Dear Roger, My teenager is obsessed with reading books and watching movies about vampires. That really seems to be the rage with her teenage friends. She wants to know what God has to say about vampires. Could you help me here? I don’t have an answer for her. Thank you, B
What a time to be raising teenagers! How can a parent keep up with the cultural onslaught that faces our children? I was surprised, at first, by your question. No one has ever asked me that one. However, when this week I saw that the top five books on the USA Today Best Seller List for Young Adults were books on zombies and vampires, I realized how relevant this is for parents and teenagers.
Before I do anything else, let me commend you on the fact that you have instilled spiritual sensitivity in your daughter. It is a good thing that she is questioning what she is experiencing in the world. And it is even better that she feels free enough to come to you with her questions.
Now, let me address the issue of what God says about vampires and then make several observations which I hope will be helpful.
The Bible never mentions the word “vampire,” nor is the concept addressed directly in the Scriptures. However, The Bible does address the issue of drinking or eating blood. In essence God says, “Don’t drink it.”
“Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood—I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.”
But, why did God so strongly prohibit the drinking of blood? Without sounding sacrilegious, I might direct your attention to John chapter six. In one of Jesus’ most demanding teachings on discipleship He declared that only those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will be “part” of Him. He was talking about total commitment. We can taste something and still spit it out. But, once we eat or drink it, it becomes part of us. It is no wonder that the people who heard His challenge were scandalized! They were quite familiar with Leviticus 17! It is no wonder that every one of His followers left Him that day—except the Twelve.
Communion (or the Lord’s Supper) is a symbol of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus. His body and blood were given on the cross as the working tools of the divine transaction that forgave our sins and made us Christ-followers fit for Heaven. Christ’s work on the cross is often identified as the “atonement” God was pointing to in Leviticus 17:10-12. By sharing communion we not only remember His sacrifice on the cross, we are demonstrating our whole-hearted commitment to Him.
So back to vampires. In a sense, the concept of a vampire is a perversion of Scripture. When we come to Christ, we choose to trust Him and give control of our lives to Him. The metaphor of “drinking his blood” represents becoming a part of His body—part of His family. On the other hand, vampires are imagined to forcibly drink the blood, the life force, of others. The victims have no choice. They are forced to become part of this dark world without their consent. See the contrast?
Here is another thought about vampires and the Bible. When we think of vampires, we think of blood, death and gore. It is easy to want to reject vampire stories because they are so “unedifying.” But, remember, the Bible is also filled with blood, death, and gore.
One of the goriest Bible stories is found in Judges 19:25-30: “So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go… When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home. When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel…” Vampire stories are not the only unpleasant stories in our world.
Now, let me share a few simple observations about helping your children with vampires.
1. We are wise to realize that many stories are written with hidden agendas—like hooking children into witchcraft and evil. Many stories espouse values that are unchristian or certainly not the values that we want our children to emulate. Some really nasty aspects of our culture reside just below the surface where our children are too easily exposed to them. Here we must be vigilant.
For example, according to author Stephenie Meyer, the creator of the Twilight series years ago, the inspiration for her books came from a “very vivid dream.” She writes: “In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that (a) they were falling in love with each other while (b) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately. For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (“Confessions”) of the book.”
Well, B, it sounds to me that before deciding whether or not to give the OK for your daughter to read this vampire trilogy, a little time invested in parental research would be energy most well spent.
2. Anne Rice is another popular writer of vampire stories. She has inspired a massive cult following, becoming one of the bestselling fiction authors of all time. Her stories are dark, morbid, and frightening. But people are utterly fascinated by the world she has created. In an incredible spiritual twist, Anne returned to Christianity several years ago and has written significant novels about her journey moving out of darkness into light. She has written a series of novels about how Jesus related to people during His life on earth including Out of Egypt and The Road to Canaan. On her website she addressed her Christian status like this: “I am being asked many theological and religious questions. When I get back to my home in California I will write more on these. People are far more interested in my conversion to Christianity than I ever expected. MY HEARTFELT THANKS TO ALL OF YOU, MY READERS FOR SUSTAINING ME DURING THIS JOURNEY TO FAITH.” Hers is a testimony worth sharing with your daughter (Editor’s Note: Rice later ‘quit’ Christianity again).
3. Recommend to your daughter and her friend that they read This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. These Christian novels are about the battles behind the scenes in the spiritual realm for the souls of men and women on earth. The books are filled with adventure and suspense. I guarantee that they will not be able to put down either book. Even though they are fiction, they hold much truth about the reality of the spiritual world. I think that many people are captivated by the spirit world because we do inherently know that there is something beyond our physical senses. These books can begin a study of what is really happening “behind the scenes.”
4. Before being too hasty in our zeal against vampires, it is probably good to remember that “spooky stories” are not inherently evil. Stories are often just stories. My opinion is that we Christians can overreact in trying to protect children from the world and just push them closer to hiding their investigations into the supernatural. Please be sure that you fight your battles wisely.
5. Read the books yourself. It is not fair to comment or condemn a book you have yet to read yourself. I often encourage parents to get involved in their kids’ worlds. This may sound controversial, but you might choose to read this book together, discussing the concerns you both have about the content. Go to some of the movies she watches. Read some of the magazines she reads. And then talk. Don’t panic! Be open to her opinions. Be careful not to instantly dismiss them out of fear. Consider that it is OK for her to be searching for truth rather than already knowing the truth. The ultimate goal is for you, as a parent, to lovingly help her develop a spiritual “filter”—a high level of spiritual discernment. As she becomes an adult, she will be able to search out and formulate answers to these questions on her own.
6. Help your son or daughter who is reading media he or she “doesn’t feel right about.” Such a statement shows that she is violating her conscience. God instructs us never to violate our consciences because the conscience often acts as the interface between our inner spirit where God lives and our mind where we live. We must be careful never to violate it (1 Corinthians 10:23-30). If the book is really okay, then anyone whose conscience is not being violated can read it without sinning. Remember, Paul wrote for Christians to stop worrying about “disputable things”—enjoy them! On the other hand, if your activities (freedoms of conscience) violate your conscience—or the consciences of those around you—then stay away from them.
7. Finally Philippians 4:8-9 gives good advice for anything we allow ourselves or our children to read or be involved in: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Well, B…, I hope this answers your question. May God give you wisdom—and spiritually discerning sons and daughters.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese.His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.