Why I Wouldn’t Let My Daughter Read the Twilight Books

Sharon Dating, Pop-Culture, Relationships, Singleness, Women's Ministry 11 Comments

Twilight 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.

51

Comments 11

  1. Amber

    I completely understand and see where you’re coming from. I started the series way before it got popular. Once all the hype started, I had just finished the third book and I was completely turned off by then. I meet girls and women who are OBSESSED and it doesn’t make any sense at all to me. I even asked a young woman (she was atleast 20 years old) why she cared so much, and she could not give me a logical answer, which made me go hmmm. I will give Stephenie Meyer some props for keeping it pretty clean though. I really do hope that women come to see how dramatic and unrealistic the “love” is between Bella and Edward. I don’t think that any real man would be attracted to a girl/woman like that.

  2. sherri

    Nice to have you back from your honeymoon. St Lucia sounds very exotic.
    I’d never let my kids read anything that glorified either witchcraft or death/horror – demons in any form. What fellowship has light with darkness? Turning it into a ‘harmless’ fantasy is only putting it in a prettier dress.

  3. Chelsea

    I think this a very interesting point, as I have some friends who strongly oppose the twilight series because they think the book is really evangelical, or “too Christian”. I have not read it, so it’s interesting to it’s flaws being called out on the opposite end of the spectrum.

  4. MJ

    ugh…palease…it’s a STORY. I would definitely let the Twilight be part of the ONGOING conversation with my daughter about idolatry, sex before marriage and what it means to be in love with a man. I read and got “hooked” with this series as a 31 one year old, married for 9 years woman, b/c it’s candy. I remember very distinctly beinga 17 year old strong headed female with my then “Edward” (whoever the crush was at the time) and then having the continuous discussion with my mother about fairness in love, etc. My mother never forbade me not to read anything, she was always a step ahead and voice above.

    You have to understand the darkness to truly value the light.

  5. MJ

    and furthermore…(sorry, I just feel a little compelled this morning) when you have discussion with you daughter about what’s happeneing in the world and prepare her for what things her peers maybe reading, watching and DOING, you are also preparing her to become equipped to have conversations with her friends, especially the ones who may not have a mother they can talk to. Peer counsel is the most underestimated tool a parent can use to help shape the minds around them. Some of my best friends kept me straight (and I, them) and narrow from our slumber party discussions…:)

    Phenoms like this will never go away, someone else will write something that will surpass this and teens/tweens will always have a heart throb of their geneeration. Shoot, mine were NKOTB…LOL….

    Sharon, finish the book. It gets ridicuolous at some parts, but it is SCI-FI/Fantasy. Then go read a nice Frank E. Peretti book. My favorites still hands down are Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness….oh and read Tilly. I read that when I was 14.

  6. Emo

    I would just have to disagree that vampires are cool. They are really creepy if you think about it. And I feel that my daughter would have that same opinion. 🙂

  7. Post
    Author
    Sharon

    You know, MJ, I actually considered the option you suggested of reading books like Twilight alongside of my daughter. I think that is a valid idea–-teaching her along the way about the pitfalls of Bella’s thinking. But I definitely wouldn’t let my daughter read the books as “just a fun story” without prepping her first. When we write stuff off as being benign simply because it’s just a fun story, I think we underestimate the power of imagination, as well as the power of friends to influence how we process what we’re consuming.

    But yes, I do support the idea of processing culture alongside of our children. There is a time to shelter them from the culture, but there is also a time to shepherd them through it. I pray I have the wisdom to know the difference.

  8. Ashbee

    Sharon,

    Very insightful, as always. I have finished the series, and there was always that “something” about it that bothered me. (I started it because my middle school and high school aged sisters were reading it, although I don’t live with them I like to be able to still discuss a Biblical worldview. I, too, got sucked into it).

    I was talking with my fiance about it. What was it that drew everyone into it? His response was simple. “Think about it, your a clumsy, imperfect girl (all girls feel that way) and all of the sudden a perfect, gorgeous man devotes his every breath to you. He never sleeps, he never eats … he can spend all his time focused on you. It’s a different form of Heaven. Edward is a slightly less perfect Christ who Bella can form everything around. They live forever, in perfect bodies … etc …

    I agree with you, Sharon, I’m not sure how positive this can be on the minds of girls who are already insecure. Why should we push girls (more) to rotate their life around a guy rather than Christ?

  9. sherri

    Isn’t it just a matter of degrees. You can ‘process’ culture like death metal, horror and soft porn as well to your children while allowing them to be entertained by the ‘harmless’ bits.

    When is ‘processing’ just a cop out?

  10. MJ

    Sharon-I appreciate you geting back to me. I was at the beach with very little internet access (which is it’s own blessing in and of itself!)

    Please know I’m not disagreeing with you, I did myself say to my mother, I’m not sure how I would let my daughter read this without serious discussion. (it’s funny, we read the series together, it’s the first time in a long time we have been able to do that) I have a son and I shudder to think what I will come up against when he is older. I’m grateful for my husband to lead by example in that respect.

    I just worry that we as parents wait too long to start the conversations about life, love and God’s hand in it all when they hit the tween age. Whether they are into angels, vampires or Sweet Valley twins (oh, showing my age again). And just for the record, I will always have a soft spot of Team Jacob. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *