omance novels aren't usually the subject of sermons, but they were on the 17th of June 2007 at the Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst. In the past I've posted about the theme of sin and redemption in the romance genre, and in that post I included a comment by Rev. Melinda. Now Melinda's posted a sermon in which she says that
romance novels, like so much other human art and expression—and indeed, like so much of our spiritual writing and faith life--and like our Bible passage for today, come to that—these novels deal with eternal and essential questions like “What is love? Do you love me? Do you know me? Am I worthy? Am I lovable? And how can I best reveal and express my love?”I'd encourage you to go and read the whole of the sermon, but I'm going to quote from some of the passages in which she examines three common romance plots in order to discover what their underlying spiritual message. The first plot concerns the
powerful, handsome, wealthy Duke [who] falls in love with the mousy, intellectual, poverty-stricken, unsuitable governess—and sometimes she’s even in disguise—a woman no one else notices or thinks attractive. He sees her, though; he looks past the surface, sees through her disguise, thinks she is beautiful, and falls in love with the woman she really is.The second is about
I think this plot speaks to our overwhelming need to be seen for who we really are and loved anyway—even if we believe that “real, revealed self” is unworthy, or inadequate, or unlovable.
the wild, frightening, tortured hero with dark secrets [who] meets a young sweet innocent woman who, against all reason, trusts him and believes in him. He saves her from disaster, and in turn he is changed and saved by her love.and finally
Doesn’t this speak to us of our abiding hope that that that no matter what our dark secrets, sins or deficiencies, we can be loved enough to be forgiven, redeemed and saved?
In a marriage of convenience, the hero and heroine are forced to marry, usually at least one of them reluctantly and grudgingly. Along the course of the novel they encounter adventures, disasters, trials, and situations that require them to help, care, and support one another. Strangely enough they fall in love by the end of the book. Maybe because they’ve learned how to do loving things, and in the doing of love they’ve learned to embrace one another in love. [...] Love is not only a feeling. Love is a doing. Love isn’t something that happens to you. Love is something you do for others. It’s an active pursuit, a work of faith. And it’s revealed in your acts of service, your acts of kindness, your acts of mercy, your care for those around you who are in need.
The initial letter 'R' is an illumination in the Winchester Bible (1160-75), from the Web Gallery of Art. I hope it's alright for me to use the image, as it's for an educational purpose, this being an academic blog.