LeFouGate, Part Two: A Christian Response

Have you ever had this strange, twingy, glance-over-the-shoulder feeling that something is wrong even when there are no obvious signs of it? That’s how I felt about my last blog post on Christians’ reaction to the announcement that LeFou would be portrayed as gay in Beauty and the Beast.

At first, I couldn’t pin down what was bothering me. Most everyone loved it. It was pretty mildly worded and cautious. I didn’t get sucked into the sarcasm trap or say anything that someone could take personally.

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And, although I felt like I didn’t cover nearly the ground I wanted to, the main message was helpful: if you’re going to be offended by something, be careful to explain why in a gracious way to start better discussions.

But there’s something important that I completely left out.

All of the sample explanations I gave were reasonably worded. Even if you totally disagree with their take on sexual ethics—whether homosexual relations are okay or not—I hope they came across simply as people taking a stand on something they believed.

But—and this is hard—I think some, even most, Christians were not just upset about a gay character in a Disney movie because of their interpretations of the Bible or because of their desire to maintain the innocence of their children.

They were upset because sometimes they do consider LGBT people offensive. They find the idea of loving others who deeply disagree with them in this area incredibly hard. Some are trying to work out what that looks like. Some, sadly, don’t want to.

Christians, we have to admit it: sometimes we don’t love people like we should, and our record with LGBT people is pretty grim.

There are Christians all over a spectrum on what “love” means and looks like. I am pretty far into the camp that says “love” doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t—mean acceptance or endorsement of everything a person chooses to do. Even from my own life, I know that wouldn’t be loving at all, because I need the people who tell me when I’m wrong.

But yesterday I remembered the Day of Silence, and I knew why my first response was incomplete.

At my high school, the Gay-Straight Alliance club participated in a Day of Silence every year to draw awareness to hate crimes directed toward those who came out as anything other than heterosexual during their teen years.

My choir teacher always took the opportunity to give us a serious talk on how gay teens had a much higher suicide rate. From there, he broadened the application to encourage us not only to stop bullying others, but to stand up for those who were marginalized.

It always gave me this feeling of uneasy tension. I agreed wholeheartedly with him. My compassionate crusader heart leapt to the defense of anyone being hurt, even to the point of self-righteous anger against anyone I saw as even vaguely mean. I still remembered the day I accidentally made a kid cry, and ever since then I’d taken on a Captain-America-like vigilance with the words I spoke to others.

I wanted to love everyone around me. Really.

But when it came down to it, I made no effort to get to know the kids in my choir or theater classes who identified as gay. I kept uncomfortably quiet when classmates made crude jokes about others. I never prayed for my gay peers, never participated in a Day of Silence in any way, not even finding the ones with duct tape over their mouths and telling them that even though we disagreed, I cared about them and would defend them with every chance I had.

I didn’t say that because I wasn’t sure I would.

If you had asked me on a day I was feeling particularly honest, I would tell you that the students I knew were gay frightened me, just a bit, because I didn’t know how to respond to them.

I think I saw some of that same fear in the Facebook outrage over Beauty and the Beast. And I don’t want to be silent about it.

What was bothering me about yesterday’s post was that sometimes my words and my heart don’t line up. It was the Holy Spirit convicting me and saying, “Hey, what you said might be true, and people might appreciate it, but God doesn’t judge by outward appearances.”

This post will not be as popular as the last one, more than likely. But I hope you’re willing to assume for a minute that this might be you too, not just someone else.

Hear me: it’s totally fine to speak out about what you think is or is not appropriate for a kids’ movie. But as you do so, please, take a moment to listen, to understand, to feel the tension.

Know that for some people, even a comedic sidekick represents a character who they can identify with for the first time, and much more than that, a sign that they can be accepted and live normal, happy lives. That’s what LeFou looks like to them.

Think about that. And think about what the Christian response must look like to them as well, especially when it isn’t defined or explained in any way except “I protest this.”

Whether or not you think homosexuality should be normalized, these are real people you are afraid of. These are real people who you might have offended with your general anti-gay post about the movie because, no matter what your actual beliefs are, they are hearing that you wish people like them did not exist, or at least that you wish they’d exist silent and unseen.

