The other side of “Twilight”

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.

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14 thoughts on “The other side of “Twilight”

  1. Carol

    I agree, and the characters do desire the improper sexual relationship but don’t indulge for safety reasons. That’s hardly purity.

    It’s also concerning that young women now see Edwin, the male vampire, as the ideal man – when he actually displays obsession, jealousy and a very controlling nature. If a real guy behaved that way, any young woman should run screaming.

  2. Monica

    I will admit that I am not familiar with either movie other than the fact that it deals with vampires–which at that point stops my interest. What is even more detestable is that apparently the mothers of the children are even more interested in these movies. (Tells a lot about the direction of our society for sure.) All I can say to Mr. Smith is a big, “Thank you!” And kudos to Mr. Harmdierks on the excellent commentary!

  3. Debbie

    THANK YOU to both you and Mr Harmdierk for your excellent commentaries on the “Twilight” series. I had been somewhat dismayed at the popularity of “Twilight” even with Church members and so am very happy to see it addressed. Hopefully people will no longer accept it as “just a love story” or “harmless fun”, and recognise that it is attacking those true values that we are striving to uphold.

  4. Deano

    Hello Mr. Smith,

    I think you and Mr. Harmdeirks busted this deal right on z nose. I hate the Twilight phenomenon that has been sweeping over even many in the Church of God.

  5. Thanks, Deano. The Chuch of God “at large” is a real diverse group, so I suppose that it shouldn’t be surprising if some are fond of the series for certain reasons, especially for the same reasons that many others of good intent are fond of it. And it is certainly true that individuals of good will can disagree peacefully.

    However, I can say that this is a topic that I have thought about since well before the movies began coming out & before the book series ended, so it isn’t something that I put together overnight. In fact, I suppose this post is the result of a discussion I had with another minister a few years ago that I have been meditating on and weighing my thoughts over for some time.

  6. Ashleigh

    It’s easy to let garbage in, but hard to get it out. Thank you very much Mr. Smith for having the courage and clarity to speak your mind about this matter. Other than the fact that the series deals with vampires, I’m not at all familiar with it–and I plan to keep it that way. Nowadays, I am so on guard with what I read or watch now. I’ve been trying to purge my mind from the junk I used to watch that to spend money in support of these books and read them would undo everything I’ve worked for.

    Since there is so much of God’s Truth poured into the Living Church of God website, I don’t have extra time to read books that’ll never enrich me or make me a better person. I hope even people, young and old, in God’s Church realize they have all of the best right there in their bible.

  7. ALM

    As much as I love working in a library, it brings me great angst to see kids as young as 8 or 9 checking out books laden with witches, demons, vampires and dragons. It seems that in order to keep kids and people in general interested in reading, it must contain all the above, with plenty of sex, sirens, gore and whatever else will “play” with the senses. Few are the families that still check out books like the Little House books about Laura Ingalls Wilder, mysteries like Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. Seems they go straight from Curious George to vampires. And at younger and younger ages. Thanks for a different POV than I usually get during the day to day grind, where parents are mainly concerned that “at least the kids are READING”.

  8. Genesis 9:4 and Acts 15:20 are another VERY good reason to question the Twilight series. Thank you for what you have said- I think that the Twilight series is very dangerous- a strategy of the enemy. Especially because it appears “good”.

    Also, I work in a library. 11 year old girls come in and end up taking out these books after they read the Twilight series:
    http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ or http://sookiestackhouse.com/

    Trust me- there is no abstinence in Ms. Hamilton’s or Ms. Harris’ books!

  9. Witchcraft, vampirism, necromancy, etc do not exist. They are figments of ancient, pre-scientific imagination.

    Those who believe in necromancy in particular should look at Derren Brown’s work (available on YouTube) in which he demonstrates how cold reading (read: necromancy) really works.

  10. Greetings, gls, and I agree that much of what is out there is quite a show. Derren Brown is amazing at demonstrating some of that, and watching him is a worthwhile education. But it doesn’t follow that there is no supernatural realm at all.

  11. questeruk

    This is very true.

    In the past I feel that we were very prone to ascribe anything doubtful to demonism, when often there was a natural explanation.

    However, we need to be careful not to ‘fall in the other ditch’.

    One of the greatest con tricks of Satan is to get people thinking he doesn’t exist, even people that have a firm belief in a God have been fooled into discounting the existence of Satan.

  12. “One of the greatest con tricks of Satan is to get people thinking he doesn’t exist, even people that have a firm belief in a God have been fooled into discounting the existence of Satan.”

    If it was one of the greatest tricks, how do you know about it? It doesn’t seem to have worked so well.

  13. OK, gls, that’s just illogical.

    Let’s move along, folks. There are better places than here for theological food fights — maybe even places where it would be on topic. But this ain’t one of them.

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