Well, it’s finally time for me to put these thoughts into words.
First, I really appreciate Mr. Karl Harmdierk’s commentary on the Living Church of God website – “The Day Is Darkest at Twilight” – about the presence of occult concepts in the Twilight books and movies. There are a number of things about that side of the stories that should be considered but which often aren’t. (For instance, the author, Ms. Stephanie Meyer’s claims to have gotten her ideas from dreams where the characters where talking to her, etc.) The glorification of “goth” elements and culture present in the stories is not something to be casually ignored.
However, there is an additional aspect about the Twilight series, both the books and the movies, that touches on a principle that I care very much about and have tried to communicate. It’s part of the very heart of what we’ve tried to accomplish with the Living Youth programs. And although I am very passionate about this particular topic, I will endeavor to be brief – though, certainly much more could be said than I will say here.
The Twilight books (and the movies, Twilight and New Moon, starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have not been exceptions) have been praised by some for their element of “chastity.” After all, in a world where teenagers are depicted as taking off their clothes at every available opportunity, here are characters who do not “consummate” their relationship until they are married. Sounds great, right?
Except it is a deceptive lie. The chastity of Twilight is a counterfeit chastity, and a dangerous one at that.
First, consider some scriptures. We’re told in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (The Living Bible isn’t too bad here: “Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life.”) Also, in the Song of Solomon, the Shulamite gives advice every young person needs to know: “Do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” – stated three times (Song 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). These are given in the context of warnings like in Song 8:6-7, verses which make it clear that it is not just the physical “act” of love that is being spoken of, but the broader realm of romantic emotion that encompasses feelings of intimacy and desire.
Consider, too, the teachings of Jesus Christ, in which He clearly explains to all of us that lusting in your heart is sin just as committing adultery with your body is (Matt. 5:27-28).
In light of these verses and others, the stories of Twilight are dangerous and misleading.
For instance, is Twilight truly “sex free”? Some conclude that it is, because there is no actual, physical fornication taking place. However, this misses the mark by miles. But don’t take my word for it, ask Robert Pattinson, the young actor playing Twilight’s lead vampire, Edward Cullen.
Pattinson has said that Twilight is a metaphor for abstinence. Hey, that sounds great, doesn’t it! But look at his complete comment, given in an interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph: “The success of the Twilight books comes from the fact that fans can lust after Edward and yet, certainly in the first book, there’s no actual sexual contact between him and the series heroine. Twilight is a big metaphor for sexual abstinence, and yet it’s erotic underneath. There are so many elements in the story which are sexy.”
Stephen King, the famous horror novelist, has also explained the pull of the book in similar terms to MSNBC: “People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening because it’s not overtly sexual” (emphasis mine).
The key word there, of course, is “overtly” – the sensual eroticism and sexuality that Mr. Pattinson and Mr. King are talking about is not upfront and openly on display. But that it is there is beyond dispute.
Mr. King continues in the same interview: “A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like, the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.” And yet by centering so much of the movie’s emotion around such eroticism, Twilight not only demands that its young, female readers “deal with” such sensual thinking and emotions, it also glorifies those things.
This is exactly what we are fighting against in the Living Church of God – a culture of compromise that has forgotten true values. When we’ve lost sight of the true values, it is easier to be deceived in accepting the compromised values for the true ones. When we accept the world’s version of “innocence” and “abstinence” we’ve lost sight of God’s view of these things. The New York Times’ review of The Twilight Saga: New Moon explained the story’s concept of chastity: “Chastity is only hot, after all, when it seems like it actually might be violated.”
“Erotic underneath.” Successful because “fans can lust after” the characters. Not a chastity that is pure and undefiled – a chastity that is “hot” and steamy, because it constantly, painfully lingers at the edge of being violated.
This isn’t chastity as God sees it. It is the devil’s counterfeit.
I know I may have offended some, and that you may want to chalk all of this up to one man’s opinion. Feel free. But that’s my take on it, and I have seen little to make me feel otherwise.