Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christians and Twilight (or "Was not Meat Loaf among the prophets?")

On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?

Will he offer me his mouth? Yes!
Will he offer me his teeth? Yes!
Will he offer me his jaws? Yes!
Will he offer me his hunger? Yes!

Again, will he offer me his hunger? Yes!
And will he starve without me? Yes!

Warning: the below is very frank...

The vampire craze is a strange one, I must admit. Teen girls and moms alike lining up with baited breath to catch the next installment of the love affair between Edward and Bella --star-crossed teens, a twentieth century pulp fiction Romeo and Juliet.

I am not writing to critique either the books or the movie. I am rather writing to talk about the differences between men and women, and how the sin of lust takes different forms in each.

We all know the seriousness of the porn empidemic. If a man does not take positive steps to avoid it, it will find him, and more likely than not, it will hook him. The reason is the way God has wired men. Men are attracted to those parts of a woman that are different than he is, those parts most specially related to the bearing of children. He is also attracted to physical depictions of the act he most desires to perform with a woman. It is (sadly) natural. It is also sinful and damning. The vast majority of men are into it --even Christian men.

And, how many women are dismayed, disgusted and hurt to find out their husbands are using pornography. They view it (rightly) as a betrayal of sacred trust. Marriages even end over it --wrongly, I might add. The man does not view it that way. He (wrongly) does not view porn as having any significance beyond physical gratification: it is a matter of mere appetite. Women understand the power and purpose of sex far more than men do. Women know, innately, that it is designed to be a powerful bond between souls, not just physical gratification.

And, this is what makes women particularly vulnerable to a different sort of porn, and that is fanciful romance. To call it porn is not too strong a word. It is equally destructive, sets up equally unrealistic expectations, and has, at its root, the same core sin of pornography --an escapist fulfillment of fantasy in someone other than one's spouse. It breeds discontent with the real nature of the male-female relationship.

Many have praised Twilight, written by a Mormon mom, for its high morality. But, on closer look, is it really moral? Doug Wilson has some good thoughts here.

Let me ask you: does the following sound pornographic? (Citing Doug Wilson):

Edward has a “musical” voice, a “dazzling face,” “flawless lips,” a “crooked smile” that is “so beautiful,” a face that was “such a distraction,” he flashes “a set of perfect, ultrawhite teeth,” and he is a “bizarre, beautiful boy.”

He has a “perfect face,” “brilliant teeth,” a “glorious face,” and, if we hadn’t made this clear yet, he had a “stunning face.”

...what with his golden eyes, his black eyes, his “too-perfect face,” coupled with the fact that he is “interesting,” “brilliant,” “mysterious,” “perfect,” and “beautiful.”

Never mind that these descriptions would make Miss Austen faint, and give even Margaret Mitchell a toothache.

I ask you, ladies, as moms of girls, is this what you want your young women seeking in young men? How is this any less salacious than a young man who is attracted by female body parts? We routinely tell boys not to objectify women, to look at a girl's eyes, and not down, etc. All this we ought to do. But women are no less sexually perverse than men. Men fantasize about sex, and women fantasize about sexual romance. Men want women, and women want men to want them.

The Christian woman ought not have an easy conscience about this. We would discipline a group of men who went out to a strip club to see a hot new dancer. But, how many husbands dare question whether a group of women ought to go see Twilight?

...And does he love me? Yes!

Yes! On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
Yes! I bet you say that to all the boys....


  1. Excellent post! I'm gonna link to it!

  2. Aren't you a little young to be recalling Meat Loaf lyrics? Or for that matter to even know who Meat Loaf is.

  3. Rob,

    You'd be surprised what music I listen to! :-)

  4. Ken,
    Brother, I cant wait to have a dinner table discussion with friends about this. You have given me much to chew on.
    -Anna Segrest

  5. Yikes. I imagine the menu will be roast preacher. :-)

    I could have written more on the romance factor, which I view as even more dangerous for women than the physical factor.

