I finally saw the “Christian” romance film Fireproof this last weekend for Valentines Day. My wife liked it… so did everyone else I saw it with at the little Valentines Day social that our local church put on (at least as far as I could tell). People were talking about buying it, that it was such a great film.
Me? Well… I watched the whole thing. But it seemed to me to be more-or-less just a Harlequin romance with an alter call, and a serious ideological bent. What I mean is this – there are several marriages either portrayed or mentioned in the film: there is the main character Kirk Cameron’s marriage, which is on the rocks, and heading for divorce, until he accepts Jesus; there is his parent’s marriage, which was on the rocks at one time, but then they accepted Jesus, and all is bliss; there are the two marriages of Kirk Cameron’s co-worker at the fire station, for the first one, he hadn’t accepted Jesus in time so it ended in divorce, the second was after he accepted Jesus, and was evidently blissful; finally, there is the doctor, who takes a romantic interest in Kirk Cameron’s wife, and who hides his wedding ring in his desk, obviously doesn’t have Jesus, and his marriage is heading for ruin. The message in the film is clear, if you accept Jesus your marriage will be bliss, if you don’t accept Jesus your marriage is destined for ruin and divorce.
The thing is actual life isn’t quite as idealistic as this film portrays. All marriages have problems. We’re all people, we’re all sinners, and we all make mistakes. But I’ve seen married couples who’ve not “accepted Jesus” that are doing just fine, moving right along with its bumps and occasional potholes, but far from ruin and divorce. More importantly though, I have also seen many couples throughout the years, who have “accepted Jesus” much like the film portrays, and whose marriages have not gone so well. Divorce still happens. And when real life doesn’t match the idealization that is promised, people lose faith.
But the thing that gets me about the film, it’s not just that we have imperfect married people, who still continue to sin, even after they have accepted Jesus, and they have to continually repent and overcome the effects of that sin that prevent it from being truly bliss. No, that’s not it. It’s that God doesn’t anywhere promise that your marriage will be bliss if you follow Jesus in the first place.
The film tries to say that if you do things Jesus’ way, if you follow the rules, and stick with it (kind of like the 40-day self-help challenge that Kirk Cameron’s father gives him), and this goes beyond just marriage, that things are going to be great, you are going to be blest. Now go read about Job and his three friends. Yup, that’s the same general message Job’s three friends gave him that God scolded them on at the end of the book. Now go read about Hosea, and how his biblically arranged marriage to that harlot went. Yup, I’d say the message this film is trying to say is the wrong message. God isn’t about the business of blessing your marriage just because you accepted Jesus. No, he has an altogether different idea in mind.
But besides all that… I guess I could say the film was kinda cute. My wife liked it. And the points in the self-help challenge are good advice. I think I’ll do them.