Last night my husband and I watched the beloved classic, Beauty and the Beast. After having read reviews from its first viewers and from those that have chosen to boycott the film and Disney, I knew that I had to see it. The movie well surpassed all of my expectations and was a delight to see. It depicted a culturally relevant worldview of the enchanted fairytale, first written in 1740 and brought to the big screen by Walt Disney in 1991.
So, why would someone not want the new version of this movie to be seen? Perhaps because it goes against one’s views of marriage, sexuality, gender, or something else. As one who believes strongly in the Biblical (traditional) definition of marriage, keeping natural born gender as the only option, and sexuality to be expressed only in the role of a traditional marriage, I will watch this movie again (and probably again and again). Likewise, I will watch it with my older children. Why? Because it allows for important conversations to be had inside the home about the world around us.
1.) Conversations: To think that we can close our eyes and dream of the world the way we want it to be is ignorant. In the words of Paul: “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” We see an example of this hardness of heart in Mark 3:1-6 when Jesus heals the withered hand of a man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were waiting for Jesus to “make a mistake,” so-to-speak, so that they could have him destroyed (verse 6). In this passage, Jesus asked these religious leaders a simple question: “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” The hardness in their heart was shown in their silence. While the Pharisees could have thought this was a trick question, if their hearts had truly loved God they would have known that there was only one right answer: “to do good…to save a life.”
As Christians, we have three choices. We can 1) choose to be silent, like the Pharisees, and have our hearts hardened (or, in this case, desensitized to our changing world), 2) condemn those whose sin looks different than ours through actions such as anger outrage and boycotts, or 3) love people with the compassionate, gracious, accepting love that Christ has for us. The only way we will win people’s hearts to the Lord is through speaking truth in love. And, those conversations begin at home.
Beauty and the Beast is the perfect opportunity to discuss what God says about sexuality, including homosexuality, and gender identity. This is the main reason why my husband and I will watch this movie (and others like it) with our children when they reach the appropriate age. [A great resource on how to have these difficult conversations in a world where everything is relative is The Beauty of Intolerance by Josh and Sean McDowell. You can read my review of the book here.]
The rising generation is being saturated with “equality for all” messages, produced by pop culture and endorsed by parents. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in equality for all. The equality that I believe in is objective. It has a standard that makes everyone equal and does not discriminate against race, gender, culture, ethnicity, or type of sin. The difference is that this equality must have a personal Creator who understands our struggles and provides the same solution for all.
2.) Belle: Belle makes the movie. She is the epitome of grace, dignity, strength, and courage, all-the-while showing signs of real-life acceptance issues. She has the desire for others to want and accept her, but she chooses to uphold her boundaries, even when it makes her an outcast. In one scene Belle’s father tells her that people mocked her mother as well, but one day she found those same people imitating her. Jesus was mocked on many occasions (Luke 22:63; Mark 14:65; Mark 15:17; Matt. 27:29, Luke 23:39). His life was different. He had a purpose. He had a mission. His mission was to do His Father’s will. He wasn’t concerned with what others thought. Paul mocked those who followed Christ. Until one day, he saw Christ, and began to imitate them (Acts 9).
This is what Belle depicts. She doesn’t fall into the trap of pursuing the guy every girl wants or sacrificing her passion even when others think it is unimportant or ridiculous. How I wish someone would have had a discussion about Belle with me as a teenager. This is the type of girl I want for my sons; one who knows her boundaries and seeks her passion wholeheartedly, without compromise.
3.) The Gospel: Beauty and the Beast is filled with opportunities to share the Gospel. In the opening scene with the Prince, he is warned to not be deceived by appearances because beauty lies within. He chooses to ignore this old lady, and, you know the story, after given a second chance, it then becomes too late and he is put under a curse. He begs for forgiveness, but this lady had seen the hate in his heart and continues with her plan.
As the movie progresses we see Belle talking to the other “people” in the castle. While she talks to the Prince’s friends she notices that they love him even though they did nothing and he cursed them. These friends of the Prince had a love based on condition. They loved him because they wanted something from him and only he could give them what they wanted. Yes, it is true that we want eternal life, but having our hearts, minds, and souls love the Lord by believing that Jesus Christ is the only atonement for our sins is the only way for that to happen. He sees our ugly. He sees the ugly on the outside that everyone else sees, just like the ugly that Belle first saw in the Beast. But, He also sees the ugly on the inside that no one knows except us and Him. What a wonderful opportunity to speak of God’s unconditional love; a love that can never be earned, only received as a free gift.
My advice? Take your children that are of age. Enjoy a delightful fairytale. Prepare to have difficult conversations with them. and most importantly, have the conversations. If you don’t, someone will. And they may not go as you would like…
Victoria is a wife, mom, ambassador of Jesus, and a lover of all things that involve learning.