Romance, especially YA romance, is a bit of a taboo genre in Christian fiction. Many Christians seem to shy away from writing YA romance because readers have different preferences for how emotionally or physically involved teenage characters should be. I, myself, am comfortable with reading about characters kissing, but under no circumstances find it appropriate for teen romance to go further than that physically. Others think that teens should maintain stricter boundaries when dating/courting, and leave kissing until marriage. While it’s difficult to please everyone, I write YA romance with Christian elements for a very specific reason.
Mainstream YA Romance is Misleading for Christian Girls
When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I first started exploring YA romance titles from authors like Sarah Dessen and John Green. While I liked their books, the contained a lot of vulgarity as far as language and physicality goes, and I found it difficult to find something clean enough for my taste until I stumbled across titles by Stephanie Morrill, Jenny B. Jones, and some others. These books accurately portray what it’s like to be a Christian girl raised in the public school setting who hasn’t been brought up with the courting or stricter boundaries I mentioned earlier.
This is how I was raised, and though I have dated without the strict physical boundaries (i.e. no kissing before marriage), I have maintained my purity for marriage. It is 100% possible for Christian teens to kiss their significant other without being tempted or going all the way if they keep their promise to God to remain pure at the forefront of their minds. My younger sister and I are living proof of that.
My goal while writing YA romance with Christian elements is to show teens that they can display affection for their significant other without giving in to lust and without living in constant fear of accidentally breaking their stricter boundaries like hand holding, hugging, or kissing. Through writing clean, yet accurately portrayed romance for the general teen audience, I want to provide a middle ground for Christian teens, and fans of clean reads alike, who do not want to read vulgar content and do not relate to the stricter courting style of dating that I’ve seen portrayed in Christian Fiction.
What Kind of Content Do My Romances Feature?
I’ll go ahead and say off the bat that my YA romances (or any romances for that matter) will never have scenes that portray (or cut away from) the characters going all the way. That’s something I do not feel comfortable writing about nor feel the need to read about; however, if necessary to the plot, I will vaguely hint but not outright say that characters (not the main character, but minor characters) have done something.
My YA romances do, however, include kissing, hugging, hand holding, and cuddling (ex: Carter putting his arm around Riley while sitting on the couch). If physical touch ever escalates further than that, it will be portrayed in a negative light and will be done by an antagonist. But even then, I intend to keep descriptions as clean as possible.
Again, my goal is to write romance as accurately as possible without crossing over into vulgarity. I know what it’s like to be a young reader with a limited amount of clean, relatable, and quality YA romances available, and I aim to be a source of those for fans of clean and Christian YA alike.
That’s it for today, Arrowheads! Do you enjoy YA romance, or are you more into other genres? Let me know in the comments!