Ethos Education

Twilight: Eclipse: Should attitudes towards sex and marriage change over time?

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Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding of a Christian view of what sex is and what it is for.
  • Awareness of different Christian views about pre-marital sex.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Reflect upon the fact that many things change over time.
  • Consider whether or not the relationship between sex and marriage is something that changes over time.
  • Reflect upon what students would expect a Christian to think about the subject of sex outside of marriage.
  • Analyse key Bible passages to understand the basis for a Christian perspective on sex.
  • Synthesise an exchange of emails between a group of friends, discussing whether or not a couple should wait until they are married before having sex.

STARTER:

Ask the students to think of examples of things that change over time. For example, fashions change; the political consensus of a nation changes, the relative quality of different football teams change, even our bodies change over time.

Do the students think that everything changes, or are there some things that always stay the same. Explain that in this lesson you are going to be thinking about Christian perspectives on sex, and asking whether it falls into the category of something that stays the same or something which moves with the times.

MAIN ACTIVITIES:

Introduce the clip from Twilight: Eclipse (E1 Entertainment, 2010, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

If anyone in your class is unaware of the background to the Twilight movies, explain that Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) – a vampire – are in love. In this scene we see Bella’s Dad talking with Bella, before Bella has an emotional discussion with Edward about whether or not they should have sex with each other. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the reasons given by Bella and Edward respectively in defence of their points of view.

  • Start time:       1.06.57 (in chapter 11 of the DVD)
  • End time:        1.16.25
  • Clip length:     Nine minutes and 28 seconds

The clip starts with Bella in her red truck, pulling up outside her father’s house as Edward’s sister Alice (Ashley Greene) is leaving. It ends after Edward proposes marriage to Bella. The final line is Bella saying, ‘Yes.’

Please note that the first part of this clip (the bit with Bella and her Dad having an awkward chat about contraception) includes Bella saying, ‘Oh my God’ in embarrassment. If you feel that this is inappropriate for your students, or if you want a shorter clip, you could start the clip at 1.10.06 (the beginning of chapter 12), with Bella arriving at Edward’s house. You should also be aware that the second half of the clip also includes Bella and Edward – fully clothed – kissing and caressing each other on a bed for 30 seconds or so.

After the clip, ask the students what difference it makes that Edward’s point of view is ‘not modern’. Do they think that because Edward’s views are old fashioned, that means they must also be wrong? Ask the students to summarise the arguments put forward by Bella and Edward respectively, and to assess how convincing each one is. It is worth pointing out that one of Bella’s strongest arguments – that she wants to experience sex while she is still human – is a powerful argument for her and Edward’s unique situation, but also one which doesn’t apply for most people.

Remind the class that the issue of sex outside of marriage is one where different Christians from different traditions disagree. However, most Christians would agree that marriage represents God’s ideal context for sex, and the development of some Christians endorsing sexual activity outside of marriage is a relatively recent one, historically speaking. The key to understanding the Christian point of view is wrapped up in the teaching that when a man and woman come together sexually they become ‘one flesh’. That is to say, Christians believe that there is a bonding that takes place in sexual union which is permanent, and which is designed to only occur within a committed, life-long exclusive relationship. This is described in the Old Testament (Genesis 1: 28; 2.23-24) and is then restated by both Jesus (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:30-32). Christians believe that the purpose of this one flesh relationship is to promote the benefit of both partners.

Give out Bibles and read through 1 Corinthians 6:12-7:12 with the class (or have them read it for themselves). Split the class into small groups and ask each group to work together to draw out from the passage reasons to support the Christian belief that sex should be exclusively carried out within marriage.

SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:

Ask the students to write a series of emails between Bella and her friends, seeking their advice on what she and Edward should do. As Bella’s friends are unaware that Edward is a vampire, their advice and comments will not be influenced by the unique nature of this particular relationship. At least one person participating in the email exchange should put forward arguments that are in line with a traditional Christian approach to sex and marriage. Remind the students that their aim in writing the email exchange is to demonstrate their own understanding of Christian attitudes and beliefs on this subject. They are free to agree or disagree with those attitudes, but should ensure that the attitudes themselves are accurately put forward.

YOU WILL NEED:

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