A Response to Jones’ & Driscoll’s Twilight Comments

In response to: http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2012/12/why-mark-driscoll-is-wrong-abo.html

 

Beth Felker Jones touches on some important points responding to the continuing Twilight fad in response to the latest film released nearly a month ago. She gives discussion to both Mark Driscoll’s response to Twilight and to Twilight itself, as well as women and girls who are fans. What about male fans? Perhaps Jones herself makes a common Feminist faux pas by speaking to the condition of females without enough consideration of males. I know of some male fans of the Twilight series. How does Twilight affect them? Does the affect for males differ from females? I don’t know the answers to these questions exactly, but they are important questions to ask so that Driscoll’s shaming tone toward teenage boys about porn, and teenage girls toward Twilight are equally addressed. Jones writes, “rather than encouraging our daughters to wait for their Edward, we should encourage them to find satisfaction in their Savior.” Also, rather than encouraging our sons to seek out Bella, we should encourage them to seek out God.

 

Driscoll points to “Twilight-crazed teenagers participating in real-life vampirism,” as Jones describes one of Driscoll’s posts. Surely this extreme example is not normative. I am not convinced that Twilight has a direct correlation to trying vampirism. Curiosity and unmet spiritual hunger combined with a lack of community support such as an involved Church community [remember- young and old are fans] are more likely the underlying reasons for why teenagers and other fans move from ‘that was an interesting story’ to ‘I want to be that or do that in my real life’. Vampirism and other forms of the occult are inherently spiritual and are met with curiosity as it is demonstrated on the screen or in a book in mysterious and sexy ways, but there is a huge canyon between curiosity and literally attempting the modeled lifestyle in fantasy- in this case vampirism. When people are spiritual starving, they will go off the orthodox path in a variety of ways. IN this case, vampirism is portrayed as glamorous. Some people lose themselves in fantasy because their reality is not strongly grounded. In my context, the strongest grounding for reality is found in faith- the Bible, the Church, and genuine local church community.

 

Is Twilight deliberately “aimed at girls,” as Jones writes? The answer lies in the author, Stephenie Meyer’s intentions. Author intentions are often tricky to navigate. The choice of language- “aimed”- implies aggressive intention in the same what that a bow & arrow are aimed for hunting. Meyer identifies the inspiration for Twilight coming from a dream she had one night. I doubt she consciously had the intention to write a story to target girls so that she could further ingrain outdated and unhelpful gender roles, and female learned helplessness. This story itself is not a conspiracy theory. I imagine Meyer wrote the story as a creative outlet, and at least on some level, to make money.

 

It should be no surprise that Twilight is as popular as it is. There is the social level- friends are interested in this book/movie, so I will join. There is also a deeper core issue- Twilight offers a definition for what love is. Until Christians demonstrate the heart of 1 Corinthians 13 and other passages such as 1John 4 that discuss what truly genuine love and faithful community are, girls and boys, men and women, will continue to fill our hearts with junk in an attempt to satiate a God-given hunger for love. Twilight satisfies the craving for love about as well as a Twix bar satisfies someone who has anemia. There may be a temporary sense of lost hunger, but there is still vitamin deficiency. I echo Jones’ comments that “Twilight is more idolatry than pornography”. As John Calvin wrote, “the heart is a factory of idols”. Idol-making happens slowly over time and must be swiftly cut off.

 

Driscoll clearly communicates concern and outrage for American culture in general, and specifically around gender issues. Jones joins Driscoll and many prominent Christian leaders who oppose the communicated values of Twilight, though these voices have differing angles and opinions to support their opposition. If it is acceptable to be upset and even outraged against the latest violation of women’s [and men’s!] dignity and portrayal in the media, how about going a little bigger? Meyer’s story is not incredibly original. How many Disney movies can you name that follow the cookie cutter pattern of female in conflict, male helper/savior, they profess unmitigated love for each other, then they live happily ever after? [I’m thinking of Snow White, Beauty & the Beast…] More than “porn for girls,” as Driscoll so eloquently labels Twilight, Twilight is ‘Disney magic’ for big girls and big boys who recognize that their hearts desire deep and fully committed love. The storyline of Twilight and similar books & movies mimic true love. Jones describes Bella’s love for Edward as “all consuming”. The Bible describes the Holy Spirit as a consuming fire. Anything else that consumes us in such totality is an idol. This begs the question, what is true love. 1 Corinthians 13 says:

 

“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!”

 

This passage is not simply Paul’s gooey worship of romance or romantic love, or an alternative to Meyers’ and Disney’s definitions of love, but a call to self-examination of how one gives and receives love. Much of 1 Corinthians is about motives. Do I love selfishly? Love is not jealous or boastful. Do I love so that I can get what I want? Love does not demand its own way. True love does not compete for affection, nor conquer the other, nor wait passively, as portrayed in Twilight. Perhaps Paul defines love partially in the negative [love is not ___] because love is mysterious and difficult to fully encompass and define with words. Even so, Jesus calls us to love.

 

I could fill volumes in response to Driscoll’s consistently crude, patriarchal, and damaging comments toward women, gender issues, sexuality, etc. Frankly, I don’t have the time nor the desire to go after him. Instead, I will write and talk about, and hopefully live what love is and who should be loved [hint- The Greatest Commandments].

 

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