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Topics: Cultural Engagement, Family, Spiritual Formation

How Will They Let it Go?

April 30, 2014

by Steve and Candice Watters

Our family hasn’t seen Frozen.

When we had an open afternoon and considered seeing it, we read some reviews and decided against going. And for the most part, we forgot about it. But then the soundtrack came out, and then the DVD. And now, well it seems Frozen is everywhere.

In the past two weeks, we heard three preachers reference it in their sermons. The pastors we heard, along with reviews we read, noted the film’s popularity and some of the good lessons it contains, indicating that Frozen is better than other Disney princess fare, even including a redemptive message about sacrificial love. But they raised caution about this one song–Elsa’s “Let it Go” with the spirit of the age lyrics “No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free.”

“Parents,” one pastor cautioned, “you should talk to your kids about this. Tell them isn’t the way of Christ. This isn’t the message of the Gospel.”

This was a helpful caution, but it made it all the more striking when we noticed another recurring theme. In spite of any concerns raised about the message of this song, “Let it Go” is the very thing kids seem to remember most about Frozen. One parent joked about how his daughter figured out the “repeat track” button on their CD player so she could play this one song over and over.

Every movie is a mix of good and bad; of things worth thinking about and things you hope to forget. How should parents decide what to see, and what to let our kids see? We regularly read Focus on the Family’s movie reviews before going to the theater. They have helpful discussions of a movie’s plot, as well as a list of positive and negative elements, offensive language, objectionable content, spiritual themes, and more. Their reviews help us, in light of Scripture, to determine if a movie is redemptive overall—if the good substantively outweighs the bad and if the bad is something that can lead to fruitful conversations with our kids.

It can be more challenging, however, when a harmful message is in the form of music. Music is powerful. We connect with music at a different level. Music makes ideas sticky, especially when songs have a catchy melody. And “Let it Go” is sticky. How, will you as parents help your kids get this song unstuck from their minds and hearts? Before you press play, again; before you spin the soundtrack for the 100th time, ask yourself, with a song and a worldview this compelling, how will you help your kids let it go?

We’re forming consciences

Your kids are watching you. When they see something on the screen that they suspect might be off, a little naughty, or downright wrong, they look to you–and especially to your reaction–for clues about how they should respond. When parents laugh nervously at innuendo, looking at each other knowingly, relieved that the kids seemingly aren’t in on the joke, they are setting an example their children will follow. God gives us consciences that are awake at the earliest ages. And those consciences are being formed from the start–either encouraged in their sensitivity toward holiness, or hardened toward sin (Romans 2:15). I remember looking anxiously to my parents when I suspected something shouldn’t be funny. If they were laughing, whether from nervous knowing, or true humor, I figured it must be ok to laugh.

I’ll never forget the time I brought friends home after a school banquet (our Christian high school’s version of prom) to watch a movie. It was something I’d never seen, but shortly after it started, I knew it was wrong. The film was a comedy and full of raunchy humor. I was mortified. And paralyzed by peer pressure. Then my Dad walked into the family room and started watching. Within minutes, he said, “Guys, this is wrong. This is a bad movie. You need to turn this off and play a game.” I was mortified. And relieved. He rescued me. I’ll never forget his courage. Rarely have I felt so protected from harm. We need to be that sort of safe haven for our kids.

We bear the responsibility to disciple our children and that includes guiding their media engagement. Whether it’s a catchy tune in Frozen or the next big thing that everyone’s watching, are you committed to praying for wisdom, watching with discerning eyes, and talking with them about what they’re seeing and how they’re thinking about the film, the song, the book, all of it? It’s never just entertainment–even when it seems like a mostly good, innocuous cartoon.

Because we have an enemy who is prowling around like a lion, seeking someone to devour; because he disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14); we have to recognize that even seemingly innocent children’s stories can be a means of sowing doubt. We need to be sober-minded and watchful, on the alert for danger both overt and subtle (1 Peter 5:8). Like Circe who warned Odysseus of the deadly song of the Sirens, urging him to have his men tie him to the mast of the their ship and fill their ears with beeswax so he could hear the song and not fall under its power, we must warn our children to guard themselves from evils ahead.

In the real world, no amount of rope fastened to a wooden mast will protect them from temptation. For that, we must faithfully point them to the One who was held fast to a wooden cross, plead with them to put their faith and trust in Him, and do our best to guard and guide them on the way.[]

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