It was 1968 when the original Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi in the title role, came to my hometown movie theater in a rerelease. I had read about this famous movie, and some friends and I decided to go and see what it was all about.
When the count made his first appearance in the movie, it was one of those dramatic shots where he was looking up a staircase at a woman who would become the object of his twisted affection. Lugosi was dressed in that famous black outfit with the cape and had a leering look in his eye. The scene was intended to frighten moviegoers, and maybe it did in 1931 when it was originally released. But by 1968 we were a jaded lot. The entire theater audience howled with laughter at the sight of the "sinister Count Dracula"!
A different story today
Vampire stories are no laughing matter today.
Lately, I have been reading about the latest twist on the vampire story. Twilight, the first of a series of novels by Stephenie Meyer, has recently been made into a movie and is seeing commercial success just as her books have.
Twilight begins a four-novel saga about a teenage girl named Bella who moves to Washington state to live with her father after the remarriage of her mother. She begins life in a new high school and meets a "young" man named Edward who, as the story progresses, she discovers is a vampire and lives with a "family" of vampires.
The relationship builds through four novels with the story of adolescent love building between Bella and Edward. Bella's attraction for Edward moves her to desire to become a vampire and join their relationship for "eternity." Edward resists, and it takes four books until a resolution is reached where Bella sacrifices her human life for the desire of her heart.
This series has the familiar elements of the vampire story with a few twists. Instead of living off human blood, Edward subsists on animal blood. But Twilight does continue the idea of the "undead" vampire, living between the two opposites of life and death forever. It focuses on the tension between good and evil, light and darkness.
In fact, on the cover of the novel, one finds a bright red apple, symbolizing the so-called "forbidden fruit" of the Garden of Eden, and inside is a quote from Genesis 2:17 Genesis 2:17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
American King James Version×with the reference to the knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps this is a reference to the forbidden love between the human Bella and the vampire Edward.
Let me say something at this point. I have not read the books. Nor do I intend to. I have not seen the movie and don't intend to. I'll get into why later.
I have read about the movie and the book and, as I have already stated, I have seen other vampire movies over my life, so I think I know the genre pretty well. Beyond that I know what the Bible teaches about good and evil, life and death, and good and evil spirits. I also know where the Bible warns us against the deceptions of the end of the age.
It is the subtlety of deception that surrounds this latest tale that has me worried. Twilight has cast the story of vampires within the explosive emotional web of adolescent sexuality. Everyone who has lived through that period of life personally understands the powerful attractions of sex, desire and forbidden love at that stage of life. Adolescence is when so many futures are molded and shaped, fashioned and formed and, sadly for many, destroyed or forever altered.
Physical attraction, love, sex and commitment to another are powerful emotions that by themselves are not bad. They are part of human life designed by God to be developed, controlled and enjoyed within the boundaries set by His law.
Visualizing these powerful feelings within the sordid, twisted and blatantly evil world of demons and vampires is a monstrous and blasphemous heresy. The popularity and commercial success testifies to the truth that people today cannot discern between good and evil. "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20 Isaiah 5:20Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
American King James Version×).
When I hear the story of a young girl who is willing to leave her family and give up being a human to join herself with a vampire, I see a demonic subtlety. Here is another way to teach that death is preferable to life. The culture of death has another arrow to shoot at young, moldable minds.
I see also the idea promoted that one can leave righteous faith and embrace evil, feeling good about it because it is done in the name of "love." These are powerful stories hitting the culture at a time when there is a growing void of values. The religious faith of the land is not strong enough to push back against this growing tide of interest and fascination with the occult.
Confusion of a people
What happens when a nation allows the occult to make inroads into its culture? An example from ancient Israel is instructive.
In 1 Kings 22 we are told of a council of war between the kings of Israel and Judah. Ahab and Jehoshaphat were planning war against Syria to regain land that Israel had lost. Ahab had allowed the worst of the cult of Baal to come into the nation through his wife, Jezebel. The remaining vestiges of the true worship of God had been driven underground. This was the time of Elijah's great witness against the land for its abandonment of the God of Abraham.
At the council Jeshoshaphat asked whether there was "a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?" (verse 7). When finally the prophet Micaiah was brought before the two kings, he revealed an amazing vision from the throne of God that showed the depth of confusion within the nation.
Micaiah saw God sitting on His throne and the spiritual host of heaven around Him. The extent to which God had given King Ahab and his people over to deception is shown in this dialogue. "Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, 'I will persuade him.' The LORD said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets'" (verses 21-22). God was allowing Ahab to be persuaded into a battle he could not win.
The depth of spiritual confusion was so great in Israel that it impacted the decisions made at the highest level. A lying spirit could work through false prophets to persuade the king to an action that resulted in his death and defeat in battle. There was a twilight upon the land. This "spiritual twilight"—where the people wavered between opposing ideas of right and wrong, righteousness and unrighteousness, and good and evil—mirrors our land today.
When the influence of evil spirits is pervasive in the ideas and imagination of a culture, you see a nation in serious decline. I currently see America in a time of transition and crisis. The continuing economic problems defy the traditional solutions typically used by government. A new president with a team of brilliant advisers will work very hard at correcting the economic slide.
Is there a connection between spiritual deception—a fascination with the occult and other ideas of the spirit world and what lies behind the world we see—and political confusion that leads to decline? I look at the land and read the Bible and hold deep concern for the future.
The Bible tells us we are in a spiritual war with dark forces who seek to confuse, disorient and destroy. We can live a comfortable life and not fully appreciate the battle that rages around us in the spiritual dimension. The passage from 1 Kings quoted above is a glimpse into a part of that dimension we do not see with our mortal eyes.
But the Bible is very plain in teaching us the reality of this spiritual battle, and it gives us the knowledge and tools to do combat. In Ephesians 6 it says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (verses 10-12).
This is why I don't want to view or read any stories about vampires and the occult. I don't need to put those thoughts and images into my mind. When I saw the pictures and movie trailer to Twilight, I saw the new age of subtlety that Satan the devil is employing to tune in a generation of people to his wavelength. The images of vampires in this telling are not something to laugh at. They are something to avoid.
The apostle Paul warned us to give no "place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27 Ephesians 4:27Neither give place to the devil.
American King James Version×). All of us struggle enough with temptation in our daily lives. Why add to that problem by dwelling for any period on twisted love stories of humans and vampires? It is not godly nor does it give us focus and direction toward the Kingdom of God. WNP