Do Parents Really Know About Twilight?

I was talking with a friend on Friday, a very conservative woman who homeschools her children. I asked her if her junior high daughter had expressed any interest in the Twilight books or upcoming movie.

She said, “What’s Twilight?”

I gave her the 5 second definition: “It’s the popular book series about a teenage girl falling in love with a vampire. The books have sold millions and it’s being released as a movie next week (with Midnight showings already sold out). Every teenage girl in the country is going crazy over it.” Even the movie’s soundtrack is hot.

She said, “I don’t think (my daughter) even knows about it. I know she hasn’t read it.”

I suggested that she ask her daughter.

She called her daughter over. “Have you heard of this Twilight?”

Her daughter paused for a second, glanced over at me, then back at her mother. “Yeah. I read a chapter over at Carly’s house.”

Trust me. Your kids have heard of Twilight, some have read Twilight, and most of them want to see the movie releasing a week from Friday. The question is… should they be reading Twilight? And is this movie okay?

Don’t get me wrong. If your daughter read a few chapters of one of these books over at her friend’s house, it’s not like she was playing Grand Theft Auto (something parents of girls usually don’t have to worry about). But I think parents should become familiar with exactly how sensual these books are. The books have been deemed “clean” by numerous moms groups because they don’t contain any sex. But is that line you want to use? (No sex… it must be fine then.)

What are the subtle messages of Twilight?

David (our ministry’s director of content development) and I spend a ton of time last week researching Twilight and looking in to all of this hype. We found that many Christians were concerned about the vampire element. Most of the world, however, thinks that this is the next best thing since Harry Potter. David and I had totally different concerns: the main character’s emotional vulnerability and the graphic sensuality.

This week, our YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW article (the article on our front page in that big magnifying glass) provides our complete take on the books and the film, addressing these issues. I’m not gonna condemn any parent who lets their daughters read the books. I just am a big advocate of them investigating a little bit about the series and having conversations with their kids about it. Parents need to be the one to make that decision. Our article will provide parents with most of the research you need (we link numerous other articles). We even touch on the differences you might find in the first book and the film. After all, Twilight has no sex. But what would you do if you found your daughter in her underwear kissing a guy in the bedroom?

Hmmmmmm.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry,is the author of twenty books including the brand new 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; More Than Just the Talk; Sex Matters; The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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53 Responses to Do Parents Really Know About Twilight?

  1. Ben Terpstra says:

    This article was inlightening, thanks! How would you Help guide a group of teens away from books, movies, and etc… when people they respect are encouraging others to read, watch, and listen to. Any thoughts thanks!

  2. Good question Ben.

    My goal wouldn’t necessarily be to strictly guide them away from the books and movie, my goal would be to engage in meaningful conversations. If I found that a kid was reading the books, I would dialogue about what they read and ask about the conclusions they drew.

    Other discussions might arise if a kid had not yet read the book or watched the movie, but wanted to. I encourage parents to have these discussions. They might open the door to conversations about sex, relationships, and self esteem. I find that many parents cherish the opportunity to dialogue with their kids about these issues. Often kids are very “closed” about these subjects. Their desire to watch/read Twilight might jumpstart discussion about the issue.

    Involved parents will eventually make the final decision, even if it’s not a popular one. (welcome to parenting. We have to make a lot of these decisions. Hopefully we’ll be dialoguing with our kids all the while.)

  3. Rachael says:

    I actually read all the books when I started finding a number of the girls in my ministry reading them. They are a fast and easy read and very entertaining. It is not hard to see why they are popular. And I encourage anyone who is working with students who are reading them to go ahead and read them yourself. It has opened doors to a ton of discussion with my students.

    Be discerning while you read and address the negatives of the books, such as love NOT being all consuming and uncontrollable, talk about how looks should not be such a huge focus in a relationship.

    And try to find the positive aspects as well since these are characters who are becoming teen icons. For example, the main vampires in the story, don’t kill humans, and when asked why they say that just because they are by nature monsters doesn’t mean they can’t aspire to be good. I have used this to talk to my girls about fighting against the sin nature, and that just because something feels natural and right doesn’t mean that you should act on those natural impulses.

    Also by reading the books I have opened a door to where I am planning to go with my girls to see the movie. That way I can discuss the issues of the movie while it is fresh and relevant.

  4. Ann says:

    My oldest daughter who is 12 began reading the books & is now totally engrossed in them. I decided that maybe I should read so I could understand her engrossment. What I have found is a very easy read & a love story of sorts. I think we must remember that these are ‘fiction’ – what it has done has allowed me to see a glimpse into my tweens head for a bit – it has been fun reading, as long as you remember that it is ‘fiction’. Please note that my girls go to a Christian school, attend church regularly, very involved in youth stuff…so, each parent needs to know what’s what in their kids lives (as much as that is possible)

  5. Lukewarm says:

    I’m disappointed in the author of this blog and some of the comments that say go ahead and let them read the books, I read them, it’s an avenue for discussion after I take them to see the movie, etc., etc. This isn’t the take Jesus would have. How disappointing that our leaders are willing to move into this “grey” area and allow the kids to go there too. This is really weak. There are so many bible verses about us abstaining from darkness, evil, being lukewarm Christians, etc. Compromising the gospel is compromising our kids.

  6. Amy says:

    Just about all the girls in my youth group have read Twilight and plan to see the movie. I’ve found it a great way to engage them in conversation about dating relationships (emotional & physical). We’ve planned a girls only sleepover Nov. 21 to see the movie and then we’ll come back and talk about the pros and cons Bella & Edwards relationship, how we as Christians should view our relastionships, the importance of waiting until marriage to have sex, and of course the usual late night snacks and pedicures.
    Youth are hearing and seeing and exploring sexuality. We need to have meaningful conversations with them using the terms that they understand.

