You know the scene in Beauty and the Beast where the people of the poor, provincial town decide to storm the castle. The sweet-natured French folk trade in baguettes for pitchforks, sheep for snarling dogs, and smiles for sneers. The mob crashes into the quiet castle to kill the beast! as they are egged on by Belle’s spurned suitor, Gaston.
Now life has imitated art as outraged parents have responded in recent days to the announcement that Disney’s live-action production of Beauty and the Beast, which opens this weekend, will feature the company’s first “exclusively gay” moment. Suddenly, our beloved childhood classic comes to life as yet another arena in which we have to vigilantly guard our children from the adult world.
Or has it been sudden?
Beauty and the Mob
The bemoaning has been clear: “I was so excited to take my child to see Beauty and the Beast, but now I’m not sure.” “I can’t believe they would try to sneak this agenda into a children’s movie!”
Such statements have me scratching my head. Not because I don’t believe that parents should exercise care about what their children view or decide for themselves when to introduce and discuss topics like homosexuality. What’s surprising to me is the idea that now Christian parents are saying they won’t blindly take their kids to see Beauty and the Beast. Now they realize they can’t implicitly trust a secular company not to market their Christian worldview in their movies. Now they’re drawing a line in the sand. Should this really seem so new to us?
“Our calling as exiles is to go into every movie, song, book, and conversation with our eyes open.”
My parents never took me to see a movie without looking into it first. When I got older, it was my job to do some research to see what we were getting into before we went. The fact that we need to exercise care with the agenda mass media puts forth should not be new to us as Christians. If this is our awakening that we can’t trust anything Disney to go directly to our kids, has not our awakening been long overdue? How naïve would we have been to assume we could trust Disney until now?
Art Reflects Beliefs
Nor is it news that homosexuality has been, and will continue to be, normalized in our society. Disney is not the big bad wolf here in our society’s collective storybooks. Increasingly, it’s Christians who are viewed as the weirdos and bad guys. Genuine believers in Jesus are more and more in the minority, and it’s time for us to stop acting like we think it’s the mass media’s job to cater to us. Our calling as exiles is to go into every movie, song, book, and conversation with our eyes open. We shouldn’t become outraged because of the words of a director, likely looking for publicity, stirred up controversy about his new film. More importantly, we should care more about impacting and shaping the culture we’re in, rather than pharisaically wagging our fingers at it.
There is a place for saying we wish Disney wasn’t pushing the envelope on this issue. It’s okay to be a little bit disappointed that our movie plans are foiled. Yes, it is good to long for our eternal home when our society reminds us that we are not there. Not every Christian expressing concern is doing so with pitchfork in hand. Those feelings of grief over sin are valid.
I’m just asking that we sojourners in a world that is not our home check our sense of entitlement with the media.
Disney Gonna Disney
When I was a kid, my dad paused Pocahontas and we had a long, memorable conversation about pantheism. I was much too young to understand the heresy couched in “Paint with All the Colors of the Wind,” but he opened up Romans 1 and talked to us about how humans incline, in our sin, to worship “the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
“We cannot relegate the work of teaching our children to Disney or Pixar, to Dora or Sesame Street.”
Now, homosexuality isn’t pantheism. But interestingly enough, both are covered in the same Romans 1 passage. Paul tells us that once we deny the Creator in favor of creation, all manner of ungodliness is just around the bend (Romans 1:29). I don’t think he’d be surprised that a production company without a Christian worldview promotes things that do not match our faith. Whether they’re accurately portraying a certain view of the universe or trying to represent homosexuality in a positive light, they’re showing us new cultural “beliefs” that cannot be ignored.
Bring Them Up in Christ
Disney’s agenda may or may not come as a shock to us, but it should come as a timely reminder that we cannot relegate the work of teaching our children to Disney or Pixar, to Dora or Sesame Street. We can no more blindly take our kids to Disney movies than we can blindly sit them in front of the television to watch cartoons. This world is not our home, and this culture is not our ally, and our level of vigilance should reflect that.
Ephesians 6:4 reminds us as parents that we are to bring our children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We cannot expect the culture to do the heavy lifting for us here. This is not to say that we can’t be upset when a movie we would have liked to take our children to presents messages counter to what we want our children to hear; on the contrary, sin should upset and frustrate us. But we should not be shocked or dismayed when the inevitable occurs.
Chance to Talk
Whether it is a message in a movie, a conversation at school, or the outpourings of their own wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), we are responsible for teaching and guiding our little ones.
“This world is not our home, and this culture is not our ally.”
Maybe for your family that means making an informed decision to watch a movie now and have a pointed conversation about Hollywood’s agenda before or afterwards, or both. For another family, it may mean helping their child navigate a tough conversation with classmates about why they didn’t see the new movie. Either way, this is a valuable opportunity we must not miss.
No matter how innocuous or graphic this “exclusively gay” moment turns out to be, this movie isn’t pushing a new idea on us — but reflecting the ideologies of our neighbors. And the remedy for this ideology isn’t blind anger, but purposeful proclamation of the gospel of Christ, beginning with our own children, whether we see the movie or not.