My Take: 5 reasons Christians should love 'Twilight'
The stars of the movie Twilight: Breaking Dawn at the UK premier of the film.
November 18th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

My Take: 5 reasons Christians should love 'Twilight'

Editor's Note: Jane Wells is the author of Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga. She blogs (almost) weekly at www.glitterinthesun.com.

By Jane Wells, Special to CNN

(CNN)–The books and movies of the Twilight Saga have launched a firestorm of debate as to whether the vampire-human love story represents eternal love at its finest or glorifies misogynistic and abusive relationships. I am a proud member of the first camp, seeing epic and eternal themes in the books as worthy of discussion and the violence as a part of the fictional world that tells the story.

With Breaking Dawn, part 1, opening nation-wide this weekend, here is my list of the top five spiritual lessons from the first three movies in the Twilight franchise: Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse.

First, some background. Turns out, not all vampires are Bram Stoker monsters concerned only with their own impulses and appetites. Author Stephenie Meyer created the Cullen coven, respectful of human life, living off the blood of carefully culled wild animals. It is one of these “vegetarian” vampires, Edward, which the very human Bella Swan has fallen in love with. There is enough conflict in that one sentence to carry the story through four huge novels, one novella, a partial draft and eventually five movies.

#1. The supernatural surrounds us whether we’re aware of it or not.

In the first novel and movie, Twilight, Bella moves to her father’s home in Forks, Washington from her mother’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. Soon she meets Edward Cullen, and learns that vampires are not only real, but walk daily among the residents of the small town. Her awareness of them, or previous lack thereof, does not affect the reality of their existence.

In Hebrews we read that we are to entertain strangers because we might be entertaining angels. From Ephesians we also know that our battle is not against a physical foe but against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” An awareness of the unseen is a big piece of walking in faith.

#2. Love results in, and even requires, sacrifice.

In the second book and movie of the series, New Moon, Edward concludes that including Bella in his vampire world is unhealthy. He attempts to save her by breaking up and moving away. It is, he says later, the hardest thing he’s done in 100 years. Although it nearly kills him, he is willing to die if it meant she would live a normal, happy, human life.

It was no less than Jesus himself who said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this – that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

#3. Humans crave divine perfection.

Throughout the series, Bella notes how perfect she finds Edward in every way. The gaping hole Bella feels when Edward leaves (see #2 above) is very much like the one we spend our lives trying to fill with relationships, food, status, or any other of a million different things – but can only be filled by a relationship with God.

No one captures this better than David in Psalm 42, which opens with an image of a deer searching for water – just as David’s soul desperately seeks out God. In this psalm of heartbreak, David cries out to the only perfection that can heal him. Later, in verse seven he says, “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls, all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Our human spirits recognize and respond to the call of the Spirit of God, even if in the weak echo of nature’s beauty.

#4. A drastic change of direction may be exactly what you need.

In the third novel and movie, Eclipse, we learn about Jasper Cullen, Edward’s adopted brother. He was second in command of a vampire army during the American Civil war. However, after several decades of constant conflict, the violence began to weigh heavily on him and he left. Eventually he found peace with the Cullen coven.

Every disciple Jesus called turned his back on one way of life to embrace another, none more drastically than Matthew who had been a tax collector. But the choice is yours, as illustrated by the rich, young man of Matthew 19. Jesus looked on him and loved him, yet he walked away from Jesus’ offer of eternal life because it hurt too much to give up his wealth.

#5. You’ll only really fit in after you accept what it is God has designed you for.

All of her life Bella was a misfit. In Arizona she was a pale geek. In Forks, she is the newcomer. Her mother doesn’t get her, her father is clueless. She is a square peg to everyone’s round hole – until the end of Eclipse where she realizes she’d been fighting to fit into everyone’s expectations which, although well intentioned, were far too small.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

How about you? Are the expectations placed on you really right for you? Are bits of your soul and psyche rubbed raw by the assumptions you have accepted as your own? Perhaps it’s time to broaden your scope of vision. Because even your biggest dreams pale in comparison to what the God who created every good thing has dreamed up on your behalf.

I can’t wait to see Breaking Dawn. If it follows the books as the previous movies have we will see one of the toughest spiritual lessons of all – when Bella learns that sometimes it is after we’ve made the right choice that things are hardest of all.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jane Wells.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Movies

soundoff (995 Responses)
  1. Anne

    How about the horrible lesson that a teenage girl marries so quickly and gets pregnant? Not a great role model story for those of us raising daughters who want them to wait and become more mature and educated before jumping into marriage and motherhood.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Bob

      That is an American/ western way of thinking.... Telling our girls to wait to marry has not worked out so well. 80% of Christian girls according to relevant magazine are not saving themselves for marriage.

      November 20, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  2. Sheila

    There is a way to address these books as a Christian, or a Christian parent whose child wants to read these like all their friends do: After every chapter, sit down with your child and ask them what inthe chapter parallels what they are taught as Christians (respect for other people, for instanceparad what goes against their teaching (vampires don't exist and, if they did, they are living away from God's purpose). This hones your, or their, skills at separating the good ideas from the bad ideas, no matter your faith.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  3. optomist

    The best message that I saw unfolding was that one must struggle for self control before taking control. A message that Christianity has failed to convey if our leaders are any example.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  4. peter

    Boy oh boy lots of opinionated and smarter people than me today....

