Disney’s remake of its classic children’s film “Beauty and the Beast” is attracting headlines, not so much for production quality, although movie critics seem to be mostly on board, but for the controversy surrounding the studio’s decision to include its first “exclusively gay moment” in a scene between villain Gaston and his sidekick, Lefou.
Naturally, conservative-leaning Christians like myself see this as an unfortunate development for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the absolute last thing entertainment geared toward confused prepubescent children should include are sex scenes, excessive violence, or “exclusively gay moments.” Prominent evangelist Franklin Graham has called for a boycott of the movie, correctly pointing out in a Facebook post that founder Walt Disney, whom he met as a child, would be “shocked at what happened to the company he started.”
Popular Christian website LifeSiteNews.com has even set up a petition for those who pledge to boycott the film that has, as of this writing, received well over 100,000 signatures. WND has one, as well. And at least one Alabama movie theater is refusing to show the movie altogether.
“They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children – watch out!” Graham writes. Sounds ominous, hysterical even, but Disney doesn’t seem to be denying it.
In fact, quite the opposite:
“The studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural,” director Bill Condon said, “and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.”
Except Jonathan Merritt, who wrote a USA Today piece sharply critical of Christians choosing to skip the film, seems to disagree with both Graham AND the director: “The nefarious ‘agenda’ to which Graham refers simply does not exist. So boycotting the film makes it appear that these Christians object to the mere existence of gay people.”
So which is it? Because Disney sure seems to have an agenda. Consider the fact that the very same week that news of Disney’s “exclusively gay moment” came out, the studio included a scene of several same-sex couples kissing in an episode of Disney XD’s children’s cartoon “Star vs. the Forces of Evil.”
What’s next, a playful threesome between Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto?
Turns out, the so-called “conspiracy theory” of a “gay agenda” isn’t a theory at all. In fact, it explains why acceptance and even celebration of the gay lifestyle has become normalized and even elevated to “civil rights” status in a society that once viewed the behavior as abhorrent, even deviant.
The 1989 book “After the Ball: How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 90s” (Penguin Books) by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen lays out the plan to use “desensitization,” “jamming” and “conversion” to alter the then-prevailing public view of homosexuals and homosexuality in stunning and, now, prophetic detail.
From the book:
“We are safest, in the long run, if we can actually make them like us. Conversion aims at just this. We mean conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media. In Conversion, the bigot, who holds a very negative stereotypic picture, is repeatedly exposed to literal picture/label pairs, in magazines, and on billboards and TV, of gays – explicitly labeled as such! – who not only don’t look like his picture of a homosexual, but are carefully selected to look either like the bigot and his friends, or like any one of his other stereotypes of all-right guys – the kind of people he already likes and admires. The image must be that of an icon of normality.”
Please understand, I’m not, nor is anyone I know of, defending any sort of mistreatment of homosexuals. Every human being is created and loved by God and worthy of respect. I can even appreciate the techniques employed by the homosexual lobby to the extent that they’ve succeeded, like the civil rights lobby before it, to remove hatred as a socially acceptable reaction, because it’s not nor should it ever be.
However – and this is the relevant question – has the pendulum swung too far? Has the homosexual lobby’s relentless efforts to sway the public in their direction now reached the point where it is potentially damaging to our kids? After all, it’s one thing to teach children to treat all people with respect, but it’s quite another to “normalize” a lifestyle that at best is contrary to what Christians and thousands of years of human development believes is the best way to raise children – the nuclear family – and at worst is rife with disease and psychiatric disorders.
And make no mistake, the path Disney and others are on goes far beyond simple “normalization.” They want children to see this behavior as something to be desired.
Don’t believe it? Then why do upwards of 15 percent of young women and girls identify as “bisexual” when for most of human history the percentage stood around 2?
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler writes, “The very idea of ‘heteroflexibility’ demonstrates the polymorphous perversity that now marks America’s public culture. When teenage girls feel free to engage in blatantly sexual behavior with each other, we can be sure that some major boundary of sexual morality has been gravely damaged. The natural attraction between girls and boys has been so confused by public celebration of homosexuality and the various eroticisms of everyday life, that young people are now confused about something as simple and basic as heterosexual identity.”
Previously quoted USA Today writer Merritt isn’t the only critic of Christians critical of Disney’s participation in pushing the gay agenda, and now it’s coming with an entirely new twist. Now that the left has Christian support for Donald Trump to crucify over and over again, as if we ever expected our politicians to be pure as the wind-driven snow, they’re beating that dead horse with every ounce of their being. Left-leaning pastor and blogger John Pavlovitz had some astonishing things to say about Christians who supported Donald Trump but are choosing to boycott “Beauty and the Beast” because maybe they’d rather their impressionable kids learn about homosexuality at an age when they can handle it and from a source that isn’t a brainwashing session masquerading as a fun fairy tale.
