I Don't Like the Term CLEAN ROMANCE

Clean romance. To people familiar with the romance genre, this term means romance novels without explicit sexual content, including, but not limited to, Christian romance. I write clean Christian romance. But there’s a lot I don’t like about the term.

Clean implies Aseptic and Bland

When I think of clean, I think of bleach and disinfectant and strong soap, washing germs away. To me, this is not a romantic image. Yeah, we already know about my issues with housekeeping. But it’s not just that; clean suggests to me bland lives and bland relationships, without passion. Who wants that? Even though Christian fiction typically closes the bedroom door, that doesn’t mean there’s no passion behind it, as witness the good old Song of Solomon. And the fact that characters in inspirational novels tend to avoid sex outside of marriage doesn’t mean they don’t feel desire. I think the slow build of love relationships in Christian fiction can be tantalizing and very, very sexy. If you don't believe me, wait til Rock and Hope's story comes out on November 15th!

Clean Implies Other Books are Dirty

Although I write books that close the bedroom door, some of my friends write sexy or erotic romance, and that’s fine with me. God created a diverse world full of all kinds of people, and there’s room for all of us to get along and love each other. Moreover, bodies, with all their urges and aches and cravings, are amazing gifts of God. When I hear advocates of clean romance talk disparagingly about all that “other stuff” in mainstream romance, I cringe not only at the prudishness, but at the judgment. Jesus didn’t sneer at prostitutes and adulterers and women who’d been married multiple times (um, like me). Rather, he hung out with them and loved them.

“Clean” Focuses on What’s Not There, Rather Than What Is.

As the mother of a teenage daughter, I think it’s wonderful that some romance novels are clean of sexual content. I’m really glad that’s what I feel called to write. But I write clean Christian romance not so much because of the sex that’s not there, but because of what IS there. My own faith journey has been such a huge part of my life that I can’t write an entire novel without talking about it. And the fact that I married an atheist in my twenties and then an agnostic in my thirties has a lot to do with why I have two failed marriages (my own flaws have a lot to do with the failed marriages, too, for sure). I’m fascinated by relationships that succeed in putting God at the center. It’s exactly what I need to explore and to share.

 Furthermore, when you don’t write page after page of pumping body parts, you have room for more character development. Christian romance used to have a reputation for being namby-pamby, but these days, I see the opposite: characters with class issues, past mistakes, and psychological challenges. My upcoming Love Inspired novel includes poverty, childhood cancer and rape. You can delve into such emotional, even depressing areas in Christian romance because there’s a way out. It takes an amazing God to bring people all the way through life’s challenges and into a Happy Ever After.

Getting to that happy ending isn’t a clean process—life isn’t all that clean, in my experience—but it can be uplifting and a grand lot of fun.

 

clean romanceFor a chance at one of the 100 Christmas Ornaments I’m giving away, plus excerpts and news of my Sacred Bond series of, yes, clean Christian romances, sign up for my newsletter. And visit me on Facebook to join the conversation about clean romance.

Leave a Reply

4 Comments on "I Don’t Like the Term CLEAN ROMANCE"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Kelly Brown
Guest

I have not read any of your books, but will be looking for them now! I am one that enjoys the love and passion! Maybe because that is how my relationship is with my husband of 26 years! That is another reason I love Julie Lessman books, full of passion! Thanks for the article!

Julie Lessman
Guest
LEE SAID: “Even though Christian fiction typically closes the bedroom door, that doesn’t mean there’s no passion behind it, as witness the good old Song of Solomon. And the fact that characters in inspirational novels tend to avoid sex outside of marriage doesn’t mean they don’t feel desire. I think the slow build of love relationships in Christian fiction can be tantalizing and very, very sexy.” AMEN AND AMEN — PREACH IT, GIRL!! Unfortunately, we are in the minority in the market right now, but maybe that will change with authors like you and me, hopefully to broaden the Christian… Read more »
Tianna Holley
Guest

Exactly! Christian people and characters can be very passionate, and it’s unrealistic to always portray them otherwise.

wpDiscuz