  7. Vanessa says:

    I feel that the reason the books are so engrossing are because A) the reader feels like they can relate to Bella. She’s not a very fleshed out character – she’s average. It’s easier to set foot in her shoes. B) Edward is dazzling, protective, he’s mysterious, chivalrous, he’s the perfect gentlemen, and he puts Bella’s happiness before his own. I am not saying that Edward is the perfect mate; his negative qualities come out as the books progress (he’s controlling, over-protective…) Of course, he does these things because he knows how fragile Bella is and doesn’t want to lose her, and although they alleviate by the final book, they’re still not the qualities one looks for.

    In a world where chivalry is dying, girls really take to the gentleman that is Edward Cullen. The guy who opens the door for his girl, the guy who notices no one else in the room except for her. Two people willing to give up so much to be together because they are in love.

  8. Jonathan McKee says:

    LOL…I love it when people make accusations without citing any examples (i.e. compromising the gospel). Hey Lukewarm, could you be any more ambiguous?

  9. Lee says:

    Dear Lukewarm,

    I don’t think you have accurately represented the blog. I don’t think the blog is advocating the books/film as the best content available to teenagers; I do think the blog is saying that parents should be aware of the books/film (especially if their kids are into them).

    I read both the blog and the article by Jonathan and David and I think it is far more “informative” than “endorsing.” Certainly there is no biblical passage that condemns parents being unaware of what their kids are doing.

    I’m curious. Have you read the books yourself? That would be the only way you could know if the material is “compromising” or not.

  10. Joan Wiebe says:

    I AGREE with Rachel ~ I too read ALL the books just to know what was popular. Surprisingly, all types of girls read these books from the “anime groups, emo, goth girls, to all american girl next doors….BUT I must caution the final book Breaking Dawn really does get into a Right to Life scenario – which again IF you are aware can be a great discussion starter with groups of girls. KNOW up front IF you BAN these books you will find major resistance! The Twilight SERIES is BIG and after the movie comes out November 21st – I can only imagine it will be even BIGGER!
    After 22 years in ministry – I am still looking for ways to connect – so I still think helping to ‘educate’ our parents and get them talking is still the best way! And by the way – you would be AMAZED HOW MANY MOMS READ these books – it is insane!!!! =) Not just a Young Adult interest!

    Blessings to all that serve Youth & Young Adults and Thanks again Jonathan for all that you do!! =)

    Joan Wiebe
    in Arizona =)

  11. Sir Paul says:

    WOW, so because woman read it, does it make it right? Because it is about love does it make it right? We look at society, and have we as people, not compromised too much already, that to accept books merely because they are “fiction” is compromising.

    For a youth leader in principle to say we should allow our youth to read this garbage so that they can experience other principles and allow this to stimulate conversations is bollocks and taking the easy way out.

    Because a child goes to a good school, does not mean either that they are well grounded, againgst what are we measuring our faith and The Word? After all, in principle, all youth ministers started out with Biblical principles.

    Get back to God’s writtern Word, it is the author and finisher of our faith. Now how does this book compare to the Writtern Word? There is enough topic in The Word to stimulate discussion.

    The God I serve, would not want me to allow my daugther to read such junk.

    And here is where Jonathan’s “views” come in, I read them, it gives me perspective, and then allows me to make a learned descision.

    I must say though, that I did perceive that the newsletter kind of made it sound as if you where encouraging people to read the book, and that it was “acceptable”.

    Our parents the “baby boomers” and that generation were very principle orientated. I feel our generation of adults now, compromised, and if we allow this to go any further, then The Word of God is going to be further from the lips of our children and their children.

    Just to set the records straight and ensure that I am consistent, I do not believe in vampires, fairies, wizards, gnomes and anything else that sets itself up against the Word of God, because demons do exist, so does the devil and so do all other things that come to kill, steal and destroy.

    I am a South African, with 3 children, 21, 17 and 4. One we left to do her own will (lost, lonely, no backbone, rejected, angry, double standards, emotionally unstable), the other we allowed to do what ever he wished (angry, destructive, emotionally unstable, lack of respect, lonely, lazy, squanderer), and the last one we WILL do all according to the will of God, by His Spirit, she now has more Bibles than the others put together, prays by herself, and for other’s healing, respectful, loves Jesus every minute.

    To me, I know which one will be a better balanced adult.

    I faciliate and lecture from 4yr to 25yr old and adults too.

  12. Wow… I am amazed how much people jump to conclusions.

    Sigh.

    Here’s my final clarification… then you’re own your own. 🙂

    I’ll give you all a little behind the scenes. First… when David and I wrote this YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW article about Twilight, we figured that many would think we came off too conservative. After all. Here’s a book deemed “clean” by many… and we’re basically saying, “Be careful. This book has dangerous subtle messages.” I didn’t even bring up the fact that I, personally, decided not to let my own kids read it (because of the reasons I explained in the article). But I had a good conversation with my girls about it, laying out my concerns and asking them their opinion. We agreed together that it probably wasn’t a good read.

    What David and I tried to make clear in the article and through this blog is the fact that many adults working with kids are encountering kids that have already read these books. Rather than pointing at them and screaming, “AAAaaaaugh! You are in the grips of Satan!!” I suggested having a meaningful conversation with them about the book. (And yes, for those who are already trying to quote scripture to me about how we don’t need to use culture to create conversation, please read the writings of Paul and take note of how often he used the culture of the day as a starting point for his discussions -try Acts 17 for starters).

