Not long into Walt Disney’s latest animated money-maker, Zootopia, many of my fellow audience members erupted into smug laughter and self-serving applause. This reaction was prompted by the filmmakers’ swipe at America’s red states. A bunny had just announced that she wanted to be the first bunny to serve on the Zootopia police force. Dressed in the uniform of blue-collar, red-state Americans and using a grammar-challenged Southern accent, a fox mocks the bunny’s dream. The sharp-witted bunny quickly makes the fox look like a fool. From the get-go, the filmmakers make it clear that certain segments of the population are worthy of scorn if they don’t fall in lockstep with Progressivism’s planned utopia. That movie’s scene was so offensive I wanted to walk out, but my kids were with me.
After the movie, over dinner, my two children and I discussed Zootopia and the implications of its naked, leftist didacticism. My ten-year-old daughter is fairly attuned to the absurdities around her, and she openly scoffed at the movie’s premise that nothing transcendent binds us. According to Zootopia, we can be whomever and whatever we want, as long, of course, as that whomever and whatever doesn’t violate the strictly defined parameters of this brave new world’s ethics. And Zootopia’s premise fails because it rejects the Bible’s teaching about humans.
One of the movie’s main tenets is that biology is not determinative; Zootopia hammers that belief ad nauseam into the audience. This belief is one of the more obvious tent poles of progressivism’s desired utopian circus. And, this weird form of Gnosticism packaged as individualistic self-actualization stands in immediate contradiction to the left’s other tent pole of evolutionary materialism. Progressivism’s utopian circus tent relies on competing worldviews. In other words, to even enter their collapsed and suffocating tent, you’re going to have to crawl on your belly and eat the dust of the ground.
The notion that we are not determined by biology denies the wonderful reality that God created us as material beings, and then declared us “good.” For the record, God also created us as spiritual beings, which is why evolutionary materialism is also wrong. Humans are a wonderful synthesis of material and spiritual that death destroys. We were not created to have our souls and bodies ripped apart. In his book, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, theologian Dr. Michael Horton explains “that human nature is not to be identified exclusively or even primarily with the soul; the ‘real self’ is the whole self – body and soul.”
Also see: How Zootopia Brainwashes Your Kids
This is why Christians long for the return of King Jesus. On the day of his return, the world will be healed; those who have placed their faith in Christ Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection will have their whole being – body and soul – healed. Followers of King Jesus look forward to the day when God will once again declare all things good and invite us to physically enter into His eternal rest.
When God called Adam and Eve to enter into His rest in the Garden of Eden, they were finite; to be otherwise would have meant that they were like God. Our human finiteness is not a sin, but it does imply constraints.
While discussing Zootopia, my daughter sadly shook her head at how many of her friends have bought into the notion that they can be whatever they want to be; whatever they dream is possible. Even at her young age, she recognizes that she has limitations and constraints; this frees her to exert time and energy into pursuing the areas and disciplines that take advantage of her strengths and talents. For example, she lacks the requisite speed, strength, and hand-eye coordination to excel at athletics. She enjoys playing sports, and she tries hard. But, she recognizes that she’s not an athlete; instead of wasting countless hours in an ultimately fruitless endeavor to be a pro athlete, she spends time cultivating her brilliant mind and her interesting and compelling artistic talents. She would love to be a pro athlete, but she has a helpful recognition that she has constraints and limitations that will prevent her from becoming one. In her words, “No matter how hard I dream of playing in the NFL, it can’t happen.”
In spite of what Zootopia claims, biology does play a large role in who we are and what we can become and/or accomplish. That’s because an important aspect of God’s design for His creation is cemented in the material world. I was born a man; biology determines that I am a man. It doesn’t matter what I feel or want; I can’t change the fact that biology determines that I am a man. Even Caitlyn Jenner ironically recognizes this truth. When he chose to publically identify as a woman, Caitlyn Jenner chose stereotypical physical gender characteristics to do so. (Sidenote: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, many of the lesbians I knew despised the transgender community because of their embrace of gender stereotypes that many in the lesbian community abhor. But that’s an article for another day.)
While preaching that there are no external constraints on who or what we can be, Zootopia also refuses to acknowledge God’s righteous claim on our categories and definitions of what it means to be human.
The most important aspect of the Bible’s anthropology is that humans are made in the image of God. Being made in the image of God means that as image-bearers, we are to define ourselves in light of who God is. This includes recognizing that the character of God, as revealed in the Bible and how He defines righteousness and sin, determines the parameters for how we are allowed to define ourselves. We have constraints and limitations because we owe complete obedience to our transcendent Creator. As defined by the Bible, disobeying God is rebellion and is sin.
Any self-identification that contradicts God’s parameters is rebellion. We are not free to be whomever and whatever we desire. Reflecting God as His image-bearer demands adherence to His design and will for our lives. The ethics of Progressivism’s utopia are intimately tied to a sexual revolution that is engaged in an ongoing battle to unseat God from His throne. Buying into the lie that we can be whomever and whatever we want reflects the sinful desire to be God. And that’s exactly what introduced death into the world and got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
Zootopia is an entertaining and very well-made movie that will unfortunately exert great influence over the minds of many. In his second letter to his protégé, the Apostle Paul wrote Timothy that a “time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth.” Like the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, Zootopia guilefully holds out the idol of a constraint-free individualism to a society that is filled with itching ears.