I believe vampirism is alive and well today. Vampire lore seems innocuous enough, but I have observed cases in my counseling practice that give me pause. Several years ago, I had a client who was involved in the vampire cult. When I asked him to explain to me what he meant, he replied that he belonged to a cult who met at a local cemetery once a week to engage in a variety of rituals including drinking one another's blood. I asked him what it was that he got out of his participation in this act. He replied that the night would start out with certain rituals of chanting and dancing around headstones, then everyone would run around the cemetery to get their endorphins "revved up." At that point they would get out their blood-letting kits that included a needle, a tube, and a tourniquet, which was used to get the blood vein ready for piercing. They would each take turns drinking each other's blood through the hollow tube.
He was told that since their endorphins were so high, he too would receive a high from the blood they drank. He admitted to never feeling an actual "high" from the drinking of the blood but did it anyway to feel accepted as a cult member. I asked him if he was aware of blood-borne pathogens. He believed because they did a "certain ritual" prior to drinking the blood that this would prevent any negative illnesses from being passed between the cult members.
At first I found it difficult to believe this was real. However after he showed me his arms and the totally collapsed blood veins in each, I was then convinced he was engaging in something unusual. He even showed me his blood-letting kit.
The reason he came to me for counseling was not because of the vampirism, but because he was suffering from heavy depression. He was unclear why he was so depressed all the time. I asked him if he felt depressed during his time at the cemetery. He stated he felt good after spending time with his cult once a week and doing the rituals but that high led to a greater feeling of depression later on. He not only felt empty, he also felt a sense of numbness. His life had no meaning and he often stated he was suicidal. He was promised by the cult that he would be a part of a family that loved and adored him. He soon realized that all they wanted was to simply use him and the love they described was a deception.
Roger, the cult he belonged to was located here in our hometown, however he stated there were similar cults nearby. Both men and women including teenagers are involved in these cults.
How would you address those issues as they pertain to the incredibly popular vampire-themed materials everywhere? Can vampirism be a doorway to satanic ritual abuse?
–A Concerned Counselor
Dear Concerned Counselor,
The vampire legend can be traced back to medieval and later Eastern European folklore, but variations of tales of vampire-like creatures also exist in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The current vampire craze really became popular in two quasi-romantic novels of the 19th century, The Vampyre by John Polidori (1819) and Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897).
These two are the progenitors of the romantic vampire genre of fantasy fiction. The seductive “kiss of the vampire” has generated an alluring mystique, especially for young women, and that mystique, along with the “forbidden fruit” syndrome, is the basis for the popularity of the Vampire literature.
The romantic/sexual attraction of the suave, sophisticated vampire Count Dracula as portrayed by Frank Langella in the movie Dracula (1979) is an example of the allure of the vampire. The film's tagline is: "Throughout history, he has filled the hearts of men with terror, and the hearts of women with desire."
Any obsessive interest in vampires—or for that matter witches, ghosts, and other occultic figures—can be unhealthy at best and dangerous at worst. It depends on the spiritual state of the person whose interest is piqued by such subjects. One such character is featured in the classic Twilight book series.
Bella, the central character, is a socially awkward teen who finds her identity and love in a social setting where she is surrounded by vampires and werewolves who are both seductive and compelling. A weak, emotionally fragile young girl, for example, whose life is characterized by family stress, self-esteem issues, and a lack of strong role models, could be at risk for developing an unhealthy interest in the occult.
Such an interest can be an open door for destructive demonic influence to infiltrate her mind and spirit. Satan, as we know, is the enemy of our souls, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The Bible does address the issue of drinking or eating blood. In essence God says, “Don’t drink it.”
For example, God says in Leviticus 17:10-12:
Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood—I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.
What about Jesus' words in John 6?
In one of Jesus’ most demanding teachings on discipleship He declared that only those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will be “part” of Him.
He was talking about total commitment. We can taste something and still spit it out. But, once we eat or drink it, it becomes part of us. It is no wonder that the people who heard His challenge were scandalized! They were quite familiar with Leviticus 17! It is no wonder that every one of His followers left Him that day—except the Twelve.