    For those parents whose kids are asking if they can read the book, again, I don’t think hitting them on the head with the Bible and calling them “Jezebel” is the answer. Perhaps a conversation with them about the issue at hand would be beneficial. And then, as I said in one of my comments above… parents should then feel free to make the final decision, even if it is the unpopular “No. You can’t read it.”

    Are we all clear now? (Watch. Now I am going to be deemed too stiff or legalistic) 🙂

  13. PJLOVESLA says:

    I appreciate you taking on this book and giving some solid advice on a way to approach, handle and direct discussions pertaining to the topics this book covers. One thing is for sure, if you don’t have any students in your youth programs that haven’t read these books then you’re probably not reaching the lost, or your leadership influence is about the size of, let’s say one!

    The truth is as believers, we can probably agree this isn’t the book we would write or we would want our teens to be devouring, but the reality is, they are, and we need to be wise enough to turn this negative influence into a positive one in a young person’s life. How? By being able to discuss these topics and redirect to a Godly principle that they can’t positively acclimate to.

    Acts 17:22-23 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. KJV

    We can’t win everyone at once be we can help redirect people to the UNKNOWN GOD, as our friend the Apostle Paul did…

    Good job Gentlemen

  14. Lori says:

    I’m sighing, too.

    Listen, we need to remember that the world is trying to teach our kids. The more educated we are, the better we can address some of the tough questions, and the better we can pose questions to them. That way, when they have questions, we can be a people who can speak the TRUTH into a situation. But if we know nothing about the topic/book/movie, then how can we expect them to listen to our opinion?

    We can stick our heads in the sand, or we can speak the truth. If we don’t know what’s going on around us and our kids, then we will never be able to reach them, because we won’t have any idea of what’s going on in their world.

    Right or wrong, I read the books. I now can enter into a dialogue with my students who WILL READ THE BOOKS whether or not I agree. But now we can have conversation.

    It’s all about Jesus, dialogue and opportunity, baby.

    Peace.

  15. Bwebster says:

    Um, Sir Paul? If we are screening “garbage” such as senuality, sex, adultery, murder, hate, greed, violence, homosexuality, drunkenness and prostitution, then the Word of God is off the list too. If you haven’t noticed-it’s full of it. Hello? Jesus hung out with prostitutes. He did’nt condemn them, he loved them in spite of their poor choices with a massive unconditional love… The love of the Father. His only condeming words were for self righteous religious leaders who boasted about their ministry, prayer life and knowledge of the Word. A Fathers love can cast out fear in his children. A Fathers love can bestow purpose and identity in his children. A Fathers love is powerful, unconditional and brings peace. God has this for us, do you have this toward your own children? If I was your 21 or 17 year old and read what you wrote about in this blog…i would not feel too happy. Jesus looked through your junk, sir paul, and saw your potential. Then he died for you to reach it…are you? Are you looking and addressing others the same way?
    Be richly blessed.

  16. Sarah Sutphin says:

    Isn’t the point of the YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW to help us as youth workers be aware of what the kids in our programs may be into? Half the girls in my junior high group and half in my high school group are reading these books. It only makes sense that I read them. I cannot and won’t try to have a discussion with anyone about something I have only heard about from other people.

    That is why Christians get a bum rap…we judge stuff really quickly before we even investigate things ourselves. It’s just like when Christian people stood outside my local movie theater protesting the DaVincci Code (excuse the spelling). You can’t protest something you don’t know about. It took me 5 minutes of research on the internet to factually disclaim the main premises of that movie and book. We can’t just run around waving our “Jesus would hate this” flag. First of all Jesus didn’t do that, He spent time with sinners and met them where they were at. Through relationship Jesus changed lives. When things come up in the lives of our students that we feel they shouldn’t be into we have two choices; tell them to stop or really do life with them. I think our kids want people who will do life with them.

    When I get the chance to sit down and discuss Twilight with my teens my opening line will not be you need to stop reading this. I want to know what draws them to these books, how they relate to them. We have to be prepared and aware of what exactly it is youth are up to. Sadly a lot of parents aren’t. If reading a book or watching a show will help me to have meaningful conversations with my youth I’m going to do it.

    It doesn’t mean I condone it, I have a problem with much of the stuff kids in my ministry are into. My job is not to just tell them what they should and shouldn’t read, watch, or listen to. It is to help them to make wise decisions based on the truth of God’s word. It is to equip them to make responsible choices. It is certainly not to be another person in the life of a young person telling him/her ‘No because I said it is bad’. If we just say don’t be into this then we won’t be earning the right to be heard and we won’t be helping youth in any way.

    It just makes no sense to me how so many people on this blog could miss the point of the article. I’m sure Jonathan and David don’t run around wearing shirts that say “We ‘heart’ Twilight”…the more accurate shirt would say “We love youth workers and we are trying to make their lives easier”. It is so nice to have resources that help us see what otherwise we might miss. Bravo to you both for keeping youth workers aware and accountable. Youth work is an awesome call and an awesome responsibility…thanks for being willing to partner with us as we get to serve the Lord in the lives of youth!

  17. Jason says:

    Ditto, thanks guys for all your work and also, Jonathan for the great training in Stevens Point last Thurs. I’ve been using the site for so much more.

  18. Grant says:

    I can’t help but type in my own comment here. I’ve been following Jonathan’s Ezine for about a year now and have found it very helpful. Being a Student Pastor for almost 20 years, I have had to wade through the culture wars with students like many of you. From tattoos and piercings, Facebook and MySpace, to movies and music, from fads and fashions, I’ve had to answer to parents and students alike who are looking for the answers to the BIG question: “Is it OK to…(you fill in the blank)?

