Why I’m Not Boycotting Beauty and the Beast

Image result for beauty and the beast

The remake of Disney’s classic Beauty and the Beast will be in theatres this weekend, and my wife and I have our tickets to go and see it. However, I know that many Christians are opting not to, and that well-meaning articles have circulated explaining why. It all comes down to a brief moment in a single scene, where the actors and director make one character’s sexual orientation clear – and he is gay.

In defense of my Christian brothers and sisters, their concern is valid. The movie makers have unnecessarily altered an established character in their remake of a classic story. While not unprecedented, it’s a transparent maneuver. There is no reason other than to normalize a behavior that, when the original animated film debuted, would have offended virtually the entire audience. And while it is done in the name of acceptance and tolerance, Bible believing Christians see it for what it is: giving one more sin the status of every day human behavior.

As it is a movie aimed at children and families, it is especially onerous, because it means that Disney knows full well they are working to shift the center in the minds of the impressionable young. Christian parents have a right to be miffed, concerned, and grouchy that, without warning, Disney would hijack a classic for the sake of agenda. Why not simply write a new fairy tale with a same sex romance at the center, while leaving the other stories be? Wouldn’t this be more satisfying to both sides? This feels like a poorly executed bait and switch.

My criticism of Disney’s choice doesn’t end with the issue of normalizing sin, though. Frankly, I think they made a strangely poor choice of character in whome to insert their péché du jour. I’ll go so far as to say that what should really offend Christians here is the utter lovelessness and disrespect with which Disney has treated the matter. For those struggling with same-sex attraction, to be confronted with it in a popular movie in the form of a bumbling, comedic buffoon of a villain sidekick would be a slap in the face. Why isn’t the LGBT community up in arms at so ridiculous a portrayal? I certainly find it disrespectful.

If you’re a fellow Christian and for these reasons or others you’ve decided you’re not going to see the movie, I am not trying to persuade you otherwise. I respect your choice, and I support you, and I love you. Please do not take the rest of the post as a critique against your choices.

That said, I’m seeing the movie. My wife is a lifelong Disney fan, and Beauty and the Beast has always been her favorite story. Belle is an intelligent, ambitious, and courageous young woman, who demonstrates sacrificial love for her father and learns to show unconditional love and acceptance for the Beast. Yes, I know we can make sideline jokes about Stockholm Syndrome and all of that, but in the end, it’s a charming love story mixed in with grandly entertaining musical numbers.

Am I sacrificing my morals or my conviction by choosing to be entertained, given the inclusion of a gay character? According to some articles and comments I’ve seen on social media, I am. But I’m not so sure. Here are a few of the challenges from my fellow believers, and how I respond to them:

  1. You’re supporting their agenda by giving your money to them. First of all, I don’t think Disney executives think that every movie-goer who buys a Beauty and the Beast ticket is doing so to say, “Keep adding homosexual characters! It’s just what we’re looking for!” They know that people are going to see the movie because they love the story and want to be entertained, and they know that the inclusion of a gay character is a wink and nod and little more. Second, if I were to apply this consistently, I’d need to avoid anything by Disney because whether it’s through Beauty and the Beast, Moana, or Cars 3, it’s all one company. If giving money to the company supports their agenda, then I need to expunge Disney from my life completely. Besides all that, Disney doesn’t need my money to pursue their agenda, and their agenda isn’t going to fall apart for lack of my money. I can’t stop sin by boycotting its presence – only Jesus has the real solution to sin.
  2. You’re condoning sin – you’re making entertainment more important than taking a stand for what’s right. Is it not possible to be entertained by something and still disagree with some aspects of it? Can I find Friends, Big Bang Theory, or Seinfeld funny and still call premarital sex sinful and unwise? Our movies and TV choices have always included some amount of ungodly behavior, from cohabitation to no-fault divorce to casual sex. Yet we justify it when we are entertained by other aspects of the story. What makes homosexuality a “special case?” Perhaps it isn’t. And what about violence, foul language, insults, gossip, humor at the expense of dignity – do we get concerned about these in our entertainment choices? We live in a sin-filled world, and no entertainment will be squeaky clean. Is it taking a stand to identify one sin among the many and oppose just that? Is there a better way to speak to our culture about sin – and about grace?
  3. You’re letting yourself (or your children) become desensitized to sin. Here’s the funny thing about sin and sensitivity to it – I already do a really great job of desensitizing myself to the sins I like to fall into. The danger of being desensitized to sin is that it will capture me and try to make me its slave all over again. I have a whole host of sins that I need to worry about being desensitized to that are a real problem for me, I don’t need to worry about this one. But there’s a solution to the problem of a seared conscience – and it’s not found in boycotting certain movies. It’s found in returning to the Word, that shows me the mirror of God’s Law and reminds me of the ugliness inside of me, which is what Jesus said truly makes a person unclean. As for my kids? Well, I know the sins they need to face up to as well, and I will help them face them with the same mirror. Then together we’ll turn from that mirror to the cross, where we find the solution to the problem of sin.