  6. No, it isn't what I want Sofia interested in. These books are full of drama; and it doesn't appear to be the beautiful drama of the unfolding of life. It sounds like the kind of negative, tiresome drama that, if our friends tried to pull it on us, would make us consider cooling off that friendship. This isn't what a good relationship looks like, and if Meyer's books dealt with that and held up the relationship as flawed rather than ideal, perhaps I would be less hard in my stance against them. I've not read much of the books, a handful of excerpts from 3 of them only. And I've read many reviews of all four, treated separately and as a single unit of story, including short excerpts and quotes. Even the most glowingly positive ones have left me scratching my head as they detail behavior and events that aren't proper for men, women, or teens - either those things which I know to be bad "in the real world" are seen as good (but I can't really hold lost reviewers to the same standard as I do Christians) or they are given a pass for rather weak reasons (Christians claiming that it's just an "entertainment" book, or that obviously if it happened in real life they wouldn't be okay with it, or that it really doesn't get focused on much in the story so it won't have any bad effects on young readers).
    Of course, Meyer's isn't a Christian either. Anyone turning to her for a good "moral" tale of romance was looking in the wrong direction from the first. I don't expect her to be any better at correctly judging romantic human relationships than I do, say, Rachel Gibson or Lisa Kleypas, two NYT-bestelling authors of non-religious romantic fiction. They both follow the usual genre conventions of people in a state of partial undress on the cover, hate-at-first-sight, constant bickering and misunderstanding, sex leading to love, sex as love, and power struggles over how much each lover must give up of their "self" in order to have given up just enough to get what they want.
    You rightly point the finger at Christian women who read romantic fiction, and other Christians who never say anything about bad elements found in romantic fiction. Because what's truly dangerous is that professing Christians who write romantic fiction geared toward a Christian audience have swallowed these conventions whole. I was given YA Christian fiction growing up and it follows those same tired devices. The only real difference is the sex, usually it's changed to less offensive "sexual attraction" but that's just a shell game. The stuff that I skim now that relatives are reading is also just the same. I've even seen plenty of books held up as "good Christian romance" where the female protagonist is unable to resist getting involved with an un-Christian man, but it's okay because he gets saved at the end. And that brings me too the other side of the coin: the Christian women I know who are reading Christian romance seem to let down their guard completely just because its Lori Wick, Karen Kingsbury (sorry, relatives), or Janette Oke (sorry, everybody). I'm not declaring here that these or any other Christian romance writers have written something they shouldn't. I'm declaring that readers should read carefully, with all their heart, mind, and soul, because these poor siblings in Christ don't deserve to be put on a pedestal where they can never fail us and are responsible for whatever influences we let in our lives. They can and likely do make mistakes in their work just as every Christian does sometimes behave other than he ought. We ought to beware that, and be ready to confront it if only in our own minds that it mind not gain a secret hold on us.

  7. Denise,

    Excellent thoughts.

    Have you read any Marilynne Robinson (Gilead, Home, Housekeeping)? You might enjoy. Not much romance, but tons of grace!

  8. And yet nobody comments on the Grandpa Munster picture.

    I thought it was clever!

  9. Definitely not roast the preacher---more of a discussion on how these kinds of books affect our souls and how we can keep each accountable to living godly lives, on how we can be countercultural, and on how we can battle the flesh, when it is so easy to be weak. Thank you brother for being so frank.

  10. I don't disagree that some romantic movies that men and women watch can be unrealistic and sinful. However, I strongly feel that if this is going to be labeled as porn (and maybe it should be) then we need a stronger name for what the porn industry labels porn. Here is my concern: A man who is watching raw acts of sex while satisfying himself and living with this perverted secret. A man who can no longer be sexually satisfied by his wife alone as a result of his "porn" addiction. A man whos addiction is not only destroying himself but his marriage as well (maybe not ending it but destroying it all the same). My concern is that a man engrossed in this addiction will attempt to justify his PORN because his wife has seen the Twilight series!

  11. Or, the wife will try to justify finding satisfaction in escapist romance because her husband is in the gross sin of porn.

    There is no excuse for sin, and one cannot blame his or her own sin on what the other partner does or does not do. It's all ugly and destructive. Male and female sexual sin is equally displeasing to God, it just seems to take (usually) different forms.

    A man who is justifying porn is either unconverted or in a far country.

    I just fail to see how it is any less disgusting if it is producing:

    a.) the sort of gratification for a woman that porn produces for a man, maybe not physically, but certainly relationally/spiritually, which is equally bad.

    b.) It promotes a fanciful escapist reality to which no man can ever measure up, which is one of porn's big sinful features, when the sexes are reversed, and the discussion of man's sin is on the table.

    Discussions of "more wrong" are fraught with danger. My contention is that it is equally wrong for either partner to seek emotional or physical gratification apart from his or her spouse.