If you are feeling a little uncomfortable right now, good. Rest in that for a moment. As a Christian, even one who interprets the Bible to say that homosexual practice is a sin, you shouldn’t just refer to love in general without living it in reality. I shouldn’t either. And sometimes I do.

Again, your goal is not to look tolerant to everyone around you, to hide your beliefs so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. But if you haven’t asked, “Does what I say and post speak the truth in love?” now would be a good time to challenge yourself in that area.

And, maybe more, if like me, your response that of course Christians are supposed to love their gay neighbor is true in theory but not in your life…now would be a good time to pray about that and let God show you what you should do in response.

I’m not asking you to change your stance. I’m asking you to take a look at your motives.

We love to be outraged, but we often direct that outrage at anything but our own sin, where the outrage would do the most good. We love to examine Hollywood, but not our own hearts.

My challenge is this: use LeFouGate to do both.

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18 comments

  1. Hey Amy, well sorry about this, ‘I didn’t have time to write a short comment, so I wrote a long one instead.’

    I really appreciate the way that you regularly turn the question back to the reader – “We love to examine Hollywood, but not our own hearts.” Maybe my problem is that I’m not really sure how I am reacting to lefougate. I think every trailer that has come out has made me less interested in seeing it – I didn’t really enjoy Emma Watson’s ‘Little Town’ and I even less for ‘Gaston’ (especially after having seen the broadway version – a difficult number to follow). So my anticipation has been waning for some time now. I actually think that homosexual content has become too normalised for me though and that whatever they put into Beauty and the Beast is not going to be *that* bad – but that also gives me sympathy for the argument against normalising aberrant behaviour.

    If we want to complain about normalisation, we have to ask what the Christian response is to Will and Grace, Ellen DeGeneres and Queer Eye because all those are playing/have played a role in normalisation (interestingly, I discovered this wikipedia article while I was thinking about your post: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_portrayal_of_LGBT_people). As far as normalisation of ‘aberrant behaviour’ goes though, we could pick basically any chick flick and find aberrant behaviour that is hetrosexual. So I think if we want to watch movies/tv series we are subjecting ourselves to that kind of normalisation anyway. But maybe this normalisation is helping us love people for whom we would otherwise struggle to have compassion because it makes them less alien, making us better able to sympathise.

    My problem with what you wrote is that you claim “these are real people you are afraid of”. I think my natural reaction to being accused of being afraid is denial. But then I think of the elections and accusations that people are afraid of immigrants, for example, and I think I’m coming to believe that fear is not a helpful way of framing whatever is going on because it has become so pejorative. I also still don’t think that fear is the problem that I’m facing but maybe I’m in denial 😉

    The bigger question in my mind is how the church can uphold holiness without being holier than thou. That seems like the problem behind the problem because normalisation of whatever is irrelevant if we actually care about being Christlike. We aren’t supposed to be getting our morals from the culture anyway. It feels like I hear that we need to be compassionate from one set of people (the crazy liberals who go and watch Beauty and the Beast in spite of lefougate) and that we need to be holy from another set (the crazy fundamentalists who never watch TV) but far from being mutually exclusive holiness and compassion are inseparable and somehow we have divided them.

    1. Hi James!

      Long comments are great! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think “normalization” is more a problem for people because this is a kids’ movie, unlike the other examples you listed. Agree or disagree, homosexuality isn’t an issue many Christian parents feel comfortable with in kids’ media. (And I totally agree that Christians often pick and choose what to get upset about in areas of sexuality, which can be harmful.)

      It might be good for me to clarify that I don’t think everyone who responded negatively to Beauty and the Beast is acting from fear. I just think that it’s probably a factor for some people since it has been in the past for me. Even if this whole thing is a publicity stunt, if it gives us a chance to question whether we’re really loving others or only claiming to do so, it’ll be worth it.

      I love your point that “holiness and compassion are inseparable.” Very true, and the challenge is: what does that look like? I don’t think it’s possible to give a general answer to that, not for the church or even an individual, but Jesus clearly calls us to both. They way he practiced speaking the truth and love varied like crazy in every situation, so I’m trying to shift my thoughts to constantly seeking to know God more so that my responses and words are more like his. I realize that’s super vague, and maybe after asking that long enough I’ll have some conclusions about what that means for the church’s witness in the world, but for now, I just want the grace to ask the question, the courage to apply it, and the humility to admit where I’ve gotten it wrong.

