Music & Culture
“Have Courage and Be Kind”: Is the Message of “Cinderella” Biblical?
Written by Rebecca Claire | March 19, 2015
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.