    Israel played the harlot with God in the first place because her heart was far from GOd.

    David physically betrayed both Uriah and Michal by his sin with Bathsheba.

    Which was more wrong?

  12. I need to clarify: watching Twilight is in no way morally equivalent to hardcore pornography.

    If we are going to look for a similarity, it may be similar to the SI Swimsuit Issue.

    What would be wrong is letting it become an engrossing thing, the way the Swimsuit Issue may be a gateway drug to worse, and more destructive forms.

    Either way, you don't want your husband looking at the swimsuit issue, and you don't want your wife getting involved in Twilight.

  13. Agreed!
    And,definately lots to think about!

  14. I have seen pre-marital relationships and marriages damaged by the effects of romantic fiction on the woman. It really happens. Bad romantic fiction has the potential to be as much of a destroyer as popular pornographic magazines and videos. But maybe a name change would be a good idea, to really drive home that both are wrong we could start using the longer phrases of "porn for women" and "porn for men". Bad romantic fiction would be put in the "porn for women" alongside Beefcake magazine and take the hit it should.

  15. Hmmmmm. You know, I've had interesting thoughts about this for some time. Let me go ahead and out myself. I own the books, own the first movie (it's mindless entertainment when I want to fold clothes, etc. and I'm alone) and made myself a "Team Jacob" shirt to go see the second movie with my church friends (made the shirt in the spirit of humorous competition). I LOVED the books when I first read them. I was just so excited about the adventure and mystery woven into the stories (woven around the sappy parts that make you kind of gag a little bit). Anyway, I haven't thought of the books in the terms that you addressed but maybe I should and I will definitely think deeper into this and ask my husband what he thinks as well. I'm not going to justify the way I see the books (it will take too long and I'm not worried about justifying myself -- I just want to run this through God's grid and see how it holds up and maybe it's an issue for me that I haven't explored it further but I never thought to because I never saw a problem with it for myself). Suffice it to say, the books and movies never caused me to be dissatisfied with my husband or to wish that our relationship differed from what it is. I never fantasized about vampire love (too scary!) or werewolf love. I never wished I was a teenager again. Really, they made me thankful that I survived through painful relationship mistakes based on false ideologies when I was younger and have been privileged to know the love of a godly man in my adult life. I guess then, it's not quite as cut and dried as porn (referring to porn as what we all know to be porn) because it does not have the same effect on all who see it. HOWEVER, what has caused me to question it moreso is that I wouldn't put it in the hands of my teenage daughter. I don't want her forming unrealistic expectations of what men and relationships should be like and are about. A girl could fall so easily in love with these characters in her mind and find herself living her life as if she is trying to role play the books. But, I guess a married woman could too (though something must seriously be lacking if that's the case). If I wouldn't put it in the hands of my daughter, why would I read it? But then, I don't let my kids watch some shows that I enjoy after they've gone to bed. Why? Because they're not mature enough to handle the content and put it through the sieve of reality and what God says about it (and I wouldn't let them listen to Meatloaf either -- hello, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"??). Or maybe I'm just kidding myself and I shouldn't be watching certain shows either. Hard to know where the line gets drawn -- BUT I look forward to Anna's dinner table discussion, and I promise not to roast you! It's good to get these things out there. How else are we going to talk about what's good and right? OH! And I meant to say, I don't know who in their right mind would call these stories "moral". They do wait to have sex until they're married, but there's an awful lot of making out and "heart palpitations" and the like. I wouldn't want my daughter doing those things. That's not protecting purity -- there's a fine line between "technical virginity" and actually having sex. Maybe I've talked myself into a corner here. OH! And ha ha on the pic on the blog. Love it.

  16. Meat Loaf is totally misunderstood.

    Bat Out of Hell is really about the futility and sorrow of relationships based solely on sex. Jim Steinman, who wrote the lyrics, was a Bible college graduate, and listening to the album as an album, the message of redemption is there (in a common grace sense).

    BTW, you can't understand "paradise..." without the last phrases, "And now I'm praying for the end of time to hurry up and arrive, and if I were to spend another minute with you, I don't think that I could barely survive...

    I'll never break my promise or forsake my vow, but God only knows what I could do right now. I'm praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you..

    It was long ago and far away, and so much better than it is today...

    In short, don't seek paradise by the dashboard light is the message.

