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Should I go see the new ‘Beauty and the Beast’?

Pastor_Harry_Family

Let me introduce you to my family!  My wife is Lorrie, and I have four children: Katelyn, Andrew, Emma, and Laurel.

I have worked in children’s ministry my whole life, spending 10 years as a children’s pastor and now as the Senior Pastor at Needham’s Grove Baptist Church.

If you are like many of my readers, you are concerned about the direction our families and marriages are going and you want to do something about it!  God has burdened me to work with families and help them on their journey of parenting.

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Here’s the scenario:  You and your kids have been waiting months for the release of the newest remake of your favorite childhood movie.  The buildup in the media and on social networks has driven the excitement level through the roof!  Weeks before the release, it becomes known that in this version the producers have decided to include objectionable elements not in the original…elements that are morally corrupt in nature.

How do you respond?

If you are following current trends in entertainment, then you know that this is being played out at this very moment.  Disney’s 2017 remake of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ will “be the first Disney movie to feature an openly gay character,” according to the director Bill Condon.  “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants.  It is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.” – Bill Condon The Slate.com

This has created a firestorm of reaction among many believers…

  • How should we react?
  • What should be our response?
  • Should we still let our kids watch it?

Historically Speaking…

Historically, conservative Christianity/fundamentalism has been very quick to stand against entertainment with ‘objectionable elements’ and has even gone so far as to organize boycotts of certain events and organizations.  I remember the fiery pushback against “Harry Potter”, “The Hunger Games” and “The Golden Compass.”  These were considered ‘dangerous’ due to the innocent packaging in which the ‘objectionable elements’ were delivered.   Even a movie like “The Passion of the Christ” was viewed with skepticism and many were encouraged to steer clear of its ‘Hollywood-tainted’ message of redemption.

The ‘objectionable element’ argument is actually well documented in these cases.

Harry Potter… “books and films are full of stereotypical magic. Witchcraft and wizardry are central themes, and the lead roles are played by wizards, witches, and other magical creatures.” – www.gotquestions.org

The Hunger Games trilogy… “Katniss Everdeen volunteers to participate in the games, a mash-up of gladiator-style fight to the death and reality TV as the games are broadcast throughout the land.” www.reviveourhearts.com

The Golden Compass… an atheistic themed movie where “Pullman’s simplistically harsh view of the church and God posit a power-hungry, misanthropic institution out of control, and a detached, domineering God devoid of grace.”  www.pluggedin.com

Each of these movies include elements that are prohibited in Scripture or are inherently sinful by God’s own words.

But so does the Bible….

Some would say..But the Bible has all those things as well!  That is actually a valid point.

Just because a book or movie has elements in it that are ‘sinful’ does not necessarily mean that they should be avoided!  Scripture is full of stories of rape, incest, murder, and drunkenness.  In each of those cases, however, the objectionable action is not glorified but is portrayed as sinful with either temporal or eternal consequences. In other words, sin is viewed as ‘sin’ with real consequences.

Time to Apply!

Making the application, is the movie you are watching portraying sin as ‘sin’ or is it glorifying it as normal and acceptable behavior?  Years ago I watched a documentary that was full of drinking.  It showed bar scenes, people in the grips of drunkenness, and even portrayed prostitution.  Was that wrong?  Were there objectionable elements?  What if I told you that 20 minutes into the film Billy Sunday accepted Christ and his life changed forever!  Since his sin was portrayed as sin, it agrees with Scripture and actually reinforces the Biblical view of sin, consequences, and redemption.

So is it right or wrong?

There are three possible reactions to movies with objectionable elements

1. If there is any objectionable element (regardless of how the sinful behavior is portrayed), then it is wrong to watch that movie.  This is a human standard that is nearly impossible to follow, though some will try.  The challenge is where you draw the line.  By this standard, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘Leave it to Beaver’ wouldn’t make the cut since Opie and the Beaver have a tendency to disobey at times!

2. Since the Bible ‘contains’ objectionable elements as well, I have the freedom to watch and consume whatever content I desire….and that is exactly why this position is fatally flawed.  If your heart’s desire is the driving force behind your choices, remember that the “heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked!”

3. OR, We use God-given and Holy Spirit driven discretion.  That’s right.  We should allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and our family decisions as to how profitable that movie would or would not be spiritually for our family.

-If objectionable elements are portrayed in a way that agrees with Scripture, I use discretion as to whether that will be profitable for me and my family. There are some movies that have Biblical themes that would not be helpful for my children. Though they agree with the moral view of sin, the way it is communicated might not be appropriate for my kids.

-If elements are portrayed in a way that glorifies the sin and its consequences,

I use discretion as to whether this would produce a teaching opportunity for my family.  There are some movies with objectionable elements that would present a teaching opportunity and might be beneficial for my children.  Though they disagree with the moral view of sin, it is presented in a way that I can teach my children about sin and its consequences and strengthen their faith!

Summit Ministry explains it this way:

There are three responses to entertainment.

  • Some Christians are OFFENDED by culture and retreat into a bubble.
  • Other Christians are DISTRACTED by culture and amuse themselves with filth.
  • Christlike Christians ought to be DISTRESSED by culture – this means they aren’t surprised by the presence of sin among a disbelieving populace, and they look for teaching/learning opportunities in culture in order to impact it for Christ. We aren’t to be OF the world, but we ARE still called to be IN the world.

Final Warning

The tendency would be to avoid the difficult conversations that arise when worldviews collide.  You cannot avoid those conversations.  If you do, the secular worldview will almost always connect with the inner sin nature and will draw your children away from Truth!  Take full advantage of those teaching moments in your home!  Do your job as a parent and teach your children!

As for me and my house…

As for my family, I acknowledge that my children are growing up in a culture where any ‘alternative lifestyle’ is culturally accepted and embraced.  I am working hard to keep my children from normalizing homosexuality in their minds… and to help accomplish this we have chosen to sit this movie out. I hope you will use Holy Spirit discernment as you make your choice as well!

 

This article first appeared on The Pastoral Pen