Monday, December 12, 2011

O Leave Novels Ye Mauchline Belles!

"Oh this is the best part yet!" Thought Beth as she excitingly continued her novel. Just as the maiden's throbbing heart was about to meet its end, the dashing, courageous knight with dazzling armor flew into action to save the endangered maiden. " Beth, come finish your chores!" Shouted Beth's mom. "Hang on a second mom!" Beth rushed through the words on the pages. "Beth, I want immediate obedience, come down please." Huffing Beth reluctantly bookmarked her spot. "I can't stand chores! If only this were still a time when I could look for my knight to take me away."

Sound familiar? I think we have all been like Beth. Falling in love with a world that doesn't exist. Never liking to come back to reality. Always wanting something more than what real life has to offer. Ladies this is what romance novels do to us!

O leave novels, ye Mauchline belles,
Ye're safer at your spinning-wheel;
Such witching books are baited hooks
For rakish rooks, like Rob Mossgiel;
Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons,
They make your youthful fancies reel;
They heat your brains, and fire your veins,
And then you're prey for Rob Mossgiel.
Robert Burns

And I am at fault just as much as anyone else. I went through a phase of not being able to get enough romance through the books I read.
" We have an industry devoted to producing sappy romantic novels, hours of TV time filled with soap operas, and films that aim to seduce women by drawing them into a vicarious illicit relationship." Nancy Wilson
I know we all LOVE Janet Oke and Lori Wick, Beverly Lewis etc. It is amazing how blind we can be to the damage being done by the lives these authors paint that are far from realistic. But as much as we don't want to, we must take a serious look at how these books may be pulling our hearts away from God's best for our lives.

"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you cannot do the things that you wish." Galatians 5:17

As much as we try to tell ourselves that romance novels are harmless, they can easily tempt us to become discontent with reality. And some may think that I am making too big a deal about literature, but this is serious. What these books are doing to us is stirring emotions prematurely, getting in our heads at a young age a false idea of our dashing, ideal future spouse.
Once you attach yourself to these anchors in the depths of romance, be they words or images, it is very difficult to cast them away and be buoyed back up.

C.S. Lewis points out in The Discarded Image three essential tests of literature" It should teach what is useful, honor what is honorable, and appreciate the delightful."
This leads to the way we treat our brothers in Christ around us. Are we treating them as brothers with all purity? Or are we gleaning ideas from the books we've read on how to get a guy's attention?

Here are some ways that really helped me. If this encourages you to work on putting romance novels away from you I would love to hear how you did it!

5 ways I overcame romance novels:
  • I got rid of all my romance books -don't give them a second thought!
  • I started reading books that really challenged me-i.e. apologetics, theology, etc.
  • I began reading God's Word first thing in the morning; then scripture filled my thoughts the whole day.
  • I prayed and asked God to give me a desire for wholesome, pure and truthful thoughts
  • I put away any books of mere pleasure except every now and then; and only indulge in those at night after all my work and school and family time is finished for the day. Plus I made sure that those books weren't just fluff and nonsense. I started really questioning what I was reading even though it wasn't romance.
Matthew 5:29 warns, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
6 reasons to quit romance novels:
  • They cause us to be discontent with the life we have
  • They cause us to have a false perception of who we want to marry
  • They waste our time
  • They cause us to look at young men with romantic ideas
  • They cause us to have premature thoughts about marriage and thus distract us
  • They do not all honor God even though they have a 'godly' message in them
"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:9

"Finally, Brethren, Whatever Things Are True, Whatever Is Noble, Whatever Things are Just, Whatever Is Pure, Whatever Things are Lovely, Whatever Things are Of Good Report, If there be any Virtue, If there be anything Praiseworthy-- Think On These Things." Philippians 4:8


Bri said...

I really enjoyed this post :)! You are such a blessing in my life, Bria :)!
Although I have not read books by the authors you mentioned, and haven't even read romance novels (we don't own any!), I did use to read FAR too much fiction, in time that could have been used much better. So, I also have made the decision to read my Bible first thing, and read fiction last thing, in my day. I do make exceptions. If I wake up late, I do Bible after breakfast, and if it is a holiday/ we are on a trip, I will read a bit of fiction after ALL needed work is done, but I try to stick to the rule at all other times.
Thank you again for following the Lord's leading to write this wonderful post!

Jennifer said...

I HATE fluff and nonsense; outgrew any form of it a long time ago, and have had too much experience in both real life and even far more realistic books to think (or want) romance novel heroes, some of which are dominating jerks. I do, though, plan to read three of Janet Oke's novels; I think they're superior to just romance. And two of Wick's books stand out: "White Chocolate Moments" and "Pretense".

Jennifer said...

Bria, I think you really might like "Pretense"; it's a sometimes gritty and very honest novel about two sisters and their lives from the 70's to the 90's. They are not sheltered girls, living ideal romances, and they are fiesty and flawed. Hope you consider it: