The World’s Half-Truths For Teens Pt.3: If it Comes Naturally, it’s Okay
For all of it’s silliness, there is one thing the ubiquitous Twilight saga does well – it offers a powerful challenge to a popular half-truth in the world today: if it comes naturally, it’s okay. Since most of our youth have some form of Twilight mania (either loving or hating the series), it can be useful in starting a discussion.
For those of you who have miraculously avoided knowledge of the basic plot-line of the Twilight saga, the main character, Edward Cullen, and his family (a coven of vampires) are caught up in an existential identity crisis: should what they now are determine who they are and what they do?
You see, Edward and the Cullens all used to be fully human, doing human things, eating human foods, and living by the human moral code that murder is wrong.
Fate, however, changed them into vampires without their consent. Through no fault of their own they now desire human blood, and need blood to live. They’ve been transformed into killing machines. Murder has become fundamental to what they are.
Moreover, blood makes them stronger, it brings them intense momentary satisfaction, and it feels supremely good to drink.
Enter the moral dilemma: does being a vampire make killing humans and drinking their blood okay? Does the fact that it comes naturally and feels good make murder morally permissible?
Here is where – despite his annoying hair and brooding demeanor – Edward provides a useful example for youth seeking to follow Jesus and live by the gospel in today’s world.
Edward and the Cullens say no to their vampire nature, concluding that however “natural” and pleasurable it is for them to drink blood as vampires, it still isn’t right. And here’s the great part – they come to this conclusion based on who they “really” are, not what they currently are.
There are many parallels between the vampires’ plight and a biblical understanding of human nature (theological anthropology).
The biblical narrative tells us that what we are now isn’t who we should be. Scripture makes clear that there is something profoundly unnatural about the fallen human condition. Like vampires, our desires are out of whack with the way things should be.
We may not want to drink human blood, but we too want illicit pleasure (porn, cutting, revenge). Human blood doesn’t make us stronger, but we (along with our youth) naturally apply our cunning to cheat, lie, and steal our way to greater power and comfort.
Just because something comes naturally doesn’t make it okay for the Christian. Our moral code and behavior aren’t determined by the desires of our current state of being, but are based on who we really are in Jesus.
Scripture tells us that our identity isn’t in our flesh, but in Jesus who promises to one day redeem and make new our flesh (Colossians 3:1-4 and 1 John 3:1-3 make this point well).
And so, like the Cullens putting off their vampire nature, we are called in Scripture to put off the “old self” with it’s fallen ways and put on the “new self” which is being renewed in the image of Jesus.
Perhaps, though, while encouraging our youth to follow Edward’s example in fighting his “natural” desires, we should encourage them to avoid (as far as is possible) Edward’s propensity for angst-ridden teenage pseudo-romantic drama. Just saying…