I have been blessed with 2 daughters, so this post was inevitable at some point in my life. Watching your 3 & 7 year old girls interact with Disney princesses is a truly priceless experience. After the 5th princess (no comments, please), the theological significance of what I was witnessing hit me. Work with me on this, I think it’s worth it.
The Nature of Beauty
When my girls first saw these full size, real life princesses in all their pomp and glory, I noticed 2 consistent responses: captivation and imitation. True beauty captivates us and produces in us a desire to reflect it. Allow me to elaborate.
My girls’ captivation was obvious: they couldn’t take their eyes off of the beautiful princesses. The gleaming dresses, perfect hair, sparkling crowns enthralled them. They couldn’t and certainly wouldn’t look away. True beauty captivates us. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon or seen a majestic mountain range at sunset you get the idea. True beauty captures our attention.
I was expecting captivation, but the imitation caught me by surprise. Now it shouldn’t have, since they were dressed as princesses themselves. Nonetheless, I noticed that my girls mimicked the body language, movements, and even the voices of the princesses. True beauty produces a desire in us to reflect it, or imitate it. The entire fashion industry is built on this principle. What is beautiful shouldn’t only be seen, but it should be shared.
The Glory of God
As I’m sure happens with most dads, when these thoughts hit me in line to see Cinderella I immediately thought of Jonathan Edwards. He spoke about the glory of God as a fountain of perfection, excellence, and beauty. He posited that God’s beauty is meant to be seen and adored (captivation), and also to be repeated and shared (imitation).
In The End for Which God Created the World he said it this way:
…if the fulness of good that is in the fountain is in itself excellent, then the emanation, which is, as it were, an increase, repetition, or multiplication of it, is excellent.
The point is simple: God wants us to be captivated by his beauty, and to imitate it. Those concepts are evident in Paul’s prayer for us in Ephesians 3:16-19:
I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Note especially the end: he prays that we would comprehend Christ’s love that goes beyond knowledge (captivation), and that such comprehension would result in our being filled with God’s fullness (imitation).
Get in Line
We stood in line for what seemed like eternity to see these princesses. But they were worth it: my girls were not disappointed. I wonder, are we in line to see the beauty of God? When was the last time you were captivated by God’s glory? When was the last time you reflected his holiness?
This is what faith in Jesus Christ does to us. By faith, we are now able to be enthralled with God’s perfection. By faith, we are now able to walk by the Holy Spirit and reflect God’s glory here and now.
There’s always a danger to settle for lesser beauties. Don’t. God’s glory is the most magnificent jewel in the universe, and as we experience beauty in various forms, they are meant to drive us to contemplate him. He’s worth standing in line for.
The truth is, we will be captivated by and imitating God’s beauty for eternity. We know that when we finally meet Jesus face to face,
we will be like him because we will see him as he is.
-1 John 3:2
4 thoughts on “On Disney Princesses, the Nature of Beauty, and the Glory of God”
Do you think they like princesses because they’re cool or they are supposed to and there’s really no other options for appropriate things for them to like? After all, princesses are the essence of femininity, pretty, polite, kind, sweet, they know when to let the King take the lead and are always waiting for their prince to come and rescue them. When Moana was released, the main thing was to distance her from the princess-type role. She’s not tiny, she’s not glamorous, she’s not a lot of things that the traditional princesses are.
Thanks Jamie. I believe true beauty is objective, and is only found in God himself. As he created humanity male and female, I think there are many aspects of beauty in both men and women that reflect God’s glory. That said, sin taints our perspective, and we need redemption to truly value what is infinitely beautiful. I understand that fads come and go, but true beauty transcends culture. Ephesians 5:22-33 teaches us that God created women to be princesses in one way or another: to be loved, valued, cherished, protected, etc. That doesn’t mean a princess can’t be an amazing, gifted, capable human being. Both are true at the same time.
Boys can like sports or cars or dinosaurs or bugs and it all seems to be okay. Girls get to like princesses and horses – it doesn’t open them up to athletics, design, or science. For the longest time the girls toy aisle was notoriously a peptol-bismol shade of pink. When God made the rules, the world was different and girls couldn’t dream or fathom a world where they could be astronauts (like Sally Ride) or pilots (like Amelia Earhart) we might not think of much about playtime, but it can set them up to consider what’s okay for their future and I’d like to think that all doors are open, even if they’re not specifically outlined as acceptable in the Bible.
I think you may have some mistaken notions about Biblical femininity. The Bible never prohibits a girl from being athletic or a scientist. “When God made the rules” athletics, design, or science didn’t exist either. Nothing did. He created humanity to be his steward kings and queens on the earth. Yes, that includes specific roles like father and mother, husband and wife. But those roles are a reflection of his design, not cultural preferences. Because I believe the Bible to be the Word of God, I am not open to adjusting it just because it’s doesn’t fit my culture’s values. Scripture must trump culture, or else it isn’t Scripture. But by God’s design, all doors aren’t open to men or women. If we have a problem with that, we have a problem with the Designer.