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Should Christians Be Reading the "Twilight" Books?

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The debate over what is acceptable reading material has now added the question of whether Christian teens should be reading the Twilight saga penned by Stephanie Meyer. Not since Harry Potter came onto the scene has a series of books caused quite as much of an uproar on the teen reading scene. Discussion of fantasy books always raises questions, whether written by J.K Rowling, C.S. Lewis, or J.R.R. Tolkien, the question of appropriateness for Christian teen audience seems to come up.

A Little Background

If you haven't read the Twilight book series or haven't really heard of it, you may not understand why there is such a hubbub surrounding these books. Here is some basic background information:

Author: Stephanie Meyer

Book Titles:

Plot Synopsis: Bella Swan moves from sunny Phoenix, Arizona to rainy and overcast Forks, Washington to live with her dad, fully expecting that it will be miserable for her. As she tries to assimilate into everyday high school life in the small town, she finds herself drawn to Edward Cullen, her mysterious and standoffish Biology lab partner. Yet the attraction between Edward and Bella grows, and soon Bella finds herself immersed in a dangerous adventure that includes Edward's entire family - made up completely of vampires. Throughout the four novels, the love story between Bella and Edward remains central, yet finds itself complicated by the nature of vampires, werewolves, and her loved ones.

The Objections to Twilight

The basic Christian objection to Stephanie Meyer's series is that its main characters are vampires. In traditional vampire lore, the person bitten by a vampire's soul is replaced by an evil demon. This theory means that Edward and his kind would be inherently evil creatures. This theory is demonstrated in many of the other vampires Bella and the Cullens face throughout the series. They seem more animal-like, giving into their instincts, than the Cullens and some of those that chose another lifestyle. Another objection may come from the fact that Alice, one of Edward's sisters can see the future. She holds the key to many of the important plot twists, but some see her ability as an occult practice. Deuteronomy 18: 10-12 talks about how being a medium is an "abomination to the Lord." As the story moves on, Bella also meets some of the people in Forks who are part of a nearby Native American reservation. Some Christians have objected to the discussion surrounding some of those Native American beliefs, as they feel it would lead teens in the wrong direction. Still, others may object to Bella's strong desire to spend eternity with Edward. Christians have a strong desire to spend eternity with God, in His presence. Her desire strays from that teaching, and many Christians do not feel it is addressed well from a faith standpoint. Some don't want Christian teens to read Twilight due to some moral ambiguities. The fact that Edward spends the night in Bella's room, she lies to her parents, and Bella's struggle with her own human desires can be off-putting to some parents. At several points, Bella becomes rather cavalier about giving up her soul, which is off-putting to many Christians. Losing one's soul is nothing to be casual about, and though Bella is confronted by the others about it, it can be disconcerting to those that question the value of the books.

The Proponents of Twilight

Not every Christian, though, is against reading the Twilight series, and there are some Christian themes that run through all of the books. Love, sacrifice, unexpected pregnancy, and facing temptation are all a part of the series.

Proponents of the Twilight series point to the fact that several of the characters hold to Christian faith. Edward's father, Carlisle Cullen, was not only raised by a pastor, but was one himself. The book discusses how his faith actually made him rise above the nature of a vampire to become a doctor and save people. He strives to hold onto a little bit of humanity, and he passed that onto the members of his family.

The discussion of what happens after we die is a central theme to the books, though it is only discussed outright later in the series. While Carlisle believes that there is an afterlife, and that possibly vampires aren't damned, Edward is more skeptical. He believes that they will be punished for what they are, and he does not want that to happen to Bella. It is his questions that makes him confront Bella's cavalier attitude about losing her soul. The theme is an excellent discussion point for parents and teens who do read the books, because they can apply to the choices Christian teens make every day.

Pro-life Christians may also find the unwanted pregnancy in the series to be of great interest. While this pregnancy puts the life of a main character in grave danger, her decision is to keep the baby. For people who are pro-choice the discussion remains. The choice was given to the character to "take care of it," and she made the choice.

The desire of Bella to become a vampire is controversial, but the way it is handled appeases many Christians. The main characters of the novels were not "changed" by choice, but changed by circumstance. This theme is important to the Christian life, because we must know how to face our circumstances and hold onto our faith. The desire of Edward to not change Bella demonstrates to many Christians just how precious the soul is, and how he does not want to take away a viable human life. In Edward's case, he was going to die anyhow, and that is when Carlisle changed him. The Cullens value human life, and it is a lesson many people today can learn.

The debate about the sexual nature of the characters continues between opponents and proponents of the Twilight saga. While Edward is against sex before marriage, Bella is willing to hand over her virginity. Her fear of marriage stems from what many teens today face - the divorce of her parents and the effect it had on her mother.

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