The classic Hollywood movie, Fatal Attraction, was truly a surprise film in 1987 when it first appeared. It has endured, over nearly twenty-five years now, as a film noir. The premise is that a person may form an attraction for another person (in a sexual and emotional way) that is much more than it appears to be on the surface of things. This relationship may ultimately become so neurotic that it becomes fatal. When I recently watched this dark film again I was struck by the parallels between the figure in the apocalypse who is, “The woman clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand the golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4). This metaphor is meant to remind us of the allure of “Babylon the Great,” a symbol for the power (and ideology) of the world as arranged against the cross of Jesus Christ. This woman is said to be “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). When the revelator saw her he “was greatly amazed.” The movie then came back to my mind again as I thought about this very real fatal attraction that we must all address in our lives.
The Revelation is not meant to be read literally as a straightforward narrative of “coming attractions.” It is primarily about the reign of Christ and the bride who is his church militant in every age. It is about the Lamb on a throne and his people on earth and in heaven. John seems to be describing here a horrendous monster who is armed with great beauty and power. Again, there is, in this image, a Fatal Attraction. Babylon, the great mother of whores in John’s apocalypse, brings about great amazement. This raises the important question for us, especially during this season of Advent.
What aspects of the world’s attractions allure you to become fatally attracted to it? Is it the promise of some form of control? The security of a life lived with all the questions answered and all the provisions you need assured? What about popularity and appreciation? Before you write all this off too quickly ask yourself: “How do these normal worldly attractions draw me to a form of fatal attraction for the whore of Babylon?”
During Advent the time is right to take inventory. Where does the needle of your internal life compass point today? Are you moving toward power or powerlessness? Toward control or consecration? Toward greater abundance of possessions as your goal or toward greater simplicity? Toward popularity or humility in service?
The world here is the intricate and intertwined system of ideas that oppose Christ’s kingdom, not the physical world that we live in day-to-day. How do these worldly ideas attract you and what will you do about them? Take inventory and seek the Christ who came into the world to save and restore human beings who are broken and estranged from his love.