(Previous Posts: Wall-E, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
So, if it's not really about this book or any other, why am I picking on this one? It's a good question, but probably a more personal answer as a woman, a wife of 20 years and as the mother of three girls, ages 11, 13 and 18.
There's a reason I posted first about the analogy between our physical obesity as a nation and our spiritual obesity as a church. But what I didn't point out that we're all seeing is that it's not just the adults in our nation that are growing heavier (over one third of the women in our nation are statistically obese). The real tragedy in the last 20 years is that childhood obesity has tripled. So, it's not simply what we as adults are choosing for ourselves that's the problem, is it?
Can you make the jump with me to our young girls and their entertainment? Back in the old days when I was a young'un, homosexuality was opening criticized and mocked on TV. When Mike and Carol Brady showed up in the SAME BED together...well, I can't tell you the furor it raised. The only movies I ever saw were Disney and that was few and far between...no VCRs, remember? (Yes. I'm that old.) The only time we got to see any late night TV was occasionally at Grannie's, which is probably why I can still remember some images of violence and sex. Problem is...those images are much less violent and the sex much less tame than in the Twilight series and certainly less than normal nightly programming. (And since Bill Clinton isn't here, let's not get into definitions of sex.)
Then there's the other reason that flows from this one. My girls aren't going to stay girls forever. Cassie's already voted. They are becoming women...who will give themselves to their husbands, raise children and serve the body of Christ. And they will struggle, won't they, in all these areas...none more so than in their marriages.
I know this because I'm in it. And I know it because of the woman after woman after woman with whom I talk about their struggles. I know it because of dear friends I walk beside and pray with and who listen to me and encourage my faith. And I know that our hearts are a problem when it comes to romance and fantasy. I know how discontented we can be with our spouses. I know that feasting on the world and snacking on the gospel makes us fat, lazy and ineffective for the Kingdom...especially for transforming our homes for the Kingdom.
Books like Twilight tell about our inner world. They describe feelings, sights, sounds in rapturous, dramatic ways. They take us to a place usually far, far, far away from the daily sights and sounds of toddlers crying and poopy diapers. They take us to a place where men see us...love us...fight for us...declare that no one has ever caused him to move outside of himself like we can. TV shows like the Bachelor pull us not just to watch, but to delight in what we watch. They're not asking us to observe them, but to like them. And if we go there? We enter back into our reality with a skewed perspective. We can't see as clearly as we should why we're there, what our marriage is for, what Christ would call us to as disciples. Are you tracking with me?
Back to the girls. They are young disciples, not fully formed...much more easily deceived...much less sure of the Word. They're still on a mostly milk diet...sometimes not yet able to handle steak. Cassie's chewing on a lot. Aisley's coming along so well. Brennan's still the same...calling black, black and white, white. Things aren't real complicated for her.
Want me to change that? Want me to introduce a book to her that has some good things happen like a guy who is drawn to a girl just for who she is and not for what she looks like or does for him...but a girl who also gives herself in such a way that she'd renounce her parents...even her very soul for him?
Want me to give Aisley...who is so empathetic to people that she can side easily with them in their sin if they're hurting bad enough...want me to give her a character who will easily feed that part of her that chooses people over the Words of Christ?
Want Cassie who's entering that great time when she'll be ready for love (Song of Solomon 8:4, Ezek. 16:8, Gen. 2:24) but is holding on to the hope that she'll find a guy who's actually a man...want me to feed her this as she goes from our home next fall? Really? That's the image? That setting? Those are the words you think should ring in her head as she readies herself for Christ's call upon her life?
Not sure what to think? I’m just going to start with some quotes and am assuming that you’ve read all the previous posts. Once again, they are 17 in this book. Not married. In high school. Okay, okay. I'll quit. With that set up…can you see what effect these might have?
Referring to Edward…
He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare.
The meadow, so spectacular to me at first, paled next to his magnificence.