  2. I really appreciate this post.

    I’m not sure if you know who I am, but your posts go by on my Facebook feed quite a bit due to our mutual friends. I think you’re a fellow Gerigian? I was on Foso from ’05-’09.

    A lot of the lessons you put in this post are lessons I’ve had to learn myself over the years, despite the fact that I’m bi. Some of that for me was a coping mechanism. If gay people were bad, I could just be self-righteous about how much better I was because I wasn’t pursuing a gay relationship. The effect was the same insensitivity to the pain of others, which I’ve had to repent of and work to address. And it’s not as though I’ve perfectly “arrived.”

    This process hasn’t changed my views on sexual ethics. I still take the stance that sex is sinful outside the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman, because the more I read the arguments on various sides the more convinced I become that this is what Scripture really does teach. I’m often frustrated by how often the people who start caring about LGBTQ/SSA/etc. pain tend to be the same people who buy bad arguments about biblical interpretation. I mean, it’s not rocket science to see why people think that a traditional understanding of the Bible is incompatible with true compassion, but I’m not so sure the biblical interpretation is really the problem. I’m always thinking about all the ways those on the “traditional” side often aren’t really living in line with biblical morality, as you describe here. And it makes sense that this is a major cause of the pain people are going through.

    So it’s always refreshing to see when folks “get it” the way you do here. Well done! (I’m not shocked. The other times I’ve clicked through to previous posts of yours they’ve been quite thoughtful and faithful.)

    If you happen to be interested in some of the stuff I’ve written on the topic, I blog on occasion over at Spiritual Friendship – http://spiritiualfriendship.org/author/jericksonsf. There is also a lot of other great stuff from the other contributors there. But don’t feel like I came here to give you a reading assignment. I mostly just want to express my appreciation for bringing this up the way you have!

    1. Hi Jeremy! I never actually lived in Gerig, but I was made an honorary member of FOSO my senior year. (Long story…but the short version is I love those guys.)

      Thanks for sharing your perspective on this topic—I especially appreciated your take on the heart of the problem (and why it could even be a struggle in your case). The more I look out outrage culture, the more I feel like we’re missing the real problems, and that you can be theological liberal or conservative and completely fail at loving God and others.

      Several of my Christian friends walk the same challenging path that you do: holding a traditional view of sexual ethics based on their interpretation of Scripture while still struggling with SSA. So, basically, they get to be misunderstood by both sides. I’ve never found it difficult to love these brothers and sisters (in fact, their courage and faith has challenged me). What’s much harder for me is knowing how to talk to people who assume that my beliefs mean I hate not only what they do, but who they are. Often, these are FB-friend-acquaintances or blog readers who don’t have much of a personal relationship with me, so I’m not sure how to respond when they mostly just interact with my words, not my deeds.

      I actually do stop by Spiritual Friendship from time to time and think it’s a great resource for Christians thinking through these issues—thanks for your contributions there, and for leaving this comment so other people can take a look at it too!

      1. Amy,

        We probably know several of the same Christians in my boat, judging from our mutual friends list on Facebook. 🙂 I think I can fairly speak for a bunch of us when I say we really appreciate it when straight Christians are willing to listen and learn from us. So thanks for listening!

        I definitely agree that it can be tough interacting with folks online. And I think I have a fairly good understanding of why people object to traditional Christian teaching, but it doesn’t make everything easy. I have the natural advantage of being able to discuss my own experience, which I think has the effect of people thinking I’m probably hurting myself in the process, but not just hating them. I guess how I’ve thought about it is that the important thing for me is to make sure that my heart is in the right place, and make sure I’m not just focusing on what others think of me. (But of course, how others perceive Christianity based on me isn’t something I should ignore.) So I don’t have perfect advice, but I do think that showing a willingness to listen and admit the difficulties people have faced is a good place to start. Hope that’s at least a bit helpful, even if just validating what you’re already doing.

    2. Hey Jeremy,
      I always appreciate the efforts of those in the LGBTQ/SSA community to reach out to the rest of us and help us along a road we are often disinclined to walk with you so keep it up 🙂
      And yes, I’m also familiar with spiritualfriendship, have you come across Christopher Yuan?

