I’ve heard that caution must be used when reading or watching romantic stories. The danger, it's said, is that women might begin living vicariously through these stories and, as a result, grow increasingly discontented with their husbands. I never quite understood the concept – until recently.
|Photo courtesy of ITV Studios|
One night I tuned in to PBS’s “Poldark on Masterpiece,” and immediately got sucked into the story, mostly because of the handsome, sardonic, but wounded hero, Ross Poldark (aka Adrian Turner). Suddenly I wished I was 30 years younger and 30 pounds lighter.
|Photo courtesy of BBC|
As the story goes, Captain Ross Poldark returns from fighting the Americans in their rebellion against the Crown (Revolutionary War). Coming home, he finds his father is dead, his home is in a shambles, and the love of his life, Elizabeth, is engaged to his cousin, Francis. The match was made while Ross was overseas. The wedding occurs and Ross struggles to overcome his emotional pain. Then one day, he rescues a girl, Demelza, from her abusive father and he employs her as his “kitchen wench.” Time passes, and in order to keep from returning to her now-religious father who wants her back home, Demelza gives herself to Ross one night when he’s well into his cups. The dynamic changes between the two, so Ross decides to do the right thing marry her, causing quite a social stir. Meanwhile, he’s been trying to reopen his family’s copper mine in order to care for the village citizens who long to provide for their own families. As we last left our hero, he professed his love for his wife, who tells him she’s with child, and the mine strikes copper at long last. Ah, but all is not as well as it seems. There are those who want to see Ross Poldark fail and, thus, gain power of the copper mine and its profits. And so the plot thickens.
What struck me, however, is how the Poldark character intuitively cares for Demelza, seeming to sense her every need and meeting it without her having to ask, nag, or plead. What an amazing guy! What woman wouldn’t want such an attentive husband? The answer is: We all long for those qualities in our men. We want a handsome hunk of man to cherish us – and rescue us from whatever it is we need rescuing.
In short, we need a hero.
And therein lays the danger of reading romance novels and watching romantic or steamy television shows. You see, woman are wired emotionally. Men are not. Men are more logically wired. That’s not to say women aren’t logical; we are! And we want to be taken seriously. But when a romantic story touches our heart in some way, we are whisked away and absorbed into the story.
However, there are ways to approach these stories and still enjoy them. After all, I believe God bestows the gift of fine arts, drawing/sketching, music, writing, acting, to all of us in one form or another.
· Set your mind to think critically as you’re reading or watching a romantic story. Act like a TV critic or a book reviewer.
· Ask yourself (if you’re a Christian) if the story encourages your faith – or does it detract from it? Remember, God is a jealous God. He demands our whole heart. (Exodus 34:14).
· Ask yourself if the story makes you long for Jesus – or does it offer a replacement in the form of a human hero?
· Be honest about your feelings and check them against Philippians 4:8. Does the story bring the truth to light? Is it honest? Is there any virtue in what you’re seeing on TV or reading in a book?
As a writer of Christian and Inspiration romance, I strive to create my characters in all honesty. They are not perfect. I pray my stories encourage believers in their faith journeys. I want my readers to long for Jesus Christ.
Thus television series like Downton Abbey and Poldark on Masterpiece are fine forms of entertainment; however, women must put their hearts and minds on high alert before turning on their televisions. Wishing Ross Poldark would come riding up to your house, swoop you up, and plop you in front of him on his horse, then carry you away is quite unlikely. In fact, I’d wager that you’ve got more of a chance winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning twice before that occurs. Men like Ross Poldark are fictional. Make believe. Pretend.
|Photo courtesy of Divine Revelations|
However, there is a real Man patiently waiting for you in the wings -- he waits for you to call out to him. “Jesus, I need a hero!”