, or strive to be the best witness for Christ I can? But not to get too preachy ... its fiction folks! Lighten up.

7/26/2011 03:07:32

Very interesting! Thank you, Joy, for defending our genre. I popped over to the other article, as well, and I'm stunned at the amount of varied response.

As a writer of Christian romance, I can only say that my mind is certainly not running in pornographic channels as I write's focused on finding a way to show Christ at work in the lives of the hero and heroine, and that He wants us to invite Him to be a part of even that portion of our lives.

7/26/2011 03:27:00

I totally agree with Delia. I read sensual romance sometimes, too, but lately I find myself skipping over the intimate scenes. I mean, we all know how it's done LOL. I love the ultra feel-goodness about inspirational romance, both reading and writing it. I don't like a culture where "Jesus Christ" is a cuss word and where God is removed from the pledge of allegiance. Grrrr.

7/26/2011 06:50:16

You asolutely nailed it, Joy! Great job - and bravo. I couldn't agree with you more. A reader of Hearts Surrender, my story of a widowed pastor, took me somewhat to task, albiet kindly, due to the fact that my hero and heroine are unapologetically in love (though WELL within all CBA rules, which she even acknowledged, so no worries there! LOL!) She feared just what Dr. Moore discusses: that people would read my story and feel their relationships pale in comparison. I was somewhat surprised by the idea that anyone would use a piece of romantic fiction to benchmark their own relationships. Such a thing is so dangerous, no matter what your philosophical belief. These stories are meant to enforce God's love and truth, and highlight the most beautiful emotion we are given as human beings: Love. Thanks for an outstanding post!


@Dana, that's exactly my point, it's fiction! Lighten up. :)

@Delia- the romance authors who responded in the comments were very eloquent.

@Tanya- I read Christian romance because I like the HEAs without all the yuck in mainstream romance.


You know Marianne, there was once a time when Christian fiction of ANY kind was looked down upon, not just romance. I guess we were only expected to spend our time reading our Bibles and nothing else.

I just wonder how many people who disparage a Christian romance have no problems watching a tv show or a movie?

Sometimes it makes no sense.


...not that you can go wrong reading the Bible. LOL....I just think there's room for entertainment too.

7/26/2011 09:45:24

Wow. I hadn't heard about Dr. Moore or that some people's opinions of Christian romance are so distorted. But, again, the devil certainly is a smart one...and knows just when and how to shed doubt.

7/26/2011 12:06:01

Hi, Joy - I think you expressed it well. It seems to me Christian fiction, or even fiction with inspirational elements, receives criticism from both sides - secular and Christian. Makes it hard sometimes. Thanks for sharing.

Grace Greene

7/26/2011 13:51:39

Joy, thanks so much for this post. I had never heard of Dr. Moore, and have been so busy this summer caring for grandchildren, unaware of such controversy, that I only visit one of a dozen blogs I want to. But we were told we'd be persecuted, right?
Delia, Tanya, Marianne, Carol Ann, I love you as fellow servants, all of you are using a talent to glorify our Lord (Who is the Groom we all look forward to meeting--now, that's romance!).


Thanks for weighing in Carol, Grace and LoRee!


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