As I had just that once before, I smelled his cool breath in my face. Sweet, delicious, the scent made my mouth water.
I could smell the unbearably sweet fragrance coming off his chest.
He pressed his cool lips to my forehead, and the room spun. The smell of his breath made it impossible to think.
If I stopped looking for him, it was over. Love, life, meaning… over.
Because there was just one thing that I had to believe to be able to live—I had to know that he existed. That was all. Everything else I could endure. So long as he existed.
Because, through the heavy water, I heard the sound of an angel calling my name, calling me to the only heaven I wanted.
Bella’s words to Edward:
Don’t I taste as good as I smell?
You are my life. You’re the only thing it would hurt me to lose.
If he’d asked me whether I would risk my soul for Edward, the reply would be obvious.
I don’t care! You can have my soul. I don’t want it without you—
(Can I get some props for not making sarcastic comments all the way through?? Come on. His chest glows??)
But does it get better in the next books? Well, how about one preview quote from Bella in Eclipse, speaking about Jacob Black...
He was more than just my friend. That’s why it was so impossible to tell him goodbye — because I was in love with him. Too. I loved him, much more than I should, and yet, still nowhere near enough. I was in love with him, but it was not enough to change anything; it was only enough to hurt us both more.
Yep. After all that, she's torn between two and that tension even lasts after they're married in the book Breaking Dawn (Yep. There are sex scenes in that one where they go all the way albeit after marriage. Though you get references to the taste and feel of bodies, they do refrain from actual descriptions at a certain point.) Okay? I've got problems and so should you.
Or how about Bella's high view of marriage...biblical?But more than that, I just couldn’t reconcile a staid, respectable, dull concept like husband with my concept of Edward. It was like casting an archangel as an accountant; I couldn’t visualize him in any commonplace role.
And then there's the descriptive quotes I left out. Picture the scenes between them that these all went in. Picture her offering her virginity to him...trying hard to get him to give in. I feel like surely you see it now. Surely you know that this kind of obsessive…I’ll give up my own soul for him…I’ll defy my parents…I’ll give my own life to have him…that kind of love is reserved for One, right? You have been crucified already. Your life is already demanded. You have been claimed. You must forsake all others for Him. All others. No one else in your eternal existence gets what Bella offered to Edward. (And then for Jacob...sigh...)
But that’s the temptation. To give up what is inside of us that belongs only to Christ and offer it to another who will really satisfy us. To believe that human love…the love of man with a woman…can be what only Christ can be for us.
Wayne will die. Today. Tomorrow. In 59 years if God is so gracious. And if I am alive, my life is not over. My hope is not gone. I remain standing on solid ground. Wayne is a gift…more gracious than any other earthly gift I’ve received. But he is not my passion. I am joined with Him to represent my passion. He is not my highest treasure without which I am lost. He and I are together…I am so in love with Wayne 20 years into our marriage. I can’t imagine even knowing where to begin if you ask me about how I feel about him or how he’s been used in my life. I am unendingly grateful.
But he only gets what’s his. My devotion is God’s. My life is God’s. To paraphrase Mark Driscoll from a sermon a couple of weeks ago…If Wayne follows Jesus, I follow Wayne. If Wayne stops following Jesus, I’m still following Jesus. He gets his. Christ gets all. (For more on this idea, please see this little 3 minute clip...or better yet, buy this book or read it free online here.)
That’s the gift of God in marriage…in that deep, deep relationship between man and woman. Everything else we keep creating in our fantasies only fuels our desire to have more than what God’s given us in this creation. He has told us to keep pure what is His. And to keep pure from any other until that day when He seals the relationship. Our hearts are supposed to be given at the same level as the commitment. Bella gives what is not hers to give…herself. We’re God’s. He owns us. He gives us.
And any book that goes into rapture about any other way…that calls good what God calls evil…is not to be rejoiced in. But it’s just a book, right? Yep. And donuts are good for you. So, I wonder why these pants don't fit? It's a mystery.
Q&A coming next...