Six months. Oy vey.
It’s been six months since I’ve written a blog.
Many excuses come to mind for my not taking the time to post, however I won’t bore you with those. My commitment to post is back in full force.
Here we go. Are you ready?
Let’s talk about Beauty and the Beast (Insert awkward clapping)!
Fuzzy wuzzy, popcorn, candy coma induced thoughts come to mind when I go way back to 1991. This was my first introduction to Beauty and the Beast. I was thirteen and my brother was five. Many lazy days with this VHS on loop as background noise in our home. A staple, if you will, in the Disney library that remains embedded in my childhood memories.
When I heard of a remake involving a live production musical it was everything in me too…well…I actually have no desire to see it. Where’s your inner princess Liz? Where has she gone? This princess doesn’t like live musicals and actually get’s very oddly embarrassed when (in a small setting especially) people start singing. For example, a coffee shop or hotel lobby. Or that friend who wants you to know they can sing. For some reason, “I’d rather not thank you.” In larger settings I’m fine. I’m odd, yes we all know this. Nevertheless, this has nothing to do with my blog today, just a few random Liz factoids.
Back to hoopla over this movie. Just some thoughts for my Christian friends to consider.
If you aren’t familiar with the controversy swirling around this movie, in a nutshell, the 2017’s Disney live action musical will feature an “openly” gay character for the first time. Although a first for a gay character, not so that the story has ties to the gay community. Lyricist for the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast, Howard Ashman, drew symbolism for the curse of the rose through the “curse” he felt “put” on him after contracting AIDS while composing for the animated film. A curse for which there was no cure, which ultimately took his life shortly after the release of the film. Now with the second movie being directed by Bill Condon, an openly gay man who added the element of an “openly” gay character, is not surprising that dialogue around the connection between homosexuality and these movies continues.
Condon explained his reasons for this in his interview with the British magazine Attitude. He explains that the character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, will explore his sexuality in what Attitude calls a “small but significant subplot.” LeFou is the sidekick of the film’s villain Gaston. “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon goes on to explain, “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
“Fyodor Dostoevsky predicted that at first art would imitate life, then life would imitate art, and finally, that life would draw the very reason for its existence from art.”
~ Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God
So here we have art imitating life. A life with a worldview that is not Christian. This is not surprising because, drumroll please…we live in a post Christian culture.
Gone are the days of mindlessly watching entertainment with your family to soothe the soul. Side note, how on Earth did the whole of American Christian culture adopt media as one of the best ways to connect as a family? Gone are the days where you can avoid talking about the deep and ever present idolatry in our culture while binge watching on your couch.
I appreciate the honesty of this character LeFou because it is a classic example of man’s attempt to find meaning and identity in another human. My default mindset was identical to LeFou for many years, even as I served God to the best of my abilities. It wasn’t until I learned the truth of who I was in Christ that those beliefs changed. Yes, I was a “new creation” as the word says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, but my mind needed to be renewed by truth.
However, Christians have become reactionary and expect non-Christian entertainment companies to reflect a distinctly Christian worldview, then uproar ensues when they don’t think their children are being protected. A drive in theater in Alabama made it known that they banned the movie. The owner explaining, “If we can not take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it”. He goes onto say, “If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it. We are first and foremost Christians.”
Understanding that children are at all different stages of development of understanding more complex issues, I support any family who feels it is necessary to avoid subjects of sexuality. Nevertheless, the issue I have with a quote like the one above is that when you have the truth of the person of Jesus then you view the world through a lens of looking for opportunities for redemption. This movie is a great opportunity to teach a child or young adult about why the world yearns for more and how we have truth in our identity in Him. Then art is no longer a means to escape, to “soothe your soul” if you will, but a window into your mission to the world.
We don’t look to the world to satisfy our own needs of comfort. We are not called to be comfortable, we are born again into a new missional existence. We are called to equip and empower our children to handle the hard questions posed by a culture where Christ is not the center. We are called to face things with the empowered truth of the gospel and not retreat into some sort of idea that this pagan world is supposed to supply us with satisfaction.
Paul addresses these things in his epistle to the church of Ephesus. In Ephesians 5 Paul gives the church several key instructions for living life in the midst of a fallen world. He instructs the Ephesians that they once were in darkness, by emphasizing that now you are in the light of the Lord. Paul explains to the Ephesians in chapter 5 that they should live in wisdom and to be continually filled by God’s Spirit rather than having their senses dulled by wine, foolishness, ignorance and idolatry now the “light of the Lord” is illuminating their existence.
Of course you know your children well and what they can understand. Just remember that they are meant to be light. Jesus has seen Beauty and the Beast. Jesus is actively pursuing the gay community. Jesus wanted Howard Ashman to know that there was a cure for the curse of the rose. Jesus didn’t desire for Howard to die a horrible death. Jesus did not punish Howard with AIDS because he was in a homosexual relationship. Jesus’ deepest desire is that no one should perish…
Liz Flaherty lives in South Carolina with her husband Andy. They’ve been married since 2005, and have spent the majority of their marriage ministering to and mentoring people in areas of sexual wholeness and identity. In her book, The God of My Parents, Liz shares her powerful testimony in which she faced immense grief, rejection, drug abuse, pornography, and homosexuality. Her heart is to inspire the Christian community to address these issues with love, respect, and honesty.