      1. Thanks for the encouragement!

        I’m familiar with Christopher Yuan. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him or interacting with him much, but I’ve read his book and several of my friends know him pretty well. I tend to think pretty highly of him. He obviously has a very different story than most of us, but it’s a powerful testimony. And he seems to have good biblical thinking about things.

  3. “Whether or not you think homosexuality should be normalized, these are real people you are afraid of. These are real people who you might have offended with your general anti-gay post about the movie because, no matter what your actual beliefs are, they are hearing that you wish people like them did not exist, or at least that you wish they’d exist silent and unseen.”

    The question I might have to raise here – when looking at it from this perspective – is how do we separate the sin from the individual and make clear a separation of the sin from the individual? The common saying that keeps coming to my mind at this is “Love the sinner, hate the sin”.

    When looking at it from the perspective here, I find myself replying with ‘No, I don’t wish that the PEOPLE didn’t exist, but I DO wish that their homosexuality didn’t exist, because while the person is not a sin, their homosexuality is.’ There is ultimately a different between the two that I think needs to be accounted for and kept in mind.

    And by that line of thought, it seems only reasonable – if not right – that if we do believe that homosexuality is indeed a sin, that we would want the sin – NOT the person – to indeed be “unseen” by way of having been driven from that persons life. Even as we love our homosexual neighbor, there is no reason we should also love their homosexuality, but instead seek Gods help in leading them away from it.

    My understanding, from what I’ve read, does make this entire thing sound like a publicity stunt – first it was announced that LeFou is an openly homosexual character in the movie. But then, after the fact, that same announcement was downplayed, making it sound like it was no big deal within the context of the movie. And in the end, what I’ve heard about the situation within the movie is that this entire controversy may well come out of a single edit that could be INTERPRETED as an indicator of LeFou being a homosexual, but without openly stating it – in effect, had the movie gone by and it never been announced the way it has been, no one would really know for sure, and there would merely be debate on IF Lefou is gay (and even that debate wouldn’t be guaranteed), rather than the debate of if the movie should have made him gay.

    I think what may also be a major problem in this situation (though I’m not sure if it’s another symptom or another cause) is what feels like an increasing difficulty within society to separate the different forms of love – it seems that for some people, romantic or sexual love is the ONLY kind of love that exists, and to reject the idea that two people who love each other must be romantically close is to reject love itself. I think the minor controversy that’s grown surrounding Steve Rodgers and his BROTHERLY love toward Bucky – where there’s grown an insistence that the only reason Captain America would care about Bucky so much is because he feels ROMANTIC or SEXUAL love towards his friend and the two should OBVIOUSLY be boyfriends – may be the best example of THAT particular problem right now.

    My own decision to avoid the movie ultimately comes from not wanting to reward the filmmakers decision, especially their decision to make a big deal out of it. Which is something I find myself reacting too more and more as it feels like the push for the normalcy of homosexuality continues to grow, even or especially in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision on a related matter. If there’s a true fear I have in all this, it’s in fear of the way it seems “polite society” no longer allows anyone to even question if homosexuality is an OK thing. Where to merely say “No, that’s not a behavior we should be encouraging” or “No, that’s not a behavior we should be ok with” is to then automatically be grouped in with the same people who say “Homosexuals should be rounded up and shot.”

    So perhaps, on some level or more, my increased intolerance of its portrayal and the portrayal of similar activities in any media – especially when it’s touted as a big deal the way it originally was for LeFou – and my increased refusal to contribute money or time to such media is largely a way for me to more easily express my displeasure with the situation in a way that I regrettably would have more difficulty doing more openly and more publicly.

    1. The way you respond here indicates to me that you haven’t spent much time listening to the experiences of various LGBTQ/same-sex attracted people. I agree with your theological stance that homosexual sexual practice is sinful, but the way you frame things here has effects you may not realize.

