The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Twilight Saga, Free Will, Sex, and Marriage (Part 1)

This is a slight modification of a blog post I put on Facebook about a year and a half ago. This was based on seeing the first two Twilight films. I never saw the third one. I am considering seeing the fourth to write another blog post, since, in this film, Bella and Edward get married as I understand. I want to see how Stephanie Meyer, being a Mormon, handles that. 






The author of The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyers, is a practicing Mormon (but she does drink diet coke). I've done a little bit of research on her and in one of her interviews she says that Twilight is about free will, that we all have choices to make, we have the power to choose the actions we take. 

In one article Meyers said: "It's about keeping yourself free of addictions," she explains, sitting on a huge couch in her living room. "We have free will, which is a huge gift from God. If you tie that up with something like, I don't know, cocaine, then you don't really have a lot of freedom anymore."

Resisting that temptation is a constant struggle. Edward's choice--and the willingness to choose a different way in general--is a major theme in Meyer's books.

"I really think that's the underlying metaphor of my vampires," she says. "It doesn't matter where you're stuck in life or what you think you have to do; you can always choose something else. There's always a different path."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1734838-1,00.html#ixzz0jxZ2AvLY

So, she claims to be writing a moral story, in fact a story about abstinence, waiting to have sex until after marriage. And from what I understand, Bella and Edward (the main characters in the Twilight saga who fall in love with each other, Bella being human Edward being a vampire) do wait until after they are married before they share the bed. 

So on the surface this sounds like a very moral, even biblical, message and story. Indeed, if this is what the story was really about, then parents, both Christian and non-Christian, should encourage their children to see it for its godly and uplifting message. And perhaps some parents are encouraging their children to see it, thinking these films will help their teens to only give themselves to their spouse.
But The New York Times article on The Twilight Saga gets it right:

"But it is the rare vampire novel that isn't about sex on some level, and the Twilight books are no exception. What makes Meyer's books so distinctive is that they're about the erotics of abstinence. Their tension comes from prolonged, superhuman acts of self-restraint. There's a scene midway through Twilight in which, for the first time, Edward leans in close and sniffs the aroma of Bella's exposed neck. "Just because I'm resisting the wine doesn't mean I can't appreciate the bouquet," he says. "You have a very floral smell, like lavender ... or freesia." He barely touches her, but there's more sex in that one paragraph than in all the snogging in Harry Potter.

It's never quite clear whether Edward wants to sleep with Bella or rip her throat out or both, but he wants something, and he wants it bad, and you feel it all the more because he never gets it. That's the power of the Twilight books: they're squeaky, geeky clean on the surface, but right below it, they are absolutely, deliciously filthy."




Though I have not read any of the books, I have seen both movies that have been released thus far. And nobody who has seen the movies can deny the intense sexuality throughout the films. As a Christian, the films can be dangerous for me to watch. On one hand, my sin nature draws me in, beckoning me to indulge in the steamy sexiness of the story. Every whimper or moan that Bella makes, every lustful look that Edward gives, captivates my sinful, wicked heart. The taste of sin can still be sweet, even to a believer. Its enticement can draw me in again so easily. Yet there is another part of me, the Spirit of Christ within me, that turns me off from the very same thing. This sexuality does not appeal to me, it is gross, a perversion, the most detestable depiction of lust imaginable unfolding before my very eyes. It’s repulsive to my inward man, yet captivating and inviting towards my sin nature, my indwelling sin. Its a real rollercoaster ride for me watching the films, I can even feel guilty watching them, then I don't feel guilty and desire to partake in the same fantasies that we know Edward has for Bella, and imagine the thoughts Bella has for Edward. 

Twilight succeeds nearly perfectly as far as depicting how teens and young adults feel when it comes to romance, to those of the opposite sex. Indeed I think there is perhaps great value for that alone. Just for adults and pastors to understand exactly how teens and young adults think today about one another in terms of sex and lust. Of course, this is universal, we are all sinners, and everyone who is old or who is older than a teen was once a teen and can likely relate as well to the sexuality of Twilight. 

So what do I think overall? 

I think the Twilight films are sexier than porn- the forbidden fruit feel of the movie reflects the artwork cover. You can truly incur much sexual satisfaction, especially for girls I would imagine, from watching the steamy lusty feelings and looks and groanings within Bella and Edward for each other. As I learned my senior year in high school in English class, sex is always sexier when it isn't just the act of sex that is being depicted. The build up, the foreplay, the symbolism, what is implied but not explicitly said, satiates our sexual appetites far more than reading or seeing the act of sex itself. Twilight manages to be a PG-13 rating, but I would not want my thirteen year old watching this. I am not even sure if I should be watching this at 20, even if it is for research purposes. It is so captivating, so inviting, precisely because it is so full of lust and longing for one another, in an almost kinky sort of way! 

