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Photo: Courtesy of Summit Pictures. It feels like yesterday that we were all intoxicated by the vampire craze, rapidly flipping through blood-sucking novels, binge-watching True Blood and Vampire Diaries , and swooning over Robert Pattinson as the kind-hearted, but cold-skinned Edward Cullen in Twilight. Before the s obsession with the undead, there was the Anne Rice's decade-spanning book series and movie that started with her best-seller Interview With a Vampire.

But did you know that the roots of our vampire fetish reach all the way back to centuries past?

If you're thinking, "Duh, Bram Stoker's Dracula ," then you're still not thinking far enough back. Try years ago: to be exact — 26 years before Stoker's classic Gothic horror novel. Slate's Atlas Obscura notes that the long-forgotten novella Carmilla is not only the first vampire romance, its also a lesbian vampire love story. It tells the story of Laura, who meets a young, beautiful female vampire named Carmilla, after Carmilla mysteriously shows up at her home one night.

The two start to develop intense feelings for each other, giving us major Bella and Edward vibes. The non-heteronormative desires and romance between Laura and Carmilla could have been why the novella never rose to mainstream popularity at the time it was written, or in the decades following. Regardless, it definitely seems to have influenced the likes of Stoker, as well as all the pop culture vampires that followed.

Falling in love can mean opening yourself up to new experiences, feeling free, spontaneous, generous, and differentiated from your past. The instant and addictive attractions like that depicted so intensely in Twilight are not always based on the qualities and reality about a person or the connections that would lead to a real and lasting relationship.

So why are we drawn to fantasy over reality when it comes to intimacy?

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Real relationships show us that human beings are well, human. They carry battle wounds and emotional baggage that heavily weigh on their closest relationships. Even when we do find someone with whom we share a deep and meaningful connection, we tend to struggle through real issues. Serious relationships challenge us. The closer we get to someone, the more we can expect to face our own defenses, an inner resistance we have to getting too close or caring too much.

Feeling love from someone else can be the best feeling in the world, but it can also challenge us on a deeper level, going against negative beliefs about ourselves we hold at our core and forcing us to face the pain of feeling deeply for someone else. This bond substitutes real feelings of love, respect, and spontaneity with an illusion of connection, a focus on form over substance, and a false sense of security and completion by another person.

When we form a fantasy bond, we become less and less like two independent individuals who feel genuine attraction to each other. Instead, we start to fuse our identity with the person we care for, relying on them to give us value and make us feel safe. He is her protector from danger, her companion against isolation, and her ticket to literal immortality.

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The main characters in the film will go to any end for each other. When separated, Bella even repeatedly cheats death in hopes that Edward will appear to save her. Most of us hold parts of us that want to be saved in a relationship , rescued from past hurts, protected from feeling alone, and even saved from death symbolically, or at least dying alone.

The trouble is that projecting these qualities onto our partner distorts them in a way that often leads to destructive outcomes. Interestingly, in Lev. God understands the importance of blood; in both the Old and New Testaments, He forbids eating or drinking it. Not only did this separate His followers from the surrounding pagan cultures, but it also separated out the importance of blood because it atones for sin.

In the Old Testament, animals were sacrificed as a picture of how the spotless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, would pour out His sacred blood to pay for our sins. Twilight is also spiritually dangerous in the way it presents salvation. When Daddy Vampire Carlisle turns Edward into a vampire, it is described as saving him.

Healing poison? This is spiritually dangerous thinking. A working knowledge of what good is, and what evil is. In the end, I love the beautiful simplicity of the picture.

Tales of the unexpected

To me it says: choice. She transcends her detested humanity and becomes a goddess. This is basic Mormon doctrine, not surprising since the author is a Mormon. One of the messages of Twilight is that there is a way to have immortal life, eternal life, apart from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; that there is a way to live forever without dealing with the obstacle of our sin problem by confessing that we are sinners and we need the forgiveness and grace of a loving Savior.

