This week The Disney company made news by introducing an LGBTQ sub-plot in its remake of Beauty and the Beast. They also are placing their first gay kiss between two animated characters. This is shocking for many Disney lovers. As someone who respects Disney’s creativity but won’t sell an organ on eBay to make the annual pilgrimage, I find it not shocking but expected. Disney has always told their fairy tales in a way that reflects culture rather than transcends culture. Most of the stories Disney tells are of reflecting our culture’s obsession with romantic love. The answer to the problem every character faces is not the proper order of love but in the right kind of love. The heart of every princess wants to find true love usually in the form of romantic love.
C.S. Lewis called Christianity a true myth. He came to faith through his friend J.R.R. Tolkien’s explanation of the gospel as the story behind every story. Lewis said “Christianity is both a myth and a fact. It’s unique. It’s the true myth.” Disney has always dealt in the currency of fairy tales, in the happily ever after. Every story Disney tells has the same framework we see in the Bible. In the Bible, we see the structure every good story has Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. In Cinderella, for example, we see Cinderella’s perfect world, followed by the death of her mother, the redemption through her Fairy Godmother and restoration with the prince and happily ever after. Our hearts long for redemption and restoration. This storyline resonates with us because we see ourselves as Cinderella in a world full of Step-mothers. We instinctively long for Redemption. The problem with Disney is their idea of love is usually reflective of culture rather than transcending culture or as we would call it otherworldly. To be fair Disney has produced movies that speak to the longing of properly ordered love in movies like Frozen and Up.
The problem with Disney is they are reflecting for us on the screen the both the longing for true love and the result of disordered loves. St. Augustine famously said “Human actions can only be understood by their root in love. All kinds of actions might appear good without proceeding from the root of love. Remember, thorns also have flowers: some actions seem truly savage but are done for the sake of discipline motivated by love. Once and for all, I give you this one short command: love [God], and do what you will.” Love God and do what you will. Isn’t that permissiveness? Far from it. Love for God is not constrictive, but it frees us and properly orders every other love in our lives.
We get angry when we see things as Christians that are telling our kids a story or depicting a love that we know to be disordered. The reality is they are getting this disordered messages all over the place. We have just become either numb or indifferent to their existence and feel powerless to fight the rising tide. The idea that you need to love yourself first is a disordered notion of love, that romantic love will solve your heart’s greatest aches is a disordered love. More than anything else as pastors and parents we must teach our kids to Love God and do what they will. When we love God first life works best, and we will love everything in our lives in the proper order because our love will not be self-seeking but come from Christ and point all others to Christ.
As a parent or pastor, how do I help my kids have properly ordered love?
1. Don’t just teach to the head. Kids need a biblical worldview, but they need to know that they are in need of love and have been loved since before the creation of time and space. They are loved infinitely by an infinite God.
2. Check your loves. – What do you love? What consumes your thoughts, words, money and actions. That’s what you love not what you say you love. Because the things you love are the things your kids will likely love.
3. Point your kids to the ultimate prince. The challenge for us in raising our kids is that we want to protect them from everything. We should protect them, but the problem with a protectionist mentality is we can’t protect them from their own sinful, broken disordered heart. The cure for a disordered heart is not prince charming but the prince of heaven. The one who loved us when we hated him. Who represents not romantic love but self-giving sacrificial love. Who at great cost to himself lived for us, died for us so we could be adopted sons of the King of Heaven. That is the story every heart longs to hear. That we are loved not because we are lovely but that God in his true, real, properly ordered love loved us and made us lovely.