In 2009, when I was teaching high school girls, I gave this short talk at morning prayer, about healthy relationships in light of the Twilight series. Feel free to adapt it, to talk to your own kids, about healthy relationships in light of 50 Shades of Grey.
Healthy Relationships in Light of Twilight
by Anna Keating
New Moon, the new Twilight movie, came out this weekend, which I know many of you were excited about. Apparently, it was the third largest opening weekend of all time. I didn’t go see it, but I read about it.
I love monster stories, Frankenstein and Dracula, are two of my favorites books (Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelly when she was your age, eighteen) and although I couldn’t get into the Twilight books, I’m fascinated by popular culture, and I think when it’s this popular, it’s important to talk about. So, I woke up this morning wanting to talk with you at morning prayer about vampires, romantic love, baptism, and the Annunciation, I know that’s a lot but I’m gonna give it my best shot.
I enjoyed Mrs. Sanford’s morning prayer awhile back about meeting her husband. I thought she gave wonderful advice when she said, “Marry someone whom you respect.”
I’d like to give the obvious corollary to that advice and say: Marry someone who respects you. That goes for dating too. Don’t date a vampire. Don’t date someone who hurts you, or disrespects you, or needs you to fix him. Do not date a vampire.
Now I know that, at least according to the reviews, Edward Cullen isn’t much of a vampire. Apparently, he doesn’t really bite, but the point is still valid.
It would seem to go without saying that girls and women would never date or hook up with someone who doesn’t respect them, but unfortunately it happens all the time. Maybe it’s because many girls and women are willing to sacrifice actual love and respect for the idea of love and respect, or because many girls and women don’t love themselves enough to walk away from someone who is unkind to them before it’s too serious, but that’s exactly what I’m telling you to do, if, and when, you begin dating. Do not date vampires.
Never date someone you don’t respect, or someone who doesn’t respect you. You are wonderful and beautiful and loved by God, but you’re not magic, and you cannot magically make someone’s problems go away with the power of your love, like a Care Bear.
Unhealthy relationships add conflict and spice to the plot in many romantic comedies and books, but in real life it goes without saying, that you don’t want to go to the dance with someone who you are afraid might hurt you (turning into a werewolf qualifies) or who has no life outside of you, or who keeps showing up everywhere and is stalking you, or who is otherwise obsessed with you (see: Edward Cullen). In short: vampires (at least the old school one’s that I am most familiar with) feed on human life, and love should be life giving, not life-taking. You’re not selfish if you have oodles of self-respect and self-love, you’re wise. You should love and respect yourself.
In one of my former lives I was a victim’s advocate, a social worker, who worked with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, so I saw firsthand, the life-stealing side of unhealthy relationships.
Now, I’m married to a man who loves and respects me for who I am and who I want to be, and wishes the best for me: that’s the life-giving side. Hold out for the real thing. You’re a million times better off alone than with the someone who doesn’t treat you well.
At the baptism of my friend’s son this weekend, the very first question the priest asked the parents of the baby to be baptized was “What name do you give this child?” I stood beside the baptismal font and thought about all that was implied with that question. It’s your name. It’s not expendable. It’s not generic-girl or generic-boy. It’s yours. Giving you a name says, “This is someone who is known by God and cherished by God. She is God’s beloved child.” Never forget how loved you are by God and by so many other people.
We talk a lot as young women about how we should treat others, but never leave out of that equation how you deserve to be treated. It’s the other half of the Golden Rule.
Finally the Annunciation, in the Annunciation, God chooses a woman your age, Mary, to carry God, to feed God, to raise God, to love God. Female flesh is honored and loved by God. In turn, we should honor and love ourselves by never dating someone who doesn’t respect us, or who hurts us, even if his skin does seem to shimmer and glow in the moonlight. Sometimes you just have to walk away.