Monday, April 1, 2013

have romeo & juliet been lying to us?

A bit hesitant about putting this up, but here goes.... :P

A bit of background on me since I do not share too much of myself on my blog, but I think by sharing this you will see why I feel so strongly about this issue. Hear me out before you write me off :) Before I got married, I dated, a lot. Many men in my life & sometimes I wouldn't even know who was picking me up for the next date, I couldn't keep it straight. Id get a phone call & wonder who was on the other end, & then when I opened the door I would remember who I said yes to. That's all Ill say :) I hate that part of my life & I regret it immensely. Thankfully, I have a God who forgives & restores. He is a God of restoration! He took a weak vessel & molded it into an unmoving, unwavering one, therefor I am beyond thankful for the trials of the past. With all that said here is where I am going with this....

My hope when our daughters were very young as I have mentioned before, was not to live in a fairy tale or have false ideas of what romance really is. Our goal was to raise level headed, realistic souls. My husband, Dave & I decided that we would keep our young daughters away from "christian" romance novels & from false romance viewing. Sounds crazy? Maybe. However, it was one of our biggest conquests & I'd have to say that today we see that the Lord has honored it.

Now, I don't think that watching a chick-flick will make you all sappy & love-sick over every man you meet, nor will it scar you for life. Our 2 oldest daughters are romantically inclined in every sense of the word, they see romance in everything, thankfully in a healthy way & are able to handle these things now & laugh at the romance or just think of it as sweet & precious & endearing. But, when they were younger, we kept them away from it so that they wouldn't get a distorted view of the men portrayed as gallant  & debonair ~ sweeping women off their feet & then of course living happily ever after. (not that it cant happen, but its not real life, just sayin')

Nothing is wrong with looking to these fake men as just a noble character of a book or movie, but there is a lot wrong with it when a girl begins to compare these images with real men that come their way. Its not fair to the guys & its unrealistic. period. the end. How unfair to any guy that approaches you. Spare him & be upfront right away that he will not do.

So, you meet some guy & he's not Mr. Darcy, now what? Will he do? Will he be able to live up to the standards you hold him to? Lord help us! Mr. Darcy has permeated the lives of home schooled girls all over the place. We have run into this over & over again; Pinterest & the blogging world is thick with it. But you say, there's nothing wrong with this! Think about it..... he or any other fantasy you have is not real. You want to scare guys away? Then pin him to death & blog about him to death & if a guy who is interested in you sees how unrealistic you really are, he may never call on you. Which brings me to Mr. Thornton..... um.... ok. This guy is huge in our house, like majestic! :P He is very different than Mr. Darcy, but its still the same idea. However, I have older daughters that can leave it there & not compare real, live men they know to any pretend character. They can joke about it & move on. I'm good with this. They are adults & can be realistic about it, but I wont involve my younger daughters in affairs to which my older ones can manage.

I guess my issue here is, what about the older women who are fainting, fantasizing & falling over these fictional characters? My age group has lost all decency. Women in their 40's have fallen into the same trap. Again, not talking about a decent Christian lady who can handle it, its the ones that do not have self control that are in it deeply. I have come across many, this is why this issue is so dear to me.

Not saying that my family has  it all together, because we do not, at all. I am saying though, our efforts in keeping our daughters real has proven the test of time for our family. They have been taught to really appreciate the young men they have met along the way. The comparison game doesn't happen.

Also to clarify, not every girl out there has this problem, but if you are a huge romantic & passionate about life & people like my daughters, it could lead to a false idea of how to view men, men of God that is. There is no comparison whatsoever with a fictional character & a true man of God. The man of God wins hands down. Now thats romance! Makes Mr. Darcy & Mr. Thornton & whoever else look like meatloaf :P  Is there anything wrong with reading a clean romance novel (& I mean it when I say CLEAN) Nope, or watch a clean chick-flick? Nope. Romance is beautiful! Again, perspective is the key. If you can watch & read this sort of stuff & can handle it maturely, why not?

Again, not pointing fingers here, just putting it out there & trying to keep it a good perspective. Its a bit scary out there. As young ladies wait for the Lord to move, I see many fantasizing about nothing. Stop the comparison game, there is no comparison. There is no Mr. Darcy.

So, maybe the article below may seem over the top for you, I don't know, but its worth reading & gleaning from  anyway. :)

Have Romeo and Juliet Been Lying to Us?

Erin Davis

What gal doesn't love a sappy chick flick? My personal favorite is The Princess Bride. But most importantly, that movie is thick with the theme of romance. Buttercup and Wesley fall in love, fight outrageous obstacles to be together, and eventually ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Sigh. 