    I answer a question with a question: “What did God tell you do/not to do?” We are a culture of opinions, rather than running to God for our answers. Many kids are making decisions based on common thought, permissions from adults and friends or simply from NOT thinking-just doing. But, I challenge students to ask God what He thinks. He won’t keep it a secret! He’ll let you know. Tattoos and books are not sin, folks. Disobeying God is sin. If he says “don’t read that book” then don’t read it – for you it’s sin; not because the book is sin, but because God told you not to.

    Years ago I saw the movie “Silence of the Lambs”. Don’t recommend it, but I went to see it-freaked me out. When the next one came out, I tried to go see it, but when I got there it was sold out. A little voice inside said “you don’t need to see this movie”, but I ignored it. I tried to see it again later and, once again, thwarted. I got the message. God was trying to tell ME not to see the movie. I confessed. I didn’t see it. Still haven’t. This is my point.

    Twilight a sin? I don’t know! What did God say to you about it? Don’t depend on Jonathan, your mom or your friends to tell you -ask God…then obey.

    I’d also add one other thought abouth this whole “corrupt” media influence. I’m now in my 40’s. I grew up with ghosts, goblins, witches, demons, ouiji boards, adultery, pre-marital sex just like the current generation. Albeit, it is much more intense these days, but one thing I’m trying to do is to train my children to think and pray. Sheltering our children in this “holier than thou” mentality is only deepening the chasm between Christians and their influence on the world. I want my girls to be able to engage their non-christian friends in conversations, rather than look down their noses. I want my girls to be able to look media in the face and be able to see the Truth or lack of it within it’s pages, notes and screens. My daughter read the Harry Potter series. She loved it. But, as she was reading, we had regular conversations about the content and how it relates to her spiritually. Even when we sit down and watch an intertaining episode of Hanna Montana, I engage them in conversations: “Was that really honoring to her parents when she said/did that?”, “Did you see how she treated her friend there?”, “What could she have said there to make it better or right with her teacher?” These conversations FORCE my girls to not simply veg out in front of the television, but to engage their minds to what they see and how it relates to God’s word.

    I took much more time here that I thought I would! Maybe I should start blogging! I just wish we as Christians would train ourselves to be godly and to work our salvation with fear and trembling.

    “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.” Romans 14:22

  19. B. Hoge says:

    Thanks guys, great Web site–great info. My 15 year old loves “Twilight” and asked me to read it. It is well-written and has some positives others have already mentioned–they don’t have sex until after they are married (to each other), and the pro-life message in the last book. I’m not thrilled about the whole vampire/werewolf aspect either, but it’s FICTION!

    Parents who over-protect their children are doing them NO favors. I forbid the Harry Potter books several years ago when mine were pre-teens, but when my daughter turned 13, I allowed her to begin choosing whatever she wanted to read as long as she was evaluating it and we were talking about it together. She read HP and enjoyed it. She’s a smart kid–grew up memorizing hundreds of Bible verses in Awana, and has been a spiritual leader with friends and in our youth group.

    How long are you going to “control” what your child/teen reads? I much prefer teaching them to think and evaluate based on what the Bible says about all that our culture exposes them to. We’ve had great discussions sparked by watching FOTF’s “The Truth Project,” and Ben Stein’s “Expelled” video.

    I attended a small Christian college way back in the 80’s and saw too many home-schooled pastor’s kids go nuts with drinking, drugs, and sex as soon as they tasted a little “freedom” because they’d been so controlled by legalistic fear-filled parents. We have to teach the next generation how to be lights in a dark world through the awesome power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit–not hide from the world by sticking our (or their) heads in the sand and ignoring popular culture.

  20. Troy says:

    I noticed that all of the readers were girls. Is this a book that is uni-sex, or is it, as it appears to be a book pointed at the adolescent female? Just a question because I am sure that many boys would like to read it or are curious but are afraid of the stigma tht may come from it. Also this book points to the deep desire that this young generation has for relationship. This should get us as Youth workers and pastors to recognize and use this desire to our advantage.

  21. Amanda says:

    Girls in my youth ministry (and a few guys, too) have ALL read these books and are “in love” with the stories. I have read them and, quite frankly, enjoyed them very much. They are well-written and have quite a bit of truth to them. I think the article does an excellent job of describing the pros and cons found in the compelling story of Bella and Edward.

    As youth workers, our job is not to insulate our youth from anything that doesn’t have a “Christian” label attached. They live, learn, and grow in a secular environment and we don’t do them any favors by burying our heads in the sand. The most helpful (and godly) thing we can do is teach them to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad, and to learn God’s truth through the situations they find themselves in. That’s not a compromise of the Gospel, in my mind–it’s the embodiment of the Gospel. Jesus didn’t stick to clean, religious people–he spent time with sinners and spoke truth through everyday situations. Can’t we do the same?

  22. Trevor says:

    Wow. Nicely done Jonathan. I personally loved both the article and the responses you gave to the comments left here. I plan to read the books and its largely thanks to your website that I have the knowledge to do so. I think that you turned over a wonderful hornets nest here for us to engage with others over. We may get stung a few times (as you already have) but if we can convince a few people in the end of the importance of engaging with the culture our teens live in I think that those stings will have been worth it!!

    As always keep up the good work and know that there are several of us out here who agree with you and will stand behind you in your work and ministry!!

