Setting Up the Romance Ship

I am a very, very typical reader on the whole.

I cheer on the good guys, have love/hate relationships with most of the bad guys, and root for the love interest that everyone else roots for. (At least that 90% of the population roots for.)  I don’t pick weird combinations, desire strange outcomes, or hope for bizarre pairings. I ship the characters everyone else ships.

As someone who loves love stories, and loves to write them even more than read or watch them, I’ve noticed a sincerely dominating – and profoundly important – pattern that needs to be in place to catch the average 90% of the population’s heart.

I’m going to call it the First Contact Romance Ship. (FCRS)

It’s very, very simple.

Set it up so that your main girl character bumps into her love interest FIRST.

Either it’s a negative or a positive interaction, but her very first male interaction needs to be with her future love interest. Unless the guy is going to be a false love interest and turn into an enemy later on – and that’s your plot (think Frozen) – this needs to be the case. If she bumps into a random male side character or doomed love triangle character instead, you will have torn up and angry fans – at least that average 90%. You know, the ones who aren’t rooting for the main girl to fall in love with her own little sister. That weird 10% is not going to be addressed in this article. So if you’re part of the strange and unusual 10% who always ship the oddest pairings, read no further, unless you’re trying to write a best-selling romance novel. 😛

TV, movies, and novels do this in a variety of ways, over and over again.  I’ll just pick one example in each category. I picked obscure ones for the fun of it, but this is done in all popular entertainment. (Warning: SPOILERS):

1. Secret Garden (TV show)

secret-garden-secret-garden-korean-drama-ef-bc-88sg-lovers-34479655-1920-1088Main Guy picks Main Girl up in his car, thinking she’s someone else, and they end up at
his hotel. Main Girl leaves, but not before thinking the worst of Main Guy and his intentions. Then, even though she crushes on Other Guy for a bunch of episodes, you root for her to eventually end up back with Main Guy – and she does.

2. Austenland (movie)
austenland-holding_13254521245I didn’t love this movie in any way (Wow, so cheesy), but I thought it was genius when it comes to the FCRS principle. In the most subtle version of FCRS I’ve seen yet, Jane has a witty conversation with Mr. Nobley at the dinner table, and insults him.  When her feelings are hurt by the hostess, Nobley stands up and gives her a sad look.
She spends a good portion of the rest of the movie kissing and flirting with the stablehand, who looks like a really promising catch, yet all the 90% of viewers want is for her to get back with Nobely, even though it look hopeless.
Later, in a plot twist, the stablehand is a really a rogue, and Nobely is the real prince charming.  Brilliant.  I thought I was rooting for the wrong guy and was happy tthe_hosto be proven incorrect.

3. The Host (novel)

Melanie is in love with Jared.  We all know that. But Wanda, the alien, takes over her body,
and is an entirely new person in that body.  Even though Melanie the body misses Jared, Wanda falls for Ian, the first eligible male who defends her in a group of guys who all want her dead. And you’re happy when it happens.  😛

You can find examples of FCRS all throughout fiction.  It’s a simple step to make sure that your fans root for the guy you have planned for your heroine.

What strikes me as really odd are the writers who seem to not understand this.  Without naming names of books that I thought failed as romance novels, I’ll post quips of real reviews by readers who were unsatisfied by the romance pairing. Every time I read a book and think that Main Girl ended up with the wrong guy, it’s because her first meaningful interaction with an eligible male did not include the actual Main Guy she was supposed to fall in love with (with very few exceptions – like first guy was just cruel in many ways, and Main Guy, who came about later, poured himself out in love and sweetness for Main Girl, or when first guy is shown to be someone whom Main Girl looks at as an apathetic weakling, idiot, or beneath her.  Nothing shuts off romance for a woman more than that.)

Here are real reviews from readers/viewers who agree with me every time. All of these books/shows/movies involve love triangles where FCRS was ignored, and fans were upset at the guy Main Girl chose. All of these come from one-star reviews or angry blog articles. Some of these novels, especially, have lower ratings overall. I see it over and over again whenever FCRS is ignored:

“The romance: There were (count ’em) THREE love interests for Main Girl in this book. None of them really go anywhere big, but it just felt like every guy in the book was into her. The hardest part about that is that there is an obvious choice – I genuinely thought that one guy was better than the others, and that just makes for a love triangle (or square?) that’s unsatisfying.” 

