The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.


Royal Romance with the King of Heaven

A few days ago, my friend Michelle put this post up. I think that is what started this train of thought.

Thursday, my friend Christy flew into Nashville for the Singles Retreat. She couldn't stay with her boyfriend, so she came and stayed with me that night. While I was waiting for her to get in, I popped in Beauty and the Beast. You should know I'm a sucker for kids movies. I consider myself something of a connoisseur, having spent so many hours babysitting and teaching. BATB is one of my all-time favorites. The songs are catchy, without being annoying, the characters are well-done, the story is a classic. So because I hadn't watched it in a while, I did.

And I got a whole new take on it this time.

If you haven't seen it in a while, let me paint the picture. At the end, Beast is fighting Gaston (the bad guy) on the roof, and is just giving up, believing Belle has left him forever. Then he hears Belle's voice, sees her, and rallies. He and Gaston do battle all over the castle's turrets, and the Beast finally gains the upper hand. He has the opportunity to throw Gaston off the roof, but shows him mercy instead. He climbs up to the balcony, where Belle waits for him, and they are reunited. But Gaston takes advantage of his turned back, and stabs the Beast fatally (and then falls to his own death). Beast collapses onto the floor, and Belle leans over him. As he dies, she cries, and whispers, "I love you." Her tears have a unique effect. The rain falling on them gets all sparkly and colorful, and he is touched by the magic. He not only is healed of his wounds, but transformed into a new creature, one worthy of Belle.

Is this a mind-blowing portrayal of God's love, or what? The image of God (Belle) loving us enough to not only heal and forgive us, but to transform us through his mercy into new beings - his children! I think even the battle between Beast and Gaston has meaning: we can fight Satan with all our might, but ultimately, he has a weapon we don't (death), and is sneaky in his approach to us. We cannot defeat him without God's power. But with God, nothing can touch us.

All weekend at the retreat, every time we sang or heard about God's love, my mind brought up the image of the Beast bathed in the power of Belle's love, being made perfect and whole, and I would just tear up!

******WARNING: MORE FEMINISM AHEAD*******
I think the fact that we think of God in only masculine terms keeps us from seeing Him in female archetypes. We forget that He revealed Himself as father because He set His plan into action in a patriarchal world, where only the strongest male would be viewed with respect and awe. And that it was a patriarchal world not because He is male, but because in a world where physical strength is power, men are necessarily going to dominate. In our world, power is defined by money, intelligence, ambition, and other characteristics found in both sexes; it is why the patriarchal system is (slowly) dying out. I hope that we can begin to see God as He is - as above both genders, embodying them both.

Did you know that there are more references to the "feminine" characteristics of God than the "masculine" in the Bible? Not a ton more, but at least enough that we can see both. (I wish I could cite that; I learned it in Jan Fortner's Women's Ministry class at Harding.) God as redeemer, comforter, care-giver, is at least as present as God as protector, victor, provider. Just food for thought.

6 Responses to “Royal Romance with the King of Heaven”

  1. # Blogger Phil

    Just a question from the male perspective on the feminist perspective as a whole.

    I think when I hear feminism, it invokes ideas of women being better than men. I don't think it is (necessarily), but that's where my mind goes. Can we use equalism or something like that? That's what Sheryl and I strive for in our relationship. For instance, if it had been up to me, we'd have signed up for England two months ago. But it had to be a decision that the two of us made together.

    I look forward to a time when we don't have to think about whether men and women are equal. They just are.  

  2. # Blogger john alan turner

    Egalitarian is the word. Just wanted to chime in on something and get your opinion. I was in a conversation recently about how the whole image of being the "Bride of Christ" is baffling to a lot of guys.

    I used the image of God as a faithful husband (Hosea 2) Saturday morning and wondered if I didn't lose some of the guys there.  

  3. # Blogger Tiffany

    I think both of y'all are right. I use "feminism" tongue-in-cheek a lot, which is a habit from high school. (I went to Lipscomb, and every time I expressed opinions that were not the traditional conservative view, I was labelled a feminist. It's a defensive thing, I guess!) I also think that the term gets a bad rap. After all, a feminist is defined as someone desiring equal rights for both sexes. But, like any belief system, extremists often determine how society views the movement.

    I, too, look forward to the day when no one even thinks about what rights one sex or another has. (For the record, too, working in the child support courts, I can see that men aren't always treated as well as the women!)

    John, I heard about the "bride of Christ" debate. Unfortunately (fortunately?), not being a man, I've never struggled with that concept. It's fairly natural. Of course, I was once told that I didn't need to be upset that I wasn't married, since I was already the bride of Christ.  

  4. # Blogger Malibu Librarian

    Tiffany,

    I hate to be a pest and sound off on every single one of your posts, but you've brought up a very interesting subject. As the lucky chap who is married to the professor who currently teaches the Women & Politics class here at Pepperdine, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that there are several different forms of feminism - radical feminism, marxist feminism, postmodern feminism, etc. Radical feminism is what many people have in mind when they use the term "feminist" in a pejorative sense. Most feminists I know in no way argue that women are superior to men...at least not the good feminists. (One doesn't have to be a "marxist" to agree with most of Marxist feminism, for that concept merely states that until women receive equal economic opportunities in a given society, that society has a ways to go.)

    However, as you correctly point out, technically one is a feminist if one wants women to have the same rights as men. It's feminist to think women and men should be paid equally for equal work. It's feminist to advocate greater economic opportunities for women. In fact, if you are an "egalitarian" you are, by definition, a feminist. I'm certainly a feminist, and proud of it. I suspect most reasonable people are.

    Ok, enough geeky sermonizing.  

  5. # Blogger Phil

    One thing I forgot to mention, Tiff, was that I really liked what you said about the relationship with God and His love.

    I'm really looking forward to some conversations with you as we get ready for this trip.  

  6. # Blogger Jana

    GREAT insight on seeing the female side of God...thanks for sharing...  

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