Posted by: ramonamom | November 18, 2008

Guarding the Hearts of Our Daughters

Regarding the popular Twilight Series, by Stephenie Meyer

My husband and I are careful what videos and movies we allow into our home. We do not watch television except for very specific situations (presidential elections, weather bulletins, etc) and we screen most, if not all, of the videos before allowing our kids to watch them. I am certain that some less than stellar DVD’s make their way into our collection, but we do try to keep on top of what the nine young adults (ages 12-19) in our home are visually exposed to.

Until recently, books have not been as much of a concern, though. The two teens in our home who enjoy reading books on their own are quite discerning of their own accord and we have been able to generally trust them to make wise choices in this area. As a matter of fact, it has been a struggle for my husband and me to get most of our teens to do any reading, other than what we required of them for school. This changed a while back though, after a friend loaned a book to one of our daughters.

Initially, I questioned my daughter about the book which had been loaned to her, as I was concerned about the “vampire” subject matter. She told me that this friend (an adult woman whom I consider a sister in Christ) informed her that this was a very good book and that she was certain my daughter would enjoy reading it. I was busy at the time and did not choose to thoroughly check out this reading material. Rather, I instructed my daughter (a believer, although a fairly new one) to read some of the book and let me know how it stood up against our spiritual standards. She later came back to me, reporting that the book was interesting to read and “only had a few bad things in it, and they weren’t too bad”. Distracted with other areas, I once again chose to not personally pursue this subject, allowing her to continue reading the book. I somehow rationalized this to myself along the lines of, “It is unlikely that she and her sisters will actually read much of this (very thick) book, anyway”. Much to my surprise, this daughter not only read the book, but began to actively search for the sequel, so that she could read it also. Not long afterwards, another of our “non-reading” daughters began spending her spare time with this book. I should have taken note then, doing a thorough review of what our daughters were reading. Alas, I did not, once again opting for the easy way out (too busy and distracted).

This past week, these two daughters came to ask me if they could watch the movie which is newly in theaters, based upon this series of books they had so enjoyed. However, their attitudes were not the normal, “Mom, can I watch this new movie,” like we see on a regular basis. Rather, they seemed a bit embarrassed to be asking permission to watch this particular movie and even anticipating a possible rejection. A bit puzzled by this, I watched the movie trailer and then spoke with my husband. The trailer was disturbing and not the type of movie we would normally allow our daughters to watch. It was at this point that I began to realize the depth of the mistake I had made by allowing our daughters to read this series of books. We decided to require book reports on the first book in the series before granting or denying the requested permission, with a focus biblical principles appearing or absent in the story.

Soon, a third daughter began wondering “what the big deal was” regarding this series of books. Since there were a number of women and young girls in our church who had read and enjoyed these books, she picked the first one up and began reading it. Before she got far, she began asking questions and wondering what it was that her sisters in Christ had seen in this book. Finally, I decided it was time for me to take the time to read the first of these very popular books which had stolen the hearts of my daughters. My heart was broken, as I soon found myself praying and confessing my sinful lack of diligence regarding what I was allowing into the hearts and minds of my girls to the Lord. Reading Twilight, I was dumbstruck by the sensuality and lustfulness this book exhibited. This is not an area my daughters would have necessarily known to point out to me when reading the book, as “nothing bad” happened between the two main characters. (In other words, they did not literally have sexual intercourse.) The author of Twilight is unarguably a very talented writer and this was a book which would easily be classified as “hard to put down”. Her words and phrases were quite descriptive; as she carried the reader along, enabling them to truly feel what the main character was going through. In general, this would be considered a good quality to find in a book. However, when sensuality and lust are the subjects and teenagers are the ones reading the book, words such as these provide routes to thoughts and feelings they may never had dreamed of otherwise. Sadly, I had failed to guard the hearts and minds of my daughters (Phil 4:7-8). Not only that, but my daughters, in their enthusiasm over a well written book, had shared it with friends, not realizing the dangers presented amongst the pages. Such sexually oriented thoughts should only be reserved for marriage relationships, but I had allowed these sinful thoughts into the minds of our daughters and their friends. Even the common definitions of these words contain spiritual aspects to them, as evidenced in the following online dictionaries:

From TheFreeDictionary.com:
sen•su•al
adj.
1. Relating to or affecting any of the senses or a sense organ; sensory.
2.
a. Of, relating to, given to, or providing gratification of the physical and especially the sexual appetites. See Synonyms at sensuous.
b. Suggesting sexuality; voluptuous.
c. Physical rather than spiritual or intellectual.
d. Lacking in moral or spiritual interests; worldly.

