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When Christian Fiction Is Ungodly

by Kellyn Roth |
September 12, 2017

Note: this post is kinda along the lines of a Reading Rant, but not exactly.

When Christian Fiction is Ungodly

When you saw “graphic” and “Christian fiction” in the same title, you probably either laughed or winced. The ones who winced have actually read Christian fiction.
Seriously, though, ladies and gents, you know I hate writing negative reviews … especially negative reviews based on content. You see, I feel unfair giving a book a bad review just ’cause it was worldly.
I mean, seriously. Can I really expect non-Christian authors to write clean books?
However, when it’s a Christian fiction book, I get quite angry. I huff and I puff. Christians should abide by God’s rules for the things we think on (whatsoever things are good, pure, noble, just, lovely, and of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy), and when they don’t, it upsets me.

I’m sorry, but that’s the way I feel, and whoever thinks otherwise … well, come on, peoples, how can you! God said to keep your mind off those things. I’m not saying don’t be knowledgeable about the sins of the world; I’m saying don’t obsess over it. Don’t be graphic.
The truth is, I love books with the tough subjects … if done well. Incredibly sticky things – rape, adultery, etc. – can be portrayed in a Christlike manner without undue details. And a Christlike portrayal is a beautiful thing.
But when we get the gory details …? Oh, let’s not even go there.

In the following book, there was graphicness that just wasn’t necessary AND it was appropriate for any audiences under 18 (which was so disappointing considering the genre, Christian Historical Romance). (This is my way of reviewing it and making my ranting about the content purposeful.)

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter


Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. Even with the pressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He’s free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn’t know, his dream of a marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever. 

Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent’s relationship survive the pressures of London society?

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

For 18+ only, y’all, seriously!

1.5 stars

Having worshipped the ground books 1 and 2 walked on, I was deeply disappointed to find this amount of sexual content in a Christian fiction book.
When I first read that it was an arranged marriage book, my warning lights went off … but I decided to read it. Books 1 and 2 were amazing; the author had written sweet, Christian romances with adorable characters, and I longed to see Trent’s story. I trusted Hunter. I really did.
Then … disaster struck.
As my fellow reviewer Hannah said, it was, in a word, “awkward” and could easily be classified as a steamy romance in my book (of … definitions of what makes a steamy romance … I guess …). It reads like a secular romance, and the plot wasn’t well-conceived at all. I won’t talk about the plot defects, though; other reviewers have in detail, I’m sure. I’ll just talk about the content because that’s what most concerns me and this post.
At first, Trent and Adelaide didn’t sleep together, as always happens in arranged marriage romances for some reason (can you say unrealistic? It’s the early 1800s; stop acting like marrying without love was uncommon!), and of course they think about this and are awkward all. the. time.
This was almost enough to make me put the book down, but I hoped they’d get past this and build a real relationship based on something more than mutual awkwardness. I’d seen it happen in a couple arranged marriage books before.
They never did.
When they finally do sleep together, we pretty much know every detail. No, Hunter didn’t give us the actual “scene” … but there were passionate kisses (including tongues and all that stuff that NO. I DO NOT WANT TO READ AT ALL EWWW) and undressing. It was incredibly uncomfortable and just disgusting. It wasn’t that it was wrong; they were married after all. It was just that I never want to read about that. At all. Ever. *shivers* (I would probably literally die if I had to read an actual scene.)
Later on, we hear that Trent enjoyed it; Adelaide did not. OH. MY. WORD. May I shoot myself repeatedly in the head? What part of the brain stores memories of books read? Take that part out!
That alone in my eyes makes it a very “steamy” romance, especially as it was Christian fiction.
This was pretty awful in and of itself. However, then for 100 pages or so afterwards, Trent reflects on this night (as it was apparently an epic fail? WHY WHY WHY?! WHAT PART OF PRIVATE RELATIONSHIP DIDN’T YOU UNDERSTAND BUDDY?!), talks to his friends about this night (including asking their advice) and on and on and on about how worried he is about this, etc. He even reflects that sex is painful for women at one point! I. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. THIS.
For the content alone, the book was getting two stars. Because of it being a bad book to top it all off, with a plot full of holes and characters who weren’t likable, it gets 1.5. The .5 is because I love the Hawthornes.
I just don’t know how this could have happened. Never has a book disappointed me in such a big way. I’m sorry, but I can’t sit still and shut up. I’m too mad. This was wrong. Market it as secular fiction. I don’t care. Just don’t hand me a book and say “to God be the glory” and then write that kind of thing in it.

