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“Have Courage and Be Kind”: Is the Message of “Cinderella” Biblical?

Cinderella-Lily-James

The new live-action movie version of Cinderella is enchanting, to say the least. It was hard for me not to be envious of this Cinderella. Her dress is magical, the lighting always makes her look angelic and a dramatic score accompanies her whenever she makes a grand entrance. But more than all of this, what really struck me about this rendition of the movie was how nice Cinderella is.

Cinderella spends her whole life living under the weight of her mother’s dying wish that she “have courage and be kind.” This seems like a charming sentiment at first, but as I watched how it shaped Cinderella’s actions through the course of the movie, I began to wonder if this mantra was biblical.

Kindness is certainly a biblical principle; in fact, it is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Bible also states that God wants us to be brave. Even biblical heavy-hitters like Moses and Joshua had to be reminded to “be strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9). So if kindness and courage are biblical virtues, why did they feel so wrong in Cinderella?

I realized as I watched the movie that Cinderella was definitely very nice—she gives up her room willingly for her stepsisters, she takes over all the chores of the house once the servants are let go, and she never says a word while her stepsisters and stepmother call her names. But is there a difference between just being nice and being kind?

Being kind means that you are respectful and compassionate to all people no matter how they treat you—but it also means that you can walk away from situations that are not healthy for you.

But Cinderella isn’t kind; she is nice. She allows herself to be mistreated and taken advantage of. Nice people are often too afraid to admit when they feel hurt, or to communicate their wants and desires for fear of losing the acceptance of others.

I used to be a lot like Cinderella. I wanted people to like me, so I never spoke my mind. I shoved my feelings way down deep and put on a happy face so that I didn’t run the risk of ruffling any feathers. I found myself in many relationships that were unhealthy and my stifled feelings often led me to resent the very people I wanted to be nice to.

But kindness isn’t passive. Kindness is rooted in an understanding of who you are in Christ and showing His love to others.

Ultimately, Cinderella totally missed the message of her mother’s words. Kindness and courage have to go hand in hand. It takes courage to be kind. And sometimes that courage helps us to walk away from relationships that aren’t good for us.

So instead of wishing to be like Cinderella, perhaps we should strive to be more like a different royal lady: Esther. She was anything but passive, and she used her influence to save a whole race of people.

I bet Esther had a lot of pretty dresses, too, but she is better known for two virtues: having courage and being kind. And if you ask me, that’s way better than being known as the nice girl who lost her glass slipper.

 

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33 Comments

  1. theteenfashionista

    Posted by theteenfashionista on April 18, 2016 at 14:15

    Could everyone stop attacking Cinderella? I thought it was a great movie!

  2. Revolutionary24

    Posted by Revolutionary24 on April 2, 2015 at 08:06

    “So instead of wishing to be like Cinderella, perhaps we should strive to be more like a different royal lady: Esther. She was anything but passive, and she used her influence to save a whole race of people.”
    I totally agree with this statement as Christians our role models should be women of God. Besides Cinderella even though it’s good involves magic and thing’s the Bible is not totally in line with. Disney tries to make it look nice and sweet,but I can assure you there is nothing sweet or cool about magic in real life.That being said the overall plot seems to be decent and good,which is better than a lot of movies nowadays.

  3. remiliz

    Posted by remiliz on March 30, 2015 at 09:10

    loved the movie…but totally agree with this article

  4. ReaganthePK15

    Posted by ReaganthePK15 on March 29, 2015 at 18:26

    I feel like there is a lot negativity in the comments section. This was just an observation, and we all have different opinions. I liked the comparison between Cinderella and Esther. I just think that it was a good article. Let’s stay positive, guys!

  5. GraceGirl1379

    Posted by GraceGirl1379 on March 23, 2015 at 07:51

    I’m not sure I totally agree with this. I saw the movie and thought it was very good. Ella did sort of let them walk all over her, but that’s how the old fairytale goes. It’s hard to find an excuse to change the story other than the stellar one “Ella Enchanted” offers. However, she was not always letting them walk over her. Near the end she challenges her stepmother: “Why are you so cruel?” and leaves…. not before forgiving her. It’s an old fairytale with flaws, but the movie itself has a great message in the end and shows a very sweet, old-fashioned romance.

