Last week my social media walls became a forceful chorus of Gaston’s Kill the Beast - but instead of charging fearlessly at a castle the posts were screaming at the box office, pitchforks and all. Since then the conversation regarding Disney’s “Exclusively Gay Moment” has died down a little but the conversation will be fresh for weeks and months to come as the real life Beauty and the Beast is released into theatres. You will hear many opinions such as the “get over-its”, the “I don’t like it, but I’m seeing-its”, the “I would never!-its”. One thing we must realize is that these three opinions wont necessarily come from a political soapbox but rather all three opinions will be found in the same pews that we sit. The reality is people are truly struggling with how to deal with this tad bit of information. As I was thinking about all the ways to direct this conversation, I found this link on Facebook which will alleviate some of my groundwork that needs to be made; for the sake of not wanting to be redundant I would encourage you to read the main points made here (whether you agree 100% or not is not the point, but they are points to be thought through nonetheless (http://www.gospelcenteredmom.com/2017/03/beauty-and-beast-why-christians-can.html?m=1).
Christian, know this: the sky is not falling. Jesus has already won (Please know I am not saying that to be snarky, but rather as a sense of comfort in a difficult age). Very similar to the view I hold on most movies (especially the Shack), they are a depiction of the culture we most certainly live in. Questions about life, death, the world in general (how it operates, why it operates, the cultures it holds, etc.), even God, are inundated within movies. I love how one of my old professors at Southeastern (Alvin Reid) has pointed out that there is a Gospel component is 99% of all movies.
The two main points I want to draw out are:
- We must engage the world as Paul did. There is no doubt that Paul quickly, eagerly, and biblically engaged the culture(s) wherever he found himself. He didn’t bulk or freak out when cultures that did not know Jesus acted in a way that proved it. In Acts 17, as Paul shared the Gospel in Athens, he used their culture of wanting to hear new ideas as a way to be able to preach Jesus and the resurrection. I believe the implication here is that Paul did not need to know everything about the philosophers in Athens but he did need to know why Jesus is better. What I am saying is that we do not need to immerse ourselves in this culture, but we must be aware of it, speak truthfully into it, and we must be able to tell others why Jesus is better.
- Look at the root: As I looked around the twitter sphere I noticed that an individual I followed was vocally upset regarding the decision of including this type of scene but they had been to Disney many times before and they have plans to return. As stated in the linked article Disney has no obligation to be a company who holds Christian values because they are not a Christian company. Let’s take it one step further; Beauty and the Beast is an offshoot of Disney. It is not the entirety of Disney. To be intellectually honest we must answer this question; Will I, in any way, continue to support Disney based on what I feel regarding this movie? That means no Disney parks, no other Disney movies or merchandise, no Disney channel for your kids, no Star Wars. What we must realize is that Beauty and the Beast is just a particle of the Disney machine. Why boycott a movie when they are getting your money in other areas in droves? We must remember we can’t blame a tree for bearing no fruit when the root itself is doesn’t care about fruit at all.
Lastly, I want to be clear; if you see the movie, you are not evil; if you don’t, that’s ok too. We all must follow our conviction regarding cultural engagement. I am not giving a stance on what you need to do but rather I want to give points where we can have fruitful conversation within the church and outside of it. My points may not be without error and probably contain some reasoning that is easily defeated and that’s ok too. The crux of everything is to have the heart of Jesus in that even when he was having nails driven into his hands he said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”