Reading Romance Novels
Romance novels have received increased attention in recent years. Although women are their main readers, an increasing number of men also are involved in that. Romance is a beautiful natural human emotion. Uplifting good Christian romance novels give a positive outlook on love and inspires people with hope to find true love within God’s will. They also teach Bible values in choosing the right person for marriage as they stress that love is not a mere feeling but a principle. A Bible example of that is seen in the story of Ruth.
However, there is a great danger in reading most of the secular romantic novels as they portray unrealistic views about relationships between men and women, a low standard of morality, and explicit sex. These novels have captivated millions of readers by their tantalizing and exciting plots causing them to lose interest in what is true, holy and pure.
The Bible in Philippians 4, gives Christians a standard by which they can judge what they should read. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). The Bible aspect of truth stems from an understanding of the nature of God and Christ, who are the authors of all that is true. In this sense, “whatsoever things are true” points to all that is morally and spiritually sound, all that is in harmony with Him, who is “the truth” (John 14:6).
The scriptures teach that by beholding we get changed (2 Corinthians 3:18). What we read directly affects our minds and gives birth to our actions. When a person reads corrupting novels, he is emotionally involved in the actions and is influenced by them. And the seeds of immorality and deceit will grow with time. Consequently, the readers will become less sensitive to spiritual matters and will be influenced to copy the characters in these novels. “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:53).
Therefore, Christians are to guard the avenues of their souls. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). It is essential to protect the mind from reading novels that teach ungodliness (Matthew 5:22, 28). The Psalmist wrote, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3). To a great extent we are what we habitually behold. “Hear no evil; see no evil; speak no evil.” For this reason, Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes;
Why then should I [a]look upon a young woman?” (ch. 31:1, 7).
So, believers are to read only that which will help their relationship with the Lord to grow. A good guide for selecting what believers should read is: What would Jesus do? (1 John 2:6). The believer needs to be fully familiar with Christ’s sinless life in order to copy it and apply its principles to situations under which he himself must live. He who claims to abide in the Savior should give daily proof that he is reflecting his Lord.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ showed that His instructions of purity went far beyond the mere external requirements of the law and that they included the inward spirit that would give life and meaning to what was otherwise only outward. He taught clearly the distinction between actions and the motives of the heart that prompt those acts. He stressed the necessity of having a clean and pure mind (Matthew 5-7).
In His service,