  6. Project Inspired

    Posted by Rachelinaa on March 23, 2015 at 07:45

    I feel Cinderella was kind. It takes a whole lot of courage to treat others nicely when they don’t you. She was turning the other cheek not blowing up and losing her cool. And that’s both courageous and kind. It might just be a fairy tale but I think there is a lot to learn. Even those who are mean to you (maybe persecute you) you are to be treat them kindly and not do anything out of spite to them. I like the message Cinderella gives and I think it is spot on. Even when we are treated unfairly we are to be joyous, loving, kind, and forgiving. She stood up for herself, but in a respectable way. she waited patiently for the hard times to pass and then forgave her step mom though hardly any others would.

  7. Project Inspired

    Posted by EsRoLa on March 23, 2015 at 04:09

    Here is a response of sorts to this article that you may all find interesting. Please check it out, and let me know what you think! 🙂

    https://beautyinesperanza.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/have-courage-and-be-kind-what-cinderella-teaches-christians/

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by Rachelinaa on March 23, 2015 at 07:36

      I agree with this article you shared! I would say she was just turning the other cheek as we are commanded ☺️

  8. nataliesophia

    Posted by nataliesophia on March 22, 2015 at 06:54

    I loved that movie!!!

  9. Project Inspired

    Posted by lemonade021 on March 22, 2015 at 06:04

    Bam!! This is awesome!!! Thank you so much.
    I’m so tired of this Christian idea that women as loving servants or whatever must always put their needs behind everyone else’s… It’s not not healthy. Thank you for making that distinction–that being kind and loving means standing up for yourself, too.

  10. Project Inspired

    Posted by erin.rose.97 on March 21, 2015 at 20:41

    Being kind does take courage! And Cinderella DOES demonstrate great courage throughout the whole movie by being nice. It would have been so easy for her to scream and through throw her rags and dishes at her step mother and step sisters, but she doesn’t! That is great courage. Getting up and leaving would have not been the right thing. That was her home, her family’s home for 200+ years. Leaving would not have solved anything. And do we remember the end of the movie? She DOES distance herself from the unhealthy relationship she has with her step family. Just because she didn’t walk away from her unfair conditions does NOT make her a coward or just “nice”. If she had left early on, she would not have had the opportunity to (indirectly) show her step family that being KIND will get you much farther in life than status and power. Do you see my point? At the end of the movie, anyone could see that Cinderella did the right thing by staying. Her step sisters and step mother realized how good Cinderella was, and that by her kindness Cinderella got the Prince, and I am sure they learned something from that.

  11. Project Inspired

    Posted by IzzyQueen on March 21, 2015 at 11:14

    What about the verses that say turn the other cheek? Serve selflessly? Be an example of love and sacrifice? She couldn’t have left anyway, that was her mother, that was her home, and she had no other place to go…But her kindness paid off in the end because she had a happily ever after, the prince saw how she was so kind and good that he chose her, because of that.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by IzzyQueen on March 21, 2015 at 11:15

      Oh and the verses that talk about honoring your father and mother…that was her mother…

      • Aryandil

        Posted by Aryandil on March 22, 2015 at 09:15

        True… that was her stepmother. Besides, even if it was “abuse” as some people put it (I’m not saying it was abuse, okay? Just bear with me here), where would she go, as some people have said previously? It’s not like they had police back then to investigate the situation; maybe private detectives but none that I have ever heard of.

  12. lauraswanson1325

    Posted by lauraswanson1325 on March 21, 2015 at 10:30

    Favorite movie ever!! Such a great message! 🙂

  13. Uchiha_Kaida

    Posted by Uchiha_Kaida on March 20, 2015 at 22:36

    I get what you’re saying, but as a previous comment said, she didn’t have a choice. You say “Get away from unhealthy relationships” but she couldn’t, she couldn’t just run away, that would put her in a worse situation. I know if I was in her position, I couldn’t have been to kind to the very people making my life a living hell.

