Recently the director of Beauty and the Beast announced there was a gay moment in the new live film. Franklin Graham came out and denounced the movie, warning Christians to boycott the film. On Facebook, many Christians got in arguments about whether or not there was such a scene. Today, I saw a Facebook post where a Christian parent admitted there was such a scene, but that it was barely noticeable and easy to miss. She told parents it was ok to take their kids to see it.
These scenes of Christian outrage have become so much a part of our culture that most of us don't even know there was a time when it wasn't that way. There was, however a time when most Christians wouldn't go and see a movie at all, nor would they go to the theater. Acting, theater and movies were sin and no one who was a good Christian would be seen going to a theater of any kind. There are still a few pastors who are remnants of those time periods and hotly preach that movies and theater are sin no matter the form it takes, but most American Christians have accepted movies and theater and no longer see it as sin.
Why did we once see theater as sin? Well, many would point to Plato, who saw it as emotional when we should be concentrating on logic. Similar to Plato's viewpoint was the Puritan view. It was wasting time on entertainment when man should be working. In addition, it was believed that many actors and directors were having sexual relationships outside of marriage, especially the actresses. Was it true? There were clearly some who were having sex outside marriage and who were drinking and partying, but there were also those who tried to stay above the fray. This is still true in Hollywood. Many of them don't live lives that would be good examples for the Christian.
The plays also often pushed the envelope for many preachers. They showed women who were disobedient to their fathers and men who slept around on their wives. Never mind that it was really happening in the society already. These plays were a bad example. In this regard, nothing has changed in Hollywood. Many actors and actresses still lead lives that most Christians would not choose to model, and movies still push the envelope, like presenting a gay moment in Beauty and the Beast. So why do Christians accept movies and theater now when they didn't before? There is a lot of history behind those changes and we will talk about that next week. See you then.