There is no danger of 'spiritual pollution' for a mature believer because the Spirit within us is greater than any other (1 John 4:4).


Christian Parenting

Vampires are the new cool. Forget jocks and rock stars; if your kids are going to adore anyone these days, it is likely that they will have fangs. Vampires, which throughout literature and film are compelled by a lust for blood, are now popping up in bestsellers and box-office mega-hits. Christians, of course, have cause for concern regarding some of the elements of these stories, including the pervasive Twilight trilogy. On the other hand, vampire lore and Christianity do have one important theme in common: the importance of blood. As emphasized in the classic hymn by Lewis E. Jones, "Would you be free from the burden of sin? There is power in the blood, power in the blood; Would you o'er evil a victory win? There is wonderful power in the blood."

 

 

So what are Christian parents to do when their kids start showing an interest in this phenomenon? With the immense popularity of Stephanie Meyer's books and the subsequent films, it's likely only a matter of time before teenagers will be raising the subject, and it is just another arena where parents will feel the pressure to navigate that fine line between good stewardship of their children and the risk of alienating them in their own sub-culture.

 

One of the major concerns most parents would have is the presence of the supernatural characters. In Twilight, they are represented primarily by Edward the vampire and Jacob the werewolf. Scripture makes clear that trafficking with supernatural entities other than Christ is off limits (Deut. 18:10-13). However, these films are fiction. No one is likely to track down a real vampire to woo or join up with a werewolf pack as a result of watching them. The real issue in the Twilight phenomenon is not so much what appears on screen as what doesn't.

 

The first thing to realize is that the Twilight series is no more about vampires than High School Musical was about singing and dancing basketball players. While these are the key identities of the main characters, they really only provide the vehicle upon which the story rides. They could be talking unicorns if someone thought the premise would sell, but what is really significant is the underlying themes and ideas that these figures communicate. These are the things that speak to us in a film or a book - the messages that the characters carry. Essentially any work of art -- be it a classical painting or a pop song -- communicates something about how the artists see themselves, the world, and the relationships between those things. Whether we realize it or not, we can easily take on these borrowed perspectives if we do not identify them and critique them from a Biblical worldview.

 

It is here that Twilight reveals its true colors. Bella, the lead character, is a 'lost soul' looking for a sense of belonging, love, and meaning in her life. She finds these deep needs met in the two supernatural figures of Edward and Jacob. Both offer her protection, security, and above all love. In fact, as a vampire, Edward is immortal, so his love promises to be literally undying. What more could any fragile teenage girl desire? However, this is the dangerous premise: Can any boy (vampire or not) fulfill the deep-felt needs for acceptance and hope in a young woman's heart? In a word, no. In fact, somehow Meyers has even underlined the danger of such naivety. Bella asks Edward to transform her into a vampire, too, so that they may be together forever, but Edward refuses. To be undead is to be cursed, he warns - eternally damned. But Bella doesn't care and, in her adolescent longing, she makes clear that she would trade her eternal soul for this boy's love. This is the real danger of Twilight. The supernatural elements are unlikely to have much impact upon teenagers beyond their dress sense and bedroom decor, but this message will sink much deeper. Too many young women will walk out of the theaters or put down the books and look at their boyfriends as the ultimate answer to their heart's longing - and be willing to trade eternity for it. Whatever the cost - physically, emotionally, sexually - they will consider it worth paying for a chance to be Bella in the arms of their Edward.

 

So what can a parent do about this? Unfortunately, with the prevalence of modern media devices, even the most strict boundaries will not stop a determined teen from getting their hands on a copy of the films or books if they so desire. In fact, as most parents know, a blanket ban can sometimes create an even greater incentive for the forbidden fruit. If you want to keep this material out of your children's minds, then make very clear your reasons for doing so. Outline Scripture's prohibition against cultic fascination and the purposes behind it. Why did God set down the prohibitions of Deuteronomy 18? For the record, it was because these practices led the Canaanites into a downward spiral of debasement that ultimately accepted even child sacrifices as okay! God recognized that these spirits did not confer the life they claimed to offer but reveled in creating destruction (John 10:10) and sought to keep His people free from their insidious influence. Children need to know that boundaries are based on something that matters, not just there because their parents are 'out of touch.' 

 

However, if an outright ban is either unlikely to be effective, unhelpful to your relationship, or just outright too late, there is an alternative. Watch (or read) together. This will mean a sacrifice of time and the material will probably not be something you want to spend time with, but consider it a sacrifice for your children. There is no danger of 'spiritual pollution' for a mature believer because the Spirit within us is greater than any other (1 John 4:4). What is more, make participation a condition of enjoyment, and schedule time for you both to process what you have encountered. Discuss the film or book - not just in a 'what did you like?' fashion, but try to engage with the deeper levels of meaning. Who did you want to identify with? Why? What was the appeal of the plot? What feelings did it evoke? What does that tell you about how the film maker or author sees your place in the world? What does God say, if anything, about these needs, desires, and outlooks? Is there anything redemptive in the storyline? By engaging with the material at this level, you both disarm the subtle messages by exposing them and arm your children with the skills to critically assess contemporary media for themselves. What is more, you get to journey with them through the experience and, as a result, draw closer to one another through an issue that could easily have been divisive.