Is it okay for a Christian to read romance novels?
This is a difficult question to answer definitively. Not all romance novels contain objectionable material, sexually charged scenes, and passionate fantasy. But many do. Perhaps a better question would be: Do the romance novels I read help me grow in my actual relationships—with other people and with God Himself?
Paul strongly reminds Christians of what to focus on when he writes in Philippians 4:8: "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." We should apply this list to all our entertainment choices, including what we read.
Think about having Jesus with you as you read a romance novel. Would He be comfortable with the scenes you read? Would you be comfortable with Him reading them to you? Also think about the impact the novel has on you. Is it affecting the way you think about reality? Is it causing you to draw closer to God or is it stirring up temptation?
God granted us great freedom in the choices we make. Our aim should be to honor Him with those choices. Early Christians struggled with choices of what to eat. Paul wrote the Corinthian church to keep their focus on pleasing God. "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In the past, secular authors offered rich, and yes romantic, novels while avoiding prurient scenes. Today, many Christian fiction writers do the same while weaving strong and edifying dialog and storylines that can draw the reader into a closer walk with Jesus. Readers should seek out and choose those options.
Some read romance novels to escape their own, sometimes depressing or difficult, realities. Authors with skill create another reality that may entice the reader unhealthily. God doesn't want us to turn to this or any other kind of entertainment for help. He has provided for us "all things that pertain to life and godliness" when we pursue knowing Him (2 Peter 1:3).
When determining whether to read a specific book or series, God's wisdom is available to the Christian reader. We must simply ask with belief that He will guide us (James 1:5–6) and God will answer those prayers.
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