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Author Katie Mettner

I'm doing it wrong!

Doing what wrong, is the question. Christian romance, is the answer. I've been told repeatedly over the last few years that I'm not writing Christian romance 'right'. I've tried to Google "The right way to write Christian romance", but lo and behold I can't find the 'right' answer there either. 

Deciding the best way to figure out what was 'right' I turned to Mr. Webster and looked up one word. 

of or relating to Jesus Christ or the religion based on his teachings

: of, relating to, or being Christians

: treating other people in a kind and generous way.

Okay, that's pretty much my definition of a 'Christian' as well, so far so good. The problem I had was I was getting remarks in reviews like "What makes this Christian? Just because the characters talk about their faith? They also do __, ____, and ____."

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So Christians don't talk about their faith to each other in 'right' Christian romance? They also don't do X, Y and Z? What do they do then? Do they just run through fields of tulips with a smile on their face as the sun shines down on them and sing that the hills are alive with the..." oh wait, I think that's a movie. But I'm really confused about what "right" Christian romance books do differently from mine. 

Then I got this added to the above review:

"If it weren't for the fact they do X,Y and Z, I would have given this book 5 stars, but I would call this inspirational romance, not Christian romance." 

Ohhhhh, okay, so in the 'rightly written' Christian romance books they don't do X, Y, and Z? I would assume that X is Sex, Y is living together before marriage (or insert whatever particular thing happened in whatever particular book was being reviewed) and Z is questioning their faith. My heart started pounding because I felt like I might be getting somewhere with this train of thought. I think I found the right answer with Z. 'Right' Christian romance books don't have characters who question their faith, and readers who read 'right' Christian romance books don't want to be put in the uncomfortable position of liking a character who isn't a 'perfectly right' Christian.

A friend of mine stopped over recently after my surgery. She's known me for a long time. She knows I'm not a 'perfectly right' Christian. She knows I had premarital sex (sorry mom), she knows I spend too much time defining my self worth by the numbers on the scale, she knows I'm not always the best at 'having faith' 24/7, she knows I've asked 'why' on more than one occasion in my lifetime, she knows I'm terrible at memorizing Bible verses and I'm always snapping my fingers going, "you know, that one verse." She also knows I love God. How does she knows this? She's a lay minister at the church and we've had some pretty interesting conversations over the years about what being a Christian means. In my opinion she was the perfect person to ask, so I did. "In your opinion are you a 'perfectly right' Christian?" She laughed at me. Like, really hard. When she finally got control of herself she asked me where on earth that question came from. I gave her a rather condensed answer, but her response has stayed with me this week. 

She said, "Some people make themselves feel better by being negative as way to cover up the fact they're feeling the same way. It makes them feel better to be righteous, when in fact they're feeling as vulnerable as the character they just read (or watched) about. They start blowing smoke using semantics as a way to justify that they just connected with an 'imperfect' Christian. Can you tell me what the difference between 'Christian' and 'inspirational' romance is?"

Yup, that was me again. What is the difference? I grabbed the computer and Mr. Webster told me:


to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create

: to cause (something) to happen or be created

: to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)

She sat forward and held her hand up, "The last one, to cause someone to have a feeling or emotion." Then she leaned back on the couch and said, "I guess the words inspire and Christian are pretty intertwined." 

It was my turn to lean back, "Please, by all means, explain." I said, anxious to hear her take on it. 

"Your books are about Christians who have fallen from grace, well at least in their own eyes they have. They talk about their faith in a way that makes people uncomfortable. They do things that don't fit into the definition of traditional Christian fiction and that makes people uncomfortable. Traditional Christian fiction doesn't allow characters to question their faith, they aren't allowed to........" 

She stops and throws her hands up. "They aren't allowed to be human!"

(That's me trying to hide my giggle behind my hand as she got more and more flustered with defining what 'right' Christian fiction is.)

"And as humans we are so far from 'perfect' how does anyone measure up to the 'perfect' portrayed in the 'rightly written' Christian romance books?" I ask. 

She nods her head, "Exactly. So I guess you are doing it wrong. You're sneaking in the backdoor and telling the imperfect Christians He still loves them and they deserve His love as much as the 'right' Christians do." 

"Sneaking in the backdoor? That sounds devious." I laugh, wondering just what she meant by it. 

"You said the other definition of inspire is "to make someone want to do something or to give someone an idea about what to do or create?" I nod my head, still holding one eye in a squint. "So you write in a way that gives the reader an idea about what to do or to make them want to do something. Are you making them want to move in together outside of marriage or have premarital sex? No, what you're showing them is the natural consequences of some of those choices in a biblical sense. You're showing them that just because they are questioning their faith, have done things in life that the 'right' Christians say are wrong, that HE still loves them. You're making them want to find the path that brings them back to their creator and you're giving them some great ideas on how to do that, while keeping them entertained." 

"Then by definition my books aren't Christian, they are inspirational?" I ask, still perplexed. 

She shrugs, "The only entity that needs you to define it as 'inspirational' or 'Christian' (yes, she did air quotes making me giggle) is Amazon. Let me ask you a question. When Jesus was on the earth who did he minister to?" 

I looked at her like she had two heads, "The poor, the sick, the downtrodden, the uneducated, the children, the questioning, and the thieves." I answered. 

"If you could sit down with Jesus and ask him who he would rather you minister to, the sad woman at the bar who drowns her self hatred and pain in a bottle every night struggling through life trying to find a reason why she's worth saving, or me, what would his answer be?"

I sipped my coffee, "Probably his answer would be the woman at the bar."

"Why?" she asks smiling. 

"Because you already know you're not 'perfect' and you're okay with it because you know without a doubt that He is your first father and the moment you declared your belief in Him you were saved." I answered, smiling too. 

"I am, and I'm just like the beggars, the thieves, the prostitutes, the poor, the sick, the hungry, and the doubters. We are all His children and we are all imperfect. I know you hate it when people call you inspiring, but when I look at you I'm inspired, not because you're missing a leg, but because you don't try to hide the fact that you aren't a 'perfect' Christian. You accept that life isn't black and white, or all about rainbows and daises. You tell others how imperfect you are, as a way to comfort them as they struggle with the same feelings inside of them. Every character you pen has pieces of you in them that gives someone the idea that they can trust God again, they can have faith in themselves again, to pick up a Bible again or step inside a church again. He didn't commission you to write 'right' Christian fiction. He commissioned you to write it 'wrong' because in the wrong is where the 'right' ones will find their answers."

It's taken me this long to put together a blog post out of that conversation and to accept that I'm doing it 'wrong'. I've come to the conclusion that I like doing it 'wrong'. Doing it 'wrong' makes it feel 'right' and that's the only thing I have to go by. 

It reminds me of that one verse, you know, from James 4 "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin."

Go out and be 'wrong' in His name because whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

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