I've seen that movie at least a bazillion times, but it still stirs something in me. I cry at the same scenes and laugh at the same lines every time I watch it. Like many chick flicks, The Princess Bride has a strange way of tapping in to my emotions. 

But do chick flicks have a hidden danger? 

I'm beginning to think so. 

What I like about this article is that it reads like a conversation between friends. Beth isn't dropping the hammer on chick flick lovers without compassion or biblical Truth. But she does point to an important truth; "chick flicks" and "chick-lit" (literature) can be the source of some serious lies: 

"Let me start with a somewhat provocative, but reasonable comparison. Among thoughtful Christians, one will hear significant concern for how the culture of pornography harmfully affects men by distorting their view of sex and women.... I'd like to suggest that culture attacks women similarly—it is just a bit more subtle. The lies told to women are introduced at the level of women's emotions (less harmful, right?), in how they dream about men, and in what they long for relationally. Like pornography, chick-flicks take a good gift from God (romance, relational intimacy) that women are created to desire, and distort it by presenting as 'normal' an unbiblical and unrealistic picture of men, love and marriage. And just like men who buy into the lies of pornography, women who believe that their husbands and marriages should always be like what they see on the screen will be sinfully dissatisfied with God's good gift to them of a "normal" husband and marriage.

"Obviously, the analogy is not perfect. Unlike pornography, it is possible to engage in watching 'chick flicks' and have it be a sin-free activity. With pornography, the very act of viewing it is always harmful and always a sin. However, before you assume you are able to watch chick-flicks and read romance novels without harmful effects to your expectations for men and marriage, consider the following lies often propagated by these movies, and think about them in comparison to what Scripture teaches." 
This seems like a pretty compelling argument for us to at least consider the potential impact of our favorite romantic plot lines. I'm certainly guilty of engaging in a post-flick fantasy or two, and I'm sure that my ideas about marriage and romance have been largely influenced by what I've seen on the big and small screen. Is it possible that Wesley and Buttercup, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Romeo and Juliet, and Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler have been lying to me all these years? 

Beth points out three powerful lies she believes are communicated to and believed by women through the chick flick and chick-lit genre. They include:

Lie #1: Men think of romance and relational intimacy exactly like women do! 

Lie #2: If I marry the right man, all will be right in my life. 
Lie #3: I will know that a man is right for me by the feelings I get when I am with him.

Double gulp! Girls, I think she's on to something. 

I'm wondering what you think. Do chick flicks pump lies into our hearts and minds? Have you experienced consequences as a result of watching chick flicks or reading chick lit? Do the ideal images of love and romance we see over and over in movies impact our perceptions of love and romance? Why do they effect our emotions so effectively? 


  1. Great post! I have often thought of the similarity and comparison of chick-flicks and chick-lit to pornography. Both have and do have the effect of distorting the idea of real love and gets men and women focused on the imaginary and immediate gratification.

  2. Thanks for posting this Patrizia. My mom, sister and I swore off of romance novels years ago. I do enjoy a couple of Jane Austin's books from time to time, but somehow I still see some real human weaknesses in her main characters (as opposed to unrealistic, imaginary strengths) that seem to keep it more real to me (and sin is called sin). But, I purposed not to watch the Pride and Prejudice BBC mini-series again for this simple reason - I was concerned and disturbed about the feelings that it brought up in me, feelings that I feel should be for my husband alone. This, ultimately, was the reason we stopped reading the romance novels to begin with. Even before I was married I had two friends tell me they had also quit because they felt in reading them that they were being unfaithful to their own husbands.

    I know some ladies/girls will not agree with this, but I think it's a point of honesty to really examine our hearts and minds to see what affect they really are having on us. Let's not make excuses for fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Maybe some ladies are not cursed/blessed with an active imagination. Perhaps that makes some difference? But, what we allow in through the eyes will and does affect our thinking and our actions. Matthew 6:22-23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

    I had a grandmother who was *addicted* to romance novels. She read a wide variety of "clean" novels - both Christian and secular (those cheap, non-explicit types). She suffered at the end of her life from unrealistic ideals. We believe those books led her to look for a "happy ending" in situations that couldn't have happy endings. Also, my grandfather seemed to feel like he wasn't quite good enough for her - she had to have her romances. It was very sad.

    My own father told my mom that when *she* read romance novels it made him feel like he wasn't enough for her, that he didn't satisfy her. To me that doesn't seem that different from how a wife would feel when her husband is viewing pornography.

    A friend of mine wrote two blog posts last year on the subject of "Mummy porn". ( Pornographic book sales for women are growing by leaps and bounds thanks to e-readers. What has brought such a large sector of the female population to the point of reading porn? It was not good, wholesome books and keeping their minds and hearts pure, that's for sure! Bad reading material and movies not only leads to unrealistic expectations in relationships, it *can* also lead to a craving for stronger material to satisfy the desire. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not...

