I appreciated Mel's comment and I started writing a comment, but realized it was becoming a very long one! So, here is my comment as a post instead...
Question: What about Christian Romance novels? Janette Oke? Karen Kingsbury?
When I wrote my last post, I was speaking specifically about Christian romance novels. I actually avoid secular romance novels altogether. I look back on when I was a teen and some of the adult romances I read and my stomach plummets. I realize now that they really took my mind places it shouldn't have gone. Most secular romance novels now have graphic sex scenes. They did even when I was a teen. Someone once said that romance novels can become like pornography to women. I know that sounds extreme, but I was taken by surprise a few years ago when I read a book by an author who used to write Christian books and now publishes with a secular publisher. There was a very graphic sexual scene between two women in her book. I don't really want to explain more than that. The scene took me by surprise--I was expecting an inspirational book and then I read this scene. I cringed.
Christian romances have really expanded in the last few years. When I was growing up, I enjoyed Janette Oke's books and I think they are quite different than most Christian romantic fiction that I've read this past year. I would single out Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, and Janette Oke as being much more realistic about how they've written romance into their books. Karen Kingsbury is an interesting author to me. I know everyone loves her books a lot! And I haven't been able to figure out yet why she isn't an author I usually choose to read. I'm still trying to articulate that one. I know it unsettled me when I opened up her last book and found an advertisement for a cruise with her as the guest speaker.
Honestly, a few years ago, I had heard people talk about how reading a lot of Christian romances wasn't a good idea--and the people I had overheard were talking about Janette Oke. But, Janette Oke's books aren't who I'm referring to when I mean that I have to guard myself about reading Christian romances.
Back in January, I read a Christian romance that used words like this example: one character felt "ravenous" for a man as she stood close to him. "ravenous"? It feels like Christian Romances have been getting closer and closer to secular romances in how they describe men and women physically. In that same book it referenced men and women staying overnight together and unmarried couples living together (with the other Christians in their lives believing this was okay). That book really made me start thinking about the words authors use to describe the attraction between men and women in their books. I began to feel that there are some words that get very close to the line between romance/love and lust.
Romance is a part of life and so it should be a part of the stories we read, but the other thing I've started to see in the Christian romances I've read is that it is love and romance which is what life is all about--not God. The love of a man or woman is portrayed as what can save the one who loves them. And recently, I have also read several books where one person is a Christian and the other is not. The Christian enters the relationship with the hopes of saving the other. That's a dangerous idea to plant in the minds of teens and adults. I know that when my daughters and son begin to date (many years from now) I will desire for them to date and marry a Christian man or woman (in my son's case). If you are a Christian, dating people who aren't Christians is dangerous and is a very slippery slope--God showed me that very clearly when I was in high school. I'm thankful that he showed me before I would have regretted. It only took a kiss to make me realize that this boy who said he was a Christian but wasn't and he was not someone I should date.
I hope all of this explains in more detail my feelings about Christian romances today. I think we have to be careful and wise about what we read and watch.