From Miriam-Webster.com:
sen•su•al
adj.
1. Relating to or affecting any of the senses or a sense organ; sensory.
2.
a. Of, relating to, given to, or providing gratification of the physical and especially the sexual appetites. See Synonyms at sensuous.
b. Suggesting sexuality; voluptuous.
c. Physical rather than spiritual or intellectual.
d. Lacking in moral or spiritual interests; worldly.

From Answers.com:
Lust:
1. Intense or unrestrained sexual craving.
2.
a. An overwhelming desire or craving: a lust for power.
b. Intense eagerness or enthusiasm: a lust for life.
3. Obsolete. Pleasure; relish.
intr.v., lust•ed, lust•ing, lusts.
To have an intense or obsessive desire, especially one that is sexual.

More importantly, though, God’s Word speaks out clearly against both sensuality and lust:

God’s Word-
Pro 11:6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.

2Pe 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.

As my girls and I talked about these books last night, I explained how satan often uses things like this to hook unsuspecting persons and slowly reel them in. Just like the frog in a pot of cold water, they would not realize the danger they were in, reading the first book. It was an enjoyable read and the feelings which might have been awakened in their hearts felt good and warm, so why should they stop with reading the first book? The increased “heat” of the next book in the series would not be noticeable to them, nor the next one, as it slowly grew in intensity. I am so thankful that God brought this to my attention before the heat reached the point of boiling in the lives of my daughters.

Thankfully, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) It was sinful of me to not take the time to read what my impressionable daughters were reading. For that, I am sorrowful and sad, but also determined to use this mistake to God’s glory. I remain puzzled and wondering why this book was given to my daughter by a Christian woman in the first place. Have our consciences become so seared as to not recognize the sin behind such works?

Sexual pleasure is a gift from God, within the marriage relationship. Certainly, we should share this wonderful information with our daughters on the eve of their own marriage but not before, lest they fall into sinful lusts. Rather, we should work towards filling the hearts and minds of our daughters with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” (Phil. 4:8) I am thankfully forgiven for not being diligent in this area when my own daughters were reading the very popular Twilight series of books. I must stand up and help others avoid the same pitfall, though.

Sisters in Christ, I call upon you to help me guard the hearts and minds of our daughters. I know they will be entering the world soon enough, faced with such dangers on their own. Help me equip them to avoid these temptations rather than give in to them, though! I encourage you to stand up and set a good example for all of the daughters in God’s kingdom. Go before them, shining the Light of Jesus in their path, leading them in ways which are pleasing in His sight.

Edited to add link to online review of this book series:
http://www.pluggedinonline.com/read/read/a0004206.cfm

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Responses

  1. Related to this. . .

    Beth Jones writes about other ways in which this series seems to be unhealthy for young women in Christ in her review here.

  2. Hi!

    I comment on Trey’s blog a lot, and I wanted to see what this blog was about.

    I have read this series, and regret it. It’s like you said, one gets hooked quickly and then one doesn’t want to stop reading the series. It gets more ‘grown-up’ farther along (particularly the third and fourth ones).

    I would suggest that your daughters read the book reviews if they want to know what the hullaballoo is about. The books are a waste of precious time.

    Cheerio,
    Anna

  3. AMEN!

    I often lost and lonely in the body of Christ. I don’t really care what others read or allow their children to watch – before they can read or see anything it goes through the biblical funnel. If what they are putting before their eyes which can pierce the purity of thought and mind – will not edify them then it goes away.

    I stand beside you in this prayer! Praising God, He revealed to you the dangers of this book before it was too late. Praising God that you shared humbly your honest mistake and grateful that it will teach others like me to guard our hearts by the very word of God that much more!

    Hugs and blessings,
    Jill


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