Should Catholics read romance novels?


I’ve never read romance novels, but I’m puzzled to whether or not the Catholic Church approves of them. I mean, are they considered a form of porn or what?


The Church is silent on the matter, leaving it to Catholics to use their own prudential judgment and critical reading skills.

[quote=leena384]I mean, are they considered a form of porn or what?

It depends on the novel. Some romance novels are very “clean,” leaving all physical intimacy beyond kissing to the imagination of the reader. Other romance novels, particularly those marketed as “erotica,” are sexually-graphic.

Whether or not a sexually-graphic novel constitutes porn depends on whether the plotline is merely a tool used to prop up the sex scenes. If the book is mainly concerned with telling the love story of a man and a woman, and includes sex scenes as part of that story, the book is not porn but may or may not be morally problematic on other levels. If, however, the plotline merely serves to move the reader from sex scene to sex scene, then the book can indeed be considered porn because the book is merely providing opportunities for virtual voyeurism rather than telling a story.

If you have never read romance novels but are considering doing so, I recommend that you be very careful about the novels you select. Visit romance review sites on the Internet to get an idea for which authors include sexually-graphic scenes and which do not. I do not recommend simply browsing in the romance section of your local bookstore because most bookstores shelve romances in alphabetical order or by publishing line and without taking the sexually-graphic nature of the novel into account. Be especially wary of any novel labeled “erotica,” or labeled with descriptions that the book is “hot.” These are indicators of sexually-graphic scenes.

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