Communion (or the Lord’s Supper) is a symbol of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus. His body and blood were given on the cross as the working tools of the divine transaction that forgave our sins and made us Christ Followers fit for Heaven.
Christ’s work on the cross is often identified as the “atonement” God was pointing to in Leviticus 17:10-12. By sharing communion we not only remember His sacrifice on the cross, we are demonstrating our whole-hearted commitment to Him.
So back to vampires—in a sense, the concept of a vampire is a perversion of Scripture.
When we come to Christ, we choose to trust Him and give control of our lives to Him. The metaphor of “drinking his blood” represents becoming a part of His body—part of His family.
On the other hand, vampires are imagined to forcibly drink the blood of others. The victims have no choice. They are often forced to become part of this dark world without their consent.
See the contrast?
Here is another thought about vampires and the Bible. When we think of vampires, we think of blood, death and gore.
But, remember, the Bible is also filled with blood, death, and gore. Vampire stories are not the only unpleasant stories in the world.
Now, let me share a few simple observations about helping your family with media that glorifies vampires.
1. We are wise to realize that many stories are written with hidden agendas—like hooking children into witchcraft and evil.
Many stories espouse values that are not Christian or certainly not the values that we want our children to emulate. Some really nasty aspects of our culture reside just below the surface where our children are too easily exposed to them.
Here we must be vigilant. We also need to be aware of the video games our progeny play. Many are great and fun, some are dangerously addictive and/or filled with occult images.
Regarding literature like the Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, says the inspiration for her first book came from a “very vivid dream.” She writes: “In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire.”
Meyer continues, “They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that (a) they were falling in love with each other while (b) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately. For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 ("Confessions") of the book.”
2. Recommend your children read Christian classics like This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti.
These Christian novels are about the battles behind the scenes in the spiritual realm for the souls of men and women on earth. The books are filled with adventure and suspense. I guarantee that they will not be able to put down either book.
Even though they are fiction, they hold much truth about the reality of the spiritual world. I think that many people are captivated by the spirit world because we do inherently know that there is something beyond our physical senses.
These books can begin a study of what is really happening “behind the scenes.”
3. Be informed about the books and media that your child or teen wants to watch or read.
I often encourage parents to get involved in their kids’ worlds.
This may sound controversial, but you might choose to read this book together, discussing the concerns you both have about the content. Go to the movies he/she watches as often as you can. Read some of the magazines he/she reads. And then talk.
Don’t panic! Listen to their opinions. Be careful not to instantly dismiss them out of fear. Consider that it is OK for them to be searching for truth rather than already knowing the truth.
The ultimate goal is for you, as a parent, to lovingly help him/her develop a spiritual “filter”—a high level of spiritual discernment. As they becomes adults, they will be able to search out and formulate answers to these questions on their own.
4. Educate your child’s conscience.
Help him or her to recognize that they should avoid media he or she “doesn’t feel right about.” God instructs us never to violate our consciences because the conscience often acts as the interface between our inner spirit where God lives and our mind where we live. We must be careful never to violate it (1 Corinthians 10:23-30).
Remember, Paul wrote, for Christians to stop worrying about “disputable things”—enjoy them! On the other hand, if your activities (freedoms of conscience) violate your conscience—or the consciences of those around you—then stay away from them.
5. Teach your child the power of purity.
Finally Philippians 4:8-9 gives good advice for anything we allow ourselves or our children to read or be involved in: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
As parents, we should be well-informed and screen what our children read or watch. Openly discuss the “hidden” and “open” messages of media with occultic overtones, no matter how clever and popular it is.
Teach your children how to discern good and evil by studying God’s Word and being an active part of a local church. May God give you wisdom—and spiritually discerning sons and daughters.
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Roger will respond in as timely a manner as possible. Due to the large volume of questions, patience is requested. When questions involve mental health issues, no part of any response to an “Ask Roger” question should be interpreted as a substitute for seeking professional counseling from a licensed mental health professional. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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