Recently I sat through the first three movies of the Twilight Saga – the teenybopper dramas based on novels that came out years ago (I know I’m behind) that delve into the lives of heartthrob vampires, their werewolf counterparts and the angst-ridden teenagers who fall in love with them both. Although the general dialogue in the movies was just as shallow as I expected it to be, for me, they were a fascinating look into what’s interesting teenagers these days.
The films are dark – in the literal and figurative sense. Vampires apparently don’t “do” sunlight so much of the movies are filmed with the sun obscured by clouds or in the actual dark. But not only that, the main character, Edward, is portrayed as a typical teenager, but with atypical levels of angst. He’s a conundrum, really, a vampire in agony himself. He doesn’t feast on humans, as vampires are wont to do. He is very much afraid of himself and the darkness he knows is contained within him. He can’t really have friends – or girlfriends for that matter – he outlives everyone he’s ever known and is very afraid of hurting someone he loves. He’s broody, moody, never sleeps, rarely smiles and walks around weighted down by the cares of his situation in life and the world around him. Did I mention this was a love story? The films centre around Edward, who throws caution to the wind (spoiler alert) when he falls in love with a non-vamp teen, Bella, and though he fights himself, and her really, and tries to do right by her (he leaves for a time thinking it would be better for her to love someone else), he is mistaken and they are reunited in a love stronger than it was before.
I remember reading reviews about the films when they first came out – many in different religious circles were thrilled about one aspect of the storyline in particular. Edward and Bella do not sleep together before they are married. Seems as though it was a conscious decision, in the movies at least, despite the fact that it’s Bella that puts a bit of pressure on Edward. But Edward was born and raised in different time period, a more noble time really, where men were chivalrous; protecting women from that which can harm them (including the men, themselves), asking for a woman’s hand in marriage and then appealing to her father, and getting to know a girlfriend/fiancée well by in-depth communication before marriage and reserving physical intimacy for afterwards. It’s all there, in the films.
But there was something more to the relationship between Edward and Bella. I was enthralled with the love story. I began to not only root for but yearn for them to be together – and considering how dark the movies were I surprised myself by how the storyline drew me in. I generally don’t watch flicks like this….werewolves, vampires and the darkness contained therein interest me exactly zero. But there was strength buried somewhere in this love story, a powerful and distinct undercurrent of truth that pervaded the narrative. I contemplated it for several days afterwards and finally touched down.
In her book Captivating Staci Eldredge describes her longing to be romanced: she desperately wanted to be the heroine in an adventure, she wanted to be remembered, deeply love and rescued by the hero. She says, “One of my favourite games growing up was “kidnapped and rescued.” …To be the beauty, abducted by the bad guys, fought for and rescued by the hero – some version of this had a place in all our dreams. Like Sleeping Beauty, like Cinderella, like Maid Marian, or like Cora in Last of the Mohicans, I wanted to be the heroine and have my hero come for me. …I simply loved feeling wanted and fought for. This desire is set deep in the heart of every little girl – and every woman. Yet most of us are ashamed of it. We downplay it. We pretend that it is less than it is. We are women of the twenty-first century after all – strong, independent and capable, thank you very much. Uh-huh…and who is buying all those romance novels?”
I’ve been married for 12 years (as of last week) and I still long to be romanced, to know that my husband loves me and that he will show up and fight for me just as much as he did when we got married. Those desires don’t just disappear over time, they only seem to get stronger as we age and end up needing more and more from those around us. The Twilight Saga brings a woman’s deep longing to be loved and fought for sharply into focus. In fact Edward’s loyalty and his heightened sense of concern for Bella’s safety is what draws her to Edward in the first place. He goes to great lengths to save her – appearing to her from across the world to warn her of danger and enlisting the help of his mortal enemies to save her from impending death. And every female watching sighs from the romance of it all. For a generation of young millenials who see themselves as independent, as women who don’t need men, and certainly don’t need to be rescued or fought for, these movies certainly made a killing (grossing over $3 billion dollars worldwide). What young women are saying is one thing, but where they are putting their money says something altogether different.
And just why are women ashamed of their deep desire to be loved and fought for? Perhaps because the pervading ‘wisdom’ of the day says that only the strong, salient hero-types matter, and everything (and everyone) else is rubbish. It’s unfortunate but true – at some point in the last 50 years, according to Alice von Hildebrand, physical strength became glorified and weakness was looked down upon as proof of inferiority. Accomplishments, feats, performances and success became overestimated and distorted the hierarchy of values – such that femininity and it’s requisite virtues became despised and the masculine attributes, hyper-valued. So, in essence, the one being fought for has come to be seen as the weak, helpless and stupid one, unable to save herself and others. Who in their right mind wants to appear weak and stupid? Not me.
And yet, the tension remains within us. Women, at least the majority of us here in North America, are not physically weak, stupid or helpless, yet each of us still desires to have the hero show up and fight for us, to be remembered and loved beyond our imagination.
And so we are:
“My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
…Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the crannies of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”
(Song of Solomon 2:10-12, 13-14)
Striking, isn’t it, that a passage of scripture written at least a thousand years ago can still be as thrilling as that? The Lord speaks these words into our hearts, every day, in all kinds of ways – even as we watch a wretched angst-filled vampire strive to love his non-vampire girlfriend as perfectly as he is able. The story never gets old because real and true, unconditional, sacrificial love never gets old. It’s what makes life sweet and worth living, and it’s a story that draws me in every single time.
I haven’t seen the last two movies in the Saga, but I’ve heard they’re the ones where Bella and Edward marry and have a baby – a perfect ending (or starting?) to a beautiful love story. Perhaps I’ll get to see them, perhaps I won’t. But regardless, these films were just another small reminder that I’m living my own epic love story – and I’m not talking about the one with my husband. I’ve had a life full of perfect, unconditional, sacrificial love from start to finish with the God who made me.
Editor Note: As the Twilight series progresses the content does become more and more questionable. Parental judgement and supervision is strongly advised (even if you are thinking of the series for your teens).
If publishing article online please attribute source Serviam Ministries with link to original article.