The third theological issue and I mentioned this little earlier is that because Michael is an allegory of an allegory, the parallels that are being attributed to God out of Redeeming Love are increasingly blurred, while also being romanticized in ways the Bible does not state. This can actually create unhealthy views of God that aren’t consistent with Scripture. If you’re giving this book to someone who doesn’t know the Bible at all, or isn’t involved in church isn’t being discipled. It can be perhaps a gateway to that but there are much better gateways than introducing a book with this kind of sexual content and this kind of a confusing theological presentation. There are other ways to introduce someone to the truths of Scripture without introducing such potential confusion and blurring of lines theologically.
The fourth point I want to point out is that all erotica across the board presents nuanced prosperity gospel messages. There’s a very strange tension here. In some of them, if you get discontent or desperate or depressed enough, then a man will come and save you. In others, if you pray enough or clean yourself up or are sexy and confident enough, then the man will come and save you. That’s a big part of this narrative. In Christian romance novels, in particular, this gets even more confusing and unspoken.
We see this message in purity culture as a whole. I have to tell you it is so intriguing to me that the rise of Christian romance novels and soft pornographic content in such novels was coinciding with the reign of purity culture, in which we didn’t talk about sex and we didn’t have a healthy view of sex, and we didn’t even have a healthy view of our bodies for the most part. Yet these two things coincided. And I think that is not a coincidence at all. I think that the fact that we were not addressing real sexual desires and identity and body image and prosperity gospel in the purity movement, we were allowing it to these unhealthy, undealt with issues to sneak in underground through romantic fiction.
The prosperity gospel message in these romantic novels is, if I do this work, if I am pretty enough, or in desperate need enough, if I’m discontent enough, if I’m content enough, if I’m busy enough, then God will bless me. In Job 4:9, we see the reality of this lie that while we certainly experience blessings by following God, and God does bless obedience, and he gives consequences for disobedience. We aren’t guaranteed an easy life or an ideal timeline by following Christ.
On the flipside, erotica can also present a message of hedonism, I can do whatever I want, and God will still bless me because he loves me. This rejects the call to holiness that we see in 2 Corinthians 7. Neither message is biblical, but both can be unconsciously picked up and taken away from Christian romantic fiction.
The fifth thing I want to point out is that by connecting Angel’s victimization shame from her childhood, with her prostitution shame. Some readers may fail to discern between the two kinds of shame, because there are two kinds of shame in Scripture. One shame comes from the outside and is not the victim’s responsibility. This is victimization. The other form is shame from personal sin, which is our responsibility when we choose sexual fornication, pornography. When we choose these things, we are choosing sin and we have to repent and shame actually drives us to repentance, where we can be restored and have our shame removed. But the book can tend to actually combine and weave together these two kinds of shame to where victims of abuse may be confused over what is their responsibility and what is not. We have to be very sensitive to this.
Scripture makes a distinction between these kinds of shame, but the lines are blurred in the book, and it can lead to not just fetishizing Angel’s trauma, but making her abuse a sin issue, instead of just willful sin, the issue. Again, none of that is included in the Hosea narrative because we don’t have a narrative about childhood sexual abuse for Gomer.