Saturday, June 20, 2009

Be Careful Little Eyes What You Read?

There is a children's song that includes the line "Be Careful Little Eyes What You See", reminding them that "The Father up above is looking down in love". This week someone I invited to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival suggested that some of my choice in reading material was "erotica" and not compatible with Catholicism. I suspect he was referring to the mass market romance novels, since the Christian stuff I read could hardly be referred to as such.

I like romance novels. I know they are mind candy. I know the plots are predictable. I know a lot of them glorify relationships that are not compatible with Catholic (or any traditional Christian) moral teaching. I know a steady diet of them would get old fast. Since I read (and enjoy) the Christian version (see for example my reviews of Critical Care and The Reluctant Cowgirl)and the mass market version (see Blue-Eyed Devil and Seduce Me at Sunrise) I think I can safely say that I'm not reading them FOR the sex scenes, though the sex scenes don't bother me. To me, erotica is books about sex--books where a very thin plot sort of connects a series of sex scenes, and, no, those aren't the books I'm discussing here.

To what extent should the literature a Catholic (or other Christian) reads reflect his/her moral beliefs? Christian fiction is often panned for being unrealistic or preachy, but it doesn't glorify sex outside of marriage and it doesn't include explicit sex scenes. There are lots of books out there not labelled as romances that include sex outside of marriage and which may or my not have explicit sex scenes. Are they morally acceptable? Is it morally acceptable to read a book which you can tell by the cover/title will likely have explicit sex scenes (and does whether they happen before or after marriage make a difference)?

I don't care for blood and gore, but some folks do. Is it morally acceptable to read books that give very gory descriptions of what some killer did? Is it ok if he gets away with it, or must he be punished? What about books that glorify war, or make heroes of people with obscene wealth who do not share any of it with others?

Again I ask, to what extent should a reader's choice in reading material reflect his/her moral values?


  1. Wow. These are some very good questions. I think you just have to follow your conscience. St. Paul addressed this with the question of what foods to eat or not. If you felt okay eating that food you could eat it, but not if it caused your brother to stumble into sin. There are some tv shows that I watch that would shock many of my Catholic friends. I feel ok watching them and just don't discuss them with those people. If you think letting those things into your mind is going to cause sinful thoughts then maybe you shouldn't read them or watch them. The line is going to be very different for each individual.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. I can honestly say none of those books have caused me to desire to leave my marriage and be ravished by some handsome stranger who first wants to bed me, not wed me...

  3. I'm the blogger who made the comment you are referring to. Actually, I'm a she, not a he (no offense taken).

    I hear what you're saying. I would be dishonest if I said I never looked at a romance novel myself. However, Christ calls us to perfection (I'm the first one to admit that I'm still working on it). If we receive Christ at Holy Mass, we must only expose ourselves to that which is worthy of Him. Scripture tells us to keep our minds on that which is pure. I do not judge you or anyone else. We all have to make these judgments for ourselves, with prayer.

    I still have a little problem when I see book covers or any other images on a website, that are sexually enticing. I think we've got enough of that from the world and the Catholic media should give people something different.

    Is there a place for erotic material in the lives of Catholics? I think its got to be pure. "Canticle of Canticles" is a good place to start. I just don't think going down that road, exposing yourself to anything unworthy of Christ and His Mother, is going to end well. What did Christ say about those things that lead you to sin? Better to be sexually frustrated, repressed and dysfunctional, than to enter into hell with all your sexual fulfillment. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with sexual fulfillment-but the path there must be a pure one. In fact, many of the things people use to help them sexually, actually make the situation worse in the end. That's because the focus shouldn't be on sex-it should be on lovemaking and it must be kept in proper perspective-only then, can true sexual fulfillment, as willed by God, be achieved.

    Forgive my long-windedness. God bless...


  4. I'm torn somewhat. In some ways I enjoy a book with some racy scenes and in other ways I don't. I think it's because there are times it can lead one to fantasize about what could be instead of what is reality in one's own marriage. I do watch the titles and covers of books I read because I have impressionable teens in the house. I'm just rambling and not realy making much sense

  5. karen5:37 PM

    These are some good questions. I read a lot of true crime and also vampire books and find myself asking these questions a lot.



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