What makes a book “clean”?

Riffing on my post from last night about the idolatry of Christian romance books, I have been thinking and praying about what makes a book “clean.”

When I revised my Welcome page, last month, I wrote that my first reviewing objective is purity and my second is truth.

I also wrote “I am happy to recommend a light, clean romance…”

But, my current thought is that so much of what media characterizes as “clean,” is, in fact, not clean.

How the World Defines “Clean”

“Clean” is a synonym for “no sex,” or in some cases, “no sex between unmarried people.” Beyond that, different people may have different standards of “cleanliness,” based on the graphicness or concentration of romantic content. (For me, I’m pretty sensitive to descriptive content and appreciate lighter romance.)

So I think that the idea of “clean” content can align with Christian beliefs, (since the Bible is clear that sex is supposed to happen exclusively in the context of marriage) but we encounter an issue when clean books are promoting a secular, idolatrous worldview.

And I think that is so often the case. I think of the fact that, Hallmark, for instance, has been a source of clean, family-friendly entertainment for me. While the romance is light, usually the point is something along the lines of “I was missing something my whole life and now I know what it was… You!”

For those who are unfamiliar with the motif, cupcakes are very important in most some Hallmark films.

Which sounds really sweet, but is also a serious problem when the “you” in question isn’t Jesus.

When “Clean” isn’t so Clean

All this is to say that, using a standard definition of “clean,” I don’t think that’s the kind of book I will be reviewing. I want to promote books that actively encourage Christian readers, because materials that are intended to be inoffensive (“clean”) are often advocating for a worldly, and idolatrous, mindset.

The mindset is incredibly prevalent, and I think that’s why it slips under the radar and falls into the category of “innocent” content. But it’s not.

To reiterate, purity is immensely important to me. I’m not trying to downplay the significance of purity. Rather, I want to broaden my outlook on purity, embracing an idea that is not just about physical purity, but also encompasses spiritual purity.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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