  17. Ok, ok. You got me there. I will leave Meatloaf alone until I have more time to dig into the lyrics theologically. BUT what I'm sayin' is these books don't have the same effect on everyone. Teenage girls? Yep, probably. But can one person find value where another finds something harmful? I would relate this kind of to the use of alcohol. Where one person needs to abstain fully because of the effects it has, the next can enjoy it in moderation and find something good in what God has created.

  18. OR what one of God's creations has authored, I guess I might say...

  19. 'Grandpa Munster' was played by Al Lewis, who lived right here in my NYC neighborhood. I saw him on the street almost every day, hanging out at the local diner. He died three years ago.

    Tim Keller

  20. I have nothing to say about Twilight because I had never heard of it until the last week or so and have never understood the whole vampire thing anyway. But, I have read Housekeeping, in fact fairly recently, recommended by an unsaved friend, and wow, I'll have to re-read because I don't remember the grace parts. One image has stuck with me, maybe because that same beach week I also read Jordan County by Shelby Foote, and that is the image of faces in the water--very creepy.

    This is a fascinating discussion though. What other "womens' romance" series would you put in this same category? Is Jane Austen off limits? :-)

  21. Tim, well I guess seeing Al Lewis is better than seeing Meat Loaf on the street!

    Jennifer: Perish the thought RE Miss Austen!

    Also, Housekeeping is by far the strangest of the three. I should've clarified: Gilead and Home have some serious grace at work!

  22. Oh dear pastor, would never roast you! May disagree at times ( I happen to love the term "irresitible grace", brother), but do not disagree here. You are right on. Not wanting to get into reviews of literature and such or portrayal of characters, the bottom line is a slippery slope to wordly ideals that christians are prone to slide down based on our all natural human weaknesses, male and female. Twilight definitely preys on this for women. Yet, it's so visible and outward. Could we not fill in the blank with oh so many things are are "respectable". I'm gonna pay for this, but here it goes. Could you fill in the blank with facebook? A small slippery slope that consumes women's stewardship of time and preys on woman's need to emotionally connect? Sure you could list some good points of facebook, maybe you could list a few good points of Twilight, but it pricks at women's weaknesses and occupies time that could be spent being more profitable in prayer, study, home keeping, mercy ministry, etc. I do think that Twilight could be classified as sinful, for sure, but not classify the concept of facebook as sinful. it's a really good concept, but the slope is addiction. And what is permisable, may not always be beneficial. food for thought. now i am the one who is going to get severly roasted.

    cheryl murray

  23. Cheryl,

    So, tell me about irresistible grace. Did I slam it or something? Can't recall. I do get into so much trouble.

    Internet itself, let alone facebook, is a problem.

    But I think this is of another magnitude.

  24. I am somewhat bemused that few men are having the courage to tread in here.

  25. Men read, but, as you know, I am blessed with a wife that has little time for reading fiction and less time or interest for going to a movie. As I was reading I could hear the ridicule that would be heaped upon the christian who would be quoted in the media expressing these views in a 5 second sound bite. If it is not taught in the home and discussed frankly the message would be quickly snuffed in the secular world.

  26. Wow, sisters (and brother), I love that y'all are delving into discerning where we may be deceived by satan. We've got to keep doing the hard work of examination so that we can recognize when our efforts/minds are toward earthly things. My goal is to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Thank you all for sharing - and so eloquently!

  27. Katie,

    Something about the "It might be okay for some people" argument strikes me wrong. We need to avoid the legalism that says (for instance) "No R movies for anyone, ever, period." or "NO alcohol," or whatever else we fill in that blank.

    But, we are pretty good at self-deception. How many men will watch movies (not porn) with a lot of salacious content, and argue it doesn't affect them? I think the same would be true for women. It's the old "I subscribe to Playboy for the articles" canard.


  28. I’m in.

    I am very glad that I have seen the movie. If not, I most likely would have come home after reading this blog and chastised my wife for her choice in books and movies. I have not read the books, but I have seen the first movie. In my opinion, it is so far from the classification of porn that I don’t see how after reading the book or seeing the movie one could make that comparison.

    The problem with the “Twilight Movement”, as we’ll call it, is the obsession over it which is no different from obsessions with Facebook and other time wasters that take us away from things that we need to be doing. Cheryl put it much more eloquently than I ever could. As far as the content goes (from what I have seen), it is a love story that happens to be between a vampire and a human. Other than that one bizarre aspect, it is no different than any other mainstream love story that’s out there EXCEPT there is no sex until after marriage in the tale here. Whoa! That’s certainly not mainstream.