Of “opportunistic, self-righteous Bible-thumpers” who have chosen to “rend their garments and beat their breasts” over Disney’s portrayal of an openly gay character in the children’s classic, Pavlovitz writes, “Such unprovoked jerkery is what we now expect from the American Religious Right, who have long since jettisoned the loving, compassionate, redemptive justice work of a poor-loving Jesus – and gone all in with the glossy, homophobic pulpit bullies who arouse their passions. Their continued persecution of the LGBTQ community and anyone who supports them, is a sad song we’ve all gotten used to them singing.”
Like most liberals who castigate Christians for their convictions of right and wrong while stringently upholding their own version of social justice “morality” as God-breathed, there is little nuance in Pavlovitz’s words. His Trump-hate is palpable, and yet the “marginalized” LGBT community are only “simply trying to live quiet, undisturbed lives.”
With no agenda at all, mind you.
“By throwing its muscle, money, and manpower behind such an unapologetic, reprehensible, amoral human being like Donald Trump,” Pavlovitz continued, “it has lost the very small patch of moral ground it had left on which to stand to point the finger at any professed sinful behavior. They now haven’t a pulpit to pound on.”
“The Christians who are weeping and gnashing their teeth right now aren’t winning any converts, they’re doing nothing to damage Disney, and everything to damage the image of the church in the eyes of the world, as an out-of-touch, hateful, inconsistent horde – who apparently find gay people ‘icky’ but misogyny perfectly presidential.”
Merritt echoed similar sentiments in his USA Today piece, writing, “It’s impossible to reconcile boycotting Disney for including a kind-of-sort-of-possibly gay character in a film while supporting a thrice-married serial liar who has bragged about bedding married women and has admitted to grabbing women’s genitals without permission. Such a paradoxical position would be a perfect example of what Jesus called ‘strain[ing] out a gnat but swallowing a camel.’”
Fallacy much? Both Pavlovitz and Merritt, and likely many others, are engaging in a typical “Trump as red-herring” fallacy to justify any position they want to bully conservatives into. Not only is it comparing apples to oranges, it’s patently absurd, as I prove in this pre-election Breitbart column.
Luke, a “gay Christian who holds to a traditional understanding of marriage,” does make a more nuanced case against the boycott in an article for Premier Christianity. In it, Luke points out the hypocrisy evident in Christians who might happily watch sinful portrayals of heterosexual characters while drawing the line at a homosexual. This, the author argues, is “harmful to the Christian gospel” not only because of the hypocrisy, but also because it suggests that “Christians are offended by the existence of gay people.”
Luke concludes with this argument: “The fact is that our children are growing up in a society where gay relationships are a given. If we hold to a traditional biblical view of sexuality, then we need to prepare our children for the real world of competing views about sexuality now, rather than try to pretend that LGBT issues don’t exist, either in Disney films or in real life.”
All of which brings us back to whether or not Christian parents should refuse to see “Beauty and the Beast” with their kids. Sure, whether or not the movie flops or breaks box-office records, your money is your money, and you can choose to support or refuse to support anything you want. It’s still a free country, and God knows liberals do it, too.
But will it work? The fact is, there is enough diversity of opinion in the United States to almost unequivocally state that boycotts never work, at least not in the way they are intended. And there’s certainly been a recent litany of them on the right, from boycotts of chains that refuse to say “Merry Christmas” or allow males to visit female bathrooms to movies, television shows, sports teams, athletes or artists that offend deeply held religious or civic beliefs in one way or another. On the left and the right, we love to be outraged. Sure, maybe boycotts succeed in keeping certain segments from spending money they otherwise would have (if all 100,000 people who signed the above-mentioned petitions truly refuse to see the movie or bring their families, that’s several million dollars right there), but they also likely succeed in driving the opposite interest group in their direction.
Relevant Magazine’s Jesse Carey writes, “The problem with these pop-culture boycotts (besides being ineffective) is that they operate under the notion that certain people’s ideas are so superior to anyone else’s, that the others don’t even deserve to exist. Even if you believe your values and faith represent the truth, squashing out all other beliefs isn’t an effective way to enter into meaningful dialogue.”
We’re not saying their ideas don’t deserve to exist, nor do we wish to squash other beliefs. All swallowed camels aside, the bottom line isn’t so much whether or not we can prove a point or hurt Disney, although the once-trusted studio continues to reach new lows and it would be awesome to see the pendulum swing in our direction for once, just a little. The bottom line is the fact that Christian parents have a God-given duty to protect the hearts and minds of our children and, while teaching them to be respectful of others, raise them in a way that honors and exalts the time-honored, biblical tradition of the bedrock of society, indeed of civilization itself, the nuclear family.