By: Jonathan Harris
“Substance;” it’s the cry of our day. It’s what journeys are made of, conversations obsessed with, dreams haunted by, and fantasies transformed into. It’s the all-encompassing satisfaction, the never-ending gratification, the “thing” that makes everything else worth it. Scientific inquiry could only probe so far, religious devotion so deep, and hedonism so long, before their adherents became depressed in the shadow of futility. Particulars were never capable of pointing the way to absolutes, yet stubbornly man insists on futility. Every historical period has adopted a philosophical approach attempting a framework for capturing and holding substance. Today the spirit of romanticism reigns supreme. A type of mystical fate, portrayed by art, reflects what satisfies the soul. Drawing on pre-Christian orders of darkness, paganism has once again dawned as one aspect of our humanistic answer. Being recast on the canvas of romanticism, the darkness can now be called “light,” being pleasant to the senses, delightful to the eyes, and comforting to the pride of life. The Twilight saga is just the latest installment in a long line of such developments. Attempting to paint the ancient creatures of demonic cultures as the good guys is not something Christians should take lightly. The very action of drinking blood (whether animal or human) dates back to ancient soothsaying practices in direct violation of the Bible (Gen. 9:4, Acts 15:29). More importantly perhaps, Twilight’s emphasis on individualism and emotional euphoria as the absolute substance poses a troubling threat to the outlook of its young audience. Let’s take a look at what the first movie “Twilight” presents in contrast to Biblical principles.
It should be obvious to anyone with any familiarity with the Twilight saga, that Belle and Edward are “in Love.” Belle exclaims that she is “irrevocably in Love” after an extremely short but involved relationship. Does she even know what love is after two dates and a couple "hellos" (let alone Twilight's young audience)? With both characters moving at lightning speed toward intimacy, it should come as no surprise that hormones, and not a renewed mind, make all the decisions. Edward is seen as the mature, morally upright (to contrast him with those who would rape Belle), and passionate teenager, with one real weakness: Belle. He is observed to possess a great deal of restraint, but confesses, “I don’t have the strength to stay away from you anymore (referring to Belle),” and, “you are my personal brand of heroin.” Of course, any young female would be overjoyed to be a boys only weakness, and Belle capitalizes on Edward’s dilemma making physical advances to temp him into “giving in.” The film’s feminist sub-theme portrays Belle as initiating the relationship, and even encouraging another girl in the film to act likewise, rendering the way Belle and Edward meet to be in violation of the way Christ pursues the Church. Christian proponents of Twilight like to claim, “There is no sex,” I think a word is left out: “shown.” Edward thirsts for Belle’s blood, and “It is the idea of killing the girl that becomes the metaphor for consummating the sex.”1 Belle and Edward get as close as they possibly can, flirting with the idea of consummating their “love.” “every touch between Bella and Edward is electric, clearly with a sensual undertone.2” Edward likes watching Bella sleep (without her knowledge) finding her condition “interesting,” and on one occasion in the film spends the entire night holding her as she sleeps (with her knowledge). Aside from being unrealistic, this should send at the very minimum a red flag to parents and youth leaders concerned about what their children are reading. Edward seems to substitute the words "flirt with," instead of, "flee" when it comes to youthful lusts. This relationship goes beyond attraction. The entire film focuses on a young girl’s obsession with intimacy, both physical and emotional, to the exclusion of all other impulses. The will to be human is lost when Belle unceasingly begs to loose her soul (something Edward believes will send her to hell with him) through becoming a vampire herself. The longing for a parental relationship is destroyed as she lies, manipulates, and ignores (sometimes upon Edward’s direction) her concerned parents in order to share her intimate thoughts with her boyfriend. Her high school acquaintances, though trying to reach out and be friendly, are often times ignored as well. The picture of love here is not a Biblical self-sacrificial one. It’s a “what-can-I-get”exclusivity. Adolescent girls are taught that positive rewards come to fruition when wise council is not sought in favor of trusting one’s heart. Twilight teaches that when your in love no one else really matters. Belle’s whole life has one object, and that’s a young man whose personality, while unrealistically cute (think metro, CW, 25 in high school, never got dirty in his life type of guy), is shadowed by a selfish character.
“Edward knows, and says, that Bella would be better off without him, but that he can't bear to be without her. . . Real love would release Bella, knowing that her fascination for Edward will probably lead to her death. But love in Twilight is not real love. It's selfish. Edward interacts with Bella because it's what makes him feel good, not what is best for her. Additionally, Bella knows that Edward would be better off without her. When he's with her, he constantly has to fight his urges. Sometimes it's almost impossible. Someone who really loved him, selflessly, would leave him or make him leave her for his own sake. Instead, Bella does what she wants to do, for her own sake, and stays with him.”2
Even if Belle was perceptive enough to analyze Edward’s obvious motives, it probably wouldn’t make a huge difference. After Edward told her that he was a “murderer” (the implication being that he had, in the past, killed humans for their blood), Belles response was a lack of concern. Both parties idolize each other making their world extremely narrow and small.
Set against the backdrop of dreary Forks Washington, the misty air and dark landscape seem to flirt with our desire to interact with the wild. The changing weather is contrasted with the deep measure of substance Belle finds in the midst of her tumultuous life. Her lust for Edward provides her with stability. She freely confesses to him her desire to become a vampire and live with him forever, even though she realizes the implication is losing her soul. Love at all costs is the message, and our generation has latched onto it. The only problem is, true love is not self-serving, but God honoring. This is the only love that offers stability and substance. The flame of romance is a thousand times stronger when it goes much deeper than looks and personality. When the heart of two individuals is sown together by the chords of ministry, the humility of character, and the desire to serve God, true passion emerges. Mystery and curiosity are not supporting features to a healthy relationship, but rather clarity and understanding. Substance is only found in Jesus Christ. If the premises of Twilight are accepted by the Church, we will not have to spread our message to the world, because they will have already given it to us.
For more information on Twilight from a Christian perspective, check out Albert Mohler (Southern Baptist Theological President) Radio, CCM magazine, Revelife, and CBN.
1. AlbertMohler.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.
2. "The Twilight Worldview-My Perspective on Edward, Bella and the Movie/Book | revelife." Revelife | Christian Community for the Heart, Mind, and Soul. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.
This isn't meant to be another anti-Twilight posting, or a warning to those who enjoy the Twilight Saga, any more than it is an anti-romantic fantasy and pornography article. I've already done a great deal in voicing what I believe the dangerous inconsistencies are for those who enjoy Twilight yet also believe in Biblical Truth, however, I never thought of the point the article below makes until now. It's a brilliant observation, and yet so obvious! Please take a minute to read it. Let me know your thoughts. The church should really at the very least consider what it says.