Twilight is Pornography

… so says Mark Driscoll

Let me track the logic for you. In the final chapters of his book Vintage Church, Mark recommends that pastors spend a concerted amount of time watching popular movies and television shows, with the exception of those he would consider pornographic (Vintage Church, p.225). He says that he owns multiple TiVo units so that he can watch everything while skipping through commercials to save time.

Dricoll seems to have a fairly liberal definition of pornography, at least in comparison to some. He accepts that there are acceptable depictions of the nude form in art (i.e. Michelangelo’s David), which many consider offensive. However, his concept of what constitutes as pornography has at least one interesting aspect. The definition of what Mark considers pornographic includes “along with sexual nudity and pornography, we also include women’s romance novels” (Real Marriage, p. 145).

I have heard this argument about these trashy novels before, and I think it holds merit. One of the distinct differences in the sexuality of men and women is that men are more visual in nature and women are more engaged by emotional content. The infamous Harlequin novels have graphic detail of sexual encounters according to the random interviews I have read with their authors. Their obvious appeal is the fantasy that it presents as these novels are consumed by a primarily female audience.

This kind of sinful lustful fantasizing extends to such things as the Twilight phenomenon, where older women, many of them mothers, openly fantasize about sexual desires they had for the young actors in the film (Real Marriage, p. 145).

I am in no way trying to defend the Twilight series (which implies that I think there is a defense for it). My curiosity lies in how Driscoll came to this conclusion. I see only 3 scenerios:

  1. Mark began to read the books/watch the first movie and at some point decided that they must be pornographic according to the above definition and then stopped.
  2. Mark did not read the books or watch the films, but instead made a preemptive judgement on their content based exclusively on media coverage and book jackets/previews for the films, which is irresponsible.
  3. Mark has a different standard for what is pornographic for men and what is pornographic for women, thus he can justly watch the films and read the books with a clear conscience, but forbid women to do likewise.
  4. Mark talked to a trusted someone who has read the books/watched the films and therefore has borrowed that opinion from that person and represented it in the book.

My suspicion is that Driscoll based his opinion on one of the first three options, or if the final one he got some bad information that he did not bother to further investigate. I feel safe to say this because this is only an example of this lack of integrity in all of Mark’s books I have read. In Vintage Jesus is was his reference to the movie Life of Brian, which he completely misrepresented not having seen the film.

My problem is that we have here a man who is so influential, representing our faith to thousands of people, who consistently neglects a foundational integrity in his writing.

Some of you are thinking, “Wait, Aaron! Are you advocating the idea that we cannot say anything about the sinful nature of an action without first experiencing that sin first hand?” Certainly not. Simply talk to a crack addict and they will tell you how terrible their life is because of the drug. I have to say that I have never read a Harlequin romance novel in my life and never plan to, but hearing about them from the author has been enough direct access to their content that I think I can make a fair judgment.

Instead, if the judgment is made on the media coverage of the series, what sets Twilight hype from the Harry Potter craze? What about wearing “Team Edward” shirts is different from people wearing capes and carrying around broomsticks?

The only real difference is the demographic and the fact that the Twilight series is primarily as story of romance. Therefore if romance is the problem then we should also ban Romeo and Juliet and Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities where passionate love lead to self-sacrifice and inspired many feminine romantic fantasies.

Only one of the above options leaves me without a sour taste in my mouth. The first implies, like in the third, that Mark has a different definition for pornography based on gender. Because of the observable difference between men and women and the way that they are stimulated sexually, Mark seems to have decided that there should be different standards for sin. Therefore what is perfectly moral and righteous for a man is not allowed for a woman. Should sin not be the same for men and women? Are we not all called to the same standards by God?

I would like to hear from you. What are your thoughts in terms of the supposed pornographic nature of the Twilight saga? Do you think the double standard is reasonable in this case?



