It shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise to anyone that the upcoming Beauty and the Beast revamp includes a gay rendition of the character LeFou. Disney has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to things like offering benefits to gay partners, despite the backlash they received from many. While others spent hours upon hours disseminating a subplot within the movie Frozen that proposed Elsa as Disney’s first gay character (or Kristoff as Disney’s first gay Prince, or the people in the steam room), it seems the director for this film has been a bit more candid about the homosexuality of the character LeFou.
Bill Condon is quoted, “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its pay-off at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
But even still, this shouldn’t come as much of a shock for anyone who knows much about the man behind the music, Howard Ashman. Howard Ashman, prolific songwriter though he was, died prior to the original release of The Beauty and the Beast. However, it is quite clear from an interview on Den of Geek with the original producer, Don Hahn, undertones of Ashman’s own struggle with AIDS came through in his work.
Brew stated, “It’s the Kill The Beast song that gets me. ‘We don’t like what we don’t understand, in fact it scares us’… Incredible…”
Hahn replied, “I know. And Howard was struggling with AIDS at the same time. The Kill The Beast song was almost a metaphor for that. He was really dealing with a debilitating disease, in an era when it was stigmatized. And so, there were so many of those underpinnings to the movie that people may not have seen. And shouldn’t have seen. It wasn’t about the HIV epidemic at all. But if you study the man, and his struggles, and then look at his lyrics, you understand what he was going through.”
To be quite blunt, I am a little shocked that Christians are shocked about LeFou being gay. The writing has been on the wall for years by this point and while I wholeheartedly agree that Christians ought to feel indignation against this, they shouldn’t be shocked in the least. For a culture inundated with placing identity in their sexuality, in a state that is alienated and estranged from God, and in constant rebellion toward Him, this is the logical next step. Homosexuality has long been normalized in our culture and there are no signs of this regressing.
But why shouldn’t Bible-believing Christians be shocked? Simply stated, the apostle Paul describes two distinct realms that believers and unbelievers operate in (1 Thess. 4: 1-8). The Christian, having been brought from death to life, has been placed in the realm of sanctification (that is, they have a vested interest in pleasing the Lord); the unbeliever operates in the realm of vileness and impurity. They exist in these two distinct realms of operation simply by the nature of what God has done – not on the basis of their heterosexuality or homosexuality.
What is simply meant by this is that there are many who have homosexual inclinations that are now operating in the realm of sanctification and surely, there are many heterosexuals operating within the realm of vileness and impurity. The obvious caveat is that for the sinner redeemed, genuine faith, repentance, and justification have taken place, and they are presently being sanctified. More clearly, it means that though they might have these urges toward a particular manifestation of sin, they are persevering in that process of sanctification, and abiding in Christ through obedience to His will, because they have been brought to love Him.
Where do we go from here?
For starters, Christians would do well to not be personally offended by everything the culture does in opposition to God. To put it more clearly, the system of beliefs this world holds dear, has always been in opposition to God. We shouldn’t be shocked that this trend continues. We shouldn’t be shocked in being mocked by those who disagree with the Christian faith. If we believe God is sovereign, He is yet sovereign over this. We shouldn’t be all that shocked to see indoctrination through the character of LeFou.
Secondly, we ought to be guided by the principle of letting the text itself become the stumbling block. If someone rejects a proper teaching on the sexual ethic, Paul makes it incredibly clear that they are not rejecting man, but the God who gives His Holy Spirit (1 Th. 4:8). Yet we ought not ever enter into this conversation without being prepared to give an answer for the hope within us. What this means is that the gospel is the primary issue. Always.
Third, we continue going about our business, preaching this gospel in love, standing firm for the truth contained within the scriptures. We do this by being a blessing to our enemies. We do this by refusing to capitulate to the ever-vacillating, cultural mores. Yet most of all, we do this by becoming genuine friends with those who don’t know God. We build gospel-centered relationships wherein the person is not a project, but someone we actually befriend, and demonstrate a genuine love for them. Spoiler: you have to actually love them to do this.
At some point, many will have to draw a more firm conviction on their choice in entertainment. Many Christian parents will need to think more clearly on these issues and develop criteria for what they allow to disciple their children. If you aren’t discipling your children, be sure to know, someone else is. Beauty and the Beast has not been the first children’s movie the secular culture has latched on to in propagating sexuality outside of the norms of scripture and it surely won’t be the last. LeFou is indicative of the larger movement that has been going on before the eyes of children for some time now, and other characters like LeFou will continue to be revealed. We would do well to be teaching them what a proper, biblical, sexual ethic actually looks like.
Image: Disney.movies.com; used under the Doctrine of Fair Use