In taking Beauty and the Beast from animation to live action, Disney has chosen to portray Gaston’s sidekick LeFou as a possibly gay man (the evidence is ambiguous). Some people are outraged.
Nor with the even more problematic main theme which is that Belle is in an abusive situation that can only be put right if she stays committed to it so that her true love will eventually transform the beast into someone who treats her right.
Putting the abuse dynamic and Lumiere’s character aside for purposes of this post, Disney’s decision to bring a possibly gay character into a film is clearly another indication that being gay or lesbian is losing its pariah status. Does Disney’s choice also demand a response from those who belong to Jesus Christ?
I think so, but my suggestion might not be what you’re expecting.
Looking to Jesus as our example of how to embrace people
Who were among society’s pariahs when Jesus ministered in Israel?
Prostitutes – Jesus allowed one to touch him in ways that shocked the religious leadership.
Gentiles, especially women – Jesus healed the daughter of a woman who kept begging for a miracle until he said yes.
Enemy Soldiers – Jesus declared one Roman officer to have more faith than anyone he’d met in Israel.
In each of these situations consider how the Jews around Jesus must have responded, especially that last one where they heard that Jesus considered a foreigner to have more faith than any of them!
So what should we do when it comes to the ever-increasing visibility of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and other people who identify as LGBTQIA, a classification that some still consider lesser people, a group that some still want to treat as pariahs?
Get ready to love and embrace
One thing to keep in mind is that there were people in Bible times who were also gay and lesbian. Can you imagine an army the size of David’s with not a single gay soldier in it? The statistics make the odds astronomical, at least. And all those crowds who came to hear Jesus preach; surely some of those thousands were lesbian or gay. Think too about people in your own life today. Are you sure no one at work, no one you went to school with, no one in your family is gay?
The real issue is not that movies portray gay characters, because art has always imitated life. Actors, plumbers, lawyers, football players are each professions with all sorts of people in them. In fact, take any profession you like and you’ll find LGBT people are members of it. It’s no good pretending otherwise; you’d just be denying reality.
A lot of people find this topic uncomfortable. Perhaps you were raised to think this should never be spoken of, to wish you never had to think about it, and you’d like never to have to talk to your kids about it. Yet that would mean ignoring the people God has put in your life. God calls you to love them just as you love people you’re comfortable being around.
So do as Jesus did. Spend time with people, get to know them, and show them God’s love. After all, it’s not really like you’re going to meet anyone new. Gays and lesbians and others are already among your family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances, and among people from church as well. It’s just a matter of now knowing that.
And of showing people what it means to have a relationship with Jesus, who loves them just as much as he loves you.