Romance Readers

According to the Romance Writers of America organization, 29 million romance novels are sold annually. 90% of the readership is women. Pornography is defined as, “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement” (Webster- Miriam Dictionary). The cover of the novel winning the 2011 RITA “Historical Romance” award is clearly pornographic. The cover displays a woman straddling a well-built man. As far as her face, or his, all the reader sees is the side of her lower cheek and neck and the same of him. His hand is on her thigh. The image is clearly “erotic behavior” and the intention is not to simply display a caring relationship of purity. While I understand that the romance novel genre is varied in the level of explicit material, the common language of this genre includes sexual content.

They know that, that’s not surprising information. Or is it? We have had a women’s accountability group with Running Light for nearly 5 months. The women who attend are awesome and are ready to deal with this hush-hush issue of women lusting and falling into sexual sin. I wanted to take a minute to post some info, because I believe there are some misconceptions about what it means that women lust and even what this group is really about.

In our group we have issues ranging from struggling with watching porn, reading romance novels, wanting male attention and affection and living on purpose to get it, lusting after relationships, online chatting, self-gratification and lustful physical relationships. Since the freedom men have to come out about their addiction to pornography or sexual immorality is fairly recent (and in a silly way ‘expected’) us women are facing a twofold challenge. We are both facing our own fears of being vulnerable with this area of our lives, and we are facing the judgment and misunderstanding from the church. But it’s real and we are willing to be bold enough to live in confession, for it truly our joy to be set free!

At a recent Promise Keepers conference over 50% of the men in attendance admitted to having watched porn in the last week (prior to attending the conference). The statistics on women are a bit fewer and far between but they’re out there. In 2008 a study reported that 30% (or nearly 1 in 3) viewers of online porn were women. If you can handle those facts, then let’s take it one step further and consider this statistic about romance novels. 90% of the 29 million romance novels purchased, are female readers. Those numbers are incredible. Women are lusting. Women are absolutely lusting after porn, lusting after guys and gals, involved in elicit sexual relationships and engaged in online sex-chatting. But what about the pocket of women who are ‘just’ reading romance novels. “I don’t have a problem with lust” they might say. Well…I beg to differ.

Lust is for selfish gratification. Why do we read romantic material? I know when I was reading the Twilight series, the only one who was benefitting from the steamy sections was me. Selfish gratification. And Twilight probably isn’t even considered a part of the “romance novel” genre! If I’m reading something for purely selfish motivations and to feed a sexual/sensual/emotional need or desire, that’s lust. If I’m not reading it to find joy in the Godly benefit of another (God included, His benefit is part of that) then it’s not done in love and there’s only one other option… lust.

Here’s a quote for your consideration, “Four all-new stories of hot paranormal desire” from the cover of the 2011 RITA “Romance Novella” award winner. Jesus has freedom for us, ladies! Some of you are absolutely in this group. The average age of this readership body is 30-54. I know that I was in my mid-twenties reading Twilight and the steamy scenes enticed me just the same. These women are readers, they’re intellectuals, church-goers, of all economic backgrounds. This stuff is all too common and it’s just another avenue the enemy is using to keep us in bondage to a sin we don’t even think we succumb to.

Wake up, Bride! Your heart is sealed by the Holy Spirit and He is a vehement flame of love! His love is as strong as death and His jealousy is as cruel as the grave (Song 8:6). Do not be deceived any longer! Come out from the yoke of bondage to lust and be free. If you have said ‘yes’ to Jesus then you have Love, Himself, saying to you, “You are my beloved and My desire is toward you” (Song 7:10). Don’t settle for the distortion of pornography, even if it comes in the unassuming package of a romance novel.

(Statistics courtesy of Romance Writers of America via