  23. John Ault says:

    I am a senior pastor and delegate much of this to our teriffic youth workers. Youth Source is one thing I do to keep in touch with youth culture, though. BTW, I really appreciate it!
    The girl’s attitude in Twilight reminds me of Gen 3 “your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you….” This predisposition of women to seek out and put up with dangerous and abusive men is part of the curse & consequences on sin nature. It is quite distinct from wifely submission, which is a blessing. These Twilight book/movie feed that propensity in young women and justify their attraction to abusive men. I hope this danger is brought out clearly to youth.

  24. Ben Terpstra says:

    Even in my mis-typing the question:) Jonathan answers the question very well. I thank you. What I ment was How would you discuss with teens that the additudes, and actions of this type of fall into love out of love (lust) at times is wrong. Another words I have teens glorifying this movie as a great movie. Something that is cool and right. Just like the movie Juno.
    Now I did watch Juno, and that movie does portray teen culture of today: try it(sex, drugs, or drinking) out so you can say wether it is good or not, Make decisions based on feelings, and if you find love in the process well that is a bonus.
    To me this movie and book is a must read and or watch to know what todays teens are thinking and reading so you can know what is going on in their culture to day, but in the same sense my question is, “how do you or I work with teens and adults to understand that Christ wants us to think, act, and live differently from the norm says about life?”
    Final thought, their parents aren’t the ones making the teens decisions, the teens will watch and discuss these issues with or without us, so that is why I believe I need to know the issues at hand. Maybe I am a broken record in this question but “How do I other than just the norm “preaching” continually help teens to guide them to understand that this way of action is wrong.” May be that is what I was trying to say. Because I know we all know that teens don’t always listen to their parents instruction.
    I kind of have ideas, and have had discussions about them I was just wandering how you would and what is your response to the over sexed or incorreclty sexed culture?

  25. Barb says:

    I am reading all these comments and wondering–What are we DOING in youth ministry? According to the Barna Research, what we are doing isn’t working. Maybe God doesn’t want us to step into their culture, but bring them to His. (No reply needed.)

  26. Barb… funny you should mention methods that just “aren’t working.” Because that is the exact subject we talked about in our current podcast with Marko on our podcast page: http://www.thesource4ym.com/podcasts/

    As for your comment about God not wanting us to step into the world’s culture… I’m sorry. I have to disagree strongly. I’ll follow the example of Jesus who entered our world and dwelt among us. I’ll follow the example of Paul who used the culture of the day as a starting point for conversations.

  27. All I will say is ‘Seek first to understand before then seeking to be understood’ and my entire basis of youth work in the UK is ‘Meet them where they’re at’. Attractional models of being Church fails miserably here therefore my new work focuses on a post-Christendom model of Apostolic Ministry; street ministry sharing alongside detachedyouth workers, enabling youth to be part of the decision making processes that affect their futures.

  28. Patricia Flowerday says:

    All my youth had read these books and I felt very out of the loop when they talked about it! I am going to write a girl’s study on the subject and we are going to debrief after going to the movie. They are going to read the books and see the movie anyway, i may as well bring some light into the dark. It is a door for me to connect with my youth and talk about God and His will for them. Our light is meant to shine in the darkness not hide from it.

  29. S.D. says:

    I don’t think this is a movie for anyone to see. Parent or teen or a book to read. I know that there are those who say you must know what is going on -but I’ve always said, “Like FBI agents in training, they study nothing but the truth and the real stuff when it comes to counterfeit money; Christians should do the same with the things they allow themselves to be a part of.” The pictures alone on this site are too much for anyone of any age. Where’s the point of holiness and virtue, praise, truth, just, pure, lovely and of a good report (Phil 4:8)? Something to think about… are we advertising for the enemy of our souls??

  30. S.D… I’m not meaning to pick on you… but FBI agents don’t deal with counterfeit money, that’s the Secret Service. And funny you should bring that up… I met with Walt Mueller recently (CPYU.org) and asked him about that particular “Secret Service” example… because everyone seems to want to use it. Walt debunked it immediately. Take a listen to our podcast with Walt when it comes out (in Januaray) and you’ll hear his two cents.

    I hear your concern S.D. I think that some people can “overemphasize” the importance of knowing our culture. “Staying current” does not mean spend more time watching MTV than reading the WORD. That’s a mistake. But I also think it’s a mistake to not be aware what’s going on around us (a Biblical concept by the way- you’ll see me and several others commenting above about how Jesus and Paul did this). A five minute read of one of our YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW articles isn’t going to take time away from your week, and it will help you understand what your kids are submerging themselves in. I don’t think you need to read Twilight if you don’t want to- that’s why we summarized it for you. But it sure won’t hurt to recognize the book when you see one of your student leaders reading it- a five minute article you read might create an open door for you to discuss some of the issues brought up in the book.

    I hope that helps just a bit.

  31. Grant says:

    (heavy sigh)…man, how long are we going to continue to have these conversations! Can I just refer you back to my earlier comment above?

    Let’s teach kids Truth (big T) and show them how to wade through their world with a biblical worldview. Light in darkness, people, light in darkness. Thanks Jonathan, for keeping us focused on the main thing.

  32. Broque Fische says:

    Well, another point all of your genius has failed to uncover is that the author is from a Mormon background and specifically brings that worldview to the table. So, like Napoleon Dynamite and other Mormon works before it, Twilight, is already based in a worldview very similar to your own xtian worldview. Now, Meyers never references Mormonism in the text, but sex is treated in an EXTREMELY conservative way compared to most teen girls novels. However, if you think any form of fantasy is evil. A. You are boring as all get out and B. This book and few others are for you. Congratulations on being no fun.