    Comparing this to porn and banning it is like saying a teenager should not watch GI Joe because he may have hopes of joining the armed forces and wearing one of those totally cool suits that make you faster and virtually indestructible. Maybe that’s a stretch, but the point is, neither is reality and neither claims to be reality.

    Since I don’t read books, I am making an assumption here based on the few times I have done it. But, when someone picks up a fiction book, do they not do it to escape a little bit from reality? Do they not put themselves in the book as they are reading?

    In no way would I ever connect my wife reading or watching Twilight to porn—of any kind. However, if I saw that she had an unhealthy attachment to the books or the movies, there would be further discussion about it. However, not about it being porn. About the fact that you are giving up time and resources to a fictional character and story.

    Daniel Elliott

  29. This could lead down some interesting rabbit trails. (1) I'm really glad to know that I don't have to turn off "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" now when it comes on the radio; it is in fact a great rock n roll song. (2) All of this raises some interesting questions about discernment with respect to fiction, music, movies and other forms of art in general. Seems to me that, as with a lot of things in the Christian life, it can be a bit of fancy dance. Art that is true to the fallen condition of the world in which we live is sometimes going to have some things in it that are not pretty. So, unless we limit ourselves to sort of sanitized "Christian" authors (as opposed to say, Walker Percy or Flannery O'Connor), as we read or view good stories we may bump into some bad things along the way. Where is the line crossed? In some places its pretty clear: none of us are edified by watching other people having sex on the screen, no matter how much artistic gloss is put on it. I think with fiction though its a stickier wicket. Take Hemingway, for example. My impression is the sort of fundy approach to Hem is to just stay away; too much sex, violence, drinking and bullfighting (OK, I'll agree about the bullfighting). However, when you dig deeper (as Ken does above with "Paradise") I think you find in EH the epitome of the early 20th centuty man staring into the abyss of modernity and saying along with the Preacher of Ecclesiastes that all the booze and sex and fishing and hunting and fighting a man can pack into the few days he has under the sun are, ultimately, meaningless and do not satisfy (remember where the title for "The Sun Also Rises" comes from). I don't know exactly where I"m going with this other than to perhaps solicit other comments on the art of discernment and how we need to be trained (and train our kids) to THINK about what we read, view or listen to, not just absorb and emote.

  30. Rob, you got the overall point. And I am glad to hear that someone else likes Meat Loaf!

    Daniel, we can agree to disagree. I am not sure that my point came across. Nobody talked about banning anything.

    I have read a lot of fiction in the past --I don't much anymore. Much of it I really wish I could forget, particularly images out of John Irving and John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden (which isn't really fiction, but I digress).

    And, you should never read the preacher's blog, and go home and make unilateral decisions, but I suspect you know that :-)

    That said, if women seek from romance what men seek from porn, then the women are guilty of seeking satisfaction outside of God's intention.

  31. "It's the old 'I subscribe to Playboy for the articles' canard.

    My thoughts: I think the basis for where we disagree lies in how the saga is viewed. You are equating it to porn, but I don't. Therefore, it's an agree to disagree issue in my book. I don't view it as porn because there is nothing - NOTHING - good that can come from viewing porn. I view it as an unfolding fictional drama written by a non-Christian. There will be elements of worldliness in it, as Rob said above. I don't hold non-Christian authors to the same standard that I hold Christian authors and am not surprised by the worldliness that shows up in the books (though I don't expect Christian authors to be perfect either, there are some things that I think just should not show up in Christian literature). However, I believe there are themes of redemption in the books and you don't have to look too far to find them. I'm not going to cite them because: 1) This comment is already getting wordy and I REALLY have to do some baking for a baby shower tomorrow and, 2) I would prefer one to read the books rather than reviews and look for them on their own (which starts a fresh new "rabbit trail" to run down if we start discussing relying on the thoughts and reviews - which are opinions - of others to inform). If the books are viewed as fiction, they can be taken apart and examined as such. And after sleeping on this, where I said I would never put the books in the hands of my teenage daughter, I MIGHT would consider (and examine with my husband) the option of reading through them with her and taking them apart with her -- depending on her maturity level and whether or not I think she could handle such literature. I think what we have here is a "If your right hand causes you to sin" issue, not a "'I subscribe to Playboy for the articles' canard". Did Christ mean that everyone's right hand is bad and we should all go one-handed? I really don't think so. I don't think I'm pushing the borders too far to say that amongst so much black and white, there ARE actually some gray areas in this world. Where one thing is a negative for some, it may not be harmful to others. I think Cheryl put it well about facebook and I don't really think Twilight is of any larger of a magnitude. I have wasted countless hours on facebook and seen others do it at a high cost. Both can be addictive, both can fill emotional voids. But really, can't anything fill an emotional void if Christ is not at the center of our lives? Isn't the reason we have fleshly longings because we are incomplete and longing for our true home and in our sinfulness we divert to the wrong things to fill the longings? A wise man that I heard teaching once said, "Any time we sin, we buy into the lie that there is sufficiency outside of Christ." If the Twilight saga is causing one to have impure thoughts, doubt their marriage, be dissatisfied with the husband of their youth, etc., they should cut it off from their lives and fling it far from them. For a different type of thinker, though, it may just bring them to marvel at the creativity that can come out of a nonbeliever or a story of a girl who is plain and a bit idiotic but regardless finds love and in finding love shows that even the most stomach-turning monster can have elements of beauty and be worthy of being loved (kind of what Christ does for us in a sense). But then I tend to read fiction and look for symbols, where I think our culture as a whole is very literal.

