Last week it was announced that Disney’s new live-action film, Beauty and The Beast, would feature an openly gay character who would be having a gay moment in the film. This revelation, just weeks before it’s release (how timely) has caused quite a bit of controversy among Christian Conservatives. Between Matt Walsh and Franklin Graham’s outrage, a number of pastors and even a small drive in theater in Alabama are boycotting the film because being gay is a sin but beastiality is perfectly normal.
This is where Conservative Christians begin to show their hypocrisy and paint those of us who follow Jesus as having skewed morality. It is perfectly fine for a young woman to be taken captive by a beast, who emotionally abuses her, and develops Stockholm Syndrome but its wrong for a character to openly be gay – in a musical. Yet it is this coming out that makes this film no longer family friendly.
Conservative Christians have had a long battle of criticizing Disney films, some with valid points that I can agree with. I can think of many reasons why Disney films are not family friendly but having an openly gay character that has a “gay moment” (what is that anyway?) would not be one of them. Unless their is two gay characters acting out a sex scene I am thinking that the moment won’t be much different than any other moment featured between two heterosexual romantically involved couples. If Christians haven’t had a problem with all the kissing and public displays of affection in Disney films in the past I am not sure why they should all the sudden have a problem now.
I know, I know, its that “gay lifestyle” they are opposed too. More on that in a moment.
Seriously, if we are going to attack Disney for having moments that are not family friendly lets get to addressing the sexual innuendos that are present in most of their films. If it is not actual verbal references it is animated references to sex. I’m more concerned about violence, especially its normalization towards children and women, often seen in Disney films. Murder is an ever pressing theme, often between relatives like in the Lion King, and let us not forget the evil step-mothers in Snow White and Cinderella. I recognize that murder and death are part of the mythical hero’s journey but there is an ongoing theme among many of the movies that involve princesses that include forced marriage, physical and emotional abuse, and sexual seduction and forced sexual interactions. These are the pressing moral values that need to be addressed, not the sexual identity of one of the characters.
But back to the “gay lifestyle” and it being forced on America. This is where I am left scratching my head. How alternative is the gay lifestyle? What is it exactly makes the lifestyle of LGBTQ individuals so offensive?
I have to admit that I know a lot of LGBTQ individuals, families that are headed by two same sex individuals, and I even have a gay son. Besides some cultural, social, and economical differences I am not spotting any great variance in “lifestyle”. We all tend to share the same core family values and put on our pants or skirts the same way. Frankly I find a lot of my same-sex friends a bit boring in the lifestyle department. From what I had heard growing up (and even now) from far right-Christians I imagined wild parties with orgies and copious amounts of drugs and alcohol. If this is what you believe I can assure you the reality will be a HUGE disappointment. The reality is they come home from work to get in their pajamas and cuddle with their pets and binge watch stuff on television, or the same nightly routine that most of us have with our children which include carpool and homework. Nothing nefarious going on at all.
The thing is when someone says they don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle when concerning LGBTQ individuals or families they are not talking about their spending habits, individual wealth, dress, or how they behave and interact with others they are referencing their sex life. Try nailing down someone who says “I just don’t agree with their lifestyle” or “Their lifestyle is a sin” on what exactly they are against and they begin to stammer or hem and haul around what the real issues is – oral or anal sex. Consensual sex that they too likely engage in. The judgment of the individual is narrowed down not on who they are but what they do privately. If I am not mistaken this is what Jesus spoke out against. (Luke 6:37-42) Knowing someone by their fruits has practically nothing to do with who they are sexually attracted to and who they are consensually engaging in sex with but that is the measuring stick conservative Christians are condemning by.
The other thing that leads many Christians to judge and condemn homosexuality is not because of what they believe the Bible says but what it doesn’t say and what Jesus did not say. The fact is the Bible does not once mention homosexuality in relation to sexual orientation (not even those six verses many homophobic Christians tout), though it does reference asexual individuals and it clearly states that they were born that way. (Matthew 19:12) Historically homosexuality was around when Jesus was alive and traveling and I am sure, since he hung out with the cast offs of society and with those judged harshly for their supposed sins of the time, that he came in contact with plenty of homosexuals and yet their is no reference in the Bible to Jesus even mentioning it. If it was all that important one would think that would have been included.
However it is my belief that many people who tend to beat the dead horse to death on homosexuality being an alternative lifestyle and abomination (like Ted Haggard did) is that it is rooted and fear and shame. The reality is is that our sexuality is fluid and this is seen throughout the animal world. Many of these people have sexual obsessions or hidden sexual feelings that they are scared to acknowledge or deal with for a host of reasons. ( I’m looking at you Matt Walsh) It could be rooted in abuse or addictions or both. The pastor in the pulpit or the Bible study leader who keeps hammering on the sins of others is likely dealing with their own failings as a human being in that area.
And last but not least – What is so wrong with having a character in a film be openly gay? LGBTQ individuals are everywhere and a part of our society and communities. They contribute in every way whether that be the tithe at church or the taxes they pay to the government. Is it not about time that they be represented in all parts of our society? Don’t my children have the right to see a positive display of LGBTQ individuals on the big screen or is that a privilege only straight people should have? This isn’t about a gay agenda, it is about treating ALL people fair and equally. Narrow-mindedness based on religious beliefs has no place in our society. It is time for all Christians to stop rooting their bigotry in false doctrine and following the teachings of Jesus Christ which was love, grace, compassion, and forgiveness. Every Christian who claims to worship/follow Jesus must keep in the forefront of their mind that Jesus was always about the relationship with individuals and not the rules (legalism).