Now let me explain a few good reasons I have for going:

  • I want to understand my culture. I’m actually blessed with the job of being a student of both culture and theology and trying to meet the one with the other. I know people who do that as a hobby, I actually have people who give me a livelihood for doing it. But the only way to do that is to see how the culture presents its values, and yes, even how it seeks to normalize its pet sins. If I step back every time the culture piles on a new immorality, I’m going to get too far back to make sense of it anymore.
  • I want to engage with the world. Be in the world, not of the world. So said Paul, who spoke about his desire to be all things to all people, so that by all possible means he might save some. That doesn’t mean joining them in their sin, nor does it mean silently endorsing it. But it does mean being close enough to talk about it. Being able to sit shoulder to shoulder with someone and say, “Let’s talk about this,” rather than standing on the other side of the fence saying, “It’s awfully nasty over there, you know.”
  • I want to help my children understand what they see. I will not be able to shield my kids from the knowledge of good and evil. That fruit was eaten before they were born, and they’re going to eat of that fruit every day of their lives. I can’t keep them from knowing about homosexuality. Or porn. Or premarital sex. Or divorce. Or sex trafficking. Or gossip. Or brazen disrespect. They will learn of these things sooner or later – and actually, they already know about almost all of those things. What I can do is talk to them about them and guide them in seeing them for what they are. And I can show them how to love people who fall into them. I can love my children when they fall into them. And they will. Maybe not all. Hopefully not most. But maybe some, and a host of other sins. My job is to prepare them to face those things. Now, I’m not going to parade sin in front of my boys intentionally day after day – but I’m not going to live in fear or hide them in my cloak whenever sin walks by either.

As I said much nearer the top of this, I do not fault the Christian who says they will not be seeing this movie. I’m explaining my choice, and giving you food for thought, but you might come to different conclusions. In the end, we stand in grace, under the cross of the one who set us free so that we can live in freedom.

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My faith and my job

Kim Davis is no longer in jail, but she’s still fighting for the right to use her county clerk position as a platform to proclaim that same-sex marriage is wrong. The Kleins have fought the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, but as of right now they are still on the hook to pay a hefty fine for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. In Ohio, Chris Routson has been fired for recommending the Christian film Audacity to a lesbian co-worker, even though he did so via Facebook outside of work hours.

Christians are learning the hard lesson that in our “enlightened” society, your beliefs about LGBT issues are unwelcome in the workplace. Unless, of course, they’re in support of same-sex marriage and so on; so far we haven’t heard any stories of someone being in trouble for endorsing it. If it has happened, it hasn’t made headlines.

Most would probably say that when it comes to your job, you keep your personal beliefs to yourself. But many Christians are starting to argue that not only should the First Amendment protect us in expressing these beliefs, we have a responsibility to say what God says about these issues, even in our workplace. Are those Christians correct?

Much could be said about this – indeed, much already has been said – but it seems like most of the arguments fall either to the side that the workplace is most definitely a platform for speaking the truth of God’s Word, or that the Christian’s professional life and faith life have nothing to do with each other. Both of these viewpoints fall flat.

Our purpose as Christians is to be Jesus’ witnesses. Jesus says as much in Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses…” he says. This isn’t optional. It’s a statement of fact. But the manner in which we witness is contextual – which is why we don’t all just stand up on the street corners shouting Bible verses at people.

When speaking to a close friend who doesn’t know Jesus, my witness is to share what matters most to me, and maybe even confront them about something I think is a problem in his life. But when I’m at work (well, the hypothetical me that doesn’t work for a church), my witness is to do my job faithfully, be respectful of my coworkers, and work for the best of my company. If my boss asks me to do something that goes against my conscience, I have the right to respectfully refuse to do it, but then I also have to accept the consequences of that action. Maybe I just have to resign, if there’s no simple resolution to the issue.

