Q. How can we prepare our children to engage pop media’s cultural values?

by Kevin Carson

A. As the news broke that Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast includes the company’s first-ever portrayal of an openly gay character, many parents, although not necessarily surprised, responded with shock and anger. However, in this age, it should not be a surprise that both the good and bad of culture is increasingly infused in all entertainment, including that made for the youngest audiences.

Parents, please consider this issue first: most entertainment companies are not Christian value-based companies. This LGBTQ inclusion by Disney is just the latest of many places where biblical values are challenged or outright undermined. Regarding LGBTQ inclusion, recently a Disney XD show displayed several gay kisses in a Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode, and Disney writers included a homosexual relationship on the TV show Good Luck Charlie in January 2014 when it revealed Taylor had two moms. However, these are not the only places where Disney, and almost all other entertainment companies, defies biblical values. Some examples include adultery, premarital sex, disobedience to parents, disrespect of parents, use of the supernatural, and total self-indulgent living. None of these behaviors reflect a biblical worldview either. Therefore, our response to our children must be balanced with self-reflection. Do we strive to pay attention to and address all areas of worldview conflict or only those we find particularly disturbing?

So how do you respond as parents?

  • Teach your children to live a life that honors the Lord in everything. This conversation is not just about entertainment, but for all of life. The apostle Paul taught, “Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Handling sexuality and one’s personal desires of any kind must fit under this overarching life principle. Our motivation should reflect a Christ-like character that honors God.
  • Teach your children about biblical authority. As God’s words to mankind, the Bible reflects the Creator’s design and desire for His creation. Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed (inspired) and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible carries God’s authority for living life to His glory. It helps us know how to think, desire, and live in ways that honor Him.
  • Teach biblical sexuality in age-appropriate ways to your children — possibly much differently than your parents or grandparents ever considered. Entertainment choices of all types, what is available through the plethora of internet resources and social interaction with other children, force parents to actively teach their children God’s design and intentions for sex. This conversation must begin early and continue throughout the teenage years.
  • In each of these conversations, interact with your children at the heart level. Honoring God in life is not just about your child’s behavior. Honoring God begins with the heart. Jesus taught all good behavior or bad behavior comes from the heart, “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Therefore, as you talk with your child, recognize the issue includes more than just a particular behavior.
  • Help your children understand sin, how it impacts people, and the need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Children need to develop discernment that begins in their own hearts (Matthew 7:1-5). It is vital they learn to identify and evaluate anything that does not honor God. However, it is also equally imperative parents teach them how evaluation should fuel a passion to see others reached with the Gospel. The goal is not just informed children; rather, it is Gospel-centered children with a love for Jesus and a burden for others.
  • Practically speaking, be sensitive to what your children sing, repeat, or act out in response to media of all types. Pay attention as you see and hear your children play with others or individually. Be ready to have helpful conversations with your children as they seek to make sense of the world around them.