Disney Intros Gay Character in Beauty & the Beast...A Response from a Children's Ministry Leader

Bill Condon, director of the new live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, made headlines last week when he revealed that the movie will have an "exclusively gay moment."

The gay undertone centers around the character LeFou.  He dotes on Gaston throughout the movie just as he did in the 1991 animated version.  But then at the end of the film, when the characters get together for a big celebration, the "gay moment' arrives.  During a group dance, LeFou starts off dancing with a woman, but then starts dancing with a dress-loving henchman for about two seconds.  The subtle overtone is that two male characters are expressing affection through the dancing.

There have already been many groups protesting the film.  The group One Million Moms said "This is the last place parents would expect their children to be confronted with content regarding sexual orientation.  Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, and it is becoming extremely common and unnecessary.  Disney has decided to be politically correct versus providing family-friendly entertainment.  Disney should stick to entertaining instead of pushing an agenda.  Conservative families need to urge Disney to avoid mature and controversial topics."

Franklin Graham, president of the Samaritan's Purse and son of Billy Graham, said he met Walt Disney when he was a child.  He said Walt was very gracious to him.  He went on to say he believed, that Walt "would be shocked at what has happened to the company he started."

The early reviews have definitely increased expectations that this movie will represent a significant shakeup of traditional Disney values.  Disney has built their entertainment empire on family-friendly content.  Their parks are the number one family vacation destination in the world.

While Disney has been built on family-friendly entertainment, we must keep in mind that this does not mean that all of the current decision makers of the company are committed to a Biblical worldview.  When given the opportunity, some of them will inject a postmodern message of tolerance and political correctness.  This includes pushing for equality for same-sex relationships.

This is not the first time Disney has caused a stir with this issue.  In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to boycott Disney because of their policy of giving health benefits to same-sex partners of employees, "Gay Days" at theme parks and the release of controversial books and films like "Pulp Fiction" and "Kids."

So this brings us to questions like "How should we respond as followers of Christ?  How can we navigate this?  What attitude should we have?"  As we ponder these questions, here is the posture I believe we should take.

Don't freak out.  Some will immediately begin ranting and raving against Disney.  Yes, Ephesians 4 tells us to speak the truth.  And the Bible is very clear that God designed sexual relationships for a male and female who are married.  We must declare this truth if we are going to be loyal to Scripture.  But we must not forget that Ephesians 4 says we are to speak the truth "in love."

Jesus spoke the truth to those who were far from God.  But He spoke it in love.  The words came from a heart that was overwhelmingly filled with love for people.  He spoke the words with one purpose.  To see the person restored to God.  He spoke the truth to the woman when He told her she was living in adultery, so that she could find the true love she was longing for from God.  Jesus spoke the truth to Zacchaeus when he told him to give back what he had stolen.  But it wasn't to condemn Zacchaeus.  It was to see Zacchaues restored.  He spoke the truth to the woman caught in adultery, not to condemn her, but to save her life and to help her find forgiveness.

How we respond to issues like this speaks volumes to the people around us who don't know God.  Ranting and raving without love will only push them farther away.  Standing for the truth with the wrong attitude will not further the Gospel.

Speak the truth with a tear of compassion in your eye.  Speak the truth while whispering a prayer for God to help His love shine through you.  Speak the truth with a smile on your face rather than a frown.

The truth without love will not be received.  The truth without love will not make an impact.  The truth without love will push people away from God rather than pushing them toward God.  It is like an airplane.  An airplane requires both wings to fly.  It's the same for us as believers.  It takes the wings of truth and love for us to be effective in our interactions with unbelievers.  

Stand for the truth...without freaking out.  Don't freak out on Facebook.  Don't freak out on Twitter.  Don't freak out at the office.  Don't freak out in front of your family.  Don't freak out to other parents.  Freaking out won't help the cause of Christ.  

Define what you believe.  As our culture continues to slide away from absolute truth, we must clearly define what we believe.  There has been much debate about whether Scripture clearly states that same-sex relationships are wrong or not.  The passages that do clearly define this are being scrutinized, twisted and even explained away.  Some are making the case that the verses, even those found in the New Testament, do not apply to us today.

