This is probably going to sound a bit extreme. It is certainly up to you what you do with this area of your life. I am not saying you must do what I do.
But I am saying – this is something to think about and pray about.
“Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.” I Corinthians 6:12
I, personally, gave up romantic movies, romantic novels and love songs.
WHY, you ask?
There is not necessarily anything wrong with some of these types of media…
I ended up feeling deprived, resentful and/or jealous of the emotions the character gets to feel and the romance she has in these books and movies… I started creating expectations that my real life man would treat me like the men in books, movies and songs do … then I got myself into trouble.
- This can be an issue for me even with Christian novels that are rated G.
- It can be a problem with Disney movies.
- It can even be an issue if I am reading marriage books about what husbands are “supposed” to do, or listening to sermons about how husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her. In fact, I do better kind of skipping over the commands for husbands even in the Bible and just focusing on what God asks me to do.
Focusing on what I want my husband to do differently and how I want him to change can easily create great discontentment in my heart. I do much better to focus on the good things in him and to joyfully accept what he offers me and who he is right now, today. I also do much better just to focus on MY roles in marriage, not his, and focusing on my sin and my obedience to God, not his.
I try to remember that
“Expectations are premeditated resentment.”
SO MANY OF US EXPECT REAL LIFE MEN TO THINK, FEEL and TALK LIKE THE ROMANTIC LEAD IN THE MOVIES OR IN NOVELS –
but these books and movies create an artificial reality – a fantasy.
In fact, some people would go so far as to say that romantic movies/books are “emotional porn” for women.
And then, if you start getting into erotica – well – then you are dealing with lust. That is sin. Pure and simple. It contaminates your mind, hurts your fellowship with God and distorts your expectations of what sex and intimacy should be like in marriage.
WHY? ISN’T THAT A BIT HARSH?
PORN AND MEN
Well, porn teaches men to expect things of women physically, sexually and emotionally that are not real – that don’t represent actual women. In fact, the more deeply a man goes into porn, the less satisfied he becomes with his real flesh and blood wife. It can actually get to the point where a man cannot be aroused by his own wife, or any real woman – but only by increasingly hard core levels of porn. Porn destroys marriages.
It sets up unrealistic expectations and delivers an ungodly outlet for sexuality.
It works like a drug, giving the user a huge hit of dopamine exactly like illicit drugs do. Porn takes a man’s eyes and then it takes his heart. He actually bonds with it instead of his wife. It can be pretty difficult for a wife to respect a husband when he withholds himself from her in order to give himself to images of other women. THAT HURTS DEEPLY. Wives are understandably left with huge amounts of disrespect, resentment and bitterness. That bitterness/resentment also destroys marriages.
Romantic movies and books teach women to expect men to be something emotionally, verbally and romantically that doesn’t represent real men accurately. These things set up false expectations and contribute greatly to covetousness, discontentment, lack of gratitude and ultimately – to disrespect for our men. Women also have a cocktail of “feel good” hormones that surge when we read about romance or watch something romantic.
We can become so in love with the idea of “Hollywood romance” in a world of fantasy that we can’t be satisfied by real romance in real life with a real man.
The other important issue to consider here is that these types of media promote worldliness and the pleasures of the flesh, not to mention they often depict and promote sin (depending on the particular book/movie). As disciples of Christ, we are no longer friends with the world, but friends with God. We are not to be polluted by the world anymore, but to have our eyes on things above.
HERE IS HOW ONE WIFE PUT IT:
I think this is a far bigger problem than is acknowledged. It is extremely important for women to guard their ability to be satisfied, to be pleased with what they have. Romance novels feed desires that have no outlet in real life. I avoid them for this reason.
In marriage, a wife must learn to feed her gratitude, not her lust.
All romance should be owned by her husband, no matter how romantic he may or may not be. Otherwise you are cultivating a taste for other men (real or imagined).
Women complain all of the time about the way porn creates expectations for women that are unreasonable.
Romance novels and movies train a woman’s mind to want a dominant man who can magically guess what will please her and lead her to it before she has to say anything- and he is a top man, wealthy, handsome and he chose her! This is not the way it works in a Christian marriage. This is not the way it works in real life. This does not help Christian women properly value their husbands and the sacrifice and love that they show their wives and families.
Marriage is great at putting things in their proper place. A man gets sex from his one source, not from a constant flow of variety. Women get romance and leadership from one man, but it may not be exactly the way she wants it all of the time. She may actually just get the bare minimum in terms of dominance and romance and that is actually okay- if she can learn to be happy with that.
Romance novels are a way that a woman can be manipulated into feeling her leadership is necessary because if her husband was good at it, like the men in books are, he would be making her feel the way that the men in the books do. Of course this mainly operates at a subconscious level… but when you have weaned yourself from any artificial source of romance, it becomes clearer to you how it massively manipulates your romantic desires.
Supersizing of desire is a real problem.
Many times, romantic movies/books help women create an idol of “feeling loved” or “feeling in love” that becomes the standard by which she measures men.
Feeling loved and being “in love” are awesome. But when they become your entire goal – or these things become more important to you than the man you love, or more important than knowing and pleasing Christ – that is a HUGE problem.
If I think, “I MUST feel loved in this certain way or I cannot be happy and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get what I want…” That is a BIG problem!
True contentment can be found only in Christ Jesus alone. If I think I need something other than Him to be content – I need to allow God to search my heart. There is very likely sin going on.
For me, anything that contributes to a spirit of discontentment, self-righteousness, pride, jealousy or unrealistic expectations has to go. I don’t need help stumbling into sin! I am perfectly capable of doing that on my own without any assistance.
Now, if I do happen to see a Disney movie or something, I am able to filter it and dissect the messages it is sending. I still have to hear love songs when I work – don’t have a choice about that. But I dissect the messages of those lyrics and compare them to Scripture and God’s truth. I don’t even have a desire to read fiction anymore myself. You know what? I have so many more important things to do in the kingdom of God, so many ways I want to get to know God more intimately and I want to focus my energy on the real life romance I have and being thankful for my own husband – that I just don’t have the time to spend on fiction.
I personally would much rather spend my time in God’s Word, reading the ultimate Love Letter from Him. That is seriously MUCH more exciting than fictional romance to me now!
What about you?
Ask God to help you see your motives when you read and watch these things. Ask Him to purify your heart and expectations to line up with His standards instead of lining up your heart with Hollywood. Ask Him to give you wisdom about if there are things that may need to go from your life so that you can be more prepared to receive real riches and treasures.
If you can watch or read these things and not have any temptations – awesome! But if you do have temptations to sin, then it is time to evaluate if this is a beneficial and God-honoring activity.