As we head into this Christmas season, I found myself drawn to the story of Frankenstein, and I assure you that I have not gotten my holidays mixed up!
Everyone has heard of Frankenstein and his Monster. Fewer are aware of the vast differences between the novel by Mary Shelley and the incredibly loose movie adaptations. However, in its own beautiful way, the story communicates a darkness to its audience that has them asking, “is this all we’re left with?”
After the creation of his Monster, Frankenstein runs away in shock at his handiwork’s ugliness. Even after he awakes the next morning with the Monster standing above him, smiling, the scientist said, “Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so complete!”
He was overflowing with disgust and hatred, suggesting to his creation that, “There can be no community between you and me; we are enemies.” The Monster spends the rest of the story alone, determining how to escape the depth of pain and confusion that he was born into. His feelings are communicated through a line from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (which has a role in the story’s theme) which reads, “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay.” Frankenstein’s Monster struggles to process his fallen condition and his abandonment by his creator. He wanders a hostile world and places blame on Frankenstein for the effect that his ugliness has on those around him.
He says, “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend … you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy monster, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.” Again, following some sense of Adam and Eve’s fall, the monster recognizes that there was goodness at his creation but misery (or sin in Adam’s case) led him astray. Not only was he treated this way by the external world, but even by his creator. He felt this pain so deeply that he knew the only way to end it was with one of their deaths.
Can we see with these details similarities and differences with our own reality? The Monster had a creator in Frankenstein while we have one in God (Genesis 1:27). Frankenstein was separated from his creator due to his external ugliness, as have we been separated from our Creator due to the ugliness of our sins (Romans 3:23). The Monster struggles to grasp his fallen condition, as do we throughout the brokenness that we experience on this earth.
But there are glaring differences that shift our story away from heartbreak and into the Light. While the Monster struggles so deeply with Frankenstein’s reaction in fleeing from him in horror, we have a Father who pursues us and comes to join us in our hurt and mess (Galatians 4:4-5). He and his creator were enemies while we were enemies of God because of our sin (Romans 5:8). He was correct that death was a necessary conclusion to the storyline just as it is in ours, but how is that accomplished?
This is the beauty of it all – the Monster killed William, Frankenstein’s innocent child, out of spite. He found this child to be beautiful but found himself overcome by rage at his creator and chokes the child to death. He soon demanded the blood of Frankenstein himself to bring closure. Oh, how similar we are to this Monster.
The Monster hoped to break ties with his creator through their annihilation. In our story, we can actually only reach our God through death, but not through our death. Instead, it’s through His own (John 14:6). Jesus Christ was murdered by His creation and His blood was spilled in order that we, sinful humanity, might seek closure in the form of forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7). Instead of the novel’s end where the Monster found himself alone, completely alienated from the world, we find ourselves in Paradise face-to-face with our God and Savior (Luke 23:42-43). Instead of speaking the Monster’s words of “You [Frankenstein, my creator] hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself”, we find ourselves on the receiving end of pure Love (1 John 4:16).
This is an invitation. We were not created by a Being who found us so disgusting that He fled from us in hatred. Instead, we were created by a God who came to carry our burden for us and cleanse us from all that makes us broken (Titus 2:14). We were given life not just to have it extinguished while we fight this cosmic battle of rebellion against our Creator, but instead, our Creator has chosen to fight the battle for us (1 Corinthians 15:57). And He has won, creating a possibility of relationship in which we can come to know Him (1 John 2:2). Are you ready to rest in the Love that He has for you? Are you ready to live in community with the One that reached out to you, even as we were His enemies? Are you ready to have Him undo your misery and alienation?
Our God is no Frankenstein. He is called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), “God with us” – the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff