The Theology of Fairy Tales

Among well-meaning mothers, princesses can be a hot topic. Some mothers love ’em, some mothers hate ’em, so I will try to tread lightly. My two year old, Lily, grew up with trucks for toys, yet she was always drawn to beautiful things. She loves the color pink, and insists on wearing twirly dresses. I didn’t own any dresses for her except one or two that she wore over and over, so I had to go buy her some more.

Last night, I cleaned the upholstery on our dining room chairs. This morning, it was the first thing she noticed. “Mommy! You cleaned the chairs! They’re so beautiful!” Timothy would describe things he liked as amazing. Lily describes things she likes as beautiful. This is because women were made to reflect the beauty of God.

As so, I think you can find good theology in many fairy tales and princess movies. The same goes for boys loving superheroes. There is a battle between good and evil and each one of us has a part to play. Girls love to identify with the beautiful princess. Not because she is helpless and needs rescued, but because girls desire to be pursued, fought for, and triumph over evil.

As parents, we have a lot of say in how these Disney princesses are perceived, and the lessons our girls learn from it. Lily only wants to read books about princesses, so we have found some at the library and the thrift store that emphasize that princesses share and take turns. Also, there are a lot of princess saints, so you can read about them as well!

The main lesson to get across through fairy tales is that God made your daughter to be a reflection of His beauty. She is in a war between good and evil, and God wants to capture her heart. God wants to win her for the Kingdom of Heaven, so He will search after her and fight for her to do so. What girl doesn’t love that kind of story!

Below is an abbreviated version of a talk I used to give on the 8th grade girls retreat when I was a youth minister. That retreat was one of my favorite parts of the year and this talk was one of my favorites, too. So if your daughters go the princess route, perhaps it can help navigate some good theology!

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Take Cinderella. A lowly servant girl who has natural beauty. It’s just that other people have more power over her. They convince her she’s not good enough to go to the ball. But she still has hopes and dreams. And then, the ball.

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Why do we like this scene so much? Because it resonates with the way we were created: an ordinary girl becomes a princess. The prince notices her immediately and pursues her. Even when she runs away out of fear, the prince wont give up looking for her. Just like God never stops pursuing us.

In the scene where they are jumping on the bed, the Duke tells the King its just a fairy tale, it cant come true. But we like fairy tales for that reason: we hope that they can indeed come true.

All fairy tales involve what? A struggle between good and evil where good wins through love. Our fairy tale is the greatest love story ever. And its real!! Just look in the bible. For thousands of years God has been trying to capture our hearts. He can get pretty creative too – plagues, manna in the desert, talking through a burning bush.

Jesus is a person alive in your heart and desires your happiness. He is the prince who won’t give up chasing after your heart. He created you for GREATNESS!

Let’s go to creation to look and see our story of greatness: God made it and it was good – until man and woman. Then creation was very good. Humans are the high point! Genesis Ch. 2: “It is not good for man to be alone.” So God made woman. And then he had nothing better to make, so He was finished 🙂  As male and female together, they imaged the love of the Trinity.

So, if God wants to love us and speak to our hearts, why don’t we feel that way?
It’s the same reason Cinderella didn’t feel she was worthy to go to the ball. We have been convinced that there is something better than God’s love for us: Boys, sports, your favorite TV show. Being popular. And that’s messed up. It’s not the way its supposed to be, and that’s why you don’t feel loved by God all the time.
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Cinderella’s evil stepmother – her eyes go green with jealously that Cinderella is more beautiful than her daughters. The Cat’s name is Lucifer for heaven’s sake!
images-1Satan is jealous of our beauty and that God made us for greatness! Because Adam and Eve completed creation, and satan wants to be the best. And so if he can get us to be jealous of each other, if he can get us to doubt God, if he can get us to sin, he’s won.

Genesis 3:4- Satan says “can you not eat from any trees? If do you, you will be like God and know”…Deception! Lies! God make us in his image and likeness. We are already like God. But the doubt was planted – maybe God is holding out on us. Maybe there is something better. And so it began: our doubting that God wants the best for us. And so we turn away.

But we deserve to be rescued from evil!  What if Cinderella just stayed up in the attic? What if you convinced yourself that it’s easier to stay in your sin than be freed from it? You wouldn’t experience the adventure that you were created for.

But we have our proof of royalty in our Baptism and Confirmation. Like the proof of Cinderella’s glass slipper. We are reminded that we can claim those gifts and use those graces to fight evil.

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So how do we overcome evil? What is our example of greatness? The Cross. But we don’t want to suffer or give ourselves to the Cross. So we give our hearts to boy bands and to jealously, and suffer in a more meaningless way. And in doing so, we miss out on being a part of the greatest love story, the greatest fairy tale ever told. Only this one is real, and with an act of true love, the dead come back to life!

This MAN, this PRINCE, has come in disguise and gave up his life for you to restore you to the princess you are. In Him lies your happiness, the key to your greatness.

1 John 4:9 “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.”Jesus-on-Cross

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