Saturday, December 13, 2008

On Vampires and the Christian Faith

After I’ve done reviews on two vampire books back to back—one published by a Christian author and a reputable Christian publisher; one by a Mormon and a secular press—the natural question arises, how should we as Christians view these supernatural beings?

It is a hard question, one I’ve struggled with long and hard during this past month. Traditionally I’ve written vampires off as evil and something to be avoided, end of the discussion. However, the rise of CBA vampire novels and Twilight’s “good” vampires has forced me to reexamine my views.

Can vampires be good? Is it possible for them to be the hero of the story? Can Christians write and read about them? Especially after reading Shade, I felt torn.

Paradoxically, it was Twilight that helped clarify the issue. In the middle of the novel, the question of where vampires came from arises. Edward, the vampire hero, responds, “Well, where did you come from? Evolution? Creation? Couldn’t we have evolved in the same way as other species, predator and prey? Or, if you don’t believe that all this world could have just happened on its own, which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that the same force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together?”

Here was the key, I realized. If I can understand the origins of vampires, or answer definitively where they cam from, I’ll know how to deal with them. For supernatural beings do exist. Some are of God. Some are of Satan. So are vampires evil, as I have always believed, or can they be a mixed race (some good like angels while others are demonic) as Twilight suggests? Why or why not? The answer lies in the world which vampires inhabit: most vampire stories happen in the “real” world (historical or contemporary), as opposed to an imaginary fantasy world. This means the world is intended to mimic the real one in which we live and as such must play by the same basic rules. (Whether the author consciously acknowledges those rules or not is immaterial; if he doesn’t keep to them without a reasonable explanation, the world won’t seem realistic.) In this case, Edward hit upon the ultimate rule: we live in a world created by Elohim—the God of the Bible, the Creator of Genesis 1:1.

So if God created the world, did He, as Edward suggested, also create vampires?

After some study of Scripture, I must answer no. God did not and would not create vampires, at least not directly.

Why? Because to create vampires as we know them—as blood drinkers, whether human or animal—would directly violate His character and standards. For of all things created, blood is considered the one of most sacred in Scripture. It is where the life is contained (Leviticus 17:14); eating or drinking carried strict consequences in the Law (Leviticus 17:10-14); the shedding of blood is necessary for forgiveness (Hebrew 9:22); drinking/eating it was one of four things forbidden to Gentile Christians (Acts 15:28-29); and it is through the blood of Christ that we are made right with God.

This is not to say God could not have created a supernatural race that would later drink blood, but the drinking of blood would have come from Satan twisting what God had created, just in the same way sin—lying, murder, adultery, coveting, etc.—results from the twisting of the human heart. Therefore, if a race drinks blood—human or animal—it is not of God. Anything not of God is of Satan and evil.

Does that mean Christians cannot write about or read about vampires?

That would be like saying we could not write or read about demons (Screwtape, anyone?), or for that matter, humans bent on evil (What?! No villains?). But how the vampires are portrayed must conform to Scripture.

So a story where vampires are evil would be fine. A redemptive vampire tale would also be viable. But just as God provided His Son on the cross to destroy sin and death and continues to give his people a route out of temptation, an author would need to provide a way around the drinking of blood. That way does not need to be easy, nor does the good vampire need to take it at first. But the action should carry negative consequences, and for the vampire to be a true hero—that is, on the side of good—he must choose to live by the standards of God and not drink blood.

At least for the moment, that’s my take on the topic.

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