As you can see, I have a very low opinion of books that give details about sexual relationships. That isn’t the only content problem that’s bothering Christian fiction readers, but it’s high on the list.
(No, there’s not an actual list. There should be, but there isn’t.)
The truth is …
Any subject can be dealt with in a godly manner.
After all, God never hesitated to talk about sins of all types in the Bible. Can we do any less in our books (whilst being careful of our audience, of course)? However, you’ll notice that God treats sin in a certain way. What is that way?
The answer is … He gives you only the details you need to understand the situation.
Why can’t we do the same? Not necessarily to the same extent – the Bible just states the facts and moves on, as it’s not a fiction story and therefore doesn’t go into emotions, thoughts, or other details about its real life characters.
But … can’t we Christian fiction authors be Christlike in our fiction?

~Kellyn Roth~

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What are your thoughts on this difficult subject? What books have disappointed you because of content (if any)? What makes you stop reading a book?

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23 Responses

  1. I am with you 110%! Not too long ago I was asked to do a review swap with another Christian author. The book did not go into graphic detail, but it gave enough detail to put some images in my mind that should not have been there. I told the author so and included such information in my review – although trying to do so in as gentle of a manner as possible. Later, I saw where another reader posted a comment on one of the other books in her series that was much more harsh than my review was. The author then went and posted on her Facebook page that she had researched the lady who left such a negative review and basically criticized the lady for being a baptist and said that most baptists are too conservative. You can see the review of the book I left here – https://montanapreacher.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/book-review-the-english-proposal-christian-victorian-era-historical/

    1. Goodness! I’m Baptist! Well, kinda, haha … we’re traditionally Baptist in our family, but we just call ourselves plain “Christians.”
      The fact that the author did that is pretty telling.

  2. …hm, for some reason that posted spontaneously!!
    Totally agree with your take on this and I’m grieved that less people are sensitive to it. This book makes me cringe…just so awkward. Besides, for the time period, a love match wasn’t expected anyway….

  3. Aw, man! While I’m disappointed that you were roped into a story like this, I thank you for your way of handling it. It’d be too easy to just slip the book under the coverlet and forget you ever read it… thank you for being upfront about it all. Definitely something I want to follow when this situation happens to me (and I know it will!).
    Commenting as part of my challenge: rebekahdevall.wordpress.com/challenge/ BUT I’m so glad I found this, challenge or not.

    1. Thanks, Rebekah! It’s good to see this comment … I got a lot of people angry at me for reviewing this book badly because of the content. *gasp* How could I?! Oh, well. If you’re gonna speak the truth, you’re going to get some flack. 🙂

      1. True that.
        But in the end, isn’t that what we authors want? Honest reviews?
        And if books 1-2 led you to expect one thing, and then the third threw something conpletely different (and like THIS!) on your lap, you’re perfectly right to review it as you did. It’s no different than say, a historical author who throws magic in halfway through a series.

  4. This is a really great point! I think the root of the problem is when Christians (Christian authors, in this case, but really any Christian) tries to be friends with God and friends with the world all at once and the result is compromised. Compromise and a bad (inaccurate) Name for God. :/ Jesus himself said: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
    I think what He said is pretty clear. How could it be interpreted other than that we can’t always please and get along with “the world.” But I think that in the name of “reaching out to them” or perhaps just plain being liked by them, we have this tendency to alter our words and actions to give a more palatable impression. I don’t think we’re doing God any favor. There has to be a better meaning to “outreach.”
    Thanks for sharing!

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