More Dangerous Than Vampires
True love is not about losing oneself in another.
Golden-eyed vampires with bodies like marble and a (nearly) unquenchable thirst for blood.
Shape-shifting werewolves that prowl through the night.
Stuck in the middle: a love-struck 17-year-old girl.
Yes, I’m talking about the Twilight saga that’s taken teen-girl-dom (and some of their mothers) by storm.
Rather predictably, many Christians have been up in arms about Twilight since the first best-selling book was published in 2005. It is about vampires after all—those denizens of evil and death that have creeped out readers since Bram Stocker first wrote Dracula. Personally, I don’t see a problem with reading fiction about mythical creatures. But there is something very insidious in Twilight . . . something much more dangerous and threatening than werewolves and vampires.
The Twilight Saga is the story of teenage Bella and her romance with Edward Cullen—an almost 100-year-old vampire in the body of an eternal 17-year-old who goes to her high school. Bella falls for Edward and she falls hard. He’s magnetically attractive. He’s hauntingly mysterious. Thoughts of Edward begin to dominate every waking moment for Bella.
Despite the unusual circumstances, Bella’s story is a lot like that of many teenage girls—and that’s why gaggles of them are going gaga over the books and movies. Teen girls love love. I remember being a teenager—and teen love is a lot like that. The guy becomes the center of the girl’s world. Other interests fade in importance. Life becomes all about Mr. Right (or Mr. Vampire, in Bella’s case).
But what’s really dangerous about Twilight is that it takes this teen version of love way too far. Bella doesn’t merely daydream about Edward; Edward becomes her entire world. Within days of meeting him, nothing else in Bella’s life is really important to her anymore. She’s willing to leave her family forever. She even says she’s willing to be killed by Edward.
Rather than enhancing Bella’s life, loving Edward diminishes who she is.
This kind of love is dangerous . . . and it’s anything but true.
I’ve seen this kind of love in action in the lives of grown women and the results aren’t pretty. In real life, this kind of love leads to male-dominated marriages, to depressed and isolated wives, and sometimes even to emotional or physical abuse.
What is God’s design for romantic love? Certainly there is an element of being enamored with the other—of thinking about the other a lot and of being emotionally dependent on that person to some degree. In marriage, God intends us to treasure our spouse above all others; in that sense, our lover is at the center of our life.
But God-honoring romantic love should never diminish us. True love is not about losing oneself in another.
Romantic love that honors God is a love in which we as women have a strong sense of ourselves, our interests, our gifts, and our passions. Rather than neglecting those things in our love for the other, our sense of identity should be enhanced, emboldened, and strengthened. Our lover helps us see and know and embrace who we are. We feel a confidence in who God made us to be and we offer that to our spouse just as he brings many things to us.
No romance is perfect, but we owe it to ourselves (and to the young women in our lives!) to reject false brands of romance when we see them and to instead aim to live out confident, mature, and self-affirming romantic love.
What do you think? When have you seen the danger of self-diminishing love in the lives of others? How can we as Christian women embody God’s plan for romantic love and personal identity? Why is it important to do so?