How Twilight is Re-Vamping Romance

A Horror Story About a Horror Story

Once upon a dark and stormy year, tens of millions of women and girls, of all ages, all nations, all religions, fell under the spell of one 17-year-old boy…

who was not even human…

and was not even real.

This imaginary man-god from the underworld became the new standard by which millions of real husbands, boyfriends and suitors were weighed in the balance and found wanting. To millions of women, reality began to pale in comparison to his dark and fantastical world – the only world where they could be with Their Edward.

“i dont really understand why but it makes me so sad when i think of edward, almost like i know he will never exsits expect in fictionly stories. i wish i would already find him and be eternaly happy just holding his hand :/”[1]

Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight may be fiction, but this story is real. Edward Cullen is no more than an idea, but ideas have consequences, and Edward-obsession is creeping into real history.

This week Twilight proved its mighty cultural force when the second film in the series, New Moon, broke all-time opening-day box office records, beating out Titanic and Dark Knight. [2] Since the release of the first Twilight book in 2005, 85 million subsequent books in the series have been sold. Twilight’s cultural conquest is phenomenal. But how did this averagely-written, clichéd storyline capture so many hearts, minds and imaginations (not to mention over one billion dollars in book, DVD and ticket sales)?

“I am obsessed, it seems to have taken over my life, everytime I think about putting the books up for good and reading something new, I nearly have an anxiety attack!”

We have a few theories. Though Stephanie Meyer is not a brilliant author, she knows how to make an illicit romance with a vampire look like a clean, pro-abstinence story of unconditional love and good vs. evil (and convince even Christians.) [3]

We believe her greatest genius, though, is her keen intuition into the sin nature and fleshly desires of women. Being, ourselves, young women in her target demographic, we know Twilight presents a very attractive alternate universe to tempt any girl’s flesh: a self-centered, autonomous life, a self-gratifying romance, and no real-world responsibilities or consequences. Best of all, the perfection of the hero has no human limitations. Move over, Mr. Darcy – with your every earthly quality, you’re still only human. Mr. Cullen is superhumanly handsome, brilliant, strong, rich, romantic, and most of all, superhumanly capable of unconditional love. He even has the “bad-boy” appeal of being a blood-lusting creature of the underworld, but with the impeccable Victorian manners and sensitive feminine feelings of the “good boy.” Half-demon, half-angel; there’s something for everyone in Edward Cullen.

Of course, intrinsic to Edward’s irresistible allure is the sheer, titillating “forbidden” factor. Twilight’s now-iconic cover art portrays the hands of a young girl holding an apple, an allusion to Eve’s contemplating the forbidden fruit – a metaphor for Bella’s temptation for an unthinkable relationship with a vampire. The message of the cover is perfectly apropos; the choice presented, however, is before more than just Bella, Twilight’s protagonist. Will we fall into our own love affair with Edward Cullen? Will we succumb to the charms of fantasy men in fantasy worlds?

Emotional Pornography

“He grinned his crooked smile at me, stopping my breath and my heart. I couldn’t imagine how an angel could be any more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon.” (Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 12, p.241)

For this discussion, we would like to set aside the dark paranormal element of Twilight, though that is a concern on its own. We believe what ultimately draws women into this series and other romance novels in millions-strong droves is the same thing that lures men into an estimated $3-4 billion-a-year pornography industry.

Journalist Alisa Harris explains: “It’s called emotional porn. When men glut their physical lust with pictures of airbrushed girls pumped full of silicone, they become dissatisfied with real women’s bodies. When women plug their emotional caverns with chick flicks and chick lit, they become dissatisfied with the real men they know because they can’t measure up to the guys from The Notebook or Pride and Prejudice or Walk to Remember.” (Alisa Harris, “Beating Darcy Down”, Kritik Magazine)

Pornography is not simply about pictures. At its core, pornography starts with:

1. A desire to use people as self-gratification machines
2. A preference for man-made reality and man-made people over the real thing.

These hold as much temptation for women as for men, though romance novels often feed their fire better than pictures. (It has been found, however, that pictures of Robert Pattinson don’t put a damper on anything.) [4]

Why should Edward, Mr. Darcy and other romantic heroes be more interesting than “far better and real” men? Because these men are the creations of women, tailor-made just the way we want them… rather than the way God made them.

R.J. Rushdoony asks, “Why should an unreal female be exciting, and a far better and real woman not be so? The key is the essence of imagination: the fantasy woman is totally the creation and creature of man, whereas the real woman is God’s creation and creature. It is essential to imagination to create a man-made world and a man-ordained decree of predestination. It is the essence of sin to demand such a world.” [5]

Why should Edward, Mr. Darcy and other romantic heroes be more interesting than “far better and real” men? Because these men are the creations of women, tailor-made just the way we want them… rather than the way God made them.

Why Can’t a Man… Be More Like a Woman?

