I watched the first Twilight movie on an overseas airplane flight a few years ago, a fact that I figure slightly mitigates my responsibility for watching it at all. I found the movie disturbing for a number of reasons.

To my surprise, though, the vampire motif wasn’t the most troubling aspect of the story. While it does bother me that the most popular heroes of today’s youth culture are blood-sucking human parasites, there is something more sinister lurking behind the obvious occultism of Twilight.

Edward the vampire is a metaphor for the type of romantic “love” the story promotes. He’s a lover who consumes his beloved — yes, he nobly resists sucking Bella’s blood, but he does consume her. Without him, her life has no meaning. Without him, she might as well die. Her mind, heart, life, and soul are swallowed up in Edward.

They seek togetherness despite the costs; no consequences are too great. Edward and Bella are willing to endanger their families, separate from their friends, and even risk their very lives to be together.

To many modern readers (perhaps especially the target audience of teen and pre-teen girls), all of this sounds romantic and endearing. Who doesn’t hope to be swallowed up in an all-consuming and eternal love? But it’s the way that Twilight interacts with that hope that reveals its true darkness, which many Christian reviewers have missed.

Twilight takes a legitimate, God-given hope and badly misdirects it. In the process, I think the story ends up damaging the perception that young people have of romantic love and distracting us from the truly eternal love offered in Christ. It’s particularly upsetting to me that pre-teen girls are being encouraged to believe that happiness is really found in the right boy, the slightly dangerous one who loves you so much that he just might kill you.

I have two daughters, and one of my greatest desires is that they learn that healthy romantic relationships are grounded in a much deeper love than the flimsy substitute offered by Twilight. The love of Jesus will last forever and ought to truly consume us. Human relationships (or human-vampire relationships) will never measure up to that — and they aren’t designed to do so.

This will sound sacrilegious to those raised on romantic comedies and dark love stories like Twilight, but there really is more to life than romantic love. My love for my wife is motivated partly by romance, but also by other factors: she’s my close friend, the mother of my children, my sister in Christ, and my partner in ministry. And what’s more, my relationship with her is meant to open my heart and mind and spirit to God and others, not to close me off to the rest of the world (Ephesians 5:22-33; Prov 31:10-31).

I pray that my kids won’t become involved in romantic entanglements that consume them, distract them from Christ, and ruin their relationships with friends and family. I pray instead that their spouses will reflect the love of 1 Corinthians 13 — a love that is patient, unselfish, and doesn’t seek to possess or control others.

In all my years working with college students, I’ve never met one who crept around after midnight looking for necks to suck. I’ve also never met a person who genuinely believes that vampires are literally real.

However, I’ve met many students who seem to believe that finding their “one and only” will solve their problems, conquer their fears, and make them valuable. It won’t. You need only to look at the high divorce rate in our country to see the results of that attitude. When I believe that romance will meet all of my needs, what happens when it doesn’t? I leave on the quest to find my next “one and only,” right?

So if you watch Twilight and other films with similar themes, don’t buy into the lies it’s selling. Marriage and romance are great, but let’s be consumed instead with the faith, hope, and love offered to us by Jesus.

What are your thoughts or questions about the Twilight story? Do you agree with my assessment?

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