Questions to Ask Before Watching or Recommending Redeeming Love
Number one, am I or the person I’m recommending this to strong believers in Christ with a consistent stable walk with Jesus? Two, do I or the person I’m recommending this to understand the Book of Hosea and its true meaning? Number three, do I or the person I’m recommending this to struggle with porn, fantasy, erotica, or relational discontentment? Number four, have I acknowledged that recommending this material could create a stumbling block in the life of my sister in Christ? Number five, “Do I recognize that consuming this material and books like it can change how women view their marriages, singleness, contentment, spiritual walk, and even God Himself? Number six, would I be okay with my husband or boyfriend watching the sexual scenes in this book or movie privately apart from the story? Number seven, does this produce mutual upbuilding for my sister or brother or whoever I’m recommending it to?
At this time, I’m going to move to our next section, as we continue to wrap up this episode to read some of the testimonies from young women who messaged me about Redeeming Love when I talked about it on Instagram, and share some of their testimonies of what the book did and how it impacted them. Again, this is not to shame anyone who has enjoyed the book. It’s just to show you that I’m not alone voice who’s speaking about this, or about how this book and others like it have opened a door and a stumbling block to young women in the church.
“Thank you for talking about Redeeming Love. I read it when I was in college during the season where I was struggling with loneliness. And that book came at a time where I was tempted to give into erotica, something I had never struggled with before. Thankfully, by God’s grace and God’s grace alone, when I finished that book, He convicted me to read Hosea again and opened my eyes to how wrong the parallel was. He also convicted me to be faithful in my sexual life and I was able to walk away from the temptation, all His grace. But I found out later that many of my friends who suggested the book to me actually seriously struggled with erotica and felt so much shame and guilt. So many Christian girls think that romance novels are fine if they’re Christian, but it’s a dangerous path to walk down.”
And this one:
“Thank you so much for talking about Redeeming Love. The book was recommended to me by very strong Christian women who I look up to, when my husband and I were in a very low and desperate point in our marriage. As I was reading it, I was very unsettled with the way things are being portrayed and was very confused why these women thought it was appropriate for our situation. For one, I had been deeply studying Hosea at the time and found Redeeming Love to portray it pretty inaccurately. Also, I was very disturbed at the romanticism involved seemed to undo all the work I was putting in to understand and work through my own sexual sin. I ended up not finishing the book because it was certainly more disruptive than encouraging. I can easily see how many women can get trapped into believing it’s a good book. And if I hadn’t been actively working on that specific sin in my life, I would have fallen head over heels for the message portrayed in it.”
“Redeeming Love brought up my struggle with masturbation after a long period of freedom. And the fact that others didn’t seem to have a problem with it was just that much more isolating. Even now, I’ve mentioned that it’s not my favorite because of the sexual content. And I get very defensive, not understanding responses from godly people who love the book. Thank you for saying something, it should not be recommended to young women.”
“Thank you for your notes on Redeeming Love. Ironically, a question of book recommendations came up in my church’s Facebook group for women’s ministry. Several women recommended this book and I considered it as I’m challenging myself to read more. I popped over to your Instagram and you had a story on the book. I’ve struggled with sexual sin and addiction since I was a young teenager and so I run from sexual content like Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife. This would likely be a really dangerous book for me to read and I honestly don’t know if I would have the self-control to put it down what’s coming across those moments in the book and what I would potentially go looking for outside of it. If that is at all relevant, you’re welcome to share my thoughts.”
And this one:
“I just wanted to say I’m so thankful for your stories on Redeeming Love. I have struggled with that book and so many other Francine Rivers’ books. It was highly recommended to me by so many Christian friends and when I opened it, I was absolutely shocked. I was not comfortable with the content of the book, but I continued to read it because mature Christians had recommended it. I rationalized reading it in my mind, I continued to make excuses for things that I shouldn’t have. I’ve often wondered when I see people talk about it, if it’s just something wrong with me. I wondered why I could not say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others. But hearing you say these things is so encouraging. Christian fiction is a huge problem and more women need to speak up about these things.”
“Thank you for your story on Redeeming Love. I was sexually abused as a child and by the age of seven was a chronic masturbator. I was given Redeeming Love at a women’s conference by a mentor when I was 13 and a half. Half of me was irked at the romanticization of trauma as a sexual abuse survivor and was actually comparing my story to this fictional story that wrapped up pain and abuse with curvy figures, cleavage I didn’t have, and a hot man who would eventually rescue and heal that I didn’t have. I actually started struggling even more with depression from my abuse because I didn’t feel sexy enough on my healing journey, sounds really silly, I know. This book also caused me to sin sexually and struggle with fantasy even more. Her book Bridge to Haven is even more triggering to me, both with trauma and chronic fantasy masturbation. I too was addicted to erotica in high school and sadly these two books are erotica, just with a Christian label thrown on.
What was even more confusing to me as a team, as my mentor was counseling me through my sexual sin, but then gave me these books thinking it would help me in my healing journey. It has taken me years to heal from that impact. In high school and college, I struggled with reading sexually explicit romance novels. I took a lot of drastic steps to break free. Since then, I’ve stayed away from even Christian romance novels. When I read Redeeming Love a year ago, I was definitely not drawn closer to God. It was like feeding an old desire. But in my mind, the seams didn’t go far enough, which caused a lot of temptation to seek out my old habit. Thank God, I didn’t, but it was a struggle. Thanks for addressing this issue, as someone who has struggled, this is a much needed word.”
It’s heavy and hard for me to read those messages to you. There are many more that I have saved in the highlight on my Instagram. I know that if you’ve loved and enjoyed this book, and you’re looking forward to the movie, it may be really shocking and eye opening to hear these messages from real young women. You can see the screenshots of their messages on my Instagram highlight. So, you know that I’m not just making these up.
My encouragement to you is, if you choose to go see this movie, please do so with discernment and wisdom. Please take the time to read the Book of Hosea and study it for yourself. Please consider the young women to whom you are recommending this movie and these books, and books like it. And most of all, if you struggle with sexual sin and fantasy, I can promise you that there truly is freedom and there is a way out. I am a testimony to God’s healing journey, His truly Redeeming Love, that can take even the darkest and most secret addiction and make it something that allows you to free others and lead them toward his heart.