About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

5 responses to “Twilight is Pornography

  • Matt

    I think I’m going to differ. I’m not a big fan of either Mark Driscoll or Twilight, but I’ll take a side here.
    I’m no “expert” on Twilight. I have seen the first movie only once, and that’s about the extent of my knowledge. After watching it and discussing with my mom, I came to the Sam conclusion she did–it is a big “lust-fest.” the primary focus of the film is to entertain the thoughts and fantasies of girls. As bad as it sounds, it is true. I think the main idea is this. Watching the movie(s) isn’t wrong. There is nothing explicit in there and there are one or two kinda cool parts and whatnot. For guys, it doesn’t do anything in our minds to “stimulate” us. We can leave the living room that we watched the movie in the same way we came in, we’re unaffected. I’m not going to say it’s a sin to watch that movie, but, at the same time, does watching it make me more susceptible to stumble or cause others to? I think Twilight is more dangerous for ladies. I don’t encourage them to watch it because I think I may be too easy to get involved with emotionally. Some ladies, on the other hand, are also able to walk away unaffected. Take this example. If I were to be a drinker, would I drink it in front of someone that has had a problem with drinking before or struggled with self-control in other areas of life? No, and I wouldn’t encourage an action that may lead to a sin. I’m not going to classify Twilight as pornography, but I’m not going to suggest it. It can easily lead to a young lady’s sin in her mind. Not EVERY girl will have that problem, but most do. Why encourage something that will most likely inevetably turn to sin?

  • Sabio Lantz

    You said,

    Should sin not be the same for men and women?

    I’d have to do my homework, but my impression is that the OT has some different punishments and standards for men and women. This is unavoidable, I think, in an iron age society with strong paternalistic leanings.

    As an example:

    When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are.
    — Exodus 21:7 (The Jewish Study Bible)

  • Aaron Gardner

    Well, perhaps a better passage is Numbers chapter 30 which gives very different rules for the institution of vows for men and women. There was definitely a gender-determined caste to much of what the Old Testament and even some passages in the New Testament teach.

    A few things to consider: 1) are these rules and guidelines definitions of “sin” or do they function differently? 2) as New Covenant people are we bound by laws and regulations that are part of the old covenant? 3) [this in particular to your choice of Ex 21:7] can we generalize laws given to address people of a particular station [that is: slaves] to the whole population? That is certainly a fair question even in terms of our own nation’s constitution, which was originally written to guarantee the rights of free property owners.

    The concern I bring up in my post is in regard to what causes people to commit the sin of lust. Pornography is not specifically forbidden in the Bible, but the assumption of pornography is that the person seeks it out in order to lust. A romantic story, however, is not expressly pornographic (nudity, explicit sex scenes) and has other draws than lust. Mark Driscoll cites 1 Corinthians 6:12 in other parts of the book to aid in interpretation of what is acceptable, but does not apply the same principle to this issue. Instead he makes a judgment (Twilight is pornographic) and imposes his view on all women, even though I am sure many can engage in reading the books or watching the films and not commit the sin of lust. On the other hand I am sure that there are men who would find themselves lusting after characters in the story or players on the screen, so why would they be allowed to see these movies, but women, who only like the romantic nature of the story, be forbidden?

  • Sabio Lantz

    So you in the OT there was different punishments for sin for men and women — even as today in islamic countries where women are treated more as property than as people. In the OT women’s sexual indiscretion was treated more harshly than that of men.

    I was simply addressing your one claim.

    You tried to support it by saying the following. I paraphrase what you said and put my comments in parenthesis:

    (1) Well, “sin” was treated the same. (but you are wrong there, as I wrote above)
    (2) New Testament does but the Old Testament doesn’t. (Well, if that is true, then you admit that Yahweh use to give different rules where sin for women was treated differently than for men — and that is what I was saying. For in your world, there is no unchangeable morality — Morality is determined by the whim of your god.)
    (3) Well slave women are different than free women. (I won’t even touch that)

  • Aaron Gardner

    1) I was specifically addressing your reference to Exodus 21:7 here. I did not say that “sin” was treated the same. It is however important to consider in some of these instances if we are talking about sin or breaking a civil code. There are a number of different types of laws in both the Bible and in any government which has these distinctions (granted not every government has laws designated as sin ;^) ) Even though there may have been different prescribed punishments for sin, I am curious to find sin that can only be committed by one gender and the same act is not a sin if committed by the other gender.
    2) You may find it helpful to read about covenant theology on this point. The people of Israel entered into a contractual agreement that they could not fulfill. That’s where Jesus comes in. Again, I am not attempting to address the difference in punishments, but the difference in the sin.
    3) Differences in the treatment of slaves and free people are part of American history, even though they may challenge our sensibilities today. However, sense many times these were relationships established in order to pay debt, see our current credit crisis ;^)

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