    I’ve always admired the Cinderella movies, love all of them, still watch the live action ones from time to time, and I really admire how patient and kind she is.

  14. Project Inspired

    Posted by Cymphia496 on March 20, 2015 at 20:25

    What about 1st Peter 2:17-21? I read this passage this morning and I had a hard time taking it in. I consider myself to be a strong, independent young woman and I’d like to think that I will walk out of a relationship if I see that it is toxic. But when I read this passage, I was confused. Enduring suffering is commendable to God, so is it wrong when we walk out? I don’t doubt the Bible, maybe I’m just reading it wrong. But if we look at this passage in 1st Peter, then I guess what Cinderella was doing IS biblical. Rebecca, you talk about how kindness isn’t passive. Do you think you can find any biblical evidence for that? Are there any passages in the bible that might clarify my confusion? I believe that we must stand up for ourselves, and I believe God thinks that too. So are there any verses that tell us this?

  15. Favourchichi

    Posted by Favourchichi on March 20, 2015 at 20:08

    Technically we for ourselves cannot be perfectly kind and courageous. The Holy Spirit is what enables us to pour out those virtues to everyone. Cinderella is based on fiction, so why do you criticize it like it’s real. Sure there are some biblical values in the movie but we should be focusing on God, not on being good, because without him, we can’t really be purely kind and courageous.

  16. mkay77

    Posted by mkay77 on March 20, 2015 at 18:30

    http://media.tumblr.com/76a29913fa4d0b10debcf0c622c1baa4/tumblr_inline_mlfexb7Nnj1qz4rgp.png

    Of course, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this post isn’t “OK”, but I feel like we’re totally missing the big picture here.

  17. Project Inspired

    Posted by adorablebunny on March 20, 2015 at 18:18

    Seriously? This is the best movie since I don’t know when and you’re trying to down grade it? She speaks of strength and inner beauty that spoke to me like no movie I have ever seen. Since seeing it, I’ve been able to draw strength from her compassion. How can you be so cruel to such a inspiring movie? I really think you missed the mark on this. Cinderella is an inspiration to stand up to those her persecute you and give service to those who do not deserve it. I’m really disappointed in this article.

    • Aryandil

      Posted by Aryandil on March 22, 2015 at 09:16

      I feel the same way; I think the majority of us are probably not in agreement with this article as well.

  18. Rachel love

    Posted by Rachel love on March 20, 2015 at 17:49

    I saw the movie a couple days ago. I really agree with this article . You are not saying the movie is bad. You are simply clearing up something that can be see the other way.

  19. Project Inspired

    Posted by PinkPrincess on March 20, 2015 at 15:22

    This post is completely wrong. Cinderella couldn’t leave because where would she go? And furthure more she WAS kind. Kindness is treating people with love even if they don’t deserve it.And she did jjust that. She did stand up for herself. She wasn’t just nice. If she was, she wouldn’t have kept up with any of the step mother’s whims or bad treatments. She flat out toldher stepmother no wwhen she threatened her. The movie was beautiful and inspiring. Don’t pick it apart.

    • Aryandil

      Posted by Aryandil on March 22, 2015 at 09:08

      I completely agree! She wasn’t being “nice” as this article puts it. In my opinion, Cinderella is very positive; though I’m sure she knew that the cruelty from her stepmother and stepsisters was wrong, I’m inclined to think that she still loved them and had hopes that they could change.