What about sharing my beliefs with coworkers or people I come into contact with through my work? Should I keep silent? Not necessarily. But it’s my employer who sets the terms on that, not me. If they say that such sharing will not be tolerated, I can choose to still share my beliefs – but then I must accept the consequences of that action as well. Maybe it’s worth it, because maybe I’ll reach someone with the Gospel. But maybe it’s not the hill to die on, and my witness will be more effective by respecting my employer’s rules.

I don’t have the right to declare that my position is a pulpit given me by God to hold the torch for the truth. Kim Davis recently did this, when challenged with why she won’t just resign, she stated that if she does she loses her voice to speak out for God’s Law. But her government position is not there to force people to obey God’s Law, and she hasn’t been put there to make people holy.

I also don’t have the right to claim persecution if I choose to violate my employer’s policies on personal faith sharing. If I get fired because I crossed that line, I can hold my head up high and say that I shared the Gospel. But I can’t claim I was mistreated; I knew I was taking a risk, and I need to accept the results.

If I’m working faithfully, as God has called me to do, chances are good that I’m going to see doors open to sharing my faith with people in ways that don’t bring any consequences. A life lived to the Lord has a way of catching people’s attention. Rather than being aggressive about it, I need to be winsome, and pray for the open doors.

In all of this, I need to remember this very important thing: It is the Gospel that changes hearts. We’re in a season right now where far too many Christians are trying to “stand up for the truth” by standing in opposition to same-sex marriage, as though getting people to follow God’s Law is the goal. It’s not. The goal is to introduce them to Jesus. Let your life be a testament to what he has done for you, and how much you love him, and let that be what brings people to him.

 

In the Beginning: A theological look at homosexuality

It’s Thursday, time for some theology.

The same-sex marriage debate continues to be a big one in our society. It would seem that same-sex marriage is a part of our society for the foreseeable future, and we’re now wrestling as a people with who should be impacted by that and what kind of impact it should have. Christian business owners are being confronted with discrimination suits when they don’t provide the same services to gay and lesbian couples as they do to heterosexual couples. Celebrities arouse great furor when they express their beliefs about the issue. Recently a very well known blogger received a scathing email from a college professor for his insistence that monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only correct form of marriage.

It has been said that the progression of sin is that first it asks to be ignored, then to be tolerated, then to be vindicated, then to be promoted. The last few years have seen our country vindicating homosexuality, but of course, that is not enough. It is now incumbent on all to hold up homosexuality as being just as good and valid as heterosexual marriage. This puts pressure on Christians who have both an internal drive and a Biblical mandate to not simply believe and keep that belief to themselves, but to speak about what the Bible actually says. Indeed, some have buckled under the pressure and either keep silent, or even silently acquiesce that same-sex couples should be recognized along with married couples. There are even those making claims that the Bible doesn’t actually speak against homosexuality at all. (<—Note the lack of citations or proofs offered for his claims in that article).

So while any theologian worth his salt should be able to point out that the Bible really does condemn homosexuality, at the encouragement from a friend I’m going to take a stab at talking about why any use of our sexuality outside of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman is contrary to God’s will.

Continue reading “In the Beginning: A theological look at homosexuality”

“Keep your beliefs out of your business!”

This is not the first case of its kind, but it certainly is causing a stir, especially with the boldness of the statements made by the justices involved. In New Mexico, the State Supreme Court has ruled that a Christian couple may not conduct their photography business according to the dictates of God’s Word.

Here is the article: N.M. Supreme Court: Photographers Can’t Refuse Gay Weddings

In short, the court has determined that if you run a business and someone lifestyle runs in opposition to your faith, your faith has to get out of the way. “Keep your beliefs out of your business!” Claims Justice Bosson, “it is the price of citizenship.”

“You! Shall not! Stand up for your faith!!”

Since when?

Continue reading ““Keep your beliefs out of your business!””

Death of DOMA – So what?

This morning many people on my Facebook friends list were posting their thoughts and feelings – good and bad – about the decision the Supreme Court made this morning. If you’ve been hiding in a cave all day, just to bring you up to speed the SC declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. If you’ve been hiding in a cave since 2003, DOMA is a federal law that prevents same-sex couples from partaking of federal marriage benefits and allows states to make their own decisions as to whether or not they will recognize same-sex marriages.

Doubtless, there are many Christians out there who are in a quandary about this whole thing. How do we react? How should we feel? Does this mean the end of America as we know it? What’s going to happen to my marriage?

I guess I can’t really answer all of those questions, but I do have some advice about the first one.

Continue reading “Death of DOMA – So what?”