To close for now (I am going to continue this series in upcoming entries) I will just say that to the world and perhaps even to some Christian believers Twilight may seem as a powerful story of godliness and morality because Bella and Edward do resist temptation and do not engage in fornication. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

Jesus Christ said that to look at a woman with lust in your heart is adultery in the heart. So, not committing adultery isn't merely stopping short of having sex with someone that isn't your spouse, it is NOT EVEN DESIRING TO HAVE SEX WITH ANYONE EXCEPT YOUR SPOUSE. This is the teaching of Jesus. Indeed, I am an adulterer, for I have lusted after countless women in my heart. And it would follow that if lust is adultery in the heart, then it is also fornication in the heart. The majority of the first Twilight film is about Bella and Edward lusting after one another IN THEIR HEARTS. This is visualized in the words they use, in their expressions, in the whimpers and groanings they make for one another, in coming as close as they can to the breaking point, where they can no longer resist each other, but stopping just short, unfulfilled. The point Jesus makes in the Bible is that abstaining from fornication and adultery isn't stopping short of what your heart really wants, the point is not wanting to fornicate FROM THE HEART ITSELF! 

So, Bella and Edward certainly do give in to temptation by choosing to continually engage in sexual fantasies with one another in their hearts and minds (and why exactly does Edward want Bella so badly, just looks?). They are fornicators beginning 45 minutes into the first film, the first book. So the message Meyers is actually painting is that, if you just torture yourself by not actually consuming in the physical act of sex, if you stop short and don't fulfill what your heart and mind really wants, that is a godly and moral thing, that is exercising your free will, making the right choice, the erotics of abstinence. But again, Jesus would not call this abstinence whatsoever, Jesus would call this fornication, breaking the commandment, regardless of whether or not they waited to have physical sex with one another until after marriage. 

Which for now brings me to my final point. Morality is what the Pharisees were into. The Pharisees would probably agree with Meyer that to abstain from the physical act of sex with someone who is not your husband or wife is keeping the command of God to be sexually pure and holy, even though from the heart and mind Bella and Edward were engaging in wild, passionate sex. In reality, those who stop short of having physical sex yet want to have physical sex in their hearts and minds with one who is not their spouse are breaking the law of God. The source of sin goes to our DESIRES, not our actions. Desire always precedes our actions. We eat because we are hungry; we have the desire to feed ourselves. We have sex because we have the desire to have sex. 

Meyer's message is that not doing what you really want at heart is a testament to the power of free will. To stop short of what your heart really wants, to her, is what being godly is all about, so it seems. True, not doing what you really want will make you absolutely miserable, but to her I am sure she racks up brownie points and earns God's favor through stopping herself. This of course, is wrong and a lie. This is not the spirit of repentance; this is the spirit of the Pharisee, who believes they are righteous by outwardly conforming to God's law despite inwardly violating all of God's laws as much as they please. 

Jesus died for sinners. Jesus died not just to forgive us of our sins, but to change our heart's desires. You can try to "commit your life to Christ and follow and obey Him" all you like, but you cannot change the fact that you are a God-hating, sin lover at heart. You will make commitments, but you will continually fail to live up to them. If you do not violate God's commandments in physical and tangible actions, you will always violate them and long for the sin in your heart. And because of this, you will remain in your sins and in your guilt, and when you die, God will judge you and find you guilty. You will rightly and justly be cast away from God and burn in hell, in God's wrath, for all eternity, not only because you broke all of God's commandments always and constantly from the heart, but because you thought outward conformity could earn God's favor and make God believe that you actually loved righteousness and hated sin. But God knew your heart and knew that you were a religious hypocrite, a pharisaical liar. 

So repent. Truly repent. Repent doesn't mean try harder, it means give up on trying. Give up on trying to change yourself, on trying to change your heart. You are a SINNER! Learn what this means. You need God's grace, you need God's mercy. Christ alone can melt the heart of stone. He died for sinners on the cross, He died to change their hearts and give men new hearts, hearts that truly desire Him and His righteousness, and hearts that hate sin and wickedness. So humble yourselves, realize you are a helpless sinner that has 0 to offer and needs 100 percent of God's grace and redeeming power of Jesus Christ on the cross dying and rising, defeating the dominion and slavery of sin and cleansing you from all unrighteousness. Only faith in that, in what Christ did, can save you. Only believing that you are a wretched sinner at heart that cannot change your heart but must be changed at heart by the power of Jesus Christ on the cross can be saved. 

And if you do believe this, and come to Christ for this, you will be saved, you are elect, and He will give you a love and desire for Him and for His righteousness and a true disgust and distaste for sin and wickedness. You will delight in righteousness and hate engaging in sin, not because you changed your heart, but because you came to Christ to have your heart changed and cleansed by Him. You will also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, which will enable you to live righteously through the Spirit, and it is the Spirit that convicts you of sin and wars against the remaining sin nature and indwelling sin that tries to pull you back into sin and wickedness. 

So turn to Christ today and ask Him to give you a new heart and save you from your own sinful and wicked desires! 


I hope this helps keep you apprised of the framework that Stephanie Meyer, the author of Twilight, is working with.



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