Lightyear, the new animated PG film from Disney Pixar releasing in theaters this weekend, is the movie that inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy in the Toy Story movies. It’s effectively a movie within a movie.
The film looks stunning, but it’s making headlines for a different reason.
Lightyear will show one of the main characters, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), kissing another woman in greeting. The lesbian couple has a child. Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) spends much of the movie becoming friends with Alisha’s grandaughter through a time-distortion mishap.
The first Toy Story released in 1995. Those who grew up with Woody and Buzz are now adults with their own children. And if those adults are also Christians, they’re likely all asking the same question: Should I take my kids to see Lightyear?
Lightyear’s gay-affirming scene
Hawthorne’s display of affection makes Buzz rethink his priorities, which makes the gay relationship relatively important to the plot. As Christians, we can see that this reflects the normality and acceptance of homosexuality. Disney planned to remove the kiss, but in response to protests from their employees and the disparagingly named “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Disney kept it in. We should expect nothing less from Hollywood and the world. Movies are often a pulse on the culture’s heartbeat.
So, in response, how should we act as Christians?
With love, the same way we would at any other time.
Even while we don’t love sin, we love people. So how do we become culture-changing Christians? We engage with people as image-bearers of God, and we become “cultural missionaries,” fighting the temptation to become “cultural warriors.”
When we become friends with someone living a gay lifestyle, we should let them know about our beliefs but only after establishing trust with them. If they are Christians, we should lovingly present the biblical truth to them in correction (2 Timothy 3:16). If you’re not sure how, start by reading Dr. Jim Denison’s resource, “What does the Bible say about homosexuality?”
We avoid judging anyone while still naming homosexuality as a sin, like we name premarital sex and adultery as sexual sins.
Teaching children about sex and LGBTQ sexuality
The acceptance of LGBTQ sexuality comes from the “rise and triumph” of the idea that we can invent ourselves. The emphasis on sex and individuality that our culture pushes should not corrupt Christians, who know that the Bible provides a beautiful, purposeful design for sex (Proverbs 5:18–19).
Is sex an important part of life? Certainly. We are “sexed” beings, male and female.
Is that fact the primary thing in life? Certainly not. God is.
As Christian parents, we should raise our children up to reject the cultural idea that we can invent ourselves into whoever and whatever we want. Instead, we must turn to find our identity in what is most secure: God’s design for us and his unending grace.
With that said, we should also teach our children about sex. Even though it’s uncomfortable, it’s best coming from the Christian parent. Otherwise, other children, schools, or the culture-at-large will teach them. If you’re not sure when to start talking to your kids about sex, I highly encourage you to read “When should I start talking to my kids about sex?” Christian Parenting has guidelines for every age. Pure Hope also has a more extensive, free resource on how to talk to your kids about sex. Specifically, we need to understand how to talk to kids about homosexuality. For that, I would recommend this episode of “Dear Mattsons.”
Should I take my kids to see Lightyear?
In my view, you certainly can if you’ve talked to your child about the nature of LGBTQ sexuality in a biblical context. Of course, if your child is sensitive to these issues, then you should listen to your gut and not allow them to see it. However, because gay relationships are already established as normal in day-to-day life, preparing them for that reality is better than trying to cover it up—but only when they’re ready. This decision should occasion a great deal of prayer.
In fact, this movie may be popular enough to force you to say yes or no to your child. If your answer is no, you must be prepared to explain why, because the movie will frequently come up in conversation, advertising, and toys. If the answer is yes, you can take time to prepare them for the scene. This movie is the first notable children’s movie that forces the issue of LGBTQ relationships in an unambiguous way. It is probably the first of many.
We can’t shelter kids forever
Again, preparing them at the right time is key. A child too young will only be confused, and it will make your work as a parent more difficult. But, if they are old enough and have had that talk, this movie could be a good occasion to discuss the issue.
Some might disagree with me. I humbly accept I may be wrong, but let’s think consistently on this issue, especially with teens in mind: Do you watch movies that include people having sex outside of the confines of marriage to one person? If we allow our teens to watch movies with those concepts, what are we communicating to them? I would argue we’re communicating that gay relationships are “bad,” but unmarried sex between a man and a woman isn’t bad (or not quite as bad). Both are sinful and outside of God’s measure for us.
My point is that we must prepare them for the world, not try to entirely remove them from it. The world will teach them to engage in casual sex, to idolize sex, and to allow their feelings to determine their sexuality, including their sexual preference and their gender (1 Thessalonians 4:4–8).
Should Christians boycott Disney?
Boycotting has been largely unsuccessful on issues that are already entrenched in the culture and that don’t directly harm anyone. On other issues, boycotting has had mixed success. For example, activism against pornography’s exploitation of minors, the sex trade, and sexual abuse led to many credit card companies no longer approving purchases on Pornhub. In the Civil Rights movement, boycotts were also successful. However, boycotting Chick-fil-A by LGBTQ activists did not work well. Neither did the SBC’s boycotting of Disney the first time.
It is entirely justified to boycott a company if it affirms the killing of unborn children, sex trafficking, or some other directly harmful evil. However, boycotting movies with themes of homosexuality may unnecessarily hurt our witnesses. Even though we believe homosexuality isn’t biblical, a boycott seems unlikely to affect anything or change anyone’s mind. It also won’t take down the reputation of Disney, nor affect it economically in a noticeable way.
We should probably reserve boycotting for when something brings direct harm to folks, especially the most vulnerable. The culture already has the foundation for the homosexual lifestyle.
With that said, we can see why Disney hasn’t done this sooner. Fourteen mostly Islamic-majority countries have banned movies that overtly display LGBTQ affections. As predicted, Saudi Arabia banned the movie on Monday, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia. Lightyear might not air in China either.
While I’m not arguing that you should go see Lightyear, I don’t think you necessarily shouldn’t either. If your conscience speaks otherwise, listen to it—and the Spirit first and foremost.
Three books stand out in helping us understand God’s redeeming purpose for those with gay attractions. The authors are three scholarly students of the Bible and all have different experiences, but all affirm biblical morality on the issue.
- Single, Gay, Christian by Gregory Coles. He relates his struggle with homosexuality and his life story. He reflects on how a loving pastor and church community helped him in his faith, including his journey to understand the biblical perspective.
- Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry. Hill Perry is a spoken-word artist, poet, and theologian. She is also a mother. Her story is one of redemption from a lesbian, lost lifestyle, leading her to find the Lord (and, eventually, her husband).
- Is God Anti-gay? by Sam Allberry. Allbery has written extensively on biblical sexuality and here briefly argues for the biblical perspective while sharing his personal struggle with same-sex attraction.
These will not only help readers understand the biblical perspective but also the experiences of redeemed Christians who have lived with same-sex attraction.