“A cliche ya story with special snowflake protagonist and several one dimensional love interests.”

“Girl falls in love with the other bad boy character (despite essentially zero interaction between them).”

“Perhaps writers are trying to tell us that life is unexpected, that people change, and that what you think will happen is never what you actually end up with. But still, we fangirls can feel a little gypped when we don’t get the pairing we want. After all, we are the consumers and the writers should keep our opinions in mind when writing.”

“-Possible romance with her Best Friend in the very beginning of the book. 
-Main Girl’s attraction to Second Guy. Look, you just met him a day or two ago. AND you seemed to like your Best Friend back at home. But now you are in love with this guy?!”

“Ending really destroyed everything for me at least. That other guy – baseball player… what was he called? Never mind. At the end like what? He never really played a big role this entire film and at the end he confessed his feelings to Main Girl. Like seriously did you even had a normal conversation with her?”

“Main Girl never ends up with the one man that could have supported and nurtured her crazy writing talent so that it grew wild, covering their mansion with green vines and exotic tropical flowers and palm leaves big as a man’s head where birds the color of jewels spoke to startled visitors in the parlor.   Main Girl ends up with geriatric old Mr. Germanic Graybeard. After learning of the dorky  but sometimes necessary practice of fan fiction, I immediately undertook to rewrite the ending (some wrongs just need to be (re)writed/righted), giving Main Girl the man she really wants, needs, and deserves.”

You get the picture.

I have a theory, too, about why this is with women.  Bear with me now, because I’m going to get a little philosophical.  Feel free to ignore this part if you want. 🙂

I think most women really want a first and only love.

The first man that catches her eye, that stirs her heart, that she feels something for.  I think it’s because God really created humans to have a one and only soulmate, and divorce, death, and immature selfish lust get in the way of the good and precious love He originally planned for His creation.  He placed Adam and Eve in the garden with only each other. He didn’t create a ton of men for Eve to choose from or vice versa. I think “First Love” is powerful to human beings. And I think that 90% of women, in fiction, want the heroines to end up with their firsts. Because, to the 90%, that’s the most romantic of all.

So.

If you’re writing romance, it can be a temptation to do something new, exciting, different, and unusual.  I think that writers are often very unique thinkers, and like to do things outside the box.  But they get surprised when their average reader is upset by what they’ve done when it comes to love. Go ahead – be different.  But just add one *little* tiny scene in the beginning where Main Girl encounters the guy she’ll end up with.  And the fans will love you for it.  🙂

Asian TV for the American Newbie Viewer

Want to recommend some anime or J/K-dramas and anime to a normal American who doesn’t know what to make of Japanese or Korean culture? You think they’d love what Asia has to offer, but don’t want to scare them away with too much moe or yokai or plot-lines involving getting kicked out of the family register.

Breaking your typical American viewer into Asian TV

I’m going to suggest anime and k/j-dramas that either have fascinating plots that no sci-fi/fantasy lover could resist, or are understandable plots between cultures. You won’t find any Studio Ghibli on my list because I, personally, found his stuff unattractive when I was first breaking into anime. His heavily Buddhist, strange-creature themes or more simple slice of life films could not be appreciated coming straight out of watching non-stop-action American TV. This isn’t going to make me very popular, but I wouldn’t recommend Ghibli to your average American viewer, personally. My recommendations are clean, relatively family-friendly shows and movies that aren’t so overtly Asian that you lose people. Things you could show your next-door neighbor without being labeled a weirdo nerd.

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Animated:

(Most can be found legally on Crunchyroll.com, and one or two on Netflix.com)

1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

7facd20f5216202349ad2fc3119e2e5b1329936788_fullYeah, I’m going there.  Honestly, this one has lots of bizarre elements, but the plot is so epic.  It is a deconstruction of the magical girl genre, but totally works as a deconstruction of any superhero genre.  We Americans have been inundated with superhero movies lately, so a show that portrays the real psychological hardships of being a Black Widow or Scarlett Witch? Yes, please. I’ve shown this to most of my non-anime-watching family members, and it’s gone over pretty well.  You’re going to need to sit and discuss a lot of the final episode, however, as it’s big-picture epic with a lot of symbolism.