  20. Project Inspired

    Posted by angelangie on March 20, 2015 at 14:18

    I really don’t understand why Project inspired is getting a lot of flack for calling out things that are in popular culture. As Christians we should not be so blah about things in popular culture. Why? Well because popular culture is not a representation of God but a representation of the world. As Christians we are called to be the salt of the Earth and the light but from reading a few of the comments on this post and other posts it seem as though we as Christians have got it all wrong. We do not look to the world for guidance such as Frozen or another cliche Cinderella movie we find our guidance from the word of God. So I don’t think Project Inspired is being antagonistic about anything but being real about whats in our society today. Not saying that one can’t go out and watch this movie just saying be in this world and not of this world . And ultimately seek guidance from the Holy Spirit and speak with God about everything you are exposed to in this world especially popular culture. Just because it has a nice sweet meaning does not mean it conforms with God’s word.

  21. Aryandil

    Posted by Aryandil on March 19, 2015 at 18:31

    No offense, Project Inspired, but recently I feel like you’ve acted antagonistically towards a lot of popular culture. Also, many of the Christian critics approve of this movie, and from their reviews, there weren’t really any problems other than the usual magic.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by LiveLoveLearn on March 22, 2015 at 22:28

      Yeah, I feel like she had to try hard to find anything wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing popular culture, and, sure, every movie, tv show, etc is going to have at least something wrong with it. However, I feel like we need to praise shows or movies that are good and have good messages in it and be positive about them. Otherwise, it makes Christians seem to have impossible movie standards that no one can ever reach. Then, no one will want to even try. Also, it’ll make Christians look kinda like hipsters “Oh, it’s popular culture, that means it’s bad”. I just feel that this was nitpicky–compared to most popular movies nowadays, this one was harm-free.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by lemonade021 on March 22, 2015 at 06:07

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing to question the media we’re exposed to. It keeps us from accepting all the messages we’re given–that would be a disaster, don’t you think?
      I’m sure the author means no offense to the makers of Cinderella. She just wants to take a closer look at the model that the movie has set up for us.

    • pinkkitty523

      Posted by pinkkitty523 on March 20, 2015 at 18:31

      I agree with you, but I also agree with the article I mean she is kind of just letting herself be verbally abused by her step family. While I really do think they have been acting antagonistically towards a lot of pop culture and I don’t like that, I think that the lady who wrote this article did a really good job at not making fun of Cinderella like some people, but just explaining that some things in this movie aren’t okay. Great job!

  22. lotr1997

    Posted by lotr1997 on March 19, 2015 at 18:12

    Yeah, but I think you might have missed the part where she forgave her stepmother. After years of mistreatment, she still had the courage and the kindness to forgive. I think instead of picking apart every detail of every movie, we as Christians should search for the positive messages in films like this. Because yes, “have courage and be kind” is a very Biblical idea.

  23. martial_artist_for_Jesus

    Posted by martial_artist_for_Jesus on March 19, 2015 at 16:52

    I agree with your opinion, but, before she met the prince, where could she escape from her stepfamily?? I mean, Lady Tremaine married her father and all….

  24. Project Inspired

    Posted by Precioustime22 on March 19, 2015 at 16:29

    I don’t agree with this article completely. I think Cinderella was kind but she was extremely passive. She didn’t try to get out of her bad situation but waited until someone else or something else to try for her. However, I really liked this movie.

    The story was written during a time period where women in general were passive and subservient to authority and to all male figures. I don’t think it’s really fair to take a jab at the story when Disney was only staying true to the story. If Cinderella wasn’t passive, the story would have been totally different.

    Being passive isn’t the worst thing in the world, in some situations it’s being reverent . Jesus even said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” There is something to be said about being gentle, joyful, and grateful in difficult situations.

    With that being said, I think being kind in all situations and to all people, was one of the biggest themes. Cinderella was kind to everyone whether it was a mouse or prince and that is a Godly quality to have. And the prince had a great relationship with his father, even though he disagreed with him. That’s what made the movie great. It showed familial relationships and underlined what goodness really is. The message wasn’t focused on superficial things, but rather on humility, bravery, faith, and love. These are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I really liked this movie.

    • Aryandil

      Posted by Aryandil on March 20, 2015 at 16:22

      Exactly. This seems to have been set in the 1800s, and women hadn’t exactly started their rights movement.