“A normal guy would wait for you to make him breakfast. Edward Cullen would make you breakfast everyday.” (Normal Guy Vs. Edward Cullen)

The problem with real guys, it often seems, is that they aren’t enough like, well… girls. The airbrushed, artificially enhanced heroes of romantic fiction have usually undergone some gender-blurring to make them more romantically satisfying: more beautiful, more delicately-featured, more sensitive, more domestic, better behaved, more in tune with our feelings. In short, more like us. Ultimately, they must also take on a different role, because real men are not all about what we wish they were all about (us).

In God’s world, the woman was created for the man; in the wonderful world of romance novels, the man is usually created as an accessory to the woman. God created men to have a dominion-focus, not a woman-focus, and the woman was to be his helper in his mission. [6] In romance-novel-land, however, the heroine is the center of the hero’s universe and his reason for living. As Edward tells Bella in Twilight, “You are my life now.” [7]

Better than Life

But there is something more that makes the real and living pine for the non-existent and undead.

“I am sad that [the books] are over. For me that means no more escape from real life. I need a good read to fill that void where reality meets fantasy.”

Though some may profess immunity to teen-vampire-horror-romance, everyone tainted by sin faces this temptation to escape to another world. A different “reality,” where what is impossible in real life is possible in our minds – where we can indulge in desires we would never fulfill in the real world. It’s about more than going batty for vampires. It’s about a chance to take a “time off” from law and consequences.

R.J. Rushdoony points out, “Because ours is an age with a will to fiction, the role of imagination is extremely important. Men who will not be governed by God’s word will not be governed by reality, because reality is not of their making. God having created all things, reality reflects the mind of God, not man. Hence, it is the essence of sin to resort to imagination to escape God’s law world.”[8]

The answer for those in need of “escape” from life’s hardships is running to God – not away from Him.

We who feel “the urge to escape sometimes” should ask ourselves why a world apart from God’s character, God’s laws, and God’s created order would be a world a Christian would desire to live in? What would make us want to run, like Jonah, from God and His presence? “Escapism is only medicine to one who views the reality of God and His creation as a disease.” [9] The answer for those in need of “escape” from life’s hardships is running to God – not away from Him.

Here is the ultimate question for those of us who delight in being titillated by unbiblical violence, unbiblical death, unbiblical spiritualism, and unbiblical romance – even when it’s “just pretend”: Are we are of the Spirit, or still of the flesh?

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:5-9)

To Be As Goddesses

Stephanie Meyers certainly hit the jackpot, we believe, because she knows what it is that women really want in their fantasies: a god to worship them as a goddess.

And really, the desire to be “as gods” – the temptation Eve succumbed to – is the lure tempting every girl to create her own world and her own men, and define what is good and evil for herself. As we pointed out at the beginning, the choice before each of us is the choice Meyers wrote in for Bella: to eat of the forbidden fruit, or not? Our prayer is that the daughters of our generation will flee temptation, and make the better choice.

We realize this article has taken a hard line, and we certainly didn’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but we don’t really have to: Twilight will spoil its own fun.

“When I finished [the last book in the series] I felt like my world would collapse. I had been living in Forks for so long that I didn’t want to go back to my boring not-at-all-interesting life! …Then reality hit me and I realized I’m not Bella and my husband is not Edward. That was hard for me to swallow.”

The reality that will eventually hit Twi-hards is that this infatuation is its own punishment. No amount of ticket sales, Twilight addiction “fixes,” and I-Want-to-Marry-Edward-Cullen fansites will change the fact that Edward Cullen is still not human, and still not real. Mercifully, we have a God Who is.


1. All fan quotes are from various online Twilight discussion groups

2. According to, “NEW MOON opened with a phenomenal performance of a gargantuan $140.7 million first weekend in North America and, $118.1M from 25 international markets from Wednesday through Sunday, and a worldwide 5-day total of $258.8M. …With the audience exactly split under and over age 21, exit polling showed that 80% were female.” Read the entire report here:

3. Twilight does present some heavy themes like good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, heaven vs. hell, but without any moral clarity. What is good and what is evil, and by what standard? In Twilight’s ethical system, carrying on a secret relationship with a killer is good, while going against one’s heart is bad, etc.

4.Bella’s own “love” for Edward is hardly pure (or selfless, or rational); it seems based on the emotional and physical feelings she gets when she looks at him. Bella responds to Edward’s “pale, glorious face,” “voice…like melting honey,” “hypnotic eyes,” etc., like a stimulus-response mechanism, with estrogen for brains. Girls learn to salivate along with her, like Pavlovian dogs, at every mention of the world “gorgeous.”

5. R.J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology Volume I, pp. 474, 475

6. Genesis 2:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:8-12

7. Twilight, Chapter 15, p.314

8. R.J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology Volume I, Rushdoony, pp. 474,

9. We borrowed this astute observation from our brother Benjamin. Keep an eye on his blog ( for his future writings on this subject.

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