Hey – Christians out there. How many “Christian books” have you read lately? I don’t mean non-fiction, informational, inspirational, or theological books. I mean like, novels. Fiction. But…Christian. Christian fiction. I’ll be honest here. It’s been a while since I’ve actually read any Christian fiction (Chri-Fi?). However, part of my job at the church requires me to input new books into our library system…so I’ve been reading a lot of back covers lately. And I’ve been laughing my butt off.
Because they are so. lame. Really. They are. Not all of them – I’ll give you that. But I can honestly say that I would not even take at least 90% of those books off the shelf after reading the backs.
So many stereotypes. So many talks about purity, chastity, “waiting for the ONE”, etc. So many cliffhanger endings along the lines of “Will God come through for _______ (enter name of the protagonist)”.
Why. Why are we doing this? Why Christian authors….Why! Why are you perpetuating the stereotypes that none of us want? Why are you all (essentially) creating the same, exact story lines?! Why does every, single novel – especially youth and young adult novels – have to be about sex?! AND, why are these tales only about the woman’s struggle to “stay pure”? Not once while I browsed through those books – and there were at least 200 of them – did I see one youth, teen, or adult novel where the boy was the main character, and he was struggling to remain “pure”.
Nope. Boys in these stories are bad! They are trying to take away the “wonderful gift” that God has given women (only women, apparently) and turn them into impure, non-chaste, un-virgin whores! Women on the other hand, must always choose between their love of God, or their love of some boy.
Are. You. Kidding. Me.
How ridiculous is that? Not only are they completely bent on reinforcing pathetic stereotypes of what a Christian should look like, but they also reinforce tons of gender stereotypes. Like women only wanting to have sex because they feel lonely, or because they are “far away” from God, or because they’ve had horrible, traumatic experiences in their past that makes them seek negative attention from men. There was never a story about a normal, Christian girl who had a good family life and good friends struggling with sexual desire just because she is a sexual being. Maybe these stories do exist, somewhere out there…but I have yet to see one.
I also feel like these novels have such strong moral agendas. And yes, I understand they are writing from a Christian perspective. BUT…do you know who reads these books? CHRISTIANS! You don’t need to preach to us! WE ALREADY KNOW! There’s nothing wrong with saying something like…
“And as Lisa realized Kevin was not the right man for her, tears rolled down her cheeks as she cried out and prayed that God would ease the pain.”
…Or something like that. However, most of these books seemed to go something more like this…
“And as Lisa realized Kevin was not the right man for her, tears rolled down her cheeks, but she cried out to God – and He eased her pain. And in that moment, Liza remembered that Jesus was really the only one who could make her truly happy. God loved Liza more than Kevin, or anyone, ever could. And that was a lovely, comforting thought. She got over her tears and said goodbye to Kevin once and for all.”
You see, I understand what they are trying to say here. But it seems SO unrealistic. Heartbreak sucks for everyone! If you have God in your life, yes, it can be comforting to know that He has a plan for you, and He is there to comfort you. However, like I said, we know this. It does not seem genuine. It seems preachy. It seems over the top. It does not feel real.
I have no problem with Christian authors. I think it’s great to be able to read a book and not have to worry about reading in-depth sex-scenes, and I love being able to connect with the characters on a level that I can’t with other books.
But I think that Christian authors really need to start getting real. I don’t really know how to word this, to be honest. I do not think that real Christians talk the way characters are portrayed in those books. I do not think that everyone is as obsessed with purity and chastity as those books show. (I’m not saying that is isn’t important to many/most of us. I’m saying we don’t talk about it like it’s the be all and end all).
I want to be able to read a good, Christian novel. I want to be able to enjoy it. But most importantly, I want to be able to recommend it to my non-Christian friends. I want to be able to recommend it without having to warn them ahead of time that they will be slapped in the face with Psalms or Proverbs, sappy, unrealistic endings, and rants about purity.