  32. Katie,

    It's fine to agree to disagree, dear sister. i have more thoughts, but I doubt they would help further the understanding.

  33. And of course there are grey areas that cause us to need to look below the surface of issues :-)

  34. Ken, we can agree wholeheartedly on your last 2 paragraphs.

    Daniel Elliott

  35. You know, I would love to actually sit around and discuss this in a forum where we could all readily respond. It might be really fun and insightful. Then again, it might turn into everyone throwing things and yelling. Still, might make for an adventure... :)

  36. Jennifer: I'm glad you asked about Jane Austen. Missy mentioned your question to me on at the banquet, and it made me stop and think. Jane Austen was not, in fact, a romance writer. Her books have long been rightly seen as novels of manners and social commentary. Additionally, she is considered to be a forerunner of the realism movement of the 19th century which would exclude her as an author of escapist fiction. It is unfortunate that as Austen's work has become widely popular its deeper qualities have been abandoned by film companies and many new fans have remained in the dark. That she is currently categorized as a romance novelist tells us more about the expectations, assumptions, and behavior of the reading/viewing audience than it does about Austen or her work.

    However, it would be unfortunate if this discussion concluded in a simple formula of old stuff=good/new stuff=bad or stuff we like=good/stuff we don't like=bad (I reference here the lopsidedness of the comment section). Like I mentioned before, authors don't belong on pedestals and this is also true of Austen. While it might not be fair to accuse her the same faults I find in Meyer's work, there are other things which I CAN question: stratification of society, inherited character (or, breeding will tell), marriage as the true fulfillment of womanhood, her society's treatment of women and womanhood, a lack of vertical social mobility, and slavery. Austen was critical of British society regarding all these things in her novels. But they sometimes display a light touch and sometimes contain examples in which the status quo is maintained or defended by the characters we're meant to root for. We can fairly question which side of the issue she was really on and whether she wrote about the issues as she ought. Many of my male peers at Belhaven questioned her continual use of male/female love relationships as a vehicle of story to express her ideas. They labeled her a poor writer because she didn't branch out into other types of story.
    *Missy, last night I incorrectly identified the novel that deals with a family involved in slave labor. It's Mansfield Park, but read Persuasion anyway.

  37. Katie, me too! It's rare for me, these days, to have this kind of conversation in person while sipping coffee on a piece of comfy furniture. I miss the friendly give-and-take of my college years. Though I fear I might be the first to have something thrown at me as I stare into space for a long moment while formulating an answer. I bet I'm not the only one who does that, too. We would all have to first reconcile ourselves to an uneven discussion containing sudden silences. :)

  38. Begin countdown to the suggestion of a monthly reading/discussion group. ;)

  39. ken,

    okay, so "irresistible" grace. Couple of months ago or so, it was a sermon about how you just didn't like that word "irresistible" because we all resist grace, even the redeemed. Which is a valid point. Our sinful nature will always remain in opposition to the Holy Spirit, until our glorification. But the term is my absolute favorite part of the TULIP! Because no matter how sinful or bent I am on my own way or selfish pride, God has sought me, bought me, and sanctifies me daily. And God's grace and love is absolutely irresistible when the spirit pricks the heart. It shows God's all consuming and merciful love toward us that we will be drawn to our Creator and Redeemer every time even in our sinful state. Similar to C. S Lewis, stating he entered the kingdom of heaven kicking and screaming, the most dejected and reluctant
    convert in all of England...the calling is irresistible, it cannot and will not be ignored. It brings my heart no greater joy than to know that the call was placed even before my earthly existance. Anyway, I'm getting all sappy, and I ain't a sappy girl!! So you know what I mean. I agreed with your point, just happened to love the term.