      It starts with the vague statement that “homosexuality” is a sin and that we should want people to walk away from it. The term “homosexuality” is relatively ambiguous. Take my experience as an example. Is it “homosexuality” every time I notice that a guy is really hot, before I go anywhere with it mentally? Is the line when I take a second glance? If I find myself wishing I could have sex with him? If I find myself dwelling on the idea? Only if we actually do something sexual (which hasn’t actually happened in my case)? And what if I find a guy attractive in a way that includes sexual temptation, but I also desire friendship with him? Can we still be friends, or is that sinful? What if I find myself spending a lot of time with him and can’t rule out my various forms of attraction as motivating this? How am I supposed to separate out what’s good and what’s bad?

      It ends up being really exhausting to think that every homosexual feeling is a sin that indicates I’m not walking in repentance. And for a lot of people, it makes it hard to avoid the more substantial sins, if they already feel like a failure from the get go. For this reason, I get frustrated with vague statements that don’t make any effort to separate out temptation, sin, and things that are actually good. The clumping of everything together is also part of why people think of romantic and sexual love as essential. In my case as someone who is attracted to both sexes, if every relationship with someone you might be romantically attracted to is romantic, that doesn’t leave me with much of an alternative. Although it’s not like I’m attracted to everyone, there’s always the possibility at the back of my mind that more of an attraction could come up.

      I think there are good answers to all these questions from within an orthodox Christian perspective, though it can be messy. To be clear, my critique has more to do with the way you’re framing things than what you’re actually saying.

      The key point I see people miss is that there’s a basic experience of attraction that is typically involuntary and doesn’t usually go away. Both myself and quite a number of my friends have spent years trying to change our orientation, with a gamut of different techniques but always involving a lot of prayer and trying to repent when we believe we have sinned. I’m still not sure if I’ve met anyone who stopped experiencing homosexual feelings, other than a few friends who experienced them during puberty and found they went away on their own as they entered adulthood. And this experience of attraction has a significant impact on our experience of daily life and interacting with others.

      Part of living in a fallen world is learning to live with situations that are not as we might like them to be, and that differ from God’s original (pre-Fall) design. So in this case, that means expecting believers to pursue holiness, but not setting up unrealistic expectations that people will stop being tempted in this life. And we also must recognize the ways that people have been hurt, and work to address those areas.

      And we should recognize that seeing a gay Disney character is powerful to a lot of people precisely because it provides a sense of being recognized and listened to, rather than swept under the rug. As Christians, we should be asking how we can provide an alternative that shows people we care, without compromising our beliefs. Without such an alternative, the message we send is that our concern for them starts and ends with our concern that they’re sinning. And it’s important to look at our own hearts and ask whether their perception has truth to it. One of my favorite pieces on this theme: http://www.matthewfranklinjones.com/2013/07/07/what-is-love/

      1. You make such an interesting point Jeremy. It is way more complicated. So here’s my 2 cents worth. Tweet size. Not sinning is hard for all of us, so we have to pray more, and love more.

        What exactly did Jesus mean when he said to the forgiven woman, “Go sin no more?” To stop what she was doing before she met him, clearly. I reckon though she stopped sinning like that because she knew Jesus loved her, because he healed her, made her knew, not because he told her what not to do, and not so she would avoid punishment. His love was enough to change her. That’s the power God has, that we don’t have. She lived better because she wanted to please him, praise him, honour his belief in her. Plus, did Jesus not say that to even look at a woman lustfully is to commit adultary with her in his heart? (Matthew 5:28). The point here is that living well, living right is hard for everyone of us. Surely this gives us more material to take to God. You can imagine how people’s prayer life changed when they first heard this. “What, I can’t even look, but my neighbours best friend’s cousin is so beautiful. What am I going to do when I see her at lunch time. Stare at her feet? Guess I’ll have to pray more. Bonus. I always enjoy talking to you Father. So thanks for the update. But she’s so beautiful. I envy her husband. Great, now I have envy. Help me Lord. I need you.”

        This is a challenge. We all struggle with these quandries of human nature.

