Descendants is a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) about the children of some prominent Disney villains (Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, The Evil Queen, and Jafar) attending a school for Princes/Princesses (i.e. the children of Disney heroes/royalty) after years of being isolated on an island of evil where magic had been blocked. It’s a cultural shock as these generally impoverished Disney villain’s children find themselves in the wealthy and always good lifestyle of the wealthy Disney Princes and Princesses children. As the movie progresses, we see the characters fighting their evil upbringing as they begin to see the benefit of good society and the friends they begin to make. It ends with that internal turmoil for the characters are they fight between trying to be in the image of their parents and the inward desire they are feeling to be, quite frankly, good. In this, we are reminded of some Biblical truths. Let’s talk a bit more about the film as well as this truth.
SPOILERS FOR THE DCOM DESCENDANTS AHEAD
The basic plot is that at some point in time, the many Disney Princes/Princesses bandied together and finally defeated all the Disney villains. They elected Prince Adam (i.e. the Beast of Beauty and the Beast) as their President and they sent all the villains to an anti-magic protected island. Flash forward and on his 16th Beauty and the Beast’s son Ben is about to become King. Before his coronation, he requests from his parents that the children of some of the villains be given a second chance and allowed to come to their royal school. He picks the daughter of Maleficent (Mal), the daughter of the Evil Queen (yes that’s her name…and her daughter’s Evie), the son of Jafar (Jay), and the son of Cruella De Vil (Carlos). Their parents, led by Maleficent have another plan. Once they’re let in – she wants them to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand and break them free from the island. As I mentioned before, the plot follows these new students as they adapt to their new environment and battle their two urges – one from their parents, and one from the influence of the good people around them.
At the end of the film, we find the four villain’s offspring standing toe to toe with Maleficent…and choosing good. As Ben says to Mal, “You are not your mother.”
The Bible is interesting in how it speaks to the sins of one’s parents. First, they do impact you (Exodus 20:5, 1 Corinthians 15:22). We see that in the film as the main characters start out on the “Isle of the Lost” suffering for the inequity of their parents. They are living in destitute in a prison colony with no magic and only fellow villains. Their inequity does impact them. The same goes for us as parents – our sin impacts our children and can hurt them, as it did these characters. The ending scene with Mal and Maleficent where we truly see Maleficent’s evil and lack of love really displays that fully; the hurt in Mal is real as she sees the lack of love from her mother.
That said, you are not your parents. Their sin is not your sin and you can choose to live differently (Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20, Jeremiah 31:29-30). Where you came from, who your parents are – none of it matters to Christ (Romans 3:29, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). What matters is you.
You make the decision to obey the Lord or to disobey the Lord. You make the decision to accept the free gift of salvation from Christ or not. You make the decision to abide in the Lord’s will or to rebel against it. You decide whether to live in the world and apart from it or to be of the world. These are not your parents decisions to make, but your own. Of course they will have an impact on you – but you can change direction, you can choose different, you can reject their sinfulness. Merely because your parents were horrible human beings, does not mean you have to be. A Biblical example is the life of King Hezekiah.
Hezekiah’s father, King Ahaz, worshipped the false idols of the surrounding kingdoms and did what was wicked in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 16:1-4). It would have been easy for Hezekiah to fall into the same sin as his father. But, he did not. Instead he changed direction and trusted in the Lord (2 Kings 18:1-8). This led to prosperity in Judah and in his reign. There was peace in his lifetime, even if future generations saw chaos.
Hezekiah chose a different path than his father. Mal, Jay, Evie, and Carlos did the same, choosing the path of goodness instead of the path of evil their parents had walked. They chose to reject the evil of their parents and embrace goodness. We have a similar decision to make. We can follow the god of this world or we can follow the Lord. We can embrace the sins of the flesh or the glory of the Lord. In the end our parents do not get to make that decision for us – we have to decide for ourselves.
Image via Disney / JustJaredJr.