    1) The twilight books are not for everyone....welcome to that world..........the target audience is not men it is romance and appeals as my wife says to her 15 year old......maybe we men should think about that....
    2) She is not saying Edward is Jesus merely making a comparison that Edward is making a difficult sacrifice like Jesus did...wow how many of you didnt read it...
    3) Lastly, the underlying message for all the uber Christians out there is about love and sacrifice and protecting those you love very Christian concepts.....just because the characters happen to be vampires doesn't diminish the point just like enjoying Harry Potter books doesnt make you a devil worshiping wizard.....Grow up that went out in the dark ages.

    Someone once told me that God will find a way to reach you....while I know it my seem like Blamsephy (spelling unsure) how do you know God isn't using these mediums movies, books to reach us.....and when you are so certain that they are not from God.....my question is when did you get such insight because in all my religious upbringing God is a mystery that you never get to unravel on this planet.....

    Okay everyone can start letting their hearts overtake their minds as God wanted us to use both....

    November 20, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • optomist

      The books were given to me by a 70 year old woman who is disappointed that I did not share her enthusiasm.

      November 20, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  5. rue&st

    christians do not listen to this! beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  6. Ohio mom

    The Hunger Games premieres March 23, 2012 – that's the YA fictional novel trilogy I'm most interested in. Good vs evil. Mark your calendars!

    November 20, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  7. DeMarcus

    I think people are being too critical of this article. It was insightful and thought provoking. She is not saying Edward is Jesus or even that he's representative of him. She's saying that there are lessons to be learned within the story that can be found and backed up by biblical principles. Fair enough, there's vampires and werewolves in the movie, but so what?! There are plenty of supernatural creatures in the bible, yet still, Christians pick and choose which ones they want to believe in. I LOVE my faith, I'm a catholic. I appreciate her forward thinking and using this to draw people back to the bible. I wish we as Christians spent less time condemning things rather than using the world around us to glorify Him. There are way more things that come on TV that have more of an impact on society, yet conflict with biblical principle... but I don't see anyone making such a big deal about them.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  8. optomist

    The first book was about as tedious as a story can be. Are there no writers left, or are the good ones not being published?

    November 20, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  9. Larry Davis

    Ephesians 5:11 tells us to: ...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
    This chick says to embrace it.

    November 20, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Banda


      November 20, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  10. LOL

    Xtians used to flog themselves as a form of punishment for impure thoughts. I could easily see how reading the twilight novels and watching the movies could be used to replace the self-flagellation as a form of punishment.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • optomist

      I would rather endure the flagellation.

      November 20, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  11. iluvusa

    Hmm...I don't agree with this article. There is no comparison. Edward Cullen is no Jesus. What people come up with these days...

    November 20, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  12. wpgguy

    The only lesson here is how to make a god awful movie with terrible actors lousy writing and a "sparkly" feminine vampire. Seriously, I have seen better acting in court.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  13. Clay

    I really wanted to see this movie... Then I remembered that I am not a 12 year old girl... Or gay...

    November 20, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  14. ME

    I am a Christian and I don't believe you have a right to compare Vampires with Jesus...It is very disrespectful to God. He is no where near the same as any "vampire" which aren't even real in the first place. And you miss interpreted a lot of the Scripture you use to back up your point. You CANNOT take verses out and make them say what you want.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • optomist

      So you retaliate by being disrespectful to vampires?

      November 20, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • DeMarcus

      Why can't she? Peachers do it all the time...

      November 20, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  15. Melissa

    There is nothing Christian or even wholesome about these books. Bella and Edward are in a codependent emotionally abusive relationship, not something every Christian should love.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  16. Jim Dominic

    The basic plots have been known and used for centuries. The Twilight series is poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly directed. It is an overwritten exposition of glurge. That it enjoys popularity is a peculiarity of modern culture.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • wpgguy

      lol there's nothing strange about legions of uncultured teen girls and adult female pedophiles flocking to see this empty crap. The next generation will spend their money on the next empty headed crack for the angst ridden virgin hearts out there.

      November 20, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  17. Liz

    I got through #2 and couldn't read any more. This reads like a bad middle school book report – what on earth is it doing on CNN? If I wanted to read silly drivel by some bible-thumper who, gosh, just can't decide whether she'd rather sin with a vampire or a werewolf, I'd read her little blog. Since I don't, I'm out.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Occupado

      It's CNN publishing fodder so left wing hate-theists can vent their spleens.

      They'd never publish anything like this about Islam because it's not politically correct.

      November 20, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  18. Reality

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!


    November 20, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  19. A4mrtheist

    Christianity and all religions are blood sucking money grabbers anyway so why not include them in a vampire movie?

    November 20, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  20. Occupado

    A Christian spiritual lesson from a vampire movie.

    Only on CNN, the world leader in news.


    November 20, 2011 at 7:46 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.