On the first day of our honeymoon, my husband and I were waiting at the Miami airport when I decided to buy a good book for the trip. I knew we would be spending plenty of time out on the beach, and I also knew I’d get bored just laying there, so I found a bookstore and began to sniff around.
A number of my friends (female friends, that is) had recently gotten sucked into the phenomenon that is the Twilight series, so when I happened upon a display that contained all 4 books, I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t exactly planning on reading theology during my stay in St. Lucia, so this was just the sort of thing I was looking for.
And like my friends, I got sucked in almost immediately. I knocked out the 500+ pages beast of a book in a matter of days. In fact, on our way back home I found myself frantically scouring the Charlotte airport looking for the sequel. Eventually I received a text message from my husband beckoning me back to the gate so that I wouldn’t miss the flight, so I moped back to the gate, sulking that I would have to wait another day before I could continue the series.
Eventually I went to a local store and purchased New Moon, which I similarly finished in just a few days.
This brings me to the title of my blog. Don’t worry, this is not one of those conservative Christian condemnations of all things magical like Harry Potter. I think Harry Potter is awesome, and I think vampires are pretty fun too. That’s actually why I saw the first Twilight movie and duped my husband into going with me–I thought it was an action vampire movie. Of course, I couldn’t have been more wrong, but I didn’t know that at the time.
Plus, the books themselves are fairly PG rated. I’m not sure the other two are quite as innocent as the first, but with the exception of some intense kissing scenes, the sex and language is held at bay. A refreshing change from most romance novels these days.
The real reason I have misgivings about this series (and keep in mind that I have only read half of it) is the emotional intensity of the relationship between the two main characters, Edward and Bella. Regularly, both characters make statements about one another that are beyond melodramatic. They’re flat out ridiculous. When Edward thinks that Bella is dead, he tries to kill himself. When Bella is under threat of being murdered by several different characters in the story, she brushes it all off because she can face anything in the world as long as Edward is by her side. He is “her life” and she is “inextricably in love with him.” (after having known him for just a few months)
Bella talks about Edward the way Scripture talks about Jesus. He is her savior. He is her idol. And that idolatry is made to look romantic and enticing for countless young women across the country.
Now in some ways, the heightened drama of this love story is really no different from the likes of Romeo and Juliet (with whom the two are frequently compared throughout the books) but what disturbs me about the books is its near cult-like popularity among young girls today–an appeal that Romeo and Juliet no longer have. I have a 12 year old cousin who is like a little sister to me, and she’s got pictures of Edward all over her room. She’s also read all 4 of the books, as have her friends. She is literally eating it up with a spoon.
And that scares me. In a culture where women derive so much of their worth from guys, where young girls are actually committing suicide when they are shunned by a guy at school, is it responsible to encourage this story line? Bella is made out to be the heroine, even though her obsession with Edward is utterly pathetic. She has no sense of self apart from him, yet she is placed on a pedestal at the center of a supposedly great love story. That is not the message that I want my cousin, or my future daughters, to absorb as they figure out their identities in Christ. Not only could such a message negatively impact future dating relationships, but it could short-circuit their relationship with God as well.
It’s for that reason that I would not consider the Twilight books a positive way to shape my daughters’ worldview, should I ever be so blessed to have some. As I mold them into women who fear the Lord above all else, teaching them to found their identities on Christ instead of men, I fear that the Twilight novels would undermine these efforts. Women love the books so much because it is the sweetest of temptations, feeding their imaginations with illusions of the grandest kind, and I would fear tempting my sweet little one in this way.
With that in mind, I would even be wary of some adult women reading these books, or books like them. For women, our imaginations can be a tremendous source of struggle. They can create in us expectations that do not match with the world, or more importantly God’s plan. When we create such expectations, we go to great lengths to achieve them, even at a cost to ourselves. So for single women for whom this issue is a struggle, or even married women who are experiencing disappointment in their marriage, I would be careful about these books. They have the potential to shape our imaginations in ways that can be toxic for our relationships.
So at the risk of sounding like a prude, that is why I wouldn’t let my daughters read the Twilight books. I’m not sure if I personally am going to continue the series or not–like I said, it’s a quick and easy read, which is sometimes kind of nice. And so far it’s been pretty clean, which is also a nice change of pace. But we must be diligent about the information we consume. At any age, our minds are still moldable because our imaginations are so vivid, so we must be cautious about what it is we’re consuming, and whether it harmonizes with the truth of God.