  40. Thank you sir!
    I've been having a hard time explaining to my friends why I don't want to get into this whole twilight movement, and you explained alot of it to me. The whole idea that it's okay to watch a movie (or read a book) based on a love story involving mostly satanic creatures makes me really question how committed many teenaged girls are to putting God and his requirements first. Even putting the whole love story aside, there is alot of darkness involved those books. Thanks again for your frankness!
    Rachel G.

  41. Rachel,

    Thanks for your thoughts. The more I read (and I watched some snippets on YouTube), the more disturbed I get, not just because of the emotional manipulation, but because of the glorification of a destructive relationship.

    If a girl understands that she is God's daughter, created in his image to glorify him, she will realize that she does not need any male to fill a void in her life. Why do girls often like the bad boy (a recurring theme throughout literature and pop culture --think Fonzie (okay, you're not old enough for that) or Danny Zuko from Grease, etc. etc. Some people, in this case particularly, some females, relish mistreatment.

    That can only be, I think, because they come to a relationship with a deep-seated need to fill some sort of emotional / spiritual void.

    But, that is never the way for a godly relationship to transpire. Yes, in one sense a husband and wife need one another --it is not good for man to be alone. Men and women are created to be a complete whole: protector and nurturer, etc.

    But, as individual persons, in God's image, they come to a relationship to give, not to get. When a person comes into a relationship to fill an emotional void, they come to get, which is a recipe for misery for both parties, and, in my humble opinion, why so many marriages fail.

    The sad irony is that, in coming into a relationship to give of ones' self, selflessly, that we find the most fulfillment.

    It is like our relationship with God. We give our whole selves to his service. And, in return, we find a fullness such as we could never find when we approach either God or man selfishly.


  42. Which brings to mind, also both Austen and Alcott. Austen does a great job of showing the triviality of trivial women, who look at trivial things (the mother and sister in Pride and Prejudice, for instance), and wind up making themselves and every one else miserable.

    And, the same would be true in Little Women --good, confident girls who are the most pleasant to be around, find the most fulfillment in life, and make the best and happiest wives and mothers. They were not perfect, and had to overcome their sins, but they were not needy.

  43. Good stuff, Mister Pierce!!

    yours - Mr Lamkin

  44. Yes...I know what you mean.
    That's just like the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing that's so popular with teenagers. Often, I find, the girl will just really enjoy the attention of a boy, or it will be a sign of status.(I don't know what it is to the guys...I generally only talk to the girls :) It's too bad when that mindset is carried into marriage.

  45. Just wanted to come back to this and say (in case someone reads this blog and all of the comments in the future) that Daniel and I have recently begun examining the things we read, watch and listen to in light of conviction over how much the worldly culture around us has infiltrated the church (primarily ourselves). We have begun to examine our own lives and the things that shaped some of our worst sins of the past and present. When those things are examined, it bears the question of why we would buy into and encourage others to buy into anything that would give us pause to think about our lives in any light other than what God has to say about it. And that is not to say that we shouldn't be wise to what's out there, but we should most certainly guard our hearts. That's not a statement about Twilight (though that is certainly included) but about cultural influences (primarily entertainment but other influences such as pop-psychology that goes unbalanced by the Word, the news, possibly even our own parents now that we are adults) being allowed to play such a prominent role in our lives and ways of thinking. I wanted to say that publicly because my rant in favor of the all-too-American "right to" read and examine whatever I want (and that is an American "right" but it is a God-given right?) was pretty durn public too...

  46. "When a person comes into a relationship to fill an emotional void..." Thank you so much for this post. It is so easy to fall into a relationship with a person who makes you feel "complete" or to search for meaning of one's self in another. Thank you for helping me to realize that I am not some bizarre accident of an individual. I do not need to be in a relationship in order to find self value. I am confident in myself because I am confident in my Savior!