A Response to Twilight
I have been in student ministry now for the better part of two decades. In that time there have been numerous topics that have surfaced that all seem to have had an immediate impact on the youth culture of the day. I think that to spend too much time and emphasis on such topics can be distracting but to ignore them altogether can have pretty dangerous implications. I am not trying to sidestep the issue but I want to be careful of how we address it. My main concern with the new Twilight movie and the books that sequels will be based on is that they seem to romanticize certain things that I believe Christ died to set us free from. I also find the Harry Potter movies and books to have a similar appeal, though they don’t seem to me to be quite as seductive and provocative. The greatest threat I see them posing is in the way that authority may sometimes be rejected and the idea that a kid would emulate that is certainly concerning. Also in the later Potter books as the characters get older there are many references to making out.
With that being said my concern with the Twilight books are multiple and have to do with the relationship between Bella and Edward. There is a very real theme within the relationship that strikes chords with the emotional heartstrings of many young women who have grown up with a horrible concept of love and significance. These can only be found in Christ and NO relationship will bring what only Christ can. I think that many young women will identify with Bella’s character in the movie and books and will then romanticize her relationship with Edward. This is my concern.
As a ministry we try to seize the short time that we have with students (2-6 days) and focus on their walk with Christ. This doesn’t mean that we don’t address topics like this, but we truly believe that if a student is walking by the Spirit then the work of Christ in that student will convict them of sin and lead them in paths of righteousness. We address these types of issues when they come up (which is very often) but our greatest focus is on the teaching of the infallible and authoritative scriptures, and the practical applications of it. In other words I would rather spend an hour session looking at one of the fruits of the Spirit than I would teaching about a secular movie and why we shouldn’t watch it. In a week to week church youth group setting I would probably give more emphasis to these types of issues.
So while we are very aware of the dangers that these movies and books may pose, we address them only as the need seems to arise. The sad thing is that as a father my heart breaks for so many of the students we have here on a weekly basis who clearly don’t have a godly home to live in. They turn to the things the world offers to find fulfillment. Our culture is so inundated with garbage TV programming and internet access that even our church leadership is often attached to aTV show or radio program. We MUST be led by Christ daily. Lost, 24, CSI, Law and Order, sports programming, and everything that is typically seen on primetime is conducive to a flesh feeding frenzy that hinders the work of the Spirit. I guess the greater question we try to ask here is not what will we allow as a ministry, but how are we living and what are our children and the students we minister too seeing in our lives. Until I am investing personally in a students life then my experience has been that they are gonna be interested in what I have to say. I would encourage you as you disciple students one on one to lead by example and pour your life into theirs, then they will be much more receptive to your influence and counsel. Otherwise they will just view it as your “opinion”.
My kids will not be seeing these movies or reading these books but I can assure you there will be a lot of reading and time invested in their lives by their mother and me. I pray that my investment in their lives will support the decisions I have to make that they may not understand. I pray this for my time with students in ministry as well. We have a great opportunity here and we want to be faithful.