11/15/09

Twilight: A Passion of Deviance

When Classic Romanticism meets Human Depravity
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.  


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A Follow Up
Emotional Pornography

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.

Visionary Daughters

5 comments:

  1. I do not want to take this time to decide whether Twilight is good or bad, but I would like to address some of the issues you brought up in your video from another perspective.
    I do agree with you that obsession in any form is a recipe for sin. I think young women need to be careful of this in regard to Robert Pattinson. As far as the Physical intimacy of Edward and Bella. I agree that Bella has a wrong view on intimacy, but I do believe that throughout the movie Edward shows great self-control, which is something that young men in this world, as a rule, lack.
    I think one of the questions that the movie brings up is if something evil happens to you does that make you evil and must you continue down that evil path? While God is not in this movie, Edward strives to redeem himself or in the least not inflict evil on others. He desires to not be evil. This question is asked repeatedly in Hollywood. Can someone who has done evil or is forced to do evil change and become something good? While I agree that Vampires are the product of demons I believe that the underlying question has merit to be answered.
    In regard to Bella and Edward's relationship being called lust not love...I believe that Bella does flirt with her lust and that you can tie Edward's thirst for her blood to lust, but here is another question. If a man is going out with a woman and desires her he should have self-control, but does that mean he should never sees her? That he should not go out with her? I think at some point in every relationship a man or woman will be tempted by lust and that God gives us self-control to resist this temptation. Edward resists while Bella does not. In the later book Edward also makes it very clear to Bella that he will not be physically intimate with her until they are married which is in keeping with the Bible.
    As far as her not being in fellowship, to begin with, her character is portrayed as a loner.
    While at times I believe that Edward and Bella are selfish I believe that shows a humanness. It is human to care for oneself.
    Bella is self-sacrificing in regard to her mother. She is willing to give herself to protect those she loves. She is not willing to meet the other "bad" vampire until she believes that her mother is in danger.
    Edward also shows a deep level of care for his family and her family in that he strives to protect all that he loves.
    While the lines may be blurred as to whether Edward is good or bad I believe the end message is that "good" triumphs over "evil".

    I don't want to say much about the feminism part because I do not feel I can be completely unbiased as I am a woman. But I do want to say that I believe that Feminism has both good and bad parts. I believe that Men, in general, have become cowards and that woman have taken the role of initiator because of that. I do not believe that is how God intended it, but in the absence of leadership from men, woman do not just stand by and do nothing. Men must take back their role and stop forcing woman to step up and shoulder the responsibility.

    In conclusion I believe that Twilight has both good and bad questions and ideas for our world. I believe, as you do, that we should use discernment with what we watch. i think that Hollywood has taken this movie and mixed it so that only those who choose to will see the different messages. We as God's children must decide and discern in regard to what Hollywood tries to tell us. Twilight has some questions worth answering and some ideas not worth our time. I leave it to the individual to decide if they want to try to answer.
    Tiffany Hempel

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  2. Good thoughts Tiffany. You're spot on when you say that women have taken the initiative because men have shirked their responsibility. Bravo to that! Men need to start being men again so women don't need to shoulder burdens which don't rightfully belong to them. I think you make a great point about Edward having self-control too. He has remarkable (unrealistic) willpower in the face of tempting situations. I maintain that these situations are unnecessary however. Paul told Timothy to "flee" youthful lusts. He didn't say, "put on the full armor of God and fight." He simply said, "run!" Edward plays with fire. The fact that he doesn't get burned speaks more of Hollywood Romanticism, than real life. I recall the scene in which Edward says, "I want to try something," and then proceeds to kiss Belle. In the context of her bedroom, alone, at night, probably...not such a good idea. The vast majority of guys would not have stopped where Edward did. For that we can give him respect. However, Edward chose to get himself in that situation in the first place. That he could control. I do agree with you that temptations arise in any relationship, but the solution is not putting ourselves in those situations. I enjoyed reading your thoughts though Tiffany. Very inciting!

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  3. Atleast they were married before they did anything together...I know that the book is basically polluting the minds of this generation but it is an enjoyable book and as long as you are old enough to understand and ignore certain things I think it's okay to read it. I think teenagers need to understand that Bella and Edward don't have a real relationship and it's basically just based on lust because Edward wants to drink Bella's blood really badly and Bella wants to...well...have sex with Edward really badly.

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  4. If those are the main themes of the book as you admit, why would it be acceptable (or even feasible) to ignore them? What redeeming value is held by the other parts of the book?

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  5. Well I don't even know what to say...I guess I just don't really read between the lines when I read books so I don't necessarily see the big picture and how maybe this book doesn't have any value in life. I just read the book because it's exciting no matter how fake it is and how bad the message is. I'm not really sure how to answer your questions. I think your correct about everything you say I just don't really read into the real message of the book I just enjoy the thrill of reading it.

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