I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog The Problem with Christian heroines

When I started reading mysteries as a young teen, I looked for strong, independent female characters. I found them in authors such as Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt and others. But these were authors who wrote beyond a genre. Many books of the period were meant for quick reads. Both mysteries and romances weren’t meant to be great literature.

Many of the heroines in these books were weak, easily frightened and, if given a choice, made the wrong one. They would do stupid like going off alone into a dark forest, a lonely run-down home, etc. I’d shake my head at their stupidity.

Then came the women’s movement and women determined to stand up for themselves. This trend has greatly influenced our female characters in good and not-so-good ways. These days, when I read fiction, mysteries and romances, I mostly read Christian fiction. Not every author creates heroines as I describe here. In fact, there are many authors who write women who seem to live and breathe in their fictional settings.

However, too many of the female heroines in the books I read these days are drawn so strong and independent that they are stubborn, and refuse to listen to even good advice, They don’t forgive easily and do things their way regardless of the consequences to others. They are more likely to tell God to help than ask and follow His direction. And they still do stupid–going off by themselves, etc. even if they have a bodyguard or someone who is trying to keep them safe. They walk alone into dangerous situations, putting themselves, who they want to save, and those watching out for them in danger.

These women claim to follow Christ, but, by their words and actions, they depend only on themselves. You can’t tell them anything without receiving a negative response. “Can’t tell me what to do!” Sometimes I’d like to see the hero tell them off rather than cower, unable to think around these women.

Truth? Women can follow the Lord, be strong, even up to a point, independent. Yet Godly women should also be humble, listen, wait for God’s timing and direction and, at least, be willing to forgive, and hear the whole story…. They should not be applauded for “spunk,” when they endangered themselves and/or others–even if the situation turned out OK.

I realize a character needs to grow and change during the course of the story, learning, growing in attitudes, faith, etc. along the way. Yet, even when everything is nicely resolved in the end, it is hard for a reader to change one’s opinion when the character begins with some very dominate unlikable traits/behaviors.

I created a hero in one of my books that had so many negative characteristics and behaviors, I wanted to kill him off. I started at the beginning and redrew a hero who made some bad choices but wasn’t unlikeable. Maybe it’s time we do that with some of our overly independent heroines. Why not create women, who, even in awful situations past or present, show a Godly as well as a softer human side?

2022 Carolyn R Scheidies

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