Publishing for Prudes and Protestants

One Christian publisher has created the following list of terms that are forbidden to be used in a Christian, romance novel. (Thanks to Jason Boyett who posted these on his blog.) Apparently we are never to refer to our undergarments, Mike, or Catholic neighbors.

I'm considering taping the list to my kids' bedroom doors as a guideline for their language/behavior as well. That will work, right?
Terms that cannot be used in a Christian novel:
  • Arousal
  • Bastard
  • Bet/betting
  • Bishop
  • Bra
  • Breast (except for breast cancer if necessary)
  • Buttocks or butt (alternatively, you can say derriere or backside)
  • Crap
  • Damn (try "blast" instead)
  • Darn
  • Dern/durn
  • Devil (except in the religious sense, but the circumstances would be rare)
  • Dang or Dagnabbit
  • Doody
  • Father (when used to describe a religious official)
  • Fiend
  • For heaven's sake (can use "for goodness' sake" instead)
  • For the love of Mike
  • For Pete's sake
  • Gee
  • Geez/jeez (but "sheesh" is acceptable)
  • Gosh
  • Golly
  • Halloween
  • Harlot
  • Heat (when used to describe kisses)
  • Heck
  • Hell (except in the religious sense, but this would be rare)
  • Holy cow
  • Hot/hottie
  • Hunk
  • Need/hunger (when used to describe non-food-focused state of being)
  • Pee
  • Poop
  • Panties
  • Passion
  • Priest
  • Sexy
  • Sex
  • Sexual attraction
  • Tempting (as applied to the opposite sex)
  • St. [name of saint]
  • Swear, as in "I swear..." - Christian characters are not supposed to swear.
  • Undergarments - of any kind
  • Whore
The following are allowed only in the context mentioned:
  • Angel - only when used in a Biblical context
  • Miracle - only when used in a Biblical context
  • Oh my God/Oh, God - ONLY allowed when it's clearly part of a prayer
  • Heavenly - only when used in a Biblical context
  • Although you can say “He cursed” or mention cursing, do not overuse. Furthermore, only non-Christian characters can curse.
Situations to be avoided:
  • Kissing below the neck
  • Visible signs or discussions of arousal or sexual attraction or being out of control
  • Double entendre
  • Nudity - people changing clothes "on screen" or any character clad only in a towel
  • Hero and heroine sleeping in the same house without a third party, even if they're not sleeping together or in the same room
  • Also, Christian characters should not smoke, drink, gamble, play cards or dance (except in historical novels they may dance but please limit to square dances and balls, no “sexy” dancing like waltzing cheek to cheek), and terms associated with these activities should only be used in connection with bad guys or disapproving of them or such.
  • Bodily functions, like going to the bathroom, should be mentioned as little as possible and some euphemism may be necessary but we don't want to sound quaint or absurd.


Tommy said...

if i was to follow this i would never speak again...
btw:underwear is not biblical... Jesus didn't war them.

Chad Estes said...


He sure as heck (can I say that?) did. He is wearing them in all of the pictures of him on the cross.

But what do I know... today all that came in the mail was a postcard inviting me to attend a evangelical college and a sample package of panty liners. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for passing this list on to the rest of us. I had a great chuckle. I would certainly never appear as a character in one of those novels, at least not as a christian. lol

Oh, and I wonder which publishers are this strict. Kingsbury and other authors don't exactly follow certain aspects of this list. For instance, some of her christian characters have affairs and are tempted in many ways. I think it makes her characters more realistic. I'm often touched by the messages she leaves.

Anonymous said...

What publisher is that idiotic with their list? I cannot imagine finding a novel anywhere on any shelf that would not have at least one of those words. And talk about unrealistic. I do not know one Christian who would shy from saying "Gee" "Gosh" "Dang" or "Golly"...Where does this guy live? Fantasy Land? Nope...I am sure I heard Alice say something on that list. said...

Couldn't help but think of the seven things you can't say on TV from, I think, George Carlin. They DEFINITELY wouldn't find their way into this publisher's books!

Chad Estes said...

The really funny thing is that this is the Christian arm of Harlequin that has these restrictions. Here is the list of rules on their website:

Anonymous said...

Renee...this MUST be some obscure publisher who cannot possibly get any quality novels to publish because nobody I have ever met would read anything that prudish. Like you said, more realistic characters are what people want.

Debbie said...

They may not SAY any of those terms BUT can they DO them? All the characters would be dead if they did not DO some of those things....certainly there would be no 'progeny' if they did not DO some of those things....but then none of us do and babies come from under cabbage leaves...

Anonymous said...

Most of this is false.

Chad Estes said...

Anonymous, what part is false?! The whole section is lifted verbatim off of the publisher's website.

For Pete's Sake!

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