Warning: Violence and thematic elements in this one.  PG-13

2. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

the_girl_who_leapt_through_time_posterStarts out like a Disney channel show with a little bit of teenage silliness, but quickly turns into a fascinating sci-fi plot.  I really enjoyed this one, and it was the very first anime I ever watched. Only movie-length (not a TV show), this will give viewers a taste of creative YA sci-fi from Japan that makes sense and tugs at their heartstrings at the same time.

Warning: One really stupid sexual line from a side character at the beginning that feels hugely out of place.  There is NO sexuality in the rest of the movie, so one just has to ignore it as bad writing in an otherwise squeaky clean movie.

3. Hotarubi no Mori e

hotarubi-no-mori-e-full-1174801My personal favorite.  Just a beautiful, beautiful little 45-minute film.  Totally an inspiration for the writing of my own book, Lucent Sylph, this movie is tragically gorgeous in every way, and one of my top favorite movies of all time.

Warning: There ARE Buddhist spirits in this one, and Buddhism has something to do with the main plot.  However, one can still follow the movie really well by ignoring this aspect – and, in my opinion, it doesn’t get too weird.  Nothing weirder than Star Wars. Make sure your child is old enough to know that forest spirits don’t exist.

4. Hyouka

A sweet, clean, and pleasant little family show, Hyouka is about an apathetic high schooler who is inspired by a group of friends, including a pretty cute, curious girl, to solve little mysteries for his school. He is intelligent and quirky, and his personal growth as a character is delightful. This anime also has some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen.  Just look at that eye!

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Warning: Japanese hot springs are very popular in anime. There is one episode where the characters go to a hot spring.  No body parts are shown, but one character gets woozy thinking about girls bathing behind a fence.  If you ignore this episode and chalk it up to the writer being in a weird mood that day, the rest is just charming.

There are 22 episodes in this show, and the pacing of the cutesy mysteries might be slow to some.  However, the characters themselves and their interactions make this one a favorite.

5. Kanon

56301Heading the liminal fantasy + break your heart open genres are works by the visual novel company, Key.  (visual novel = interactive computer game story) Many of their visual novels were turned into anime shows. Their best work, in my opinion, isn’t the Clannad series, but Kanon (the 2006 version). It’s not terribly long with a second season like the ever-popular Clannad, nor does it have over-the-top characters.  Instead, each of the Kanon girls have highly fascinating backstories. I was obsessed with this anime, and also watched it very early on in my anime career. The liminal fantasy was modest and subtle, instead of throwing us into a highly elaborate world.  It brought soft elements of fantasy to us, while still focusing on the inter-personal relationships and romance. The story could’ve been set anywhere, and there’s even an English dub (although I don’t think it’s a good one) for the viewer who’s set against subtitles.

The music is gorgeous, the girls are amazing, and you care about their deeply personal and often tragic stories. Highly recommend this one.

Warning: Thematic elements. There’s also a surprise violent scene or two but nothing graphic.  Still definitely a PG.

One character makes a joke about asking another character to buy a pornographic magazine for him.  She refuses.  Again, nothing else is sexual about the entire show, so the line was completely pointless.

6. Patema Inverted

patemainverted_dvd-fTruly gorgeous, imaginative movie, where the sky animation is so amazing you’ll get acrophobia. I showed my whole non-anime-watching family this movie at Christmas and even my dad enjoyed it. They said it was unique and a really entertaining story.

Basically, the world has been divided into two groups of people with opposing gravity, and one girl and boy find each other.  Think a younger Upside Down without all the terrible plot holes and bad pacing.  So much better.

Warning: None. Just a fantastic movie. The plot isn’t even set in Japan, so there’s nothing culturally confusing about it in the least.

7. RWBY

rwby_poster_contest_submission_1_by_vnixxir-d6etrosThis anime-style show is actually American, but is always grouped with its Japanese sisters. The art and graphics in the show get better with each season, but can take getting used to in the beginning. A story about hunters and huntresses in a magic-type school learning to defend their nation while working together.

