Romance novels have always been extremely popular, especially with women. In fact, romance novels have been labeled by some as “pornography for women.” Not all romance novels contain sex scenes and/or sexual innuendo, but more and more today, that is a component of them. Should a Christian read romance novels? This is a difficult question to answer because not all romance novels are the same. But the Bible has principles upon which to base our decisions in this, and all of life’s, questionable areas.
First is Paul’s admonition to believers in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” If the romance novel contains anything that is not honorable, pure, lovely or not worthy of praise, then we are not to “dwell on” them. Some people can read or watch or listen to things and forget them immediately afterward. Most people, however, are affected, some very deeply, by the things they take into their minds via the different media. If the elements of romance novels do not contain the things contained in Philippians passage, then they fall into the category of what we are not to dwell upon. A good test is whether we could honestly say we could read from the novel out loud to Jesus and feel comfortable in doing so.
There are many Christian romance novels that offer rich characters and intriguing plots without sex scenes. There are many secular novels from previous eras that do the same thing. Jane Eyre, for instance is a classic romance novel of English literature that not only contains nothing offensive, but its message is entirely in line with Christian principles. Many such books exist.
Another biblical principle to be considered is the need to protect our eyes, ears and heart. It is very important to not let novels, movies, or TV shows influence our perception of what is real. Many people watch TV or read books and think they portray the way real life is supposed to be. They then become disillusioned with their own lives and become frustrated that they don’t line up “life” as portrayed in the books or movies.
As in all things, wisdom is available from God who promises to give it without finding fault (James 1:5). If we pray and ask God to convict us of things that may be questionable, His Spirit speaks to our hearts as we yield to Him for guidance.
 Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.