Beauty and the Beast: Stop Freaking Out Over the Wrong Stuff
In case you missed it, the new live action version of Beauty and the Beast is in the news. Disney has made a slight revision to the original animated source material and apparently made one character gay. LeFou (who was always enamored with Gaston) apparently has a bit more of a "thing" for him. In an early interview, director Bill Condon mentioned that the film has a "gay moment."
Do I think it was necessary to add this content to the movie? No.
Do I think it's another move from the entertainment industry to drive an agenda? Absolutely.
Do I think we should boycott Disney, the movies, and entertainment at large? Of course not.
I have read a few early reviews from people of faith and they have said that the "homosexual content" is not all that blatant. It will likely go over most of our younger children's heads. But still, a minor suggestion is there and its inclusion might be troubling to some families.
But instead of freaking out, I think what we all need to do is take a breath and get a little perspective.
As people of faith, we should not be surprised when the world operates from a different world view. They don't believe what we believe, so why are we always shocked? Reminder: if you are a disciple of Jesus, this is not your home. If the world fits, you're the wrong size.
But we have a choice of how to respond to the stuff we believe that "misses the mark." Instead of closing ourselves off from all entertainment that we don't agree with, I would suggest that parents need to use media to have meaningful discussions with their kids. We must teach our children to digest information and entertainment with discernment.
Maybe We are Freaking Out Over the Wrong Stuff
On that subject, I think it's worth taking a closer look at how we discern the "values-based entertainment" that Disney produces. While many Christians are up in arms over the inclusion of a gay character, I'm curious as to why these outspoken Christians haven't brought up many of the other "acts of the flesh" regularly found in Disney animated movies.
The reality is that Disney has been producing content and themes and plots that undermine the biblical worldview for generations. Consider this scriptural standard set by Paul...
"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition…..I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." –Galatians 5:19-21
Here are just a few of the places we see these "acts of the flesh" in Disney movies. (I spent a whopping 10 minutes developing this list off the top of my head.)
Sexual Immorality and Impurity – “I will not practice sexual purity.”
Beauty and the Beast is currently getting all the headlines. But it’s interesting that no Christians were up in arms over the (heterosexual) racy interactions between Luminaire and Babette in the original animated film. Or Jessica Rabbit's blatant sexuality.
Idolatry – “I will place my trust in something other than God.”
You see this in just about very Disney princess movie ever. They suggest that your Prince Charming is all you need. He will rescue you and complete you and give you purpose. That’s an idol. And don't get me started about the numerous movies that celebrate ancestor worship.
Witchcraft – “I will use the supernatural to get my way.”
Sorcery is the currency that Disney deals in. You might say that it's only the bad guys who do this, but that’s not entirely true. Many of our favorite heroes practice plenty of what God says is evil in His sight. The Little Mermaid, Fantasia, Aladdin, The Emperor’s New Groove, Brother Bear, The Princess and the Frog, and Frozen are all beloved movies where the lead characters use supernatural forces that have nothing to do with the power of God.
Hatred, Discord, Jealousy and Fits of Rage – “I will not control my emotions.”
We see many Disney heroes expressing hatred for others. And jealousy is a theme in many of their movies. Everyone from "The Beast" to Tarzan to Simba were known for fits of rage.
Selfish Ambition – “I will have my way.”
If you get right down to it, most of the movies you love are rooted in this attitude. The Bible considers it an "act of the flesh" and sinful.
Bonus Deed of the Flesh: Disobedience to Parents - "I know better than my parents know."
We find in 2 Timothy 3:2 that disobedience to parents is a serious sin. But going against a parent's wishes is practically a required plot theme for our favorite Disney stories. (Consider Moana, Ariel, Merida in Brave, Nemo, and the list goes on.) it’s a behavior and attitude that will effect our kids more than just about anything else. Maybe we should be having conversations about that issue. It will likely have a greater impact our our children than LeFou's sexual orientation ever will.
I think the Beauty and the Beast controversy is (once again) an example of how the conservative church considers homosexual behavior to be the "big sin" of our day. We get up in arms about it, but ignore the sin in our own lives. I want to suggest that before we deal with LeFou's splinter, we check ourselves for planks.
Finally, instead of boycotting the movies or TV shows we don't like, we need to take advantage of them as discussion starters for our kids. (I'm not suggesting that you take your kids to see Fifty Shades of Gray. That's just stupid.) What I am suggesting is that our kids need guidance to help them think biblically in a world that can be counted on to NOT think biblically. You have to show them how God's ways are best.
Pray about seeing Beauty and the Beast. If your convictions don't allow you to see it, than don't. That's fine. But if you do, you might want to talk about what you see with your kids. But as a parent, be discerning enough to identify ALL the unrighteous behaviors that you want your family to avoid. If you look close enough, you will see plenty of examples. And most of them have nothing to do with homosexuality.