Sunday, June 17, 2012


by Margaret Birth

Alpha, beta, gamma . . . We romance writers have a whole Greek alphabet that we often use to characterize the heroes in our stories—at least in our secular romance stories. But what of Christian romances? What type of heroes do they have? This is a question I was recently asked.

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” says Revelation 1:8. Christian romance heroes come in all types, just as secular romance heroes do: adventurous daredevils, geeky sweethearts, tortured (reformed) bad boys, determined visionaries. . . . They do possess one constant, one common trait, though: their devotion to the Alpha-Omega—God—and to the love He exemplifies. So maybe we could call them—respectfully, of course—the Alpha-Omega type, because these heroes are the type that is defined most of all by their faith in the Lord.

Whether he enters a story as a Christian character or not, by its end a Christian romance hero has determined to surrender his life to God; and in that determination there exists much strength.

When we analyze plot, there are three particular literary elements at which we look: goal, motivation, and conflict. The stronger the motivation, the stronger the goal; and the stronger the dedication to a goal, the stronger the conflict is likely to be when that goal is challenged. If a Christian romance novel hero or heroine comes into a story already as a person of faith, then that faith is always at least an underlying part of what motivates them; whatever their primary motivation or goal may be, they wouldn’t betray their core beliefs, their deepest motivation. If, on the other hand, a Christian romance novel hero or heroine comes into a story without faith, some part of the plot will necessarily include their embracing faith—and it will then be a motivating factor in whatever goals they pursue and in however they address conflict.

While the secular world may view submission as a sign of loss, powerlessness, weakness, or lack of control, Christian readers recognize a romance hero’s willingness to submit his life to God as quite the opposite. Paradoxical though this may sound, such willing submission communicates itself as strength—a choice that, once made, often clarifies and fortifies the Christian romance hero’s other motivations and goals.

The world in which Christian romance characters live is the same as the world in which secular romance characters live. This world is one in which dangers threaten, temptations lure, fears overwhelm, troubles haunt, difficulties depress, and love and security—however we envision them—are the most desired commodities. Into this world steps the Christian romance novel hero.

Through his faith convictions, he has the determination to approach the world from a different perspective, with values that reflect the Beatitudes rather than worldly attitudes. Through his confidence in a power greater than that any man possesses, he has the sureness of heart to do what he believes he is called to do. It’s not always an easy fit—especially when a special relationship with a special woman enters the mix.

But, as a Christian romance novel hero, he totally gets what St. Paul meant, in Colossians 3:14, when he advised that, “above all,” believers should “put on love.”

Margaret Birth is a Christian writer who has been widely published in short fiction, short nonfiction, and poetry, both in the U.S. and abroad; in addition to working as a freelance writer, she's spent over a decade freelancing for multiple publishers as a manuscript reader, proofreader, and copy editor.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog post, Margaret. I like the way you simplified what makes a christian romance hero tick.