        Temptation is not a sin, because Jesus was tempted but did not sin. The book of James I think. Temptation works like a magnet I guess, pulling us toward things we crave, and towards thoughts and actions which we cannot face alone. God invented sexual desire, right? Eros love may be selfish (C.S. Lewis The Four Loves I think) but a marriage without desire is just friendship and can be quite difficult I imagine. The whole Jacob wrestling with the angel is about dependency on God. We bring our struggles to God for strength and forgiveness, rather than quaking in fear of judgement and condemnation. And we bring them to our friends because struggling alone is isolating, and that’s bad for us. Why do we struggle with confiding in people about our struggles and temptations? Why do we rush to judge the celebrities who are struggling, the homeless who are struggling, our neighbours? We all struggle with temptations of some kind. Someone who lives these struggles can offer the most support to others struggling with these issues. You are out there Jeremy, which must be very reasuring to many. (Stay humble alarm bleeping). Jesus struggled with temptations and grief and allsorts, and so he represents the perfect support network and the perfect unity of holiness and compassion.

        Then there is friendship without sex. Totally possible. Why do we question it? We in the West seem to be a bit sceptical of love within friendship. David and Johnathen (Old Test.) were deeply committed friends who loved each other platonically (Read Just Sex by Guy Brandon p74). Why do some people struggle to believe that people who are attracted to each other are going to end up getting sexually intimate? Are these people the ones with the biggest struggles? Or is it because stories about Christian infidelity make the news when successful marriages rarely do. News is news because it’s rare. Christian fellowship crestes friendships of brothers and sisters. Attractions will occur. But giving into attractions and temptations is never inevitable as long as we keep talking about it and being accountable to each other. Self control is possible. Why, because we choose to follow our vows, promises, commitments and commandments, not our biological impulses. Maybe without these vows we’d have chaos. In 1917 when the new Russian government came to power, it tried to irradicate the family and divorce was made easy, so men exchanged wives as often as they desired. Lots of kids were born and were abandoned. Chaos. So we need rules and boundries. We wear seat belts to keep us safe, but it’s also an offense not to wear one.

        We all crave intimacy because we are more isolated than ever before. God wants intimacy with us. As long as we live in a culture that is so obsessed with sex, and puts pressure on everyone to believe its just what you do to be intimate with someone on the road towards marriage, rather than what you do to sustain a healthy marriage, we are cursing our young people to a lifetime of regrets about being sexually active before they know who they are, before they understand it’s importance in marriage. Sex is the ribbon that decorates the gift box, but it won’t hold the gift by itself. I guess friendship in marriage is the box and admiration is the tissue paper. God gave friendship and sex to us as gifts. Maybe he gave us marriage to protect our hearts. Sex within marriage means we can have lots of friends of the same and opposite sex outside our marriages without sex being a possibility. This rule then protects us. Waiting until marriage to be sexually intimate must be quite the aphrodisiac in a culture that rushes into sexual relationshios so quickly. So I suppose my main point is never write a comment to a blog at 3/4/5 am. All I know for sure is that Amy Green’ s weekly blogs are so stimulating, thought provoking, respectful, compassionate, honest and funny.

        Anyone struggling with temptations, with their sexuality and identity, needs support and friendship, and they need people to see the other things about them that make them tick. After all, we are more than just who we want to snuggle up to at night and spend our lives with. (The good Christian answer is we want to spend our lives with God because only God really satisfies. Then maybe everything else will fall into place!) God wants all of who we are. If we handle these issues sensitively, if we represent how Jesus lived, if we open our hearts in welcome, then someone struggling with temptation, identity, sexuality, etc, will be more open to opening up to God and Jesus’ loving followers about their struggles. Let’s try to keep the welcome mat open.

        1. I was thinking today about Quantum Leap. Remember that show? Sam Becket got to experience what it was like to be someone else. Perhaps if we thought more about what it might be like to walk in other people’s shoes, live their lives, have their thoughts, experience their emotions, their attractions, perhaps we would be less inclined to throw judgements at them. In my June 23rd comment, I’ve added what a typical male response might be to one of Jesus instructions and how he might find that difficult. Imagine if we could wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else. Perhaps this might make us more empathetic and compassionate, and less like the Pharisee who thinks he’s better than the sinner, (Luke 18: 9-14). I’ve also noticed some of my spelling mistakes and I can’t change them. How frustrating.

      2. Have just read the article Jeremy attached and the one it refers to : http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/one-towns-war-on-gay-teens-20120202

        “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Mark 3:25. Jesus said this, and it can be taken out of context, so read the whole passage. In John 17:21 Jesus prayed for unity. If we are divided, there cannot be unity.

