The reason there’s an AND in the title instead of an OR is because the decision a reader makes can be either/or and that decision should be just right for them.
I recently had a conversation with a reader who had chosen a book by a Christian author with whom she was previously familiar. Four pages of that novel (and she didn’t name the author or the book and I didn’t ask) were offensive to her, and she tossed the book. Those four pages began a process of distrust in the objectives of some Christian fiction because they violated her ideals of morality and what was acceptable for her to read. She wondered if the purpose was to gain a PG-13 rating to entice more readers.
I assured her that I knew of no CBA publishers who desired anything above a PG rating for their fiction—at least in the romance genre. Since we had been acquaintances, and I knew her sweet spirit, I was able to share how many of us who write love stories, romance, romantic suspense, and the like, for whatever reason, do not write or prefer the clean and chaste novels because of such things as our life experiences. For us, they present a certain lack of realism and honesty. For her, and those readers like her, particular passages seemed to be included to produce sexual stimulation or temptation. Her motives for rejection of these types of novels were right for her, and I commended her for understanding personal needs and preferences in her chosen literature.
I admit I cannot imagine what novel she read to warrant her concerns, but, perhaps because we had known each other, she began to understand why an author might write differently from what she expected a Christian romance to include. Having read Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, which did not offend her because the sexual incidents were not considered stimulating, she at least conceded she could understand the difficulty of finding the balance for Christian authors.
I was able to help her understand how authors like myself use contrast in the sexual arena to expose the emptiness of the world’s view of romance, love, and sex to the redemptive power of God’s views in these areas. I acknowledge to readers who might construe this objective as potentially stimulating my novels are not for them. However, the personal objective of writing the way I do is to demonstrate how the world deceives and how God exposes His beauty and freedom in experiencing real love as He intended it.
(If you’re interested, this is the blog post which resulted in our private conversation.)
Whatever your preference in any genre, please understand most Christian authors write from the place of God’s directive, seeking to fulfill the purpose the Lord designed for them. If how an author writes offends you, don’t read them. But, please, don’t condemn them. Just because you don’t see the reason for what they do, doesn’t mean it’s not inspired by the One who loves us all.