  3. Thank you so much for pushing the publish button on this! I have been struggling with this very issue of comparing real life guys to movie guys for ages. Its really not good! I have realized I need to stop watching all the BBC mini series I watch all the time. Lots of the characters in them have sexual intercourse and yeah its not Biblical at all. Thanks for speaking up! This post helped me to realize I need to cut off those movies for good since they were making me discontent and wanting a boyfriend. Just being honest here.

    God bless,

    1. Thanks for being honest, Rebecca. I've been in a similar situation and can relate to your struggle. May God grant you the grace to value godly, real life guys for their true worth. :-) Paul said he *learned* to be content, Php. 4:11. I think sometimes we fail to realize that contentment is something we have to learn and learning takes work. 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

  4. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..........................


    Touchy subject here. ;) I'm torn. I agree with the idea you're saying, but I reaaaaaaally dislike comparing romance novels/movies to porn. No comparison.

    I do have an issue with people that ridiculously compare all men to Mr. Darcy (but why would they want Mr. Darcy when they could have Mr. Thornton?! I ask you!). But as you said, I don't have an issue with admiring good traits in them such as chivalry, honesty, compassion, honor, etc. I mean, we should want that in a guy, right?

    I also think that guys should be more responsible in this area - and I'm talking now more about married women here. Women get blamed because they become "discontent" with their life after seeing these. Mayyyyybe it's because their emotional needs are not being met by their husbands? (Look at their marriages and 95% of the time that's true). Just as more women meeting their husband's physical needs would (it's been proven) cut down on the porn epidemic, if a husband were to really respond to his wife and see those emotional needs that are not being met, contentment would not be an issue. My mom and I are rabid about romance films and I love a good novel, and neither of us has ever struggled with this issue, because my dad has always been good with meeting those emotional needs (in an appropriate way in my case, of course). My dad brings my mom and I flowers and gives my mom gorgeous romantic cards for Valentines and birthdays and just-because. And it's something my mother has trained in my brothers - the art of romance and treating a girl the way she "needs". They've seen these romance stories and we've taught them what girls like and what speaks to their heart - and we see success now with my brother's girlfriend, who is constantly astounded at how sweet and romantic my brother is, totally unlike all the other guys she knows. Mission accomplished! :)

    I feel like romance is getting a really bad rap in this homeschool culture of "character always first...compatability always first...spirituality always first...and romance is worldly and a sin." It's a completely essential part of relationships. It's a beautiful, wonderful, completely amazing thing (I know you've said this, so I'm not trying to imply that you didn't. :)). I don't think that I am being unrealistic to hope and wait for a romance like I see in the films and like the one my parents have.

    I won't even go into the whole point that these are FICTION and should be taken with a grain of salt. If a person can't discern fiction then yes, they probably shouldn't read it. :) AND we are careful with our younger girls about the exposure to romance, so agree there! :)

    If people struggle with this, then yes, by all means, cut it out. But please, let's not slap a label of "this is sin for me, therefore it is sin for everyone". Really bad habit, not good at all. :)

    (Also...most recent films don't imply at all that guys emotionally understand girls. most recent films are all about the differences and how they have to overcome them. Because my brothers see them and they totally agree with everything the guys are saying/thinking/reacting. Or maybe I just have weird brothers. :D)

    Hope this wasn't a pointless tangent. This issue is a MAJOR hot topic for me. Something I'm very passionate about, no pun intended. ;)

    1. Excellent and very thought provoking comment as usual Alexandra (even if I don't totally agree with it all). :)

    2. Alexandra, why do you think that comparing romance novels/movies to porn is not a good comparison?

    3. Joshua - thanks! I think my biggest issue with comparing it to porn is that I think that the technique of comparing something innocent like romance movies/novels to porn, which is a blatant sin, can be used as a manipulation tool by people, just like they use the argument that "well, you don't want to shack up with twenty people in a week by dating, do you? Then follow our twenty-step-betrothal/courtship process!" It's manipulating people's minds by attaching what can be an innocent thing to huge moral issues when there's so much grey area in between. Not all dating is shacking up with twenty people in a week, and not all romance movies/novels "distort (romance) by presenting as 'normal' an unbiblical and unrealistic picture of men, love and marriage." Maybe we're tacking the "unrealistic expectations" label onto the idea of love and marriage because *we're* the ones who have set the bar so low by our ranting that you choose who you love, the "spark" isn't all that matters, etc. Yes, that's all true, but the idea of a marriage based on a passionate love such as we see in Song of is that unrealistic? IT'S IN THE BIBLE, people. Even those of us who don't believe in an arranged marriage/betrothal set-up can begin to believe the idea that the idea of romance is somehow worldly (and I hate how flippantly people like to tack "worldly" onto things and issues that they don't want to face!).

