The main characters in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga practice sexual abstinence, but Wheaton College theology professor Beth Felker Jones doesn't think Christians should celebrate the books as a model for chaste romance just yet. At first glance, it seems like there's a lot to like about the romance between Bella, an average teenage girl, and Edward, a 108-year-old vampire with a Victorian sense of morality—he insists that Bella marry him before consummating the relationship. Felker Jones wrote the book Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga (Multnomah, 2009) to examine the themes of sexuality, gender, salvation, and eternal life wrapped up in the love story of Bella and Edward. She spoke with Christianity Today about the appeal of the books, their approach to sexuality and Mormon theology, and why they should concern Christians. Note: Some spoilers ahead.

There seems to be a level of obsession with the Twilight books and movies. What makes them so appealing to so many readers?

The series has to do with things most people care about: the meaning of life, love, romance. We're looking for something to make life meaningful and exciting and interesting and worthwhile.

Was there anything of spiritual merit that surprised you in the books?

What's most interesting and, arguably, most worrisome about the books is that they're full of spiritual themes. The Twilight universe is a moral universe. The love story may be what captures readers, but the stories are also powerful because they deal with what it means to be good and to try to overcome evil. They also deal with the longing human beings have to be transformed, to be set free from our limits and weaknesses. All of this could open up quite ...

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