  33. Hogan! says:

    Understanding youth and knowing youth culture… Hmmmm…

    A few years ago at the height of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” tv popularity, the Pastor of our Church did a sermon on the occult. Most of our youth were highly into both series so I was looking forward to his sermon and to see how he would deal with the subject.

    He went on and spoke to the youth about how dangerous the occult was and how it can draw people in and away from God.

    As youth pastor, I watched the youth as they listened to his sermon, honestly glued to his every word. I was very impressed THEN he actually show’d a clip from “Angel”. In the scene, the main character “Angel” was all “Vamped out” and attacked someone. He then went on to explain that this is who the main character was and what the show was all about.

    That the show was about an evil vampire that went around killing people. IF you’ve scene the show, the character is the exact opposite AND where at one point the pastor had the youth hanging on his every word, now they were looking every else but at him.

    The occult talk WAS GREAT and the dangers of it BUT when he started talking about something he really had no clue about he basically lost everyone of them BECAUSE he didn’t know what he was talking about.

    The sad part was, (*Again) the occult part of the talk was incredible and they were all listening UNTIL he started to speak wrongly about something he didn’t know or understand and because of it the youth who were listening, now weren’t paying attention even to the good stuff.

    If we are going to preach/teach/speak on something (*”Twilight is evil!” and such) then we had better understand why we are saying such things.

    I read the 1st book BECAUSE (*like so many) at least 1/2 the youth group were reading them. (*more like addicted to them). Now I can have a discussion with them and help them understand the good and the bad.

  34. lisa says:

    Jonathan,

    I always appreciate your youth culture window section in the ezine, but now that I’ve (finally 🙂 ) read Twilight, I have to say I think you missed some important opportunities here. Yes, there’s some sensuality, but there’s an incredible moral message in this book as well. One comment here compares the vampires’ struggle to be good with fighting against our sin natures, and there are a lot of similar examples. The characters even discuss their views on the afterlife, and the good vampires are that way because their leader believes in God. He’s hoping to attain salvation (even though he’s immortal and probably can’t really die) by fighting against his evil nature. Edward won’t let Bella become a vampire, even though it will mean the lovers can be forever for eternity, because he believes that if she becomes a vampire, she’s lose her soul and any chance of salvation. I haven’t finished the series yet, but it seems to me that the spiritual message is much more central to the story than the sensual one.

    Perhaps there’ll be a “Finding God in Twilight” book coming out soon… 🙂

  35. Nathaniel says:

    Okay.
    So, I’m a male 18 year old, and I am a Christian. I seek the Lord’s guidance when I’m in need of answers, I ask Him what He would have me do (not as often as I should like) in daily situations, and He never ceases to work through me.

    I’m currently on the third book right now (Eclipse) and I absolutely love the series. I’ve always loved fiction books: Sci-fi, Fantasy, all of it. Anything with aliens or any other mythological creature, I’ll probably enjoy it. I grew up in a Christian home, and just like Deuteronomy 6:7-8 says, my folks made sure they gave me a firm, rock-solid foundation in Jesus Christ. “And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

    Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t questioned it, but it IS healthy to question otherwise you’ll never get answers.

    As far as whether reading these books is a sin or not, there was a really good post up the way a bit by Grant, and he said to ask God…then obey. This is so true. I have tattoos, but I saught God first before I got them. He said that as long as they’re edifying to Him, then I could do it. So what I did is I got tattoos that would glorify Him, not myself. I use them as a witnessing tool. People ask, I can answer using the Bible. I also got stupid and got a couple that aren’t edifying to him, but I got them because I thought they looked cool, and I regret them. God had a purpose in telling me what He did. I’m just a stupid.

    I’ve seen a bunch of posts about how we shouldn’t read the books because it’s compromising our faith with God. If you want to start that battle, then seriously folks, let’s be consistent, shall we? Let’s see what we can no longer read or watch:
    1. Harry Potter (obviously)
    2. Any Disney movie (heavy occult conent in almost every movie and cartoon)
    3. Eragon (another one of my person favorites)
    4. Most of what they have us reading in high school and college English courses
    5. Etc.
    6. Etc.

    Let’s get serious. There’s no way we can cut all of this out of our lives. I’m not using that as a crutch or an excuse just to read it, because I know personally that reading these books isn’t causing ME to stumble, but I’m just saying that if you’re not going to let them read one BOOK with an occult spin, or let them watch one MOVIE with an occult spin, then look at every other book and movie very thoroughly before letting them read or watch it, otherwise you’ll be a sucker to your own lukewarmness you were warning about.

  36. Peggy Jarvis says:

    My grand daughter read the first books and we have discussed why they might not be a good choice. Like Harry Potter each books gets deeper and darker. I asked her to apply our little test for suitable movies and books. This is: Would I want to invite Jesus to read it or to watch the movie with me? She doesn’t think it meets the standard.

  37. Aaron Kinder says:

    I’ve read all the books and have no reservations in recommending them to anyone. I found them to be entertaining and actually, very positive.

  38. Paige says:

    Wow. I think that Twilight is just a book and it shouldn’t be a big deal if the main character is vulnerable and if there are hidden messages. Sex is sex. people do it. who cares. and at least they got married in the last book before actually having sex. if you keep yoru kids censored there whole lives they are going to be super weird when they get out yoru house.

    if they attend a public school then they know what sex is, they hear about it, they know what happens and who cares if they read a book about it. They probably have already done it or want to do it anyways. One book isn’t going to sway them one way or the other.

    You should talk to your kids about sex if its such a huge problem.

