Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twilight and Catholic Girls

Today's question comes not from a fellow teen but a youth minister.

Q: I have several teens addicted to the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers and I noticed some behavioral changes away from modesty and purity attitudes. First, I asked them to help me understand the allure of the books and the response I received was that they liked how Edward was so protective of Bella and that they were chaste until marriage. Another response I received was that the eroticism was consensual but they didn’t take it all the way so it was a lesson in self-restraint. This prompted me to do more research on the subject and to learn what I could without actually reading the books. I fear the eroticism will lead me to a near occasion of sin so I don't wish to read them myself. I am a youth minister and I fear these kids are being lead into a false sense of love and relationships through these books. Since I have recently seen pictures of one of my girls on Facebook with her name inserted into the erotic passages of the books she is reading, I have become more concerned. Do you have any suggestions?

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how potent that part might be—that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
-- Bella Swan: Twilight
Being a 16-year-old girl, I myself have read the Twilight Saga: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. This saga has gotten so popular; it’s to the point that if you’re a girl and haven’t read them, people wonder where you’ve been. And, I must confess, that’s one of the only reasons I continued to read the following installments after the first book—so that I wouldn’t be left out when I heard my friends talking about Edward Cullen (vampire), Bella Swan (human), and Jacob Black (werewolf), the love triangle in the Saga.

I did enjoy reading these books, though, I must say. The plot of the story— “good” vampire boy meets shy, awkward human girl—is very intriguing, and I’ve always loved vampire stories, like Dracula and The Historian. There are also a few redeeming qualities in the Saga. Stephenie Meyer, being a Mormon, did put a lot of moralistic points of view into the books, such as: saving sex till marriage, a pro-life message concerning the unborn (yes, in a saga about vampires!), and Edward’s loathing of being a monster. (In the book, Edward and his family want to be, in a sense, saved from damnation by drinking only the blood of animals, hoping that will win them salvation.)

But while reading these books, it was also very clear to me that Bella and Edward’s relationship was unnatural and unrealistic, and I must say, abusive at times. Basically, Bella is obsessive, and Edward is possessive (which, unfortunately, most girls translate into “protective”). Bella’s always raving over Edward’s body and how he’s like a “god”; Edward’s drawn to Bella’s seductive scent and her blood, and watches her every move, even to the point of watching her in her sleep. Sounds like the common, abusive relationships we have today, minus the vampire aspect, doesn’t it?

In the end, Bella’s obsession with Edward starts to look appealing over a healthy, normal relationship, and it’s a struggle to keep your mind and heart clear. That being said, I’m not surprised that Christian girls are being lead astray by these books. If I hadn’t already been enlightened by the beauty of chastity and God’s amazing role for sex and hadn’t already taken them to heart, it definitely would’ve been even harder for me to keep my focus after reading these books. (It’s hard enough in today’s culture, without reading books like Twilight!)

My advice to you would to have some sort of youth group discussion on Twilight vs. Real Love for girls (unless some guys have the guts to come, too). I’m pretty sure that all the girls would come to that (most obsessed ones take any chance to talk about Edward!). In this discussion, get their thoughts on Twilight again, why they think it’s so good, and if they would want to have a boyfriend like Edward and why. If they give their reasons, then ask how that compares to a godly relationship. Then read Corinthians 13: 4-7, and then replace ‘love’ with Edward, then with Bella. Does Edward fit? Does Bella fit? Finally, replace Jesus’ name and ask them how Edward and Bella’s relationship compares to Jesus’ love for us—the love we should be imitating in our own relationships. Get them thinking. If that part of the discussion goes well, then ask them what the faults of Twilight are. Hopefully they will realize some of them and point them out; then give your thoughts on how that contrasts with real chastity and love. Hopefully then they’ll come to realize their error in thinking, if they hadn’t already realized it.

God bless!