Why are girls of all ages, but especially tweens and teens, so passionately and obsessively in love with Edward, the vampire in Twilight? Edward is very different from the vast majority of young men today. He is chivalrous, sensitive, self-sacrificing and honorable. He wants the best for Bella, his teenage girlfriend and eventual wife.

He is able to keep his impulses in check, which is a good thing since he lusts after her scent and wants to kill her so he can drain her blood. The best way to describe their relationship is emotional dependency. This is when you have to have a constant connection to another person in order for you to be okay. Emotional dependency is characterized by a desperate neediness. You put all your relational eggs in one basket, engaging in an intense one-on-one relationship that renders other relationships unnecessary.

The intensity is addictive and exhilarating. Emotionally dependent relationships strap people into an emotional roller coaster full of drama, manipulation, and a constant need for reassurance from the other. When Edward leaves Bella for a time, she becomes an emotional zombie. The book New Moon is full of descriptions of the pain of the hole in her chest because when he left, he took her heart with him. She had withdrawn from all her friends to make Edward into her whole world, so she had no support network in place when he left. All of her emotional eggs were in his basket.

Many readers see this as highly romantic rather than breathtakingly dysfunctional. One or both people are looking to another to meet their basic needs for love and security, instead of to God. So emotional dependency is a form of relational idolatry. People put their loved one or the relationship on a pedestal and worship them or it as a false god. When you look to another person to give you worth and make you feel loved and valued, they become inordinately essential. When we worship the creature rather than the Creator as in Romans 1, what results is a desperate neediness that puts us and keeps us at the mercy of the one we worship.

They have a lot of power over us, which is one reason why God wants to protect us from idolatry. Twilight is like an emotional dependency how-to manual. When he moves, even a little bit, you adjust your position at the same time—like magnets.

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On the Credenda blog, Douglas Wilson makes a powerful case for Twilight also serving as a manual for how to become an abused girlfriend and then an abused wife. Twilight is spiritually dangerous because of its demonic origin and its occult themes, both of which God commands us to stay away from. A lot of parents hear that and give a green light for their daughters to read the books and see the movies.

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But the Twilight books are a lust-filled series, so embedded with writing intended to arouse the emotions, that it is legitimately considered emotional pornography. Much has been made of the alleged message of Twilight , that it is one of abstinence and shows control over desire. In truth, Edward is controlling himself because he does not want to kill Bella; her life is truly in danger from a ferocious vampire attack from the one who loves her.

Aside from that, a vibrant sensuality of attraction lies just beneath the surface. That's the power of the Twilight books: they're squeaky, geeky clean on the surface, but right below it, they are absolutely, deliciously filthy. The struggle with self-control is saturated with eroticism and lust. One very insightful blogger writes,. To claim that the Twilight saga is based on the virtue of chastity is like calling the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition pro-chastity because the girls are clothed.

How can books in which the author has written detailed first person descriptions of actions leading to arousal help readers to be chaste? The words on the page defy chastity. The sensuality of Twilight is not lost on even the youngest readers and movie-goers. I want you to bite me. Recently at a youth discipleship camp, I asked the young men how they felt about Twilight. They booed.

When girls use the emotional porn of romance novels or movies, they are setting up impossible expectations that have no hope of being fulfilled by limited, fallible, all-too-human beings. Is there much of a difference between using sexual porn or emotional porn? In both cases, fantasy creates unrealistic expectations that reality cannot satisfy.

Apart from the problem of unrealistic expectations, it is unhealthy to make such an intense heart connection with a fictional character. Some people choose getting lost in reading and re-reading the books over having connections with real human beings in community. Everything about me invites you in. My voice, my face, even my smell. I believe there is a spirit of seduction in the Twilight saga. Something supernatural draws millions of readers to fantasize about being desired, pursued and falling in love with a character that I believe has a deeply demonic component.

Twilight is one of the most successful series ever published. In order to be discerning, we need to examine the fruit of this series to see its effect on readers.