Warning: Many of the females in this show are pretty immodest, so it might be one I recommend to watch by yourselves, ladies. The first season has silly teenage drama, but when you get to season 2, the plot thickens. By season 3, you’re thrown into an epic story that’s highly entertaining.  RWBY also has some of the best animated battle scenes I’ve ever seen.

8. Avatar: The Last Airbender

avatar-the-last-airbender-free-downloadAgain, this is American, produced on the Nickelodeon channel, but it’s no secret it was succeeded in borrowing a lot of Japanese anime elements.  Safe enough for kids (who can look past the Buddhist-undertones), this show thrilled many adults too. Highly recommend if you’re thinking of breaking into the anime scene but want a safe marriage between something American and something Japanese-feeling.  Poignant characters and huge battles between good and evil, it’s one of those shows where I wish I could wipe my brain just so I can rewatch it with all the delight of seeing it for the first time all over again.

Warning: Some New Age/Buddhist talk – maybe for the older, mature child and adults

 

Live Action (Korean/Japanese Dramas and Movies)

(Most can be found legally on Dramafever.com and Viki.com)

1. Bara no nai Hanaya

172252356144716358_9af14e52_medOne of the most Christian dramas to ever come out of Japan, this is a show with the most selfless male character I’ve ever seen.  In a slow-paced, beautiful display of love (both to his little girl, as well as to the woman pretending to be blind to cheat him), Shiomi Eiji is a fantastic character. I watched this drama a second time and showed it to my mom and sister.  My mom cried every single episode without fail, and then went out and bought the show for herself.

Unfortunately, though, this show is pretty unknown and hard to find.  One would like to imagine the writer was a believer himself, so maybe it wasn’t as popular in spiritually-dark Japan. This is a beautiful Christlike love story in every way.

Warning: There is the most random cross-dressing character that shows up for one quick scene near the end.  It makes no sense and has nothing to do with the story.

2. Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name (movies)

46791113980218_5e2be54e_c2xI don’t recommend the Death Note anime to American newbies, even though it’s fantastic, because the ending goes down a very strange path that frustrated a lot of people, including me. The Death Note movies clean up the ending and change it a bit to make it more tidy and sensible. If you want to get this highly intellectual, cat-and-mouse thriller, but you’re not a purist who needs it in its original manga form with its bad ending, choose the Death Note movies instead.

Basically, an intelligent high school student finds a notebook that claims if he writes someone’s name in it and picture their face, he can kill them on the spot. The highschooler is then forced into a moral dilemma of playing god and goes to battle against the world’s most brilliant – and quirky – detective.

Warning: There are a lot of warnings on this one.  Definitely a PG-13, there is a death god spirit who is pretty scary-looking who follows the main characters around. A very morbid set of movies, I recommend it for the mature viewer.  However, it’s not about blood, guts, and action like you’d have to put up with in America.  Instead, this slower-paced dark show treats the viewer like an intellectual equal by letting you into some really brainy heads. Very well-written.

Do NOT watch “L: Change the World” as it is a non-canon, highly violent side story that I couldn’t stomach or get through.  It has nothing to do with the original plot and should be ignored.

3. Dream Knight

w475oerl_fc8273_c2xIf you enjoyed High School musical, you can put up with the one or two song and dance numbers in this adorable short drama from Korea. A teenager’s dream, a girl has a group of guys magically show up when she’s alone and having trouble in school. The short series takes a very serious and meaningful turn, though, and I was enchanted by how much emotional sweetness they packed into the twelve 13-minute episodes. A really charming liminal fantasy highschool romance that would make sense to any American viewer who watched Disney channel.  I might have squealed out loud a time or two.  *cough*

Warning: (Cute) teenage drama, and a mention of suicide

4. Healer

fullsizephoto531120Have you ever wanted more Jason Bourne coupled with a sweet romance? You got it in Healer.  Having nothing to do with medical illness, “Healer” is the codename of a night courier, basically the Korean version of Jason Bourne, who faces a big moral dilemma when he starts falling in love with the woman he’s been hired to investigate and protect. This Korean drama has it all: action, love, backstory, political evil, mystery, a hilarious computer guru, and outstanding acting. I also had to watch this one through twice – showing it to my husband the second time, and I still enjoy reruns of my favorite scenes.

