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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

by Nicole Petrino-Salter

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.

Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. She lives and writes just south of Seattle. Most days you can find her here or in la la land. Raw Romantic Redemptive


  1. I understand the conflict when writing a love scene. I have a story that has 2 of the characters getting married, and describes their wedding night in rather great detail. But it is written from the perspective of 2 Christian people who had waited to find the right life partner, and together celebrate their first sexual encounter.
    The story is unpublished so far, and I have considered removing that one page, but finally decided to leave it. There is little that is more beautiful than sex in a valid marital relationship.
    All of my writing is 'clean', meaning no profanity or sex just for the sake of sex. It simply serves no purpose.
    My goal is to make my writing readable by anyone.

  2. Personally speaking, I find it important to show the beauty as you described it, to take away the vulgarity and commonplace smut written in secular novels. There's a limit of course. Francine Rivers handled a wedding night scene in Bridge to Haven with class and dignity. I'll bet you did the same, Danlen.

    Although I applaud your goal, my novels aren't written for "anyone" because of the stark contrasts in them. Although there are no graphic sex scenes, the sexual concepts of the world are shown.

    Thank you for your comment, Danlen.

  3. That's a perfect perspective, thank you! And something I will tuck away to remember when I stumble across content that bothers me. It applies to other areas of fiction, too - fantasy, darker specfic, etc.

  4. Thank you, LadySaotome. It does apply to other areas of fiction - you're right about that. We can determine our preferences and stay away from those we don't like or that which makes us uncomfortable. But assuming because something "offends" us it's wrong or that the author is a questionable/suspect Christian? Unfair and unreasonable.


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