Angie and I watched the movie Fireproof last night. The movie tells the story of how a man (who happens to be a firefighter) saves his failing marriage by taking "the Love Dare". The Love Dare is a book of 40 daily devotionals and actions that are meant to teach him and his spouse what it is to love unconditionally - the same unconditional love that God has for us.
We very much enjoyed the movie. Yes, the acting is pretty bad and the "cheese" factor is on the high end, but the message is outstanding - and real. Any married couple can relate. We are all, to some degree, selfish and for those of us that are married for any amount of time, our marriages need work. When you bring two broken people together into a marriage, you invariably get a broken marriage. The movie's message - one in which I could always stand to hear, is that we need to give to our spouse to get. If we want our spouse to love us, we need to love them - unconditionally and without the expectations of reciprocity.
What I personally found compelling about the movie is the reactions of the couple during the 40-day challenge. At day four, the husband thinks about quitting because his wife isn't responding. That would be me. I'd be like, "I've broken my ass for four days and it hasn't meant a thing..." I appreciate the movie for going over the top in this respect. At day 18 he makes a candle light dinner. His wife walks away. Another day he leaves a love note and flowers. Her response - divorce papers. As I watched, I came to understand that the movie HAD to represent the results like this...because it would be exactly the same way. He tries, she doesn't respond, we wants to quit. Why? Because his actions are still for all the wrong reasons. It isn't until he understands that his relationship with his wife is exactly like his relationship with God (albeit with roles reversed) can he understand what it is to love. God loves him, but he continually rejects God. In this lesson, he learns what it is to unconditionally love. He now can unconditionally love his wife. Then, she begins to respond.
This message is biblical and is the same message that we've seen elsewhere, either through teaching at church or through other couple's studies that we've done. However, dramatizing this process is very effective in making it real to us. Being preached to in a sermon is one thing. Seeing it happen in a movie is another. This is what makes this ministry so powerful. The movie was made by Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia. They also made "Facing the Giants". My understanding is that the cast (except for Kirk Cameron) are all church members. It's great to have a resource that makes Christian based movies. What I have a hard time understanding is the venom with which some have responded to this movie. The following is but one of the many negative reviews of the movie from Blockbuster.com.
Could have been a good movie. If i want to be preached to I will go to church. I think they should put an evangelical warning on the cover of this movie.
I'm not sure I understand that. Should film makers put warnings on movies that contain anti-Christian sentiment? Isn't watching a movie a purely voluntary act? Couldn't the reviewer have turned off the movie if he didn't approve of the Christian message? Since when do we have to project our children from Christian and biblical concepts?
I particularly seethe at the reviews that treat faith as some kind of crutch. Not because I don't understand that position, but because I do. Although I have always been raised a Christian, I have not always lived a Christian life. In fact, I believed as many of "crutch" commenters believed, that having faith was a crutch. In my BC (Before Christ) life, I thought the religious a little wacky and a little weak. However, I no longer hold that belief, not because I have become one of them, but because I have learned the truth that they knew. There is only one truth and the realization of that isn't a crutch, or being judgemental or elitist. It just IS.
And, through time, I've come to experience the truths of the bible AND of the movie Fireproof. The more I make it about Angie, the more I get in return. It's one of those miracle contradictions of life. You have to give to get. However, the key is to give with no expectations of getting. That's the hard part.
Its changed my life and its changed my marriage. If you allow it, it can change yours, too.