  39. “Sex is sex”

    Hmmmm. Tell that to the one in four teenage girls who contracted an STD last year.

    But yes Paige, I agree. We absolutely should talk with our kids about sex.

  40. byrd says:

    My 10yr old daughter wants to read Twilight, so I devoured it first, and have decided she definitely is not old enough even though her freinds are reading it. If she were 13 or 15 I would allow it as it would open discussions about sexuality, but what concerns me the most is the obsessive controlling nature of Edward. I would not want my daughters thinking that following a girl and watching her sleep is normal behavior. Nor is an all consuming love in which nothing else matters anymore is normal behavior. I am surprised mothers love the book and love Edward and don’t talk to their teen daughters that this is stalking behavior. We’ve all been teens and we can remember how stupid our teen loves were, so I would never want my daughters to be in such an all consuming relationship EVER, much less as a teenager.

  41. Stephanie says:

    I am a parent of an 11 year old. I had heard many things about Twilight and my daughter wanted to read it. I read the first chapter and went off of advice of other Moms I respected and let her read the first book. Then, I took her to see the movie. I enjoyed the movie so much I read the book, and the second, third and forth. I think they are great books. I think it allowed me to reconnect and have a joint interest with my preteen. I used it as a connection to get closer to her. I felt there was nothing more in the books or movie that is anything worse than pg 13 on TV. Have you seen some of the “family” shows lately? So what if she thinks Edward is wonderful, he is a fictional character. Think back to when you were in middle school. For me it was New Kids On The Block. We all had our fantasy guys that we were in love with. It is normal. I say let them see it and read the books. If they find something they are interested in and actually Want to read, let them read. I don’t think kids read enough anymore. That is my opinion.

  42. Connie says:

    I grew up in a very worldly home. By 16 I was an alcoholic and drug addict,by 18, an unwed mother.
    Even though I often went to this church or that, I always found the people to be boring and have a lot of do’s and don’ts.
    If it was up to the witness of these people, I would be in hell. I didn’t know Jesus then, but I thought they did so that is how I thought you had to be if you were saved. I could only be good enough for a short period of time, then I would go back to the worldly stuff where I had more freedom.
    If you were a teen, and a book or movie like Twilight or Harry Potter was a no-no, what attraction would Jesus have to you.
    God gave us diffinent no-no’s. I teach these. Since my teens had read the book way before I had and had actually introduced it to me, I felt that I owed it to them to check it out. Not to be cool, but to know what they are being exposed to whether I approved or not. Dicussing the pro’s and con’s with them helps them to muture. As the teens muture in God, they will discern what is approprate and what is not on their own.
    If everything is off limits now or you don’t allow them to express their interests, you can’t help them to learn to discern what pleases God and what don’t. And it also makes the world look so much more inviting.
    Having Jesus in my life has been anything but boring, and I want the unsaved to see that in me.

  43. Joe says:

    I am a dad of 3 girls, one being 13. I am also the student minister at our church. We have read the books as a family, although we did not set it up as, “IN ORDER FOR YOU TO READ THIS, SO WILL WE” rather just decided as parents to do it and was glad we did. I have been able to ask questions and then give the, “well what does the Bible have to say about it” and “What do you think”.
    Point is this, take away the book, the movies etc… and my daughter at some point was going to hear how some friend had the same kiss, the same cheek to cheek moment but it would have been in the locker room our at lunch.

  44. Abby says:

    I think that twilight is an amazing movie to watch and it is suitable for people of all ages.I am not saying that because I have seen it or because I am a big fan but because it really is an amazing movie.If parents don’t want their children watching it well then thats their choice, but the least you can do is let them read the book…..

    The book is much better because itis more detailed.So yea I urge you to read the book.:)

  45. SusanNorton says:

    I never liked the series whatsoever, they were horribly written, and I am lower on the social scale than Bella, and I actually felt like kicking her in the face, if she were a real person. She was the ULTIMATE Mary-Sue, she never did wrong, though SMeyer thought she was showing she had a flaw by saying she was clutsy, that is not a flaw, that is a quirk. Bella is the one everyone loves, and Edward, dear “sweet” Edward, was a pedofile. He watched her in her room as she slept! That is not good. The movies are alright, I will admit I have a few shirts that have to do with Twilight, but that is only because the shirts have good designs on them. All in all, Twilight isn’t good for teenage girls, they make themselves crazy thinking Edward Cullen will rescue them, it is dangerous, as well as sick.

  46. onamaewa? says:

    hey
    i think its silly all this discussion about a book that has nothing wrong with it. it is a good read, and thats all. it wont do your kids harm, and if as susannorton said, they become infatuated with edward and think they love him, maybe this could be due to the sheltered, overpreotected lives they are living – which you cant deny, as even having to discuss whether they can read this book proves it.
    everyone will be exposed to this in the real world some day, and if pg-13 is too much for you, that is the thing wrong with this movie.

  47. Clai says:

    Twilight rocks! All kids should be able to see twilight and read the books as well. Kids need to be kids ok?

  48. Helen says:

    I have read the books and seen the movie. Essentially Twilight is a deeply romantic love story, and a beautiful one at that with conservative, strong, decent characters that I grew to genuinely care about. It is fiction! Edward has been lost, lonely and frozen in time for a long 80 years…until his heart is at last touched irreversibly and irrevocably by the selfless, older-than-her-years, shy Bella (who has also never fallen in love or felt she ‘fitted in’ with others and has always been the responsible carer or ‘parent’ to her flaky single mother. Edward has 1918 morals, is protective (from some VERY serious dangers). He adores her and will do anything to give her a happy (human) life (including letting her go)- frankly he’s delightfully old fashioned. You could similarly critique Mr Darcy, Romeo and Juliet or Wuthering Heights for being too intense. These classics are referred to often in the book – and with some really interesting insights. I found the books were very positive about the joys of everyday life and relationships, the bonds of love (between family and partners), selflessness; humanity..They celebrate all that is wonderful and all that it means to be human. I think you could find negatives to say about any book but this, for me, is an overwhelmingly positive one…in my humble opinion of course…Read them and enjoy a good story.

