"Jesus loves your girl more than you do": Marriage as Triangle in Evangelical Romance and Puritan Narratives

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When I read the novels, I was surprised by their positive representations of love triangles among man, woman, and God, which are often represented as vexed, even perilous, in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Puritan texts that are my academic specialty.

In evangelical romances [...] heroes and heroines see God as a full partner and active presence in their courtships and marriages. (323)

Puritan texts about marriage often feature similar triangles, but some Puritan writers represent these relationships as markedly less comfortable. In Puritan texts, God's status as the better lover sometimes situates the earthly husband in a competition he cannot win with a competitor he is obligated to love and worship. The contrast between Puritan texts and evangelical romances highlights both continuities and shifts in American Protestantism and its literature, including the legacies of eighteenth-century revivals, gendered patterns of Protestant religious  experience, and the increasing importance of women as writers and readers from the nineteenth century onward. (324)