As I thought, prayed, read, and contemplated whether or not I should take my children to see this film, I considered God’s wisdom above all other sources speaking into my life. Before I share my thoughts, however, I hope you will receive these comments as a need for contemplation rather than condemnation.
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Whether you choose to see the movie or to refrain from Disney altogether, I hope that God’s rightful worship and love for God and others will be your ultimate determining factors.
While it is true that the newest Disney movie is both breaking box office records and has suggestive content that I do not endorse, homosexuality and cross-dressing are not my greatest concerns. I know from the articles I have read and social media posts that my position is not the popular narrative, but this is the position I see from Scripture.
My greatest concerns about the movie are absent from most discussions. While many have chosen one specific sin and a clear liberal agenda on which to focus their attention, I believe that the greatest evils in the movie are the abominations to the Lord that no one seems to mention.
In fact, all of these abominations represent a great majority of Beauty and the Beast and are not secondary topics. Proverbs 6:16-19 explains seven specific sins:
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Gaston—the movie’s villain—embodies all 7 of these abominations; he represents the movie’s greatest evil. In fact, Gaston’s sidekick Lefou (as the people of the city march to the Beast’s castle) poetically declares in a song that a Beast is loose, but something worse exists—a clear reference to Gaston’s character.
In fact, at the beginning of the movie, Gaston looks into a mirror, and seeing his reflection, he expresses his love for himself. Toward the end of the movie, Gaston gets a hold of the Beast’s mirror, and when he looks into this mirror, he sees the Beast—symbolism for sure.
Let’s not forget the story also begins with a sorcerer who turns the arrogant prince into a beast. Gaston–after looking into the beast’s mirror–explains this transformation to be “sorcery” and “black magic.” In Scripture, sorcery is clearly stated to be an abomination (e.g., Deuteronomy 18:10–12).
I also read one secular take on the movie that wondered why people were not in an uproar over the bestiality displayed in Belle’s falling in love with an animal. Why are we now in an uproar and boycotting this movie over one sin that is marginalized in the movie when sorcery, bestiality, and the seven abominations listed in Proverbs have been major themes since the first edition of the movie?
The Bible itself records numerous historical accounts and parables (stories) about each of the same abominations presented in the movie. Like the Bible, the movie does not glorify these aspects of human depravity; it does show their reality.
Unlike Disney’s executives, however, Scripture outright condemns them all. But simply because a movie expresses human depravity—especially when it is vilified rather than glorified—is not a good reason to boycott a movie. If we applied this same logic, then the Bible’s historical account of Sodom and Gomorrah or Saul’s visiting a medium, as two examples, would make the Bible off limits.
On the other hand, Disney has clearly expressed their political and moral agenda—one that opposes God and His Word. I am not judging those who have chosen to not go to the movie or who have gone to the movie; I just don’t think it is consistent or gracious to single out one sin—one which was not explicit in the movie—and make it a convenient moral line in the sand.
If it is more the secular worldview—as discussed in Romans 1—that is the true reason why many Christians are not going to see Beauty and the Beast, then I would completely understand. I would also hope they canceled vacations to Disney World and discarded their dolls and other figures. I believe that our testimony demands that we be consistent in our faith and practices rather conveniently picking out certain sins to show our separation from the world.
Personally, I chose to allow my children to see the movie after reading several reviews, which all agreed that the film did not glorify sin. But seeing the movie required that my family have our normal “debriefing” time over ice cream. It is during this time that my wife and I discuss the moral message of the movie (whether right or wrong), expose the underlying philosophy, and teach our children discernment.
My kids will face the very same evils that this story expresses, and if I choose to avoid discussion about them now, I could be missing out on an opportunity to indoctrinate them with God’s wisdom concerning real life and real people.
Our time spent over ice cream also allowed for discussion of vital Scriptural truths that the movie presents metaphorically. Of course, Disney did not intend to convey Biblical truths, and my children do not need Disney to hear and learn about God’s Word.