Warning: PG-13 for the action and thematic elements.  A couple is shown in bed after kissing, but it’s not clear that anything sexual happened.  A few scenes later the young man tells her father they didn’t do anything. Korean shows tend to be very modest, culminating the romance with kissing only, so even while sleeping they are shown entirely clothed and purity is often implied.

5. I Hear Your Voice

ihyv2Imagine if a little boy had the super power of hearing people’s thoughts, and was the only witness to his father’s murder, along with an older high school girl. Now imagine that girl grows up to be a lawyer and the boy a young man whose only goal in life is to protect her so that when the murderer gets out of prison, she can survive.

Mixing in great Perry-Mason-courtroom scenes with a budding “noona-romance” (younger guy with a woman older than he), I Hear Your Voice is a deep, thoughtful, psychological courtroom romance with a fantasy twist.

Warning: Definitely violence and scary characters.  There are a couple of murders and very tense scenes.  PG-13

6. Mirai Nikki (THE JAPANESE DRAMA)

63232769622524244_057fa50c_c2xI repeat again, the Japanese drama from 2012, NOT THE ANIME.  The anime is a piece of disturbing, violent nastiness that I refuse to see, being so revolted by the descriptions of the show I couldn’t sleep at night.

HOWEVER, the Japanese put out an 11-episode drama with the same name that supposedly bears only a slight resemblance to the manga and anime with the same name. This drama was a real treat! Fascinating mystery, kept us guessing the whole time, and, I repeat, CLEAN.  A great clean drama that we could enjoy without feeling in the slightest bit dirty. I highly recommend it to an American breaking into watching Asian dramas.  Just please avoid the anime.

Warning: Definitely psychologically tense and thriller scenes.  PG-13

 

Happy watching!  And remember to watch everything at your own risk.  My recommendation is, by no means, infallible for every viewer.  Do your research and enjoy eastern storytelling!  🙂

 

 

 

Could You Love This Genderless Person?

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WARNING: Adult material (sexuality and homosexuality)

Please don’t read ANYTHING I say below out of context.  Please read the whole article to get the gist of what I’m trying to say.  At some points, I’ll go heavily into speculation, so bear with me on that.  I’m just thinking “out loud” here.

This article is not a recommendation list.  I mention these dramas to prove points in this article.  Watch all things at your own risk.  

 

Many of you know I’m fan of Korean (and some Taiwanese) dramas.  On the whole, the evidence that South Korea is a primarily Christian nation shows in their TV.  The dramas I watch tend to be BBC-type 16-20 episode stories – wholesome, modest and have basic Judaeo-Christian values.  Creative, formulaic, and pleasant, they appeal to me much more than our overly sexualized, bad-language-ridden, or just immature American TV.  I like live-action Korean dramas much more than anime even.  It fits my personality and story style.

However, in the last couple years, I’ve been sorry to see the experimentation Korea – and Taiwan – are taking in gender fluidity.  While out and out gay couples aren’t shown – as Korea, thankfully, has not accepted such things yet – I think it’s only a matter of time.  😦

The trend is “gender bending.”

It’s nothing new, really.  We did it in the States – for KIDS – in Mulan.  Japan’s done plenty of it.  Matter of fact, there’s been a transgender individual in almost every Japanese show I’ve seen, which is why I don’t like live-action Japanese TV. Just about every time I watch what would normally be a family-friendly G-rated show, there’s a cross-dresser. They’re inundated with it over there in Japan.

It concerns me that I see it coming to Korea.

Gender-bending shows, like Coffee Prince, You’re Beautiful, Hana Kimi, and the latest, Taiwan’s Bromance, are fan favorites internationally.  In all of these shows, heterosexual, beautiful girls dress up like boys and live or work among men due to various reasons.  None of the reasons make a lot of sense, and all seem to be very contrived, but thus lies the problem in romantic comedy (rom-com) plots: got to create some unbelievable circumstances to force the couple to be together.  In Coffee Prince, she needs a male-only job to make more money for her family.  In You’re Beautiful, she has to sing in a male k-pop group in her miscreant brother’s place.  In Hana Kimi, she infiltrates a boys’ only school to convince her idol to get back into track and field.  And, in Bromance, a fortune teller told her parents she would have bad luck unless she pretended to be a guy until her 26th birthday.  All pretty lousy reasons to fake masculinity, if I do say so myself.  😛

Can you tell which one is the female in each?

