This week all the talk is sure to be about Twilight, and I don’t mean the kind that comes to America after several years of an Obama administration. It’s a new movie based on the best-selling book by Stephenie Meyer and deals with a common girl dilemma: what to do when your boyfriend’s a vampire.
Yes, I know, you’ve already talked with your teen about this, but keep reading. After selling a multi-gazillion copies, there was no doubt Twilight would come to the screen with the predictably wide-eyed ing?nue (Kristen Stewart) with her carnivorous metrosexual beau (Robert Pattinson). Bella and Edward fall in love in high school biology, amid the dissections and blood. He’s not really seventeen, but a hundred and something years old.
Even after learning through the grapevine Edward is a vampire, Bella still risks being alone with him, despite his confessed “hunger” for her— really. He spends most of their dates barely hanging onto self-control and avoiding her neck. He and his vampire pseudo-family tend to attract other vampires and one becomes a stalker of Bella. Edward saves her from both an earlier auto accident and from this predatory vampire. Damsel-in-distress Bella is totally captivated by Edward after these rescues, and tries to talk him into having his way with her after the prom.
And we are not talking virginity loss here. She wants to “become like him,” even if it means her death. As the first book in this series concludes, Edward acts like any noble vampire should and resists the temptation to kill his girlfriend. Our kids need so much more than a condom these days, apparently.
Now, I have seen the movie trailer but not yet the movie. I can only speak for the book and it contains no sex, just a few passionate kisses. There are many commentators who think this first book of the Meyer series (four books now, Twilightbeing the first) sets a great example of abstinence for teens. However, let’s not be too hasty with praise.
Despite the absence of intercourse, the glue of this book is barely restrained passion and actually, blood-lust. It’s the Romeo/Juliet star-crossed lover thing, with an occult twist. It’s craving on his part, idolatry on hers. And he’s not human. Isn’t there some passage about demons and human women in the book of Genesis? And the results did not please God.
Edward is Bella’s ideal—“interesting— and brilliant— and mysterious— and perfect— and beautiful...” (p.79) and his perfection is a major theme of the story.
But he’s a supernatural being and even though in pop culture, we are familiar with the vampire archetype, there’s a biblical identity that Christians should see right off. If vampires ever did or do exist, the translation of “vampire” for Christians is “demon.”
Now, once you start looking at Edward this way, the story takes on a whole new aura and not a cute one. He wants her blood-—her life. He is charming and protective one moment and her greatest threat the next—and he tells her all this. And she loves it and welcomes it. The tension between them is enormous. He is with her always, since he can manifest anywhere without entry through doors, and he needs no sleep. So as she drifts off to sleep, he remains in her bedroom as her “guardian- demon.” Her dad of course has no idea about this presence. And she loves him so much she would sacrifice her young life for him, becoming a non-human herself.
Is this what we want occupying our daughters hearts and minds, even in a fantasy world? Romantic obsession with a demonic presence?
The blood thing really should bother us for other reasons. We have an epidemic of cutting as a well-known adolescent pathology. More common among girls, the troubled youth makes small blood-letting incisions on her arms. Why do well-fed and clothed middle American kids engage in something so bizarre and self-destructive? It seems to be a form of punishment, but for what? Kids are too young to be so guilt-ridden.
I believe there are spiritual issues involved. These kinds of strange maladies look a lot like demonic activity. Well, here we are with books that focus quite centrally on the heroine’s blood. Edward saves her life at the end of Twilight, but has to suck venom out of her blood to do so— and nearly cannot control himself from “going all the way.”
I know what everyone is going to say—“It’s only a story! It’s only fantasy!” But have you ever seen teen girls once they become fixated even on a fictional character? It does have an effect on them. I used to want to “be” Scarlett O’Hara at age twelve, which I gave up once I became convinced I would one day marry Paul McCartney. And so on. Today it’s Harry Potter when they’re twelve and vampires when they're fifteen. Great.
These interests do shape prototypes of the kind of romance they want. Especially in this age of girlie men, many young women long for a guy with some life to him. Of course, this is over the top-- a guy who lusts after your blood. But what about the appeal of a guy who can’t control himself in other ways—and date-rapes your daughter? Part of her has been trained to believe this is what “real love” is—the guy who is so taken with you, he has trouble not destroying you.
We are setting up our girls to be, at the very least, disappointed with the reality of an ordinary but nice non-vampire guy, even if he isn’t a wimp. At worst, she may tolerate abuse as the normal part of a really “passionate” relationship.
Fantasy has a spiritual aspect to it, which even Christians dismiss in this media age. Yet does Scripture provide for a separation of garbage into a neat “entertainment” category in our minds and hearts? No, we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Spending lots of time fascinated with romance involving demons is not the obedience of Christ.
Christ gave his blood for us. He did not ask for ours in return. No fantasy should twist such a desire into “love.” This sounds a lot more like the calling card of a demonic enemy.
We continue to hand our kids over to the mental environments of death. Unless we change course, they will see spiritual twilight indeed.