But parables—whether spoken or visually illustrated—are one of the greatest teaching tools God has given to mankind (e.g., the book of Proverbs). They are also what Christ used exclusively to teach his disciples (Matthew 13:34).
Here are some of the truths that the movie conveys:
Depravity – Without Christ, we can look good on the outside and be praised and accepted by others, but inwardly we are like ravenous wolves and consumed with pride and lust. In the movie, Gaston—the prideful villain—literally falls to his death following his proud, deceptive, and lustful heart. What a great conversational piece for my children to hear once again that pride always goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction.
Repentance – Positive change occurs by turning from a glorification of self to Christ who is love. In the closing theme song at the transformation of the Beast back to his original image (interesting imagery), the words state: “learning to change, admitting we were wrong.” Repentance, confession, and sanctification are doctrinal terms illustrated in the changed character of the Beast.
Love of God – Coupled with the undeserved love that Belle offered to the cursed and “eternally condemned” Beast, which suggests the story of redemption—without naming Christ. We should expect secularists to leave the most important aspect of love—God the Father and His Son, who are love—out of the storyline. It is our job as parents to make that point clear to our children.
Judgment – By one man’s sin, sin entered the whole world. There is a good portion of the movie where the cursed (e.g., Chip and Mrs. Potts) express both how the Beast’s pride brought about their cursed state, as well as how their failures brought upon their “getting what they deserved.”
At the end of the movie, we find out that even the town was subjected to the curse. This major storyline opened the door once again for our family to discuss our human depravity and how by Adam’s original sin all are now under the curse and condemned.
Granted, the presentation of these biblical doctrines does not represent the full redemptive story, but the stage was set for an excellent conversation with my children and turning their attention back to the God of the Bible. These aspects of the movie are “His stories” that Disney has borrowed.
There was another aspect of the movie that should be applauded and discussed at length with our children. Belle represented a woman of virtue who, because of her chasteness and devotion to her father, was highly sought after and at the same time perceived to be odd.
I want my girls to appreciate and understand that being virtuous and loving their heavenly and earthly fathers will make them odd in the world’s eyes; it will also make them incredibly beautiful. Belle was a hard worker, creative, tasteful, a lover of books, responsible, loving, gracious, faithful, and not desperate to fulfill her dream of finding love.
These are all character qualities that I want my daughters to possess, and they are character qualities that we often complain are not found in movies.
My choice to take my family to see the film was about whether or not this would help them know God better and offer them greater discernment—truly becoming more beautiful, or whether it would turn them away from God and foster the natural beast within them. As far as I am aware of, no sin was glorified in this movie—even though there was a clear assertion of the seven sins which God hates.
Whether or not you choose to boycott or to see this movie, make sure you ultimately base your choice upon pleasing God, promoting gospel-centered beauty in those you take, and helping put to death the natural beast we all are.
This tale as old as time (written in 1740 by a French Novelist) should take us back to Adam and then to redemption through Christ. If it does not, or it hinders the gospel in our lives or our children’s lives, we must avoid it in a way that gives God glory and compels other believers to celebrate His holiness.
Dr. Daniel R. Berger II is the founder and director of Alethia International Ministries (AIM), where he continues to write and to speak around the country in various churches, organizations, medical communities, and at various counseling and teacher’s conferences. He is also an experienced pastor, counselor, school administrator, and the author of ten books on Biblical counseling, practical theology, education, and the history and philosophy of the current mental health construct. Daniel earned his B.S. in counseling, an M.S. in counseling/ psychology, an M.A. in pastoral studies, and a doctorate in pastoral theology. Daniel is also an adjunct professor at several Universities and seminaries-including serving as the director of a post-grad degree at SEBI (Brasilia, Brazil) in Biblical Counseling, which is specifically focused on understanding the various aspects of the construct of mental illness from a biblical worldview.