We must clearly define what we believe about this.  Will our beliefs be based on the changing culture or the commands of God?  Will our beliefs be based on political correctness or passages of Scripture?  Will our beliefs be based on the media or the Messiah?  Will our beliefs be based on tolerance or truth?

If we're going to point people to the truth, we better make sure we know what we are pointing at.
Decide what you will do about seeing the film.  Are you going to watch it?  Are you going to take your kids to watch it?  Are you going to screen it first before you let your kids watch it?  This is a decision you will have to make for yourself.  Whatever you decide to do, I would encourage you to keep two things in mind. 
  • Don't look down on someone who chooses to watch it.  Just because someone may choose to watch it doesn't make them any less spiritual than the person who chooses not to watch it and visa versa.  Don't get trapped by spiritual pride.
  • Be consistent.  Keep in mind that Disney owns ESPN, ABC, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures and the Muppets.  Are you going to boycott these as well?  Often we pick and choose what we boycott based on our personal preferences.  That ball game on ESPN or that Star Wars movie we want to watch comes into play when you think about being consistent.  It reminds me of parents who condemn Harry Potter while singing the praises of the Lion, WITCH and Wardrobe.  Whatever you decide, be consistent.  
Dialogue with your kids.  If your kids are an appropriate age, it is important to dialogue with them about this movie.  I believe one reason we see kids walk away from the faith is because we avoid having conversations with them about cultural issues they are facing.

Personally, if my children were still young, I would watch the film with them at home and then talk with them about what a true Biblical relationship looks like.  Do you know how they train tellers at the bank to recognize counterfeit money?  By handling real money.  When you know what real money looks like and feels like, you are able to spot the counterfeits.  I believe when we model for kids a Biblical marriage between a husband and wife, they will be able to discern between that and counterfeit models such as same-sex marriage.  

Some people will respond by hiding their kids from the movie.  While we do have to use wisdom in exposing kids to cultural issues at various ages, I believe we do them a disservice when we don't prepare them for life after dad and mom.  Kids are going to ask questions and you want them to get the answers from you.  If you hide them away and they don't get the answers until they are sitting in a college classroom someday, they will get the wrong answers and will likely be persuaded away from the truth of God's Word.

When you regularly dialogue with your kids about issues like this, you will create an atmosphere where your kids feel comfortable bringing their questions and thoughts to you before other people.

I believe this movie presents a great opportunity for you to talk with your kids about same-sex relationships and help them grapple with why we believe it doesn't line up with God's plan for relationships and the family.

Depend on God.  Does this make you nervous about what kids are facing today?  Does it make you think the culture is sliding so rapidly that you see no hope for the next generation?  Are you worried about what seems to be an outright attack on the truth?

Don't lose hope.  God is in control.  Depend on Him.  He is still at work.  What a great opportunity to speak truth into the life of your kids.  What a great opportunity to show Christ's love to those whose lifestyle and worldview are in direct opposition to what you believe.  The darker the night, the brighter your light for Jesus can shine.

Perhaps you are a parent and the thought of all this overwhelms you.  You don't know how to navigate this with your kids.  What should you say?  What should you do?  Depend on God.  Ask Him for wisdom.  He will give you everything you need to walk with your kids through the moral drain you find yourself surrounded by.

Concluding Thoughts...

I've always been a fan of the Disney company.  I've studied how they connect with kids and families over the years and even recently released a book entitled "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry."  The step they are taking in this movie does sadden me.  I don't believe Walt would have approved of it.  This is not the first time Disney has done something that I didn't believe was best for families.  I definitely don't agree with everything they do.  But I also know they have done a lot of positive things to promote the traditional family unit.  I will continue to learn from them with discernment and enjoy the positive things they do for families.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What do you think about the direction Disney has taken with this movie?  How will you respond?  Share your thoughts with us in in the comment section below.