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chinese taiwan drama_bromace 爱上哥们_赖雅妍_Megan Lai_陈楚河_River Chen_ai shang ge meng_seoul in love now blog_1

In almost all of these shows, with the exception of You’re Beautiful where he knows she’s a girl, one of the leading men in the story – Mr. Macho Masculinity himself – falls for our boy-girl not knowing she’s a girl.  Mr. Leading Man is staunchly heterosexual, and is surrounded, usually, by a cast of other handsome males whom he has never had feelings for.  His affection for the weakling, feminine-faced new guy (our cross-dressing girl) confuses the living daylights out of him.  And, at some point, he has to accept “being gay,” or at least looking like it, in order to embrace his deep love for the girly-guy, who must exude some sort of strong feminine pheromone, even though the entire world can’t tell her gender.

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Now, if you’re a straight male reading this, you’re cringing.  I don’t know a single guy who’d say that his ideal love story involves falling for his best guy friend, whom he didn’t know was female.  It insults men on every level.  And the guys in the dramas are hurt.  They’re hurt when they think they’re becoming gay over their bestie.  They hurt when they found out how deeply she’s lied to them.  They’re broken down, confused, and hung out to dry.  It’s painful to watch.  Yet they get back up and keep loving her.

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This stuff hits women hard in the warm fuzzies. 

And I started to think about why. I’m convinced there’s a much deeper spiritual longing going on here.

As “Occupiedterritories.tumblr” said, in a Coffee Prince exposé,“K-dramas depict love as an overwhelming totality so ecstatic that it transcends just about everything and approaches the realm of the metaphysical.  Love transcends not just sexuality (which it embraces and folds into itself) but, more precisely, sexual identity (which it dissolves and makes moot).

Because our male leads haven’t fallen in love with a woman.  They haven’t fallen in love with a man.  They’ve fallen in love with a genderless soul: what is assumed to be a person at their deepest core.  Many of them swear off sex, because, as heterosexual men, the thought of sex with their “male” lover revolts them.  Instead, there is a chasteness to the relationship that is rarely seen on TV (or in real life!)  Except for a kiss or two, they bond on a much deeper level – one of friendship, camaraderie, and dedication.

chinese taiwan drama_bromace 爱上哥们_赖雅妍_Megan Lai_陈楚河_River Chen_ai shang ge meng_seoul in love now blog_2.jpg

A woman wants to think that, at her least attractive – even looking like a man –  that her personality, her friendship, and her soul would be desirable enough to change a man’s sexuality.  That he could get past anything to love her.  That it’s not really about sex at all.  That it’s not about her body at all.  In a culture that tells you you have to be a certain cup-size, a woman wants to think that a man will love her if curves and a female reproductive system don’t exist at all.  That he loves her deepest soul – a part of who she is that makes her unique, individual, and transcends her physical self.  

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Every woman’s dream.

Every human being’s dream really.

All of us are looking for a relationship, love, and passion that cannot be attained on earth.  Even the hardest, coldest, bad boy needs to feel like he’s loved for who he is – even if that lover is him loving himself.  We look for it in many, many places, but, most popularly, in other people.

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Human beings are sinful.  They’re selfish, physically-oriented, small-minded, and weak.  We get sick, we die, we change our minds, we reject, we abuse, and we distort.  We’re not telepathic and we see the world only through our own eyes.  Our understanding of the spiritual worth of a human soul is limited at best.  And, when we find out the ickiest and nastiest about people, it tends to turn us off from that person.  People “fall out of love” every day, with divorce rates at its highest in the last decade.  Bullying is impossible to avoid in most school and work settings.  Finally, more and more, human beings are turning to experimenting sexually, with homosexuality being at its peak in the U.S., with experts guessing at around 10% of the population.

