Tag: Christian (page 1 of 5)

How Disney Played Christians like Gaston Played the Villagers

Gay LeFou

This past weekend Disney debuted their live-action version of the timeless classic, Beauty and the Beast, in theaters across the globe. The movie was so highly anticipated that it smashed the record for a March opening night with a staggering $170 million coming out… er, uh I mean, debut. And that’s to say nothing of the $350 million the movie earned worldwide (and, to be fair, I’m writing this on a Sunday afternoon, so that amount doesn’t even account for the whole weekend). And all that in the midst of a call by Evangelical Christian leaders, well one in particular, for Christians to kill the Beast.

Kill the Beast

The call to boycott the film came after Disney’s announcement of the inclusion of an “exclusively gay moment” involving Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, played by Josh Gad. And what was this “gay” moment? Well, I haven’t seen the movie, yet, but my wife has. So, I know what it is and don’t want to spoil the surprise. I will say that the big gay moment was so subtle and quick, that if you leaned over to grab some of your neighbor’s popcorn, you would have missed it. But, that didn’t stop Christians from taking up pitchforks against the “happiest place on earth.” For me, the call to boycott, though I think it silly, isn’t the issue. My issue has to do with when the boycott was called for.

The announcement about LeFou’s moment was made on March 1st and the boycott was called for on March 3rd, more than two weeks before the movie opened. That is my issue. Christian leaders called for us to boycott a movie they had not seen and based on a, likely deliberately, vague announcement. When the movie premiered, this “moment” was literally a moment and so subtle that most of our kids wouldn’t have picked up on it. And, even though I have a huge problem with this latest “fall on our sword worthy” fight against Disney obviously trying to “corrupt” our children; the hypocrisy of that isn’t even the point of this post. If you want to read a great article in that vein, check out the one Jonathan Merritt wrote for USA Today.

We Got Played

Instead, I’d like to go another way and suggest that Disney played Christians, for their benefit, and we took the bait. What I mean is, Disney already had a ton of hype surrounding the release of this movie. A whole generation of adults could not wait to see their beloved cartoon brought to real life. They also couldn’t wait to share it with their children in a way that they never dreamed possible. People were going to see it no matter what. There was no reason Disney had to reveal any information about the “special moment.” They could have let it be surprise. Likely most people wouldn’t have noticed it. Those who did, without a Disney confirmation, would have just been stretching. So Disney didn’t need to release that, but they did. Why? Obviously I don’t know for sure, but based on Christians history, it is easy to speculate.

I think an obvious part of it is likely that they want the LBGTQ community to know they support them. I also think, based on how Christians have historically reacted to this type of news, Disney knew this would cause a firestorm and ignite a huge public debate. My news feed was certainly consumed with the movie tagged in statuses, news articles and blogs. To me it seemed as if Disney put out this vague announcement about some sort of “gay” moment and then sat back and watched the internet lose it. And the discussion spanned the whole spectrum, with people both praising and demonizing Disney for “normalizing” the lifestyle. But, while there were a lot of people happy to hear about the scene, the loudest voices came from Christians who were angry about it.

Boy, Oh Boy…cott

And that’s the point I want to make. We, as Christians, have become so predictable about how and what we will respond to negatively that we were played. And whether Disney did it on purpose or not doesn’t matter. In today’s social media driven culture everyone knows that any publicity is good publicity. Companies know that if you can get people talking about their product, most times it is a good thing. So Disney put out some vague statement and sat back and watched everyone talk about it. Ultimately the boycott did nothing. In fact, I actually heard people say that one of the reasons they wanted to see it more than they did before was to “see how far” Disney went with the scene. Then, when the movie premiered, the scene was so subtle it made Christians look ridiculous and the boycott even more so.

The truth is, the world will continue to move toward worldly things and we are not called to stop it. Jesus will when He returns. Our job, while we are here, is to be His witness to people, not governments or corporations. We are called to make individual disciples, not reorient constitutions and business strategy. Introducing people to Him changes heart and that will be what ushers in the Kingdom of God. I’m not saying not to boycott or protest, do it if you want to. I am saying it is a waste of time and energy if you want to follow Jesus the way He called us to. He called us to love and serve others in hopes that they may know and come to Him.

