Poll Question: Should Christian teens read books about characters of spritually questionable origin?
- Maybe. Mature kids can discern the truth without being spiritually compromised. Other kids aren’t ready. (4 votes)
- Yes. Reading about a vampire doesn’t do any harm. It’s just fantasy! (2 votes)
- No way. The origin of vampires isn’t “questionable.” It’s evil. Don’t even go there. (2 votes)
I’ll be honest– this is a tricky one for me. When I began this blog and posted my first poll, a friend left several comments on my facebook account about teen fiction and what it should and should not contain and she said two very key words: age-appropriate. (maybe that’s technically one word, hyphenated…)
I think there’s something to that. Absolutely. In the case of Neil Gaiman’s book, we’re talking about a story set in a graveyard with a small child as a character. (I’m so resisting the urge to revisit that too often quoted line from the movie that will haunt Haley Joel Osmet for the rest of his life.) I’m not sure this is what I’d call appropriate content for middle grade readers. It’s an intensely dark story. (A beautifully written one, but dark nonetheless.) I mean let’s talk reality here for one second– kid grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts… anyone see a complex coming for little Bod? Okay, I know, it’s just fiction…(I’m the girl who loved the movie Meet Joe Black, but came away at the end thinking, dude, that guy is going to have one serious complex.)
But I know for myself, as a young reader, stories inspired me and even to a degree became a part of me in a deeper way than my reading does today. I think young readers moreso than older ones tend to idolize the characters they read about. Does reading The Graveyard Book encourage a fascination with death and the dead?
Here’s another interesting thought from a blog I read this morning. She blogged concerning Bella and Edward’s relationship and its similarities to abusive/co-dependent relationships. Is this a relationship we want teens to emulate?
Honestly, I think the romance genre itself often does a poor job presenting a healthy view of a romantic relationship. I have seen it even in Christian fiction. But that’s another topic altogether!
One of the things I liked about the Twilight series is that purity was important to Edward and that he and Bella waited until their marriage to consumate their relationship. In a culture where sexual purity is so out of style, it was exciting to me to see a YA series promoting abstinence take the bestseller list by storm.
Most of the comments I got from parents I talked to about this series was, “Hey, they can’t have sex, so how bad can it be?” I read this series because my daughter wanted to read them and I wanted a basis for discussion. When I asked her about the sexual issues of the book, her comment was, “It was very satisfying!” This author did not need to have Edward and Bella literally having sex, she did a good job at an “erotic” alternative, in my opinion. Bella’s desires, her thoughts, the sleeping together in her bed, though clothed, Edward staring at her all night. Their total obsession with each other. To a young teen girl (and ALL the teen girls I have talked to about this are OBSESSED with Edward) this was very arousing and and “satisfying”. From an adult Christian perspective, my concern is purity of thought, not just action.
You know, that’s a really good point, too. It’s true that Bella and Edward’s physical boundaries are WAY better than TOO many of the YA novels out there. But you’re absolutely right. Remaining physically pure and obsessing over sex isn’t really very pure at all. It’s a step in the right direction with another mile to go.
Still, I was really glad to see Edward talk about his purity as meaningful and important– since that’s not a message I’ve seen in YA very often. I don’t think sexual purity is something that our current culture values very much. At all. The usual message is get rid of it as quick as you can!
He did talk to Bella about his purity being really the last of his human virtues, and that it was important to him to stay pure until their marriage– though her physical safety was absolutely an issue to him as well.
Oh! You’re right about him staying in her room– which I always thought was a bit creepy– and so true– not something Christian parents would be endorsing! Great point.
You do have a point about Edward and Bella waiting until marriage to consummate their relationship! However, I think it’s worth noting that there didn’t seem to be any point where they discussed waiting due to any moral standpoint (at least that I can remember)… it seemed to be more about Edward not wanting to accidentally kill Bella in the heat of the moment. After all, he spent lots of nights in her room, certainly something Christian parents wouldn’t approve of their kids doing! 🙂