I started reading romance novels when I was in my early teens. I started with some written in the mid-60s my mom had handed down to me and by the time I was 14 or 15 had graduated to the early Harelquin novels that were very clean and almost always about some secretary in a high rise office building in Sydney or London who falls in love with her troubled and angsty boss who suddenly becomes very loving and endearing the last chapter of the book.
By my early 20’s, I was reading anything I could get my hands on. My favorite authors included Nora Roberts, Jude Devereaux, Julie Garwood, and Sandra Brown — but I would read anyone if I didn’t have a new one by one of them. The librarian and used book store owner knew me by my first name.
When I started writing, I started writing secular romances, because that is what I read. When I started the path of publishing, the conviction overwhelmed me that I needed to be writing CHRISTIAN romances. I found as I “redeemed” my secular novels that now my stories focus on two major points of love: eros, which is the Greek term for romantic love; and agape, which is the Greek term for the perfect love of God.
How important is love?
1 Corinthians 13 informs us that without love, we are nothing and have nothing. We can have faith to move mountains or knowledge of all things in the universe but without love, we are nothing. We can spend our very lives in service and sacrifice but without love, it isn’t useful or profitable. The remainder of the chapter informs us very accurately about the nature of love.
When I write, I write the romantic arc – the romantic story between the male protagonist and the female protagonist. And, I write on the spiritual arc – the love the two main characters have or learn to have for God. In this genre, if you leave out one of those arcs, you pretty much have an incomplete story.
The more I delve into writing about love – about eros and agape love, the more the two intertwine.
When God said, ” It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him,” (Genesis 2:18) there are two Hebrew words that could have been used for “not good.” One is ‘ên tôb, which means that something is lacking. As in, this coffee is lacking cinnamon, or these mashed potatoes are lacking salt. The other is the one that was used: lõ’tôb, which means positively bad. As in, it is positively bad that man is alone, so I will make for him a helper.
If it is positively bad for man to be alone, then it must therefore be positively good for man to be in love with a woman and be one with that woman in marriage. We are designed to want to be in a relationship with someone. We are commanded by God to make that relationship monogamous, permanent, and, above all, a reflection of Christ’s relationship with us, of Christ’s agape love for us.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27
What does that mean?
What it means is that Christ loves us so much that He died for us. He stepped up, was beaten until he didn’t even resemble a man anymore, then nailed to a wooden cross until his lungs filled with fluid and suffocated him. And he did it because he LOVES us. With a perfect agape love.
Husbands are supposed to love their wives that much. God’s perfect model for marriage has husbands loving and adoring their wives to the point that they would step up and die for them.
THAT is the kind of love I seek to convey between my characters when writing their love stories. That is the kind of love that I have blossom and bloom between my characters. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE writing about that kind of love!
Conversely, women are to love and respect their husbands. To hold them in high esteem. To give to them the kind of unconditional respect that rivals the unconditional love their husbands should have for them. To love them tenderly, affectionately, and passionately.
Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. ~Proverbs 31:1-12
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The term “one” used here is the same term used in Deuteronomy 6:4 describing the Holy Trinity: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”I think that is a powerful message from God that puts man and wife as one – one flesh, one in the eyes of God as much as the trinity of God – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – is one.
When a husband loves his wife with the perfect, agape love of Christ, and when his wife gives him unconditional respect and a tender affectionate love in return, then you have a perfect model of a marriage as given to us by God. Then you have the two becoming “one” – a powerful force with which to be reckoned.
God is love.
Christ showed us the perfect love. And, the closer we grow to God, the closer we grow to the one we love. To portray that between two characters, to give modern day parables that speak to readers’ hearts can do powerful things in the kingdom of God. It can bring readers to a stronger relationship with their spouses, it can encourage those facing hardship, it can teach and enlighten those who never heard the truth before, and to bring people closer to God.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)
Why do you love Christian romances?
One commenter will receive a paperback of Courting Calla – book 1 in the Dixon Brothers Series! Winner will be chosen at random on Friday, April 19th, and will be notified by email.