Defeat Lust & Pornography
Defeat Lust & Pornography 5 minute read

Reading Romance Novels: Is It Porn?

Last Updated: April 8, 2024

I encountered an influencer who shared a few verses on what the Bible tells us we should turn away from. She brought several verses to her followers’ attention, including Hebrews 13:4.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).

She shared that to her, this verse means no pornography, no sex outside of marriage, and no steamy romance novels. 

We understand the consequences that adultery has for marriage and that pornography has on the brain. Most Christians, and even many non-Christians, readily acknowledge this. However, I saw people comment on this post to share how much they love steamy romance novels and find nothing wrong with them. It made me wonder if this is an area of temptation we often hide in plain sight. After all, when someone is well-read, we admire that quality.

The last time this topic seemed to come across everyone’s minds was during the boom of Fifty Shades of Grey. However, the reality is that most popular mainstream romance novels contain sex scenes—have you read a Colleen Hoover book lately? There are two questions at hand: Should someone read these types of scenes in a book, and should it be considered pornography?

Are Romance Novels Considered Porn?

We decided to ask our own Covenant Eyes social followers if reading a steamy romance novel is considered porn. We got a lot of different answers:

“Yes!”

“If your partner is okay with it, then it’s okay. If not, then no.”

“As an author, my response to this is: ‘Sometimes yes, sometimes no.’ It very heavily depends on the overall story itself, the context in-which the scene is taking place, and how graphicly the scene is written.”

“Sometimes it is, especially the more detailed it is.”

“Absolutely, it causes you to imagine things that lead to sin.”

“Arousal can happen anytime/anyplace. Arousal is not a sin, and what causes arousal is not necessarily a sin. The Christian is not called to be unaroused. The married Christian is called to direct all sexual energy toward their spouse. In other words, If you get turned on by Song of Solomon, direct that energy toward your spouse.”

Many respondents wanted to add some nuance to their answers. But clearly, some people do consider romance novels to be porn. Is it correct to think of romance novels in this way? To understand better, we need to understand what it means to “guard your heart.”

What Does the Bible Say About Romance Novels?

The Bible doesn’t talk directly about romance novels or whether we should read sex scenes. Rather, the Bible calls for us to guard our hearts.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:23-27).

The Bible refers to our hearts as the wellspring of thoughts, emotions, or actions. This is why God tells us it’s so important to guard it! Everything we do comes out of the heart. Our hearts and minds are beautifully woven together in a way that shapes our lives. Many psychologists believe we make decisions with our hearts and then will reason with our thoughts to convince ourselves we made the right choice!

What We Consume Affects Our Hearts

Do we consider how the things we consume affect our hearts? Think about the way we absorb basic information. As small children, we learn about our world using our five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. We collect and compound this information on previous experiences to grow our knowledge; this learning process never changes as we age. These senses and the information we take in also drastically affect our memories, emotions, and how we interpret the world.

When God calls us to guard our hearts, he calls us to guard all five of our senses. Of course, that includes sight. If you’ve been in our space, you know the damaging effects of viewing pornography. But it’s not enough to guard your heart by avoiding pornographic movies and images. What you read also shapes your heart.

Not every sex scene is equally graphic. Not everyone is affected the same way by the same content. So it isn’t always easy to label each book as “okay” or “not okay.” But I challenge you to research what you read first and pray about the book to see what God illuminates to you on the subject. Before you choose your next read, ask yourself, “Does the choice to read this guard my heart?”

  • Tip: If you’re unsure what to read for enjoyment, a quick search will uncover popular Christian authors that steer clear of sex scenes. 

What We Consume Reveals Our Hearts

Maybe you feel like you’re unaffected by what you read. These days, with high-resolution video content at the click of a button, books—even steamy romance novels—seem pretty tame by comparison. Anyway, isn’t reading better than watching?

I would encourage you to think about this. The Bible says, “Where your treasure is there your heart is also” (Matthew 6:21). Not only does what we read shape and influence our hearts, it shows what’s in them already. We should all stop and consider our entertainment choices, whether it’s movies, music, or books. What is it in your heart that is drawing you to these things? Is it the Holy Spirit at work within you? Or is it the lust of the old self?

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).

Be Accountable for What You Read

If pornography is a struggle for you, we encourage you to continue protecting yourself and guarding your heart by removing triggers and temptations. This includes reading about sex. Be open and transparent with your ally and let them know if this is an area you have struggled with or would like support through accountability. 

0 comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related in Defeat Lust & Pornography

Editor's Picks

A young man training for an endurance race.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Running the Race With Endurance

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A young man with bowed head praying over his Bible.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Killing the Dragon: My Struggle With Sexual Sin

The war that I have been waging against my flesh has been…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

An open drawer with a phone in it.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Making This One Simple Sacrifice Will Help You Eliminate Porn

Sometimes the answers to our questions are simpler than we would like.…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A father teaching the Bible to his teenage son.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

God’s Grace Set Me Free From Pornography

I had never had capabilities on any device (to my knowledge) to…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A man praying outside on a park bench.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Pride and Porn: The Risk of Overestimating Your Willpower

These days, we’re often told to believe in ourselves, build our self-esteem,…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Teenage boy using the computer alone.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Not a Single Person in the World Knew About My Addiction

Everyone has heard pornography called an addiction, but not everyone understands what…

2 minute read

Read Post

Related in Defeat Lust & Pornography

A young man training for an endurance race.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Running the Race With Endurance

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). This passage has been the one I’ve been able to…

4 minute read

0 comments

A young man with bowed head praying over his Bible.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Killing the Dragon: My Struggle With Sexual Sin

The war that I have been waging against my flesh has been…

The war that I have been waging against my flesh has been going on for around six years now. The story of how that war began and how I came to faith in Jesus Christ…

4 minute read

0 comments

An open drawer with a phone in it.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Making This One Simple Sacrifice Will Help You Eliminate Porn

Sometimes the answers to our questions are simpler than we would like.…

Sometimes the answers to our questions are simpler than we would like. When I’m eating ice cream and cake late at night and begin googling “secrets to getting lean and jacked fast,” I’m looking for…

4 minute read

0 comments

A father teaching the Bible to his teenage son.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

God’s Grace Set Me Free From Pornography

I had never had capabilities on any device (to my knowledge) to…

I had never had capabilities on any device (to my knowledge) to look up pornography until I was 16 years old, when my parents, younger brother, and I moved to the Middle East. Because of…

4 minute read

0 comments

A man praying outside on a park bench.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Pride and Porn: The Risk of Overestimating Your Willpower

These days, we’re often told to believe in ourselves, build our self-esteem,…

These days, we’re often told to believe in ourselves, build our self-esteem, and take pride in our abilities and accomplishments. But this pride might be what undermines our ability to deal with deeply ingrained struggles—like…

4 minute read

0 comments

Teenage boy using the computer alone.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Not a Single Person in the World Knew About My Addiction

Everyone has heard pornography called an addiction, but not everyone understands what…

Everyone has heard pornography called an addiction, but not everyone understands what that means. It’s not like a substance addiction, where you start to feel physical effects. It’s not like a sugar addiction, where you…

2 minute read

0 comments