Saturday, August 20, 2011


We authors constantly immerse ourselves in God’s Word
 so that our Christian message inspires a blessed faith walk in our readers. That’s the “Christian” part of the equation.

That leaves the significant question of what we’re inspiring with the “Romance” part of the equation. How are we presenting the “Romance/courtship” message so that it, too, is a blessing to our readers?

We all love a classic Cinderella story. Girl meets wonderful boy. Wonderful boy cares for girl. The lovely glass shoe fits the heroine’s foot. Wonderful boy and girl marry and live happily ever after.

Over the years, that same premise has increasingly become a romance novel staple. Unfortunately, so have young couples, quick courtships, and marriages based primarily on the emotion love. Real life has mirrored this fictional path, and high divorce rates and broken lives have resulted.

Critics of the genre have called romantic fiction idealistic, unrealistic, and misleading of readers’ viewpoints on courtship, love, and marriage. Are they right? Do some Christian romances’ portrayals of romance, courtship, love, and marriage skew readers’ viewpoints of real life? Does repeated exposure to unrealistic portrayals ingrain fictional expectations in unmarried readers’ minds?

God has gifted us—and charged us—to write Christian Romance, to guide readers in both their Christian lives and their romantic lives. So how can we craft our Christian Romance ministries to guide readers in their romantic lives?
Young Couples
The current real-life trend: finish high school, start college, get married, have kids. The problem here is often age, but perhaps more often the problem is maturity. Despite couples’ levels of maturity, or lack thereof, countless weddings takes place, and kids usually come fast on the heels of “I do.”

Does it occur to young people to wait to marry until they mature, or to first discover who they really are, so that they can discover what they really want in life?

Oftentimes, no.

Does it occur to young people to wait to marry until they first discover what they really want in a spouse, and discover if they want to be married at all?

Oftentimes, no.

Why not? While pondering this mystery, I asked my mom, “Why did you and Dad get married and have kids?” Her expression went blank. Then she answered, “That’s what everyone did. You got married and had kids.” Many young people continue this trend today because they don’t see, hear, and read enough examples to show them there’s another way . . . perhaps even a better way.

One of my lifelong friends (also in her forties) married for the first time two years ago. I have zero doubt that she found the right man, because she took her time searching to be certain she picked the right one. Today, she is a college graduate, and she and her sister are both highly successful in their careers, and both took their time picking good men.
To read more of Tammy's commonsense views, see


Margaret Lepke said...

Now this is what I call very good questions and common sense advice. As a counsellor, I have observed the same follies many times over, together with the disastrous non-happy endings. How often have I wished for mandatory life skills teaching for our young people. I even approached schools, but no one was interested. And even in Christian circles we lack this down to earth relationship advice.
The trend for young Christians at my son's university was to marry very young, almost as though it was an escape from temptation. How does Christian romance fits into this picture? I believe we need less of the Cinderella kind and more realism. God does not always bring 'happy endings', but He will always bring growth and fruit. Thank you for sharing your views, Tammy! A very timely contribution.

Tammy Barley said...

I just now heard that Rita re-posted my posting here. I'm delighted to read your additional piece of wisdom, that God does not always bring 'happy endings', but He will always bring growth and fruit. So true! Thank you for sharing too!

Anonymous said...

Inspirational Christian Romance: "Her Letters from Prison"
I (Heather Heaton) am recommending my new ebook ("Her Letters from Prison") as a motivational resource for reading pleasure, review,and comment. My ebook will validate your inquisitive doubts about what goes on in women’s prisons; it can justify the efforts spent toward ministries to women’s prisons; and it can be an inspirational (tell-it-like-it-is) resource for drug rehab/prevention programs. The book is non-fiction inspirational Christian romance (It is what it is!) with a purpose; and the original letters (to her friend Heath) are included as images for authenticity.

1. Breanna tells the true story of her experiences in prison through her letters to her friend Heath. This is a story of survival and a quest to make a better life. The letters describe the daily shocking events of prison life involving drugs, sex, utter devastation and humiliation, anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happiness and hope.

2. Breanna's "truth" stands still even as the world around her trembles and burns! Bad things do happen to good people; and Breanna is the perfect example of this truth.

3. Breanna's inner strengths and principles eventually win out over the corruption and evil that surrounds her. With God's help, Breanna survives the horrible experiences of prison life and regains her self-confidence and hope for a better life.

4. "Breanna" was an inmate at Tutwiler Women's Prison from 2007 to 2009.

5. "Breanna" benefitted from women's prison ministries and the LIFE Tech-Wetumpka state-funded self-help program.

Heather Heaton

Customer/Reader Review of “Her Letters from Prison”
Heather, ever since you first contacted me about your ebooks (and when I received them) I have been giving them traction. At least two women on my case load checked them out, (like a library card so I would get them back) and were very moved by the content. I haven’t had another problem with their behavior since they read them. So…I know they are working. They should be required reading, ordered by a Judge before women are sentenced to probation, so that they would fully understand the consequences of their behavior.
Gary Parsons
Parole Officer
State of Alabama – Board of Pardons & Parole