Boycotts won’t stop people from seeing the things we disagree with, but they may just stop them from seeing Jesus.

 

 

 

photo: Flickr/(LeFou)Jeff Kern and (Flag)torbakhopper (changes made to original images)

As a Christian, You Have to Go First

Go first

We live in turbulent times. At every turn it seems a new calamity befalls us. People are quick to use tragedies as an opportunity to press their agenda – and prove their view – insisting they are the most correct.

At best this is disheartening. Closer to reality, this response is soul crushing. One of the saddest aspects is what I see in my newsfeed, from my tribe, my fellow Christians. I see my people trying to prove how right they are. What I see running rampant is pride of historical privilege.

Our heritage

Throughout the last 1500 to 1800 years, Christianity has been the religion of choice for entire countries. Christianity was often married to the state. Americans have enjoyed this privilege. It is only within the last 30 to 50 years that we have felt challenged. Because of our longstanding connection to using our religion to shape governments, it has been engrained in us that whatever our view is, it is correct.

A serious problem occurs when the need to be right is our first concern. When our rights become first, discounting people becomes easy. It becomes easier to dismiss hurting and broken people. Politicizing our religion, for the sake of being right, suggests we believe our commission from Jesus was to be right. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing more contrary to the work of Christ.

Jesus and your rights

When I read the Bible, I cannot find any directive that encourages Christians to hold tightly to the principle of being right. Instead what I read are passages like Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves,” Matthew 18:22, when speaking of how often to forgive, Jesus said, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times,” Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” and Matthew 5:39, “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

The Gospel message is flooded with ideas like this. Jesus never said to stand up for our “rights” at the cost of loving people. In fact, everything that He said opposed that view. He said things like “the first will be last and the last will be first.” He was not talking about the monetarily rich or poor. He was talking about the proud and the humble. Jesus’ entire view of ministry is spelled out in Mark 10:45 when He said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Our Real agenda

At the end of the day, if you are a Christian, tragedy is not an occasion for you to push your agenda. It is actually the perfect time to push Jesus’ agenda; which is serving and loving people. Even more, you must begin before a tragic event. Loving people must be interwoven into our daily life. So much so, that Jesus’ agenda becomes our response – to every situation. I am not suggesting that we disengage from the political arena, because the Gospel is intended to change hearts. And through the change of hearts, we may have the opportunity to influence governments and cultures. Everything begins with engaging people.

And it does not matter what group you think I am talking about. Pick one: LGBTQ, Democrats, Republicans, Muslims, etc. Regardless of the existing issues between Christians and any of those groups, someone has to close the gap. Someone must go first.

Because of who we are in Christ, and who we chose to follow and call Lord, we go first. We get to go first. We always go first. When it comes to love and compassion, we go first. We are to be Christ to everyone who comes into contact with us. The privilege to represent Him should compel us to go first – with no agenda but His. Go first, without concern for being right, and instead carry the desire to serve, not to be served.

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Photo: www.theausbilders.com

The Good Men Project Article – May 22, 2016

Yesterday The Good Men Project published a second article I wrote for them. It’s an important subject if you’re a Christian. At first glance it may look like the article is about the Transgender bathroom issue, but that’s only a surface level issue. The real topic behind the article is fear and how we, as Christians, should approach it. Thanks for reading and as always, healthy dialogue is always welcome.

A Christian Dad Sounds Off on the Lies About Transgender People and Restrooms

Transgender

If you had to explain it to someone from another country, what would you tell them appears to be the biggest issues facing our country? Our economy? The millions of people who live in poverty? Our hard broken justice system? The fact that a crazy misogynist has grabbed the GOP nomination essentially unchallenged? Nope, nope, nope and nope. Oddly, you would likely be closer if you said our biggest issue, especially within the conservative Christian camp, is whether a person should be able to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Realistically this has been a point of contention and debate in one form or another for quite a few years, with instances like bakers refusing to make cakes for same gender weddings, the push to legalize same gender marriage, local government officials refusing to execute their civic duty when it comes to issuing said marriage licenses and a myriad of other rights that members of the LGBTQ community are working toward gaining. And in all that, Christians have been some of the loudest voices of opposition.

Read more [HERE]

 

Photo: Flickr/Peter K.Levy

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