Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series has been getting a lot of press lately—especially since the fourth book in the series, titled Breaking Dawn, was released on August 2 to huge sales. And come November, the movie version of the book will be hitting theaters nationwide.
The message you might have heard is that these teen romances take a strong stand against sex before marriage and are therefore a great way to get that idea across to kids.
Well, ordinarily I'd be overjoyed about a popular mainstream series of books for girls with a pro-abstinence message. But in this case, I'm a bit more concerned than overjoyed.
You see, there are other messages in the Twilight books that are very real and very strong. And some of those messages are downright alarming, and you and I need to know about them.
Our blog, The Point, goes into the books in much more detail. But the basic storyline is this: A teenage girl named Bella falls in love with a mysterious, much older vampire named Edward. She wants to become a vampire like him so they can be together forever. He refuses to have premarital relations with her, and that's the message that many parents and educators are concentrating on, and feeling good about.
What they're failing to notice is this: Bella is completely without self-confidence. She's constantly putting herself down and treating her boyfriend as some superior being, using terms like "god" and "angel" to describe him. She looks down on herself just for being human, and wants to lose her humanity as soon as possible.
In turn, the vampire Edward has disturbing habits like sneaking into Bella's room and watching her sleep, eavesdropping on her and her friends, encouraging her to deceive her father, and even disabling her truck and kidnapping her to keep her from seeing other friends.
Put all this together, and you have one very unhealthy relationship—and this is what's being viewed by far too many teens and adults as the greatest romance since Romeo and Juliet.
Just to cite one of the most obvious concerns, we're living in an age of Internet predators, where it's easier than ever for criminals to reach teenage girls and lure them away from home. And here we have these books celebrating a girl who's willing to throw away her family, her friends, her identity, and her life for a stalker with controlling, even abusive tendencies.
Is this really something parents should be pushing? Are we trying to create a generation that's naïve, gullible, and lacking in self-worth, or a generation of intelligent, strong young people who can stand up for themselves and for what is right?
I want my daughters to practice purity, but I want them to do it because they know and embrace God's will, and because they understand that they're created in God's image and have infinite worth and value.
I don't want them to do it—or to do anything—because they have no will of their own and are being dictated to by some boyfriend who makes them feel inferior. And I certainly don't want them idolizing a character in a book who lets herself be treated that way.
So the bottom line is, be sure you are reading what your kids are reading. That's a message that my family—and families everywhere—ought to take to heart.