Sunday, November 23, 2008

Counterfeit Romance

The rules are changing -- and not just for vampires who may or may not be able to fly away as little bats, tolerate a bit of sunshine or survive on synthetic blood. Romance novels are just not what they use to be. From Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake to Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse to the latest movie of Stepehnie Meyer's Vampire series, heroines are turning to the dark for their saviours.

I had noticed this trend a few years ago, when I first ran across Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. there had also been the Buffy franchise - movie and television series, X-files vampire-themed episodes and dozens of other incarnations of the vampire romance theme. I read the first few of Hamilton's books because her theme of, "who are the monsters" intrigued me. But, there always seems to be a point of no return, beyond which the heroine cannot be released from her liaison with the man who takes rather than gives. The series reached a point where Hamilton's imagination as well as the life of her heroine, Anita Blake, seemed more monstrous than human. In the end, the monsters always win.

Russell Moore, in a recent column, finds this all, "a little creepy, and very sad" (http://www.henryinstitute.org/commentary_read.php?cid=493). He continues, "What does it tell us about the American sexual-industrial complex that women feel a need to fantasize about undead blood-feeders in order to imagine a courtship in which men are less, well, predatory, than they seem right now?" I agree wholeheartedly that this is not only creepy, but more than a little sad. However, I am not sure any vampire heroine or reader believes them less predatory than the man in the next cubicle at the office or the guy who always seems to be jogging when she is walking her dog.

No, I don't think it's about predation. I think it's about what we've been taught, how we have been led to believe The Dance is fiction at best and, at worst, a vestige of the horrid patriarchal cultures of the past. Nowadays we are so enlightened we know that partnering up with someone who is our equal is how these things should proceed. Blech.

But it's what we have been taught, what our culture preaches from the idiot box, the movie screens and the shelves of our local bookstores. So, we try to believe it, but we women still want romance. We don't just want it, we crave it deep in our bones. Somewhere deeper that words can reach, we know that we were created for something more than mere partnership "romance" and marriage. We long for The Dance of Christian marriage, but we've been sold a rotten bill of goods. So we pursue what we know we want and we pay the price because that's not what we're supposed to want.

The price we pay, whether he is a vampire or not, is giving ourselves to a man , a fictional hero, who takes rather than gives. It's a counterfeit of God's good design which we fall for because we have bought the lie our culture feeds us and think we must pay for wanting something else. So, rather than God's way, we succumb to the world's way, we give our life's blood for a man who does nothing but take. We buy him at the price of our blood and our life -- our will is no longer our own once we are in the vampire hero's sway and it is only then that we come to know the death and decay hidden underneath his otherworldly beauty and power. The evil is powerfully attractive, or it wouldn't entice us to believe the lie.

In the words of my friend, Ethan Cordray, "Remember that the favored tactic of the Enemy is to take some good desire -- such as for true masculinity, as expressed in self-control, commitment, and self-sacrifice -- and direct it idolatrously toward some corrupt object. To that end, it's important to retain the external trappings of the true object -- courtship rituals, property (which ought to indicate prudence, but needn't), codes of formality -- to better disguise the debasement."

But hasn't God told us, through the Holy Scriptures, that this is a reversal of the good, this is a counterfeit and, as Ethan says above, a debasement? Instead of turning from our culture's lies (it's clear we know them for what they are), we try to redeem them while still playing by the culture's rules -- and we end up debased, living with death.

Our good and wise Creator has given us a better way. In His plan, when a woman gives herself to a man, his obligation is to lay down his life for her -- to care for her as he does himself in The Dance of marriage. We have the ultimate picture of this in the example of our Saviour, who laid down his life for our sakes, to buy us with his own blood. Instead of women purchasing nothing but bondage with our blood, life and the freedom we have in Christ is His free gift to us.

1 comment:

Michael said...

So, in this conterfeit, the Bride bleeds, not the Bridegroom.