Am I the only one who’s so excited for all of these new Disney live-action movies? I absolutely loved Aladdin and the Cinderella remake that came out a few years ago.
But the Disney remake I am most excited for (and nervous about, to be honest) is The Little Mermaid.
Ariel has always been one of my favorite princesses, but for all of these years I never really questioned why.
Then one day a dear friend and I discussed Disney princesses and the influence they hold over children. She pointed out that Ariel was quite flawed.
I mean, she’s a 16 year old mermaid who trades her voice and basically her whole life to Ursula, the sea witch, in order to win the love of a human prince she previously rescued.
I pondered this for a while, wondering why I admired Ariel so much when I knew that compromising who you are for a guy is wrong.
As a daughter of God, I only want to be sold out to Jesus Christ. But the more I meditate on the life and ministry of Jesus and how He died such a gruesome death for us, the more I believe that Ariel’s story might hold more Biblical value than I originally realized.
A New Life
First, I want to clarify that Ariel did not trade her voice for just a man. Yes, she loved Prince Eric. But long before she ever saw him she was obsessed with the human world above the surface.
In the famous scene when Ariel sings “Part of Your World,” you can see all of the treasures she’s gathered from the human world. Even the song lyrics themselves describe how she wants to walk and dance. How she wants to experience human life.
Ariel didn’t just want a man–she wanted a whole new life.
Similarly we are called to a new life in Jesus Christ–the only perfect man and Son of God who gives us access to the Father.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6 NIV)
We are called to die to ourselves and live the mandate of the Gospel to love God and others.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23 NIV)
Although I wouldn’t say that The Little Mermaid is an allegory for the call of the Gospel, Ariel’s devotion to a new life does parallel with the cost of following Christ in this world.
Crazy, Reckless Love
Ariel’s dream and sacrifice to live her new human life is admirable, but what about her boy obsession?
We can’t deny that Eric was the catalyst for Ariel’s choice to leave the sea. But is this obsessive, risk-taking love really something we should be teaching young girls?
Actually, yes. But we need to prioritize our love. You see, Jesus’s love for us was pretty crazy–some would say reckless.
He suffered persecution, pain, and beatings that left Him looking less than human. He was nailed on the cross to pay for the sin and failures that we caused.
And through it all, His prayer was “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).
Then, after three days, Jesus rose from the grave in victory over sin and death. We now have the gift of eternal life, endless love, and purpose when we choose to follow Jesus.
What kind of amazing, reckless love is this?
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All of us are craving a love that the world just can’t give us. But God’s love for us is so powerful that He made sure a perfect sacrifice was made to get His wandering children back.
Yes, Ariel hinged her life on a decent human being whom she loved. How much more is Christ’s love for us, when He died for us at our worst?
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
Going Deeper Than Disney
Although I don’t agree with all of Ariel’s choices, I think that maybe we could use a little more commitment and wholehearted devotion to one another in a world where divorce rates are sky-rocketing and people are too scared to commit to anyone.
This passionate, sacrificial love can be beautiful–as long as you keep Jesus Christ as your first love. When we start to walk out the calling of deep love in our lives, we will find a satisfaction greater than anything else in this world.
Ariel is still my favorite Disney princess, and that’s not just because I think mermaids are cool.
She has challenged me to live a life of deeper love and devotion to God and others. She has reminded me of the One who payed the ultimate price on my behalf.
What about you, lovely one? Do you think Ariel is a good role model for girls? Who’s your favorite Disney princess? Let me know in the comments below!
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The title image featured on this blog was created by Paige Miller, a wonderful friend and talented artist. You can find more work from Paige by visiting her Instagram @paigemillerart
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