  49. Twilight Teen says:

    I think that the Twilight Series is Very Clean i mean come on parents allow your teens to make there own decisions about the books they read. I found this book very entertaining and surprising the morals in this story are good and whoever this lukewarm person is Hello read the opening quote before the book its from the book of genesis For god sakes people its a fictional book that just instills in every teen that when you love someone they should be a gentleman and be romantic and BY THE WAY THE MOVIE Is Barely ANYTHING LIKE THE BOOK
    Twilight is romantic love story and Gives girls hope that there are still gentleman left in the world
    there is NOTHING wrong with this series 🙂

  50. momof2 says:

    i think twilight is a great book. I teaches kids that no matter what love conncers all. the world could use that message. “I love Edward. the love between us is not on that can be brocken by abcence bistance or time”. the love they share is stronge. so their vampires. their not regular vampire. the gave up human blood for animal blood and carlisle is a docter. carlisle says” what i enjoy the most is when my…..enhanced abilitieslet me save someone who would otherwise be lost.its plesent knowingthat, thanks to what i can do some peoples lives will be better because i exist”

  51. renee says:

    All of these opinions are good and I’m glad that parents and youth workers are thinking about this topic but…number 1 to me is my teenagers spiritual condition. The Word speaks about “doctrines of demons” being ideas and sensualism that sucks you in. Don’t you think it strange that there is such a frenzy in the female teen mind over this? Don’t you think we, as spiritual leaders and mentors should be aware of the battle for our young ones minds and hearts? This is not about a book, its about hearts that are so empty and lonely that they crave this and want to be vampires…ask them point blank if they fantasize about this, dream about it, watch how much they talk about it.
    The reason I know this is not a positive influence for these kids is the most important issue that no one here has even addressed…where did this story come from? The author herself documents a dream that becomes the twilight saga. Doesn’t anyone else think that where this comes from matters? Satan disquises himself as the angel of light. Don’t these pastors and parents have any clue how to know the light from the dark? I’m shocked at the ways everyone here doesn’t want to offend everyone else. Its outrageous! These kids are looking for boundaries to live their lives by and all we are worried about is if there is a sex scene in the movie? I’m saddened by the state of parents in the church today. I think that if your children or students can be involved with this vampire world and be fine with it, then you have been blinded by the world so much that you haven’t taught them to divide the word of truth at a younger age. They are left for the wolves and you are to blame. Wake up! My teens know the saga from talking to friends and seeing the glazed over look in their eyes when they talk about Edward. They know that the story came directly from a “visitation” in a dream and they choose what they read. I don’t tell them what to read or not. They are mature enough believers who know light and darkness. I’m not a perfect parent and I’ve made mistakes with my 3 kids but never allowing them to play with the dark side just so they can not be protected. I don’t have to smoke pot to know its wrong for my kids so why do I have to read these books to know its bad for them? You people that say there are not vampires, witches and other supernatureal entities are reading another Bible on sundays. Ignorance of evil and supernatural things needs to be repented for or else our kids only see the seductiveness and power that they have and don’t ever see the power of the blood of Jesus and the power that is in us is greater than is in the world. These kids know and are seeing power everywhere else but at church. You think they want to be wimps…teach them to fight with the darkness and overcome by the blood of the lamb!

  52. NoName says:

    I have read the books and watched the movies many times. so what if they have a bit of romance. its not like all the kids who read this are going to go out and find boy friends and complain how much they want to sleep with them. Majority of the fan basis are kids that dont even think about having sex, its usually just young girls who either enjoy reading, dream of one day having an “edward cullen” of their own, or are just reading it because it is the new thing to do. It is just a book which was meant to be read by tweens and young adults. These are great books and you do not need to waste your time worrying about whether or not they are ok to be read by the age group they were meant for.

  53. Meredith Roberts says:

    I read all the twilight books and as I read them I had a very different take. I actually thought the books promoted abstinence and waiting till marriage for sex! (the author of the books is Mormon)The movies portray more sexual stuff than the books do. I actually saw so many aligories in the twilight books and it can be great discussion for how NOT to be Bella! Most people I have discussed the books with can’t stand her! It also shows the danger of bad boundaries with opposite sex friendships and how it can be cruel and unfair(her relationship with Jacob)I like the though of vampires going against their natures and NOT killing humans or drinking their blood. They choose not to be monsters! Isn’t that what we kind of do as Christians? Even the while thing where Edward doesn’t want Bella to become a vampire is a picture of her purity and innocence. He doesn’t want to ruin or taint her. And Edward is a gentleman constantly trying to resist bellas constant seduction which I find these days the girls are the ones pushin the guys into sex! But he stuck to his guns and neither sex or vampire changing happened till after the nuptials! Even after they were married the books only implied what happened on the wedding night. Even how Edward was triggered so much just by the smell of Bella and how it drove him crazy reminds me of how hard it is for boys to avoid temptation because it’s right under thier nose all the time! I guess Im a bit surprised that you took such a conservative stance on this and don’t see the potential for teaching with them! I think it would be wise for youth leaders to do a whole series on the books and the analogies in them!