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.
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.
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.
What's more ironic than this article, is that people are complaining because someone took a piece of fantasy, fiction novel, and attempted to draw paralles between that and Christianity and yet no one has a problem drawing them within a series of novels where children happen through a closet into a fantasy land with witches and talking animals. I'm not comparing the two series from a literary standpoint or even the authors who wrote them. And I'm not even saying that I agree with the article, it is a stretch at best, I just find the hypocrisy in the underlying tones from people here extremely amusing.
It's not a stretch; it's intentional/ Meyer meant to add Christian themes.
Of all the verses to be taken out of context they chose Jeremiah 29:11... what they don't seem to realize is that God said that to the Jews as they were being led to exile. To say we can become God-like is what deceived Adam and Eve in the first place. We are not God, we will never be gods, and the ONLY possible way we can "see" God is through the Death of God-himself JESUS CHRIST!
Blech. Whilst I do hate these one-calorie vampires and their teenage love slaves I find the idea of applying biblical one liners to it in order to justify your own attraction to the movies to be laughable. I'm off to read the Dresden Files where vampires are soulless murder machines and their teenage love slaves are tossed in a gutter like some used dixie cup.
Does nobody know that the Twilight Saga was based on Mormonism? Of course there are Christian values in there... the books are Mormon!
If this lady can write an entire article on Twilight's parallels with Christianity, and avoid using the term "Mormon", then her entire argument is invalidated. Do your research lady, Twilight is based on Mormon themes. Even Stephanie Meyer herself has admit this.
How sad and desperately pathetic does one have to be in order to write an ENTIRE book about trying to draw similarities between a book loved by vacuous women everywhere that teaches about how important it is to maintain a dangerous, disfunctional, controlling relationship and... Oh wait, she's right on that front. The bible is totally for that. Makes it no less pathetic though.
Go write a real book, release your death grip from this bandwagon!
seriously, it's a teen angst story based on Vampires...it is childish, completely unrealistic and anything you call a moral message within it is MOOT and USELESS because it is all surrounded by some of the worst writing and worst acting in the history of Television and Film. Any moral statement it makes has absolutely ZERO CREDIBILITY!
Irrelevant. The article is about intent, not execution. Plus, thousands of teen girls disagree with you.
Teen girls are dumb as bricks. They have horrible taste in everything. If you think otherwise, then why is it that dudes have been wearing skinny jeans? Because moron teen girls want them to. I rest my case.
Well, Frank Bund, you appear to be an expert on "dumb as bricks",
Except that young girls are reading these books and learning their morality from them. A lot of them find this to be their ideal of a dream relationship. An abusive over-protective boyfriend, going catatonic when he leaves you, lying to your parents repeatedly about everything, yes this is the way love should be.
Thank you Jane (not so) Wells for reminding me this Sunday afternoon of the immense and horrific willful ignorance that still abounds in our "smart" world. You have renewed my zeal for Truth. All that "Glitters" is not gold...rather it is Fool's Gold.
Really? So God wants young girls to put themselves in danger for their boyfriends, and to go completely nuts if he ever leaves them and comtemplate suicide. I don't think so. You people need help!
This article is pure vomit! Good grief how can you so boldy distort a bible verse and attempt to tie it into a fictious movie about dead vampires. You are a false teacher if there ever was one.
The bible distorts itself. It's complete nonsense written by people who banged sheep.
I am proud to say that none of my children or grandchildren care about this stupid crap. Neither the religious part or the vampire/werewolf sh1t.
rock on. twilight sucks.
This is one of the most poorly conceived, intellectually shallow articles I've read in a long time. What in the world are you thinking, CNN, allowing something of this caliber to appear under your masthead?? Trying to inflate a piece of poorly written twaddle like "Twilight" into something with Biblical literary themes is nonsense at best. I'm embarrassed for you, CNN: This is stunningly lightweight, badly reasoned junk. To the author: Try reading something by C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton.
The Twilight Saga is based in themes in the Book of Mormon. The parallels are unavoidable.
what a bunch of crap. The people on twilight are sinners and going to hell. On judgement day God will not ask you if you liked twilight, but did Jesus Christ die for your sins?
And the answer is no. Jesus probably didn't even exist. There won't be a judgment day.
II think this article is a "stretch" at best.
Okay, Christians are delineating why vampires are good – lets hear about how the supernatural world of Harry Potter and his witchcraft fit in with biblical ideals....
It's funny how people try to see Christian values in a vampire saga. I think the Bible says to beware of things like, sorcery, necromancy, witches etc. It just goes to show people can twist anything to fit their religious ideals. Funny!
I suggested to my boyfriend for us to see Twilight last night and he asked me if I wanted to break up already.
Good for him!
Stephenie Meyer is a devout Mormon. Don't you think her values would show up in her books?
That would explain why twilight sucks.
Very good point. I don't think this was the author's intention, but those are some very true, interesting lessons.
Good God this woman sounds insane. I thought those vampire movies just told girls that they have to have a boyfriend.