        Hurt people, hurt people. People afraid of getting hurt, can hurt people. People who believe that we should love people can hurt people. Maybe this is because we are emotional human beings. Maybe this is because of what the Bible says about right and wrong. Maybe because we find it easier to judge other people than deal with our own issues. We could spend our whole lives reading the Bible and all the Christian books and on-line commentaries and still end up hurting people.

        That’s why we need to keep listening to and talking with God and with each other and reading God’s word. It keeps us searching for truth, strength and humility. We have to be able to do this without throwing about insults, arrogance, and superiority, or imagine that any one of us has the authority to badger someone’s well being. Loving people is the opposite of hurting people.

        Maybe we are all meant to be like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and discover all we need to know for ourselves.

        Maybe we live in a culture which idolizes sex. The sex talk seems to be about safe sex, rather than discussing the value of not rushing into sexual relationships. There is so much pressure on young people to be having sexual relationships, it’s compounding the lack of mental, emotional and spiritual well being in our society, especially in young people. When the Bible says something is wrong, it’s actually saying, this has negative consequences for our well being and God is trying to protect us, because he loves us. ‘Wrong’ simply brings harm. Condemning and bullying people because “they are doing wrong” or look like the kind of people who might want to do wrong, leads to the same outcome. It has the potential to push them away from God. Christians are supposed to reflect God’s love. Finger pointing is counter productive, Stigmatizing or labeling people or preventing them from even talking things over, probably won’t gain us brownie points. Not sure that God’s going to say, ‘well done for helping others to follow his commandments.’ He might ask us how we did, how we loved?

        This following musing could be considered heretical. But suicide, self-harming, bullying etc are keeping my fingers moving. One of the reasons Jesus never got married is because he could never have had children. If he had, you can imagine the conversation with his son. Jesus: “Son, it’s time for the big talk.” Son: “Mom’s already told me about that. Men like women, women like men, some men like men and some women like women, some men want to be women and some women want to be men. I get that. There is someone I like, but I like our friendship as it is. I won’t be ready for marriage till I’m at least 21.” Jesus: “Good to know, you’re only five. But I mean the other big talk, the one about me going back to heaven.” Son: “Don’t leave us, Dad, or at least wait until your a hundred and 33.” Jesus: “But you know why I have to go?” Son: “Kind of, we’ve only got to Moses in Sunday school. I know you care about your father and everyone, but don’t you care about me and your mum? And I know that being separated from your father will be tough enough, how can you bring yourself to part with us too?” Jesus: “I might have to rethink this whole saving humanity by sacrificing myself thing, but there is no other way. I am the victory over death. I am the way for humanity to be reunited with our father for all eternity. When you embrace that truth, you’ll have the rest of your earthly life to figure it out.” Son clings to his dad’s leg and cries. They have the same conversation every day. Son spends rest of his life talking to a councilor, because he cannot bear the pain of being separated from Jesus.

        For Jesus, there was no possibility for marriage. His heart, mind and soul was completely set on one objective. Living for his father, dying for us. This devotion must have made it easier to resist even tempting thoughts about marriage. The consequences of giving into temptation might have been catastrophic.

        It is the consequences that shape our decisions.

        His sacrifices, his life, his love, his death are what shape our lives, shape the choices we make and how we choose to live. We want everyone to have the same freedom Jesus gives us, but we can only show people what we believe in by how we live, and by showing them the book that can shape their lives and their choices, the book through which they can discover the heart of God and the heart of God’s truth for their lives, and how they can live for him.

        We cannot live in fear that discussion or education leads to promotion of a certain lifestyle. Denial, judgement, indifference, apathy, hostility to what we decide is wrong, leads to isolation, hurt and suffering.

        Two threads of the Bible narrative. 1.Thou art loved, return to me. I give you Jesus.
        2. Thou shalt not. You cannot.
        The church can follow after the second at the expense and neglect of the first. This alienates the secular world and Jesus followers, (For an interesting insight into what genuine Christian worship looks when pitted against just going to church because that’s what the middle classes do, see the third season/ second episode of the historical drama Poldark (U.K. BBC TV) The vicar in the drama is not acting like a Christian. Some attitudes have not changed. I’m now the one being judgemental. What a vortex.)

