Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Romance of Redemption

 by Barbara Early

It’s no secret that the romance novel has done very well. It sits on shelves in bookstores everywhere, and even Wal-Mart and grocery stores, and makes it into the carts of young women, mothers, grandmothers, and a few great-grandmothers.  I’m told even a few men indulge.

A few years back, I wanted to add a romantic subplot to a mystery, so I took a romance-writing workshop with a popular inspirational romance author. And I learned a nifty three-point outline. I’m sure the romance writers who read this blog could probably repeat each point in their sleep. But for those who might be new--as I was--the basic outline of a romance novel is:

            A. Boy meets girl.
            B. Boy loses girl.
            C. Boy gets girl back.

I’m sure there’s a few variations on that theme, but if it’s a romance, boy and girl end up together in a happily-ever-after ending. (I hope I haven’t spoiled the ending of the romance you’re reading.)

Now, I’ve heard people describe the Bible as a love letter. But what if we looked at the Bible from the perspective of a romance? Would the outline hold?

Boy meets Girl (or rather God meets Man)

Often in a romance novel, the hero and the heroine meet in the first chapter. There is often a spark of attraction. Sometimes there’s more than that. A fun activity. Maybe token gifts--flowers or a stuffed animal. Time for the hero and heroine to learn about each other and form a bond other than that she’s beautiful, and he’s handsome (aren’t they always), and she likes his aftershave.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; Genesis 2:7-9a
God made man, placed him in a lovely garden of His own creation. (No flowers or stuffed animals. Rather a lavish garden and real animals brought to Adam for naming.) God gave Adam everything he needed, including companionship. From the next chapter, we gather God regularly walked through the garden in the cool of the day to meet with Adam and Eve. Idyllic start to a romance.

Boy loses girl (Or God loses Man)

Somewhere in the novel, once the reader is fully engaged in the story, a wrench is thrown, and something happens to pull the hero and heroine apart.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.  Genesis 3:8-10
Once sin entered the picture, nothing would ever be the same between God and Man again. A guilty man hides from a holy God. A holy God cannot allow a sinful man in his presence, so man is cast out of the garden.

There is a place in a romance called a black moment, where the situation has become so dire, there seems to be no chance of the hero and the heroine ever getting together. All hope is lost. Generally this occurs just before the climax.

In the romance of redemption, consider this moment:
And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.  Mark 15:33-34,37
At the point where Man was lost from God and enslaved in sin, God sent his Son. And that Son was betrayed, deserted, falsely arrested, beaten, mocked, publically humiliated, and finally crucified. The One who claimed to be the Way the Truth and the Life has his life snuffed out. Was there ever a blacker black moment?

Boy gets girl back (Or God gets Man back)

Right after the death of Jesus, something happens immediately. (Did I mention that the black moment was right before the climax?)

The ground shakes and the veil in the temple (representative of the separation between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man) was torn in two. Not from the bottom to the top. But from the top to the bottom.

The hero and heroine can be together, because the hero has paid the ransom--the redemption price--for his bride. Only he’s bought her back with his own blood.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 Peter 1:18-19
But will it be a tragedy, like Romeo and Juliet? No, because in three-days time, the tomb is empty. The hero is alive!

Often now, there’s a trend in romances to include an epilogue, showing the new couple--at some point in the future,  with…I don’t know…orange blossoms or a picket fence and a set of triplets. Does the Bible share that future event?
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. Revelation 19:6-9
How’s that for happily ever after?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense, and Murder was released in e-book format from White Rose Publishing in December 2011. You can learn more about her writing on her personal blog: or see what's for dinner on her recipe blog:


  1. What a beautiful comparison, Barb. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Suzie and Lisa. I was at a loss to come up with a good discussion question, so please feel free to talk among yourselves.

  3. That was awesome, Barb! I almost wish you didn't post it on a Sunday because our readers are low. We'll need to refer back to this or post it again in the future.

  4. ...and that explains why romance is my favourite genre to read and write! :) Because always in the background is the parallel of God's pursuit of us. AMEN.

  5. Dina--thanks. I was thinking that maybe this needs a second part. There were a few more things I would have liked to have said, only it was getting long.

  6. Amanda--

    I was wondering if romance tends to resonate with us for this reason, or if God used the symbol of a bride and a bridegroom because he knew our bent toward romance.

    I guess we'll find out one day.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Barb. There is no greater love story!

  8. That's so true, Jayne. Greater love hath no man...

  9. That's great, Barb. This would be the perfect post to read during our Valentine's Day Dessert Auction fundraiser. :)

  10. Thanks, Anita. You'll have to share a little more about that.


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