by Robert Jacobs
In 2014 Disney’s Frozen became the highest grossing animated film of all time, replacing the former title holder, Toy Story 3. By the time the Scandinavian themed tale made its way around the globe, the film earned $398.4 million domestically and $674 million internationally in box office sales (Stedman ). For the few of you out there who do not know the plot of Frozen, the movie relates the story of an orphaned pair of sisters, the older of which possesses magic powers that allow her to, among other things, freeze objects, create winter weather, and build structures out of ice. After hiding her powers her whole life, the elder sister, Elsa, is discovered, causing her to flee from her home.
During one of the most iconic scenes in the movie, Elsa sings a song in which she reasons that she must cast off all of the limits formerly placed on her in order to find freedom and, consequentially, happiness and fulfillment. She sings,
It’s time to see what I can do,
To test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
Interestingly, Elsa discovers that she really doesn’t want to live in a world with “no right,” “no wrong,” and “no rules.” Instead, what she truly desires is to be intimately known and loved by those around her.
Although clearly based in myth, this story relates a very real false belief that plagues countless individuals: the idea that by pushing against and/or eliminating all limits and boundaries we can find happiness and fulfillment. In Proverbs 7, Solomon addresses the danger of this idea through a narrative about a foolish young man:
I have looked out through my lattice,
and I have seen among the simple…
a young man lacking sense,
passing along the street near [the prostitute’s] corner,
taking the road to her house
in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness. (Prov. 7:7-9)
From his window, Solomon sees a young man who has decided to push the limits. Did the youth break any of God’s commands by being in that part of town? No. Did he commit sin by walking down the street of the prostitute? No. But knowing what I know about human nature, I can bet that this young man was there to test the boundaries, wanting to see how close he could get to sin without sinning.
Flirting with the boundaries, this man predictably falls into sin. As predictable as a bad movie, the prostitute comes to the youth and persuades him to have sex. Rather than a triumphant victory for freedom and choice, Solomon describes the scene like a massacre:
All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life. (Prov. 7:21-23)
Rather than gaining untold happiness, ignoring boundaries ends up costing the youth everything.
How many of us, like Solomon’s youth, like to flirt with the boundaries, believing that true happiness lies beyond what God has decreed? How many of us drive past those old bars and clubs where we once spent our time, pulling into the parking lot to responsibly make that phone call we forgot about? How many of us then make our way inside to have just one drink? How many of us, after having that one drink, end up having four drinks and going home with some one?
Sound far-fetched? Not according to Solomon. While we must be careful not to become a slave of legalism, we absolutely must exercise wisdom in the way we live our lives. Solomon’s youth never should have been in that part of town, particularly in the evening after working when he would be apt to make bad decisions due to fatigue and hunger. Indeed, there are parts of our own towns where we also should not tread, particularly in seasons of weakness. What boundaries and limits do you push? Do you find that you accept boundaries with joy, knowing that they are there to keep you safe, or do you despise them?
We must always be careful to watch how closely we walk to the darkness, lest the darkness should reach out and grab us.
Alex Stedman, “’Frozen’ Becomes the Highest-Grossing Animated Film Ever,” Variety, 30 March 2014, http://variety.com/2014/film/news/frozen-becomes-the-highest-grossing-animated-film-ever-1201150128/.