        The second follows the first. We are loved, so we just won’t. He loves us. We love God, we want to please him. His sacrifice means everything, so we’re devoted, we’re loyal, we’re in a state of love over this, over him. Why, because we got muddy, we asked Jesus to clean us up and he did. To go back out there to play in the mud after what he did to get us clean, to make us new, we’re just not going to go there. We might glance at the mud, might even long to return and play in it, and even though we won’t get dirty, it would disrespect the sacrifice he made to rescue us. Once given, our forgiveness is eternal. So our gratitude and love fill us with worship and now we won’t do what we know won’t satisfy, not so much because it’s deemed wrong, but because we want to follow a more satisfying life. For anyone still playing in the mud, they are more likely to lose sight of Jesus, if he’s being blocked by all the clean folk pointing fingers at how dirty they are and how much they need Jesus. If the not muddy ones are pointing to Jesus, showing those in the mud what lies before them, and what Jesus does, they are more likely to reach out to him.

        I hate the word they. I prefer using we, because I don’t like terms that divide or that separate people into them and us. A journey to Jesus and with Jesus is just that. We begin by being muddy, standing on the edge of a swimming pool. We can step into the shallow end or we can jump right in at the deep end. Or both. However we get there, we have to make a commitment to start swimming, and embrace the ride, even when there are big waves. We start sinking the moment we stop swimming to start splashing those on the side of the pool who are watching us, trying to decide whether or not to jump in. No one wants to jump into a swimming pool if it looks unpleasant or dangerous or full of sharks and piranhas. So let’s not stop people from wanting to swim in Jesus.

        For interesting reading about sex education and how to discuss sex and relationships in a respectful way and from a Biblical perspective read books by British Author Rachel Gardner, the founder of Romance Academy. Get Romance Academy in schools and see self-respect go up and lifestyles change. When young people, when all of us realize that our value, worth and identity are rooted in God’s love, lives can be transformed.

    2. In addition to Jeremy’s theological and personal musings, since kids will be exposed to discussions of sexuality (probably earlier than any parent would want), I think it’s good for parents to think about when and how to discuss that with them instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.

      But I think it’s fine to not go to this movie for the reasons you describe. What was bothering me was people posting articles on FB about LeFou being gay without any explanation. When the world doesn’t know why you’re making a choice, of course they assume you’re doing it because you hate gay people, because that’s the message they (unfortunately) hear more than something more complex. Will they agree with the complex explanation? Of course not! But in my opinion, it’s still better for people to say that, or probably better, to say nothing at all on social media if they don’t think they can have a helpful dialogue about it.

      Also, I hope that some people read this post and were challenged by the fact that they *say* they should love everyone, even (especially) individuals with SSA or in the gay community, but their actions don’t match up. (This, I think was what Jeremy was speaking to in his last paragraph.) Not their actions on whether to attend the movie or not—just the way they listen to stories, tell jokes, treat acquaintances, live life with others—their willingness to become uncomfortable in order to love their neighbor.

  4. One thing that I think complicates this issue is the view that many Christians have of spiritual warfare. We tend to think only of large scale conflict with clearly demarcated battle lines. We see an allegedly gay character in a kid’s movie as an act of war, and so all dutiful Christian “soldiers” must heed the call and form ranks. Us versus Them. In this case it would be in the form of a Church-wide boycott.

    However, this isn’t the example Jesus sets for us. He never mobilizes groups into direct, unified action against a tangible foe. Instead, he performs his spiritual warfare one demoniac, one adulteress, and one tax collector at a time. He doesn’t free Zacheus from the hell of Roman economics by organizing a political action committee or appointing a special prosecutor. He simply shows up.

    I have no problem with parents deciding to not let their kids watch Beauty and the Beast. But I do have a problem with Christians linking arms and marching on Disney as the people we claim to be saving are trampled underfoot. I don’t believe we have to choose between hiding our faith in the closet and jumping onto bandwagons. Isn’t real Christian love somewhere in between?

    1. It absolutely should be! I think for many Christians, it’s hard to know what the path of gracious conviction looks like. Naturally, most of us lean more toward one error or the other. Starting with the idea that our lives shouldn’t ever slip into “us vs. them,” though, is a good place for everyone to start, I think. Thanks for your thoughts on the whys behind all of this!

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