I want to say, firmly, that I stand with the Bible that homosexuality is a sin.  It isn’t natural, it isn’t something you’re born with that you can’t choose to avoid, and it is wrong in God’s eyes, Biblically.

The gender-bender premise is dangerous. In an effort to spiritualize love, like we should be doing, we fall short when we take God-created gender out of the equation. Instead of being a squeal-worthy comedy-fest of true heterosexual love succeeding against the greatest of odds, gender-bender shows introduces dangerous new ideas, like:

  1. Myth: Men don’t appreciate femininity. Women should shake off things that make them female, and should strive to be just like men.  Androgyny is more attractive than embracing the way God made us.

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I have had many guy friends in my life, yet I am one of the most girly people I know – all of my friends will tell you that.  I’ve never upset a guy because I was girly.  I truly think most think “viva la difference” between us.  They like my perspective, and I value theirs.  A girl once told me that my husband needed a tomboy girl – one that played basketball with him, didn’t wear makeup or jewelry, and stuck to blues, grays, and masculine clothing.  He couldn’t possibly appreciate a pink-loving, girly-girl.  Well, turns out, this is the same man who buys me new high heels every year, and likes seeing me in skirts, and long hair dyed pink.  He said it would be pretty boring if I was just like him.  No matter how you dress, your husband married a woman because he wanted a woman!

God created us to complement eachother.  That’s “complement,” like being an opposite matching puzzle piece.  I’m not sure if you’ve had close friends of the opposite gender – although you should have one if you’re married!  The bond can be strong, coupled with the fact that hormones were created to get in there and add spice to the pot that doesn’t exist with same-sex friendships.  It’s so easy to let your relationship with the opposite gender get too close and go too far.  Why?  Because we’re created to be close like that.  We’re created to have ONE spouse, of the opposite gender, who complements, intrigues, attracts, and interests us.

I sure love my girl besties, but none of them will ever compare with the bond I can only achieve with one man.  There’s just something about it.  God created it.

  1. Myth: Gender doesn’t matter.

People want to claim that gender and sexuality matters as much as a pair of shoes.  Wear one pair today, toss ‘em and change to something else tomorrow.

But it seems that gender is intrinsic to our personality and soul – much more than human beings would like to admit.  Even God identifies SOLELY as a He.  Jesus was clearly born male, and He still sits at the right hand of God – male.  And God the Father is inherently male.  Father = male.

Once I heard someone wonder if we would be genderless in heaven.  The concept sat very badly with me.  Maybe I don’t have much of an imagination, but I can’t see how I’d still be RJ Conte in heaven without being female.  Even if my heavenly body isn’t as physical as this one, I think that, if God is male, I will still be female.  God could totally do something miraculous and create new genders or abolish them, but we see no precedence for this in Scripture.  We see commands to embrace our maleness if we’re male, and our femininity if we’re female. We see different roles, different strengths, and even occasionally different commands for males and females, husbands and wives.  We hear of dead people and angels referred to by gender.

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I think we wonder about gender in heaven because there will be no marriage.  I personally don’t think that means there won’t be gender.  There’s no need for marriage, because intimacy in heaven will be complete.  No sexual act with a spouse here on earth will compare to the spiritual – and perhaps physical, mental (telepathy, anyone?), and emotional intimacy we will have with God and other people in heaven.  Marriage will seem like a cruder, less effective method of trying to bond with people.  What about when you can know them completely in a new form?  What about when every moment in God’s presence is pleasurable? Sex will be pointless.  Can you imagine being intimate with God? 

 

I think that’s the point of our pitiful attempts to create the perfect love story.  It can’t compare to the love of God.  He loves our very soul.  He inhabits our body.  He embraces and partakes with us of our emotions. He knows every single thought we’ve ever thought or will think. He doesn’t care what gender we are – His love is the same.  He died for us.  He is the ultimate author of passion.  He is the ultimate lover.  He fills you from the inside out.  He defines your true worth.

There is no intimacy like being inhabited by Christ. 

There is no intimacy like knowing the God of the universe and being known.  Like being died for.

You’re just not ever going to find that in a human man.  Even if you dress up like one.

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RJ Conte writes about love and the Christian life for young adults.  Her latest novel, a romantic suspense, will be released in February on Amazon.com

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