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2017-how-should-parents-respond-to-disneys-new-beauty-and-the-beast-03-02-17

Many parents face some tough decisions as Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast opens soon with Disney’s first-ever portrayal of an openly gay character. Director Bill Condon explained the sub-plot in an interview with Attitude, a British gay magazine.

“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Mr. Condon told the magazine. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh [Gad, the actor playing LeFou] 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.”

As the news broke, many parents, although not necessarily surprised, responded with shock and anger. Many parents, who themselves watched the original 1991 blockbuster as children, expected to enjoy this remake with their children. However, those parents who do not support the LGBTQ lifestyle must decide now how to respond to the unwelcomed inclusion of the sub-plot in the movie.

Depending upon the age, background, and maturity of one’s children, many sensitive families will appropriately not attend the movie. Although, I am sure once the movie is out and the extent of the scene is known rather than just feared, some parents may choose to let their children see the movie in theaters or in their homes.

Parents, please consider this issue first: Disney is not a Christian value-based film company. This LGBTQ inclusion is just the latest of many places where biblical values are challenged or outright undermined. Regarding LGBTQ inclusion, recently a Disney X D show displayed several gay kisses in a Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode, and Disney writers included a homosexual relationship on the TV show Good Luck Charlie in January 2014 when it revealed Taylor had two moms. However, these are not the only places where biblical values are defied. Examples are many and include instances such as disobedience to parents, disrespect of parents, use of the supernatural, and total self-indulgent living. None of these behaviors reflect the biblical worldview either. Therefore, any response to our children must be balanced with self-reflection. If we have never addressed any of these other biblical worldview conflicts, we must consider personally why this issue would be of greater importance.

So how do you respond as parents?

  • Make sure you teach your children the purpose of everything in life – to live a life that honors the Lord. The apostle Paul taught, “Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This is the matter of first importance for our children. Handling sexuality and one’s personal desires of any kind, much less sexual attraction, fit under this overarching life principle. The motivation for everything in life should consistently reflect a Christ-like character that honors God, which includes what children watch as entertainment (cf., 2 Corinthians 5:9). This is where the conversation must begin – not just for this movie but for all of life.
  • Another issue that parents should consider as they engage their children is biblical authority. As God’s words to mankind, the Bible reflects the Creator’s design and desire for His creation. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed (inspired) and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Since the Bible is God’s words for mankind, it carries the authority of God for living life to God’s glory. It helps us know how to think, desire, and live in ways that honor Him.
  • Furthermore, parents need to teach biblical sexuality in age-appropriate ways to their children, possibly much differently than their parents or grandparents ever even considered. Entertainment choices of all types, what is available through the plethora of internet resources, and social engagement with other children, all force parents to actively teach their children God’s design and desires for sex. This conversation must begin early and continue throughout the teenage years. There are very useful resources available to help parents with this needful task, especially for some who find this awkward. [1]
  • In each of these conversations, make sure as parents you engage your children at the heart level. Honoring God in life is not a matter of just the behavior of your child or anyone else for that matter. Living a life that pleases God begins with the heart. Jesus taught that all good behavior or bad behavior comes from the heart, “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Therefore, as you talk with your child, recognize the issue includes more than just a particular behavior.
  • Help your children understand sin, how it impacts people, and the need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Children need to develop discernment that begins with their own hearts (Matthew 7:1-5) as they see and engage sin. Yes, it is vital that they learn to identify and evaluate anything that does not honor God. However, it is also equally imperative that parents teach them how that evaluation should fuel a passion to see others reached with the gospel. The goal is not just informed children; rather, it is gospel-centered children with a love for Jesus and a burden for others.
  • Practically speaking, parents need to be sensitive to what is sung or repeated or acted out as their children respond to media of all types. Pay attention as you see and hear your children play with each other, engage other children, or play individually. As you do, be ready to engage your children in helpful conversations as they seek to make sense of the world around them.

Feel free to comment if you have other ideas that you think would be helpful to parents as they seek to respond wisely to their children. What a great opportunity for us as parents and grandparents to help our children develop a biblical worldview where they love Jesus and live for His glory.

[1] Here are a few of my recommended resources: Teaching Children about Sex by Dr. Dan Wickert, Time for the Talk by Steve Zollos, The Story of Me by Stan and Brenna Jones, Before I was Born by Stan and Brenna Jones, What’s the Big Deal? by Stan and Brenna Jones, and Everyday Talk about Sex and Marriage: A Biblical Handbook for Marriage by John A. Younts.