      Okay, example. I've read seven or eight different posts on this subject that condemn the idea of "you complete me". And yet in the Bible it says that God made marriage because it wasn't good for us to be alone - we were incomplete. Two become one flesh. Marriage is a picture of our being completed in Christ through salvation. True, Christ should be the ultimate completer, but on this earth, in our earthly relationships, the relationship between husband and wife should be to complete each other.

      Where are we basing our standards of what is unrealistic? On the UnMarried page today someone pointed out that no woman will ever fit the Proverbs 31 model. And yet she is held up in the Bible as the ideal woman. THE BIBLE lists "ideals" that a woman should be? Oops. The Bible talks about what a godly man should be as well - chivalrous, honorable, self-sacrificing, etc., which are all characteristics of the average romantic hero. Song of Solomon talks about an all-consuming love, being *ravished* with their love, and talks about the physical desire (though not acted upon) between the lovers BEFORE their marriage in chapter three. Love isn't just about character or choices, it's also sexual desire? Before marriage? GASP. ;) Sounds like a love that rivals the most passionate romance story out there. In fact NOWHERE in Song of Solomon does it EVER talk about their lover's character or spiritual state. NOT that that all doesn't matter, but let's not downplay the role passion has in the romantic relationship - during the falling-in-love process. "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man were to give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." That's not Shakespeare or a line from fill-in-the-blank famous romance film - that's THE BIBLE. So I see nothing wrong with desiring such a relationship. Long winded and a bit rabbit-trail-y, but my views.

    4. Again lots of good points! I agree romance should be a part of love and marriage and along with spiritual and character maturity. :) A verse that has also always stood out to me in Song of Solomon is Song of Solomon 8:4
      "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love, until it pleases." Which I think often reading romance books and watching romance movies can do. My point in seeing how the similarity between romance movies/novels to porn is that they both can be a way to meet a person's desires that should only be met in marriage. I agree that the comparison can be used for extreme views like you have laid out above and that is not right. Furthermore the similarity is clear to me because I believe in general guys are created by God to be more stimulated visually and women are usually stimulated more relationally, both of which are exploited and can become sin via porn and romance books and movies.

    5. To further clarify, not I don't believe clean romance novels/movies are a not at all an equal one to one comparison with porn. It comes down the person's heart and mindset though a person can view a romance movie and it be just as much a sin a viewing porn, that is what I believe point the article was making and I agree with.

  5. Good thoughts/comments! This really is a big topic, with a lot of different viewpoints.

    Basically, I think it really comes down to what we as girls can "handle" without falling into sin. Are the books we're reading or the movies we're watching making us discontent with the guys around us, our husbands ( if we're married), unhappy, having unrealistic thoughts about how romantic a guy should be?
    If so, that is when we should prayerfully evaluate our lives, which may mean giving up some ( or all) of those things.
    Not all romance is bad, not by a long shot! It's only when it causes us to be discontent, or draw farther from God ( who should be our first love) that it becomes a problem. Girls vary in their degrees of romance, and I think this can be a deciding factor. Some can "handle" more than others can without becoming unrealistic or unhappy with their circumstances. So what it comes down to is this: if the movies you're watching, or the books you're reading are causing unholy thoughts, unhealthy ideals or discontentment in the guys around you, you need to make some changes. If you can watch those movies, glean the good from them and discard the bad ( or be able to figure out what is realistic, what is not), then good for you!
    I have not read or watched any "new" romance movies, so I really do not know what they are like. I have watched my fair share of BBC/Jane Austen movies, and for the most part they portray a romance that is clean and fairly realistic ( again, this varies from movie to movie, some are more than others). And I agree with Alexandra's comment about her and her mom's emotional needs being met in appropriate ways by their dad/husband, and teaching those things to their sons. I do think that some women tend towards romance books because something is lacking in their lives, an emotional need that isn't being met. I guess I would just say that while romance isn't wrong, (it's in the Bible! It's good!), it's just good to be discerning and open about how they are making us feel, and if we find ourselves thinking or feeling in a wrong way, then we need to reevalute our motive or desire to be reading/watching those types of things. I hope that all made sense! =)

  6. I love this and completely agree...I have heard girls in relationships say "I want him to be like Mr Darcy"...very dangerous to both parties....As mom to 5 girls, we have to walk a fine line with them to distinguish between a chilverous and honorable romance character and an chilverous and honorable man seeking after God. there are big